Course code:



I - Introductory

Meets the following requirements:

  • HY - History
  • HS - Human Studies

The Middle Ages, affectionately known as the “Dark Ages” by people who did not live in them, was a crucial period in the social, political, and cultural development of what we now call Europe.

The course will provide an overview of the major trends in the Mediterranean World and Northern Europe from the fall of Rome to the fifteenth century. We will focus on religiosity and the changes in popular forms of religious belief as well as the everyday workings of the political, economic and social order.

The course will be a survey class that includes project-based learning that seeks to cover the period in a synthetic way. A major theme will be the way that in the Middle Ages religion was the arbiter of truth in ways almost incomprehensible in the modern secular world. The main thematic thrust of the course is to explore the fragments of classical philosophical problems and new streams of religious orthodoxy as they collide in a series of intellectual and pragmatic struggles in the period. By using heretics and saints as emblems of the contours of the debate about truth and knowledge, this class explores the early tremors of the clash between faith and reason that would rock the western world, and shape it, between roughly 1000 AD and the beginnings of the Renaissance in the fourteenth century.

Students will read primary and secondary literature covering various aspects of the period. There will be a mid-term take-home exam and a final project paper dealing with an institution, a person, a religious or philosophical school, or movement or an idea.




Always visit the Registrar's Office for the official course catalog and schedules.