Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Planning a medieval survey

Am swamped with a number of things at the moment, only one of which seems appropriate blog fodder right now: books for my spring course.

The spring course is a survey of medieval history from 1000 to 1500. I've taught the medieval survey before, but with a slightly different time frame. I've also been asked to address the Italian Renaissance to some extent, since that isn't being covered by other history courses here this year. I haven't taught the Renaissance in any depth for a while, but since I'm going to do it here, I also think we will discuss the question of the 12th-century renaissance.

I am undecided on using a textbook; I usually use Barbara Rosenwein, Short History of the Middle Ages, but have ordered some others to look over, too.

I will probably use Geary, Readings in Medieval History as a general reader, but am open to other suggestions.

Other primary sources I expect to use:
some of Chretien de Troyes (I particularly like Yvain)
Letters of Abelard and Heloise
Dante, Purgatorio

Beyond that I have a long list of stuff I'm considering, including far too many ideas. So some questions for any readers lurking out there:

Textbook: yea or nay? if yea, any suggestions?
Is there a source collection you prefer to Geary?
Other standalone primary sources you'd consider especially important to a survey that runs from 1000 to 1500?
Any primary or short secondary works that are particularly good for the Italian Renaissance or the 15th century?


Notorious Ph.D. said...

I'm trying textbook-free this semester so I can concentrate on longer sources, but I think my students at least might need more framework. Yet if I assign a textbook, they don't read it. Maybe the ideal solution is to make it optional (and perhaps available on reserve) so they can go provide their own framework?

I like Rosenwein, too, though undergrads at my school are probably more comfortable with the greater structure of Bennett. But Rosenwein you can buy in a single volume, and vol. II has some of that renaissance-y stuff in the last chapter. Plus: More Mediterranean! Go, team!

Notorious Ph.D. said...

For stand-alone texts for a course like that, how about the Decameron? Fun stuff, and you don't even have to assign the whole thing. Capellanus' "Art of Courtly Love", paired with Christine de Pisan or the Lais of Marie de France? Anna Comnena?

But for a source reader, I think Geary's the best one out there... though you do have to supplement the gender stuff yourself, sad to say.

(Hmmm... too much blogging when I should be writing a letter!)

Matthew Gabriele said...

FWIW, I have a course page with syllabi that you (or anyone else) are free to plunder from -- The "HUM 1214" course is the survey.

I've tried doing a number of things and have settled on the latest incarnation as the best. I cover much more ground than just 1000-1500, but there's some really interesting stuff in the syllabi that you might like, especially related to the European encounter with the New World.

clio's disciple said...

Notorious: I think I'm not using a textbook, though I may order one as an option for students who want a clear narrative. I have a terrible time teaching Capellanus, but the Decameron, Christine, and Marie all seem like good options. Thanks for the suggestions!

Matthew: Thanks for commenting! Yes, the New World stuff looks particularly interesting; the mock trial idea is quite intriguing.