Medieval circumstances presented multiple challenges to media, mobility, and communication. Cultivators were bound to the land and monks to their monasteries; pilgrims traveled to holy places, crusaders and warriors invaded and then settled foreign lands, rulers and nobles were frequently itinerant. Literacy was largely limited to reading and writing Latin, and possessed principally by churchmen and nuns. The transmission of ideas therefore occurred mainly through the spoken vernacular word, and by means of gestures, images, and the manipulation of symbolic objects (thus, for instance, the relics of saints were carried to distant lands to collect alms, to recover possessions appropriated by nobles, or to aid in battle).
While seas, rivers, ports, ferries, bridges, and networks of roads provided with rest houses, were generally available, the routes and means of transportation differed markedly according to the traveler’s status and the journey’s purpose. Christianity stimulated pilgrimages, missions to convert the heathen, and crusades. Marriage took brides to foreign courts where they served as cultural ambassadors. Medieval kings and great nobles were continually on the road, changing their abode every two or three days. Lesser officials and messengers traveled on government business. Knights sought out tourneys and distant wars to advance their fortunes and reputations. Merchants transported goods to regional fairs, and engaged in international trade. Minstrels, jongleurs, and troubadours traveled to gain patronage and to extend their repertoire, spreading news and influencing the reputations of warriors, heroes, and kings. Students too journeyed extensively from place to place in order to sit at the feet of famous masters; some wandering scholars came to be known as Goliards. Artists were invited to various loci to decorate manuscripts and architects to erect buildings.
The pursuit of favorable opinion was an essential feature in the process of state-building during the Middle Ages. Those who challenged traditional norms also came to rely on the efficiency of communicative systems to expand their ranks with adherents. In disseminating propaganda, medieval society experimented with such forms and methods of communication as emblems, stereotypes, and slogans, thus elaborating modes of communication which, however modified, are still in use today.
A chief purpose of this seminar is to provide freshman students with an opportunity to utilize the tools and practice the methodologies of historical discipline. Focusing their attention upon medieval texts, images, and objects, and on modern scholarship dealing with the subject of “Media and Communication,” students will write a research paper (10 pages including footnotes), due in final form on Sunday, December 7th (NYU Classes, Assignments), on a topic relating to the theme of the seminar. You may select a topic from among the ones suggested below, or devise your own after consultation with the instructor.
Suggested Paper Topics 1. Letter-writing during the Twelfth Century
2. Food-trade, Markets, and Gastronomy in Thirteenth-Century France
3. Hybrid Communication: Text and Image in Medieval Manuscripts
4. A Comparison of Jewish and Christian Attitudes Toward Literacy and Education during the Central Middle Ages
5. Medieval Travels to the Middle East in the Middle Ages: Means and Purposes
6. Knowledge of the Far East in the Middle Ages
7. Fashions and Fashionistas in Fourteenth-Century Urban Culture
8. Trade Routes of the Medieval Globe
9. Communicating with God: the Faithful and the Mystic
10. Archeology of Medieval Communication: Hostels, Bridges, Transportation, Traveling Gear
The final paper will be prepared through several required shorter essays, each dealing with material relevant to the paper’s topic. Thus students will conductclose readings ofprimary sources (3 pages, due Sunday, September 21st on NYU Classes, Assignments), compose a bibliographical essay (5 pages, due Sunday, October 26th), prepare a proposal for the final paper (4 pages, due Sunday, November 2nd on NYU Classes, Assignments), and write an early draft focusing on footnotes (10 pages, due Sunday, November 23rd on NYU Classes, Assignments). When writing notes, and citing books, articles, and websites, students should conform to the latest edition of The Chicago Manual of Style (Bobst, e-book).
In the course of the seminar, each student will be required to make two oral presentations. In one, the assigned student will present an oral report of the week's readings. In preparing their oral reports, students will focus on threedifferent tasks. I. They will clearly distinguish between primary and secondary sources. In discussing medieval texts, that is, primary sources, students should offer an analysis of content (what does the text say?), while assessing genres, narrative formats, authorial voices, tropes, metaphors (how does the text says what it says?). II. With respect to modern studies, that is, secondary sources, students will give a precis of the book or article, seek to identify the issues raised by the authors, define the nature of the authors’ sources, assess their methodology and approaches, evaluate the clarity and organization of the study, and consider the validity of the theses and conclusions presented. Diverse interpretations have come to shape our understanding of the medieval past, which makes a critical approach to the reading of all secondary materials obligatory. III. Students will address the questions raised by their fellow classmates on Blackboard (Discussion Board).
In the second type of oral presentation, each student will give a short lecture (10 minutes) summarizing the purpose, sources, arguments, and main conclusions of their final paper.
