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Kamran Scot Aghaie, Chair CAL 528 | 204 W 21st St F9400 | Austin, TX 78712-1029 • 512-471-3881

Spring 2010


Unique Days Time Location Instructor
42205 MW
3:00 PM-5:00 PM
PAR 105

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 & 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.

Grading Policy

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.


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