Spring 2004

HUMS 637
From Tribal Hordes to Lords of Europe: Mediaeval Foundations of Modern Europe

Arnold,Herbert A.

01/26/2004 - 05/08/2004
Tuesday 07:00 PM - 09:30 PM

One of the most fascinating and consequential transformations in world history is that of the Germanic tribes of conquerors into the aristocratic ruling class of Europe. During the course of the early and high middle ages, the same people who had been called barbarian by their vanquished foes became paragons of Christian knighthood.

We will attempt to understand some of the main ingredients of this sea change with the help of both historical and literary texts. We will place emphasis on the social structures and conflicts that formed these societies into the entities that eventually became modern Europe. A secondary focus will be on the values shaping these people and the process by which they evolved into the paradoxical ideals of the perfect Christian knight and of courtly love. Other topics for study will be the role of honor, individual and familial, in social thought and practice, the introduction of feudalism, and the civilizing roles of women and the church on the warrior class--all of which contributed to the transformation the course aims to trace.

Among the readings will be Tacitus, Gregory of Tours, BEOWULF, Njal's Saga, Einhard's LIFE OF CHARLES THE GREAT, THE SONG OF ROLAND, NIBELUNGENLIED, Otto von Freising's LIFE OF FREDERICK BARBAROSSA, Parzival, Tristan, and Villehardouin and Joinville.

Students will be required to participate actively in class discussion and to complete three papers (10 to 12 pages each), or, with the instructor's permission, two papers and one oral report.

The first class will meet Tuesday, February 3, 2004 (class will not meet Tuesday, January 27, 2004). The final class meeting will be Tuesday, May 4, 2004).

This course may, by petition, count toward the social sciences concentration.

Herbert Arnold (Ph.D. University of Wurzburg) is professor of letters and German studies, emeritus. He is author of numerous articles and essays, including "Aspects of Otherness in Adolf Muschg and Erica Pedretti," in the Germanic Review.


Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Seminar

Level: GLSP Credits: 3 Enrollment Limit: 18

Texts to purchase for this course:
Anonymous, BEOWULF (W. W. Norton) Paperback

Anonymous, NJAL'S SAGA (Penguin) Paperback

Anonymous (Translated by F. Goldin), SONG OF ROLAND (W.W. Norton) Paperback

Einhard, TWO LIVES OF CHARLEMAGNE (Penguin) Paperback

Wolfram von Eschenbach, PARZIVAL (Penguin) Paperback

Gottfried von Strassburg, TRISTAN (Penguin) Paperback

Cornelius Tacitus, THE AGRICOLA AND THE GERMANIA, (Penguin) Paperback

Lewis Thorpe, GREGORY OF TOURS: THE HISTORY OF FRANKS, (Penguin) Paperback


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