The final grade will be calculated as follows:
-20%: attendance and class participation
-20%: oral report and lecture Papers submitted late will receive a lesser grade
-15%: essay on primary sources
-15%: bibliographical graphical essay
-30%: paper (Proposal, Draft, Final Version)
Attendance will be taken every week at 9.30AM
Three absences or late arrivals will result in the final grade being modified as follows: A, will become A-; A-, will become B+ etc
Six absences or late arrivals will result in the final grade being modified as follows: A, will become B; B, will become C etc
All readings are available in the following fashion: Books only available in print have been put on Reserve at the Bobst Library, where they can be read in the Reserve Room; books and articles available on line have been put on Electronic Reserve and can be accessed via NYU Classes, NYU Libraries; scanned articles and book chapters can be accessed via NYU Classes, Course Resources.
The following books are also available for purchase from the University Bookstore:
Kathleen Ashley, Being a Pilgrim : Art and Ritual on the Medieval Routes to Santiago (Burlington, 2009)
J.A. Burrow, Gestures and Looks in Medieval Narrative (Cambridge, UK, 2005; online version available at Bobst)
M.T. Clanchy, From Memory to Written Record (3nd ed. Blackwell, 2013)
Susan Crane, The Performance of Self: Ritual, Clothing, and Identity During the Hundred Years War (Philadelphia, 2002; online version available at Bobst)
Th. Evergates, Feudal Society in Medieval France. Documents from Champagne (Philadelphia, 1993; online version available at Bobst )
Patrick Geary, Furta Sacra. Thefts of Relics in the Central Middle Ages rev. ed. (Princeton, 1990; online version available at Bobst)
Michael C. Howard, Transnationalism in Ancient and Medieval Societies : The Role of Cross- Border Trade and Travel (McFarland & Company, 2012; online version available at Bobst)
Katherine King, Lettering the Self in Medieval and Early Modern France (Boydell and Brewer, 2010)
Henri-Jean Martin, The History and Power of Writing (Chicago, 1994)
William Melczer, The Pilgrim’s Guide to Santiago de Compostela, 3rd ed. (New York, 2008)
Michel Pastoureau, Blue: The History of a Color (Princeton, 2001)
Françoise Piponnier and Perrine Mane, Dress in the Middle Ages (New Haven, 1997)
Teaching and Learning in Northern Europe, 1000-1200, ed. Sally N. Vaughn and Jay Rubenstein (Turnhout, 2006)
1.Introduction: How did People Communicate in the Middle Ages – 2 September
Discussion of the syllabus and of the seminar’s requirements
PowerPoint Presentation and analysis of some means of medieval communication
2.A World of Oral Communication? – 9 September
Mark Chinca and Christopher Young, “Orality and Literacy in the Middle Ages: A Conjunction and its Consequences,” Orality and Literacy in the Middle Ages: Essays on a Conjunction and its Consequences in Honour of D.H. Green, ed. Mark Chinca and Christopher Young (Turnhout, 2005: USML 12), pp. 1-16 (Book Reserves and NYU Classes, Course Resources)
Henri-Jean Martin, The History and Power of Writing, chapter 4, pp. 116-181 (Book Reserves)
Paul Zumthor and M. Engelhardt, “The Text and the Voice,” New Literary History 16 (1984-1985): 67-92 (Electronic Journal, NYU Classes, NYU Libraries)
3.The Growth of Documentary Production – 16 September
Primary sources to be read and analyzed in class:
Theodore Evergates, Feudal Society in Medieval France. Documents from Champagne: documents nos 20-24, pp. 28-36 (NYU Classes, Course Resources)
M.T. Clanchy, From Memory to Written Record, England 1066-1307 (Book Reserves)
Theodore Evergates, Feudal Society in Medieval France. Documents from Champagne: documents nos 25-32, pp. 37-49 (Book Reserves) Reporter:_______________________
Assignment: Paper on Primary Sources
. The paper should focus exclusively on the reading and analysis of a medieval text, image, or object. Additionally, on a separate page, write five (5) questions raised by the text you have analyzed, which you consider to be worthy of further exploration and of being treated in your final paper.
.We will review in class the paper’s goals and methods
. This paper is due on September 21st, on NYU Classes, Assignments
4. Sending, Receiving, and Collecting Letters – 23 September
Primary sources to be read and analyzed in class:
Mary Garrison, "Send More Socks": On Mentality and the Preservation Context of Medieval Letters,” New Approaches to Medieval Communication, ed. Marco Mostert, first edn. (Turnhout, 1999: USML 1), pp. 69-99 (Book Reserves and Blackboard, Course Documents)
Katherine King, Lettering the Self in Medieval and Early Modern France (Boydell and Brewer, 2010), Introduction, chapters 1-3 (Book Reserves)
5. Medieval Media: The Evidence - 30 September
The class will meet at Columbia University’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library (RBML), at 2PM promptly.
Immediately following the visit, comment in some detail (3 pages) about the material to be presented by Dr Consuelo Deutschke and by your instructor. This report is due on NYU Classes, Assignments, later today, September 30th.
