Smolny Beyond Borders

A Liberal Arts Initiative

Homo Medievalis: Culture and the Individual and in the Middle Ages



Course Schedule:

Spring 2024 | Mon Wed 4:10 – 5:30 PM Berlin (UTC + 2)

Professor: Victor Apryschenko
Semester: Spring 2024 (January 29  – May 21)
Subject: HIST
Distribution Area: Social Studies
Core module II (BCB): Medieval Literatures and Cultures
Cross-Listing(s): no
Course Level: 100
Number of Bard Credits: 4
Course Title: Homo Medievalis: Culture and the Individual in the Middle Ages
Max Enrollment: 22
Schedule: Mon Wed 4:10 – 5:30 PM Berlin (UTC + 2)
Language of Instruction: Russian

Course Description:
This course will survey Medieval European history from Emperor Constantine’s conversion to Christianity in 310 to the beginning of the European Reformation. Its first focus will be on the creativity of the populations newly arrived in Europe in adapting the heritage of the Roman Empire. The course will also explore the role of economic change in transforming European societies after the onset of the new millennium. The development of Christianity and its impact on the intellectual exploration and everyday engagement with the social, political, natural, and domestic environment will also be addressed. Topics for the discussion will include  the development of kingship; the evolution of states; material and literary courtly cultures, economic transformations, and religious movements and sects. Special attention will be paid to the history of ideas which originated in the Middle Ages, such as obeyance to the king; the veneration of the pope; state subjugation techniques; the difference between a subject and a citizen, and the rise of the citizenry model. Finally, we will study the rise of individualism between 1200 and 1400 and the cultural and political roots of the individual as a concept. We will discuss how the 15th century Europeans found themselves among the ruins of their old certitudes: the Earth was no longer the center of the universe, their search for the divine was made more complicated by the Reformation and its aftermath, while Christopher Columbus discovered another world with strange animals and human beings, which differed from the familiar fauna or the beasts described in the Bible. Other monumental change on our agenda will be the Black Death epidemics of the mid-14th century, which drastically reduced the population of Europe. 

The assigned medieval sources will include heroic epics, biographies of kings and saints, letters and chronicles, social satires, and material artifacts. 

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