R S 357 • Medieval Sicily-ITA
Due to its location at the center of the Mediterranean and its proximity to North Africa and Italy, Sicily has always been the object of conquerors' desires. At no time was that reality more vivid than in the Middle Ages: Vandals and Ostrogoths attempted to wrest the province from Roman control in the fifth century; Romans, based at what is now Constantinople, repossessed it and even moved the capital to Syracuse in 660s, but the island fell to Muslim armies in the ninth century; Normans, warriors from the north, conquered Sicily in a Crusade in the eleventh century; and then French and Spanish kings ruled the island for the remainder of the medieval period. Moreover, Sicily was visited by Paul himself, so it has important connections to Early Christian expansion. This complex of layers comprises medieval Sicilian culture and provides a unique opportunity for students to understand the swirling currents of the Mediterranean. Those currents fundamentally influenced the art and architecture of the island, and they will be the subject of the course, that is to say, the lens through which we will examine the historical, cultural, and religious developments of the medieval period. Seldom examined as a multicultural center of the Middle Ages, Sicily possesses a wealth of monuments that vividly demonstrates artistic and religious exchanges between the eastern and western Mediterranean, Europe and Africa. Syracuse presents special possibilities for examining Sicily as a confluence of Roman, Arab, Norman and Spanish influences, and the class will spend as much time as possible out in the city examining these influences.