MES 321K • GEOGRAPHY AND PLACES: MEDIEVAL WORLD
3:00 PM-5:00 PM
This course will look at how the world fits together in the Middle Ages: a period that follows the known worlds of the Greek & Roman empires, & 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 & 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 & communities, biographies of sojourners, & a range of other literary & cultural texts, we will assemble an understanding of how the geographical world was experienced by people who lived in the Middle Ages, & what a sense of place meant to individuals & communities.
Attendance & active participation 10% In-class reports 40% Final term paper due in the 2nd last week of the semester 50%
Tentative List 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. More information on texts will be provided by the instructor.