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Martin Kevorkian, Chair CAL 226, Mailcode B5000, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4991

Fall 2004

E 379N • Geographies and Places: The Medieval World

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
33190 TTh
2:00 PM-3:30 PM
BUR 136

Course Description

This course will look at how the world fits together in the Middle Ages: a period that follows the known worlds of the Greek and Roman empires, and precedes the discovery of new worlds in the so-called Renaissance age of exploration. Did medieval people believe the earth was flat—as popular culture likes to tell us—or surrounded by a vast encircling ocean (as the ancients believed)? Did people in Europe know that China and Japan existed, or that equatorial sub-Saharan Africa, a “hot zone,” was habitable? Was there a concept of the Antipodes?

Using maps, travellers’ tales, chronicles of cities and communities, biographies of sojourners, and a range of other literary and cultural texts, we will assemble an understanding of how the geographical world was experienced by people who lived in the Middle Ages, and what a sense of place meant to individuals and communities.

Grading Policy

Attendance & active participation 10%
In-class reports 40%
Final term paper due in the 2nd last week of the semester 50%


Marco Polo, Travels
Ordoric of Pordenone, Description of the World
Benjamin of Tudela, Itinerary
William of Tyre, History (selections)
Letter of Prester John
Gerald of Wales, History & Topography of Ireland, Journey through Wales
Froissart, Chronicles
Geoffrey of Monmouth, History of the Kings of Britain (Arthuriad only)
Robin Hood ballads
Land of Cockayne
Selections from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales
Packet of materials


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