Please check the Yale Course Search  site for the most up to date information, as well as the course descriptions and locations.

Fall 2023 Medieval Studies Courses

MDVL 535/ENGL 535/CPLT 555 Postcolonial Middle Ages     Marcel Elias      W 1:30-3:20

This course explores the intersections and points of friction between postcolonial studies and medieval studies. We discuss key debates in postcolonialism and medievalists’ contributions to those debates. We also consider postcolonial scholarship that has remained outside the purview of medieval studies. The overall aim is for students, in their written and oral contributions, to expand the parameters of medieval postcolonialism. Works by critics including Edward Said, Homi Bhabha, Leela Gandhi, Lisa Lowe, Robert Young, and Priyamvada Gopal are read alongside medieval romances, crusade and jihād poetry, travel literature, and chronicles.

MDVL 571   Introduction to Latin Palaeography   Agnieszka Rec    T 3:30-5:20

Latin paleography from the fourth century CE to ca. 1500. Topics include the history and development of national hands; the introduction and evolution of Caroline minuscule, pre-gothic, gothic, and humanist scripts (both cursive and book hands); the production, circulation, and transmission of texts (primarily Latin, with reference to Greek and Middle English); advances in the technical analysis and digital manipulation of manuscripts. Seminars are based on the examination of codices and fragments in the Beinecke Library; students select a manuscript for class presentation and final paper.

MDVL 596/HIST 596 Jews and the World: From the Bible to Early Modern Times      Ivan Marcus  TTh 11:35-12:50

A broad introduction to the history of the Jews from biblical beginnings until the European Reformation and the Ottoman Empire. Focus on the formative period of classical rabbinic Judaism and on the symbiotic relationships among Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Jewish society and culture in its biblical, rabbinic, and medieval settings.

MDVL 611/REL 667 A Survey of Medieval Latin         John Dillon        TTh 10-11:20  

This is an introductory reading course in Late Antique and Medieval Latin that is intended to help students interested in Christian Latin sources improve their reading ability. The primary objective is to familiarize students with Medieval Latin and improve their proficiency in reading and translating Medieval Latin texts. Students come to recognize the features (grammatical and syntactical) that make Medieval Latin distinct, improve their overall command of Latin by reviewing grammar and syntax, and gain an appreciation of the immense variety of texts written in Medieval Latin. 


Prerequisite: basic knowledge of Latin grammar and syntax, equivalent to the elementary Latin grammar courses offered by the Classics department (LATN 110, LATN 120) or the YDS summer intensive REL 3607. 

MDVL 615/FREN 610 Old French    Howard Bloch     Th 9:25-11:15

An introduction to the Old French language, medieval book culture, and the prose romance via study of manuscript Yale Beinecke 229, The Death of King Arthur, along with a book of grammar and an Old French dictionary. Primary and secondary materials are available on DVD. Work consists of a weekly in-class translation and a final exam comprised of a sight translation passage, a familiar passage from Yale 229, and a take-home essay.


No previous study of Old French necessary, although a knowledge of French is essential. Conducted in English.

MDVL 625/SPAN 718/CPLT 607 Iberian Nights: Literature and Survival    Jesús Velasco   W 1:30-3:20

This seminar is inspired by the spirit of Sheherazade, of Dhuoda, and of Christine de Pizan, among others. For them, the practice of literature in many of its facets became the matter of survival in circumstances of physical and sexual violence, in circumstances of civil war, and in circumstances of isolation. For them, literature became the praxis that allowed them to be alive one more night. We will be reading with this perspective in mind: literature, as survival, is fundamentally theory and praxis, and we will analyze our primary sources as theoretical sources. This seminar is also literature (and therefore survival) in itself, and we will talk about those sources in a way that transcends the academic discourse, thus fostering the importance of public humanities.

MDVL 655/ENGL 500/LING 500 Old English I     Emily Thornbury    TTh 11:35-12:50

The essentials of the language, some prose readings, and close study of several celebrated Old English poems.

MDVL 712/REL 712   History of Early Christianity - Origins and Growth    Teresa Morgan    MWF 9:30-10:20

This course introduces students to early Christianity from apostolic times through the eighth century. It examines the social, political, and religious context of early Christianity; its expansion and Imperial adoption; the character of its life, worship, and mission; the formation of the Christian scriptures; the articulation and defense of a central body of doctrine; church councils and creeds; the monastic movement; and early Christian art. In conversation with influential theologians of the period, we ask questions about ways in which early Christian identities are formed and explore how power is used and distributed in this process. Students are exposed to a range of primary sources and modes of historical study. This course serves as essential preparation for the study of Christian history and theology in later historical periods. Above all, it provides an opportunity to consider early Christianity on its own terms and to discover how it continues to shape the lives of Christian communities today.

MDVL 745/REL 745   Byzantine Art and Architecture    Vasileios Marinis     W 1:30-3:20

This lecture course explores the art, architecture, and material culture of the Byzantine Empire from the foundation of its capital, Constantinople, in the fourth century to the fifteenth century. Centered around the Eastern Mediterranean, Byzantium was a dominant political power in Europe for several centuries and fostered a highly sophisticated artistic culture. This course aims to familiarize students with key objects and monuments from various media—mosaic, frescoes, wooden panels, metalwork, ivory carvings—and from a variety of contexts—public and private, lay and monastic, imperial and political. We give special attention to issues of patronage, propaganda, reception, and theological milieux, as well as the interaction of architecture and ritual. More generally, students become acquainted with the methodological tools and vocabulary that art historians employ to describe, understand, and interpret works of art.

MDVL 955/HSAR 584   The Cult of Saints in Early Christianity and the Middle Ages   V. Marinis/F. Harley  T 1:30-3:20

For all its reputed (and professed) disdain of the corporeal and earthly, Christianity lavished considerable attention and wealth on the material dimension of sainthood and the “holy” during its formative periods in late antiquity and the Middle Ages. Already in the second century Christian communities accorded special status to a select few “friends of God,” primarily martyrs put to death during Roman persecutions. Subsequently the public and private veneration of saints and their earthly remains proliferated, intensified, and became an intrinsic aspect of Christian spirituality and life in both East and West until the Reformation. To do so, it had to gradually develop a theology to accommodate everything from fingers of saints to controversial and miracle-working images. This course investigates the theology, origins, and development of the cult of saints in early Christianity and the Middle Ages with special attention to its material manifestations. The class combines the examination of thematic issues, such as pilgrimage and the use and function of reliquaries (both portable and architectural), with a focus on such specific cases as the evolution of the cult of the Virgin Mary.