6. Wandering Students and Masters: Arts of Teaching and Modes of Reading – 7 October
Teaching and Learning in Northern Europe, 1000-1200, ed. Sally N. Vaughn and Jay Rubenstein (Turnhout, 2006), pp. 1-255 (Book Reserves)
Michael Howard, “Monks and Scholars,” in Transnationalism in Ancient and Medieval Societies: The Role of Cross-Border Trade and Travel, pp. 226-250 (e-book, Electronic Reserves, NYU Classes, NYU Libraries)
Paul Saenger, “Silent reading: its impact on late medieval script and society,” Viator 13 (1982), 367‑414 (e-journal, Electronic Reserves, NYU Classes, NYU LIbraries)
Assignment: Bibliographical Essay
. Students are encouraged to focus their bibliographical essays on the topic they will treat in their papers.
.We will review the resources and methods for creating a bibliography in class.
.This paper is due on NYU Classes, Assignments, on October 26th
7. NO CLASS: WINTER BREAK – 14 October
8. Forms of Non-Verbal Communication: Images and Colors – 21 October
Herbert L. Kessler, “Corporeal Texts, Spiritual Paintings, and the Mind's Eye,” Reading Images and Texts: Medieval Images and Texts as Forms of Communication: Papers from the Third Utrecht Symposium on Medieval Literacy, Utrecht, 7-9 December 2000, ed. Mariëlle Hageman and Marco Mostert (Turnhout, 2005: USML 8), pp. 9-61 (Book Reserves and NYU Classes, Course Resources)
Lawrence G. Duggan, “Was Art Really the "Book of the Illiterate"? Word and Image 5 (1989), pp. 227-251 (NYU Classes, Course Resources)
L. Duggan, “Reflections on ‘Was Art Really the 'Book of the Illiterate'?" Reading Images and Texts: Medieval Images and Texts as Forms of Communication, pp. 109-120 (Book Reserves and NYU Classes, Course Resources)
Michel Pastoureau, Blue: The History of a Color (Princeton, 2001); chapters 1 and 2 (Book Reserves)
9. Communication as Performance: Silence, Gestures, Rituals – 28 October
J.A. Burrow, Gestures and Looks in Medieval Narrative (Book Reserves)
Jean-Claude Schmitt, “The Rational of Gestures in the West: A History from the Third to the Thirteenth Centuries,” Advances in Non-verbal Communication, ed. Fernando Poyatos (Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 1992), pp. 77-95 (Book Reserves)
Björn Weiler, “Knighting, Homage, and the Meaning of Ritual: The Kings of England and their Neighbors in the Thirteenth Century,” Viator, 37 (2006), pp. 275-299 (e-journal, Electronic Reserves, NYU Classes, NYU Libraries)
Assignment: Paper Proposal
.Students will come to class ready to discuss the topic of their papers.
.We will review ways to develop a topic into a proposal that contains the paper’s title, describes the paper’s purpose, scope, and significance, and outlines the information gathered for and the argument made in the paper.
.Proposals are due on NYU Classes, Assignments, on November 2nd
10. Medieval Objects: Circulation and Communication – 4 November
Patrick Geary, Furta Sacra. Thefts of Relics in the Central Middle Ages (Book Reserves)
Cynthia Hahn, “The Voices of the Saints, What Do Speaking Reliquaries Say,” Gesta 36 (1997): 20-31 (e-journal, Electronic Reserves, NYU Classes, NYU Libraries)
Michael Howard, “Long-Distance Trade Goods,” in Transnationalism in Ancient and Medieval Societies: The Role of Cross-Border Trade and Travel, pp. 102-127 (e-book, Electronic Reserves, NYU Classes, NYU Libraries)
11. Dress Codes: Communicating Status and Identity – 11 November
Susan Crane, The Performing of Self: Ritual, Clothing, and Identity During the Hundred Years War (Book Reserves)
Françoise Piponnier and Perrine Mane, Dress in the Middle Ages (Book Reserves)
Assignment: Draft with Focus on Footnotes
.In preparation for writing your draft with footnotes, we will look at footnotes in the weekly readings, and analyze 1)the ways that they were put together by the authors, and 2) how they work for the readers.
.Drafts are due on NYU Classes, Assignments, on November 23rd
12. Pilgrimages – 18 November
Primary sources to be read and analyzed in class:
William Melczer, The Pilgrim’s Guide to Santiago de Compostela, chapter 7, pp. 90-96 (Blackboard, Course Documents)
Kathleen Ashley, Being a pilgrim : art and ritual on the medieval routes to Santiago (Burlington, 2009) (Book Reserves)
13.Travels: Spies and Exotic Places – 25 November
J.R. Alban and C.T. Allmand, “Spies and Spying in the Fourteenth Century,” War, Literature, and Politics in the Late Middle Ages, ed. C.T. Allmand (New York, 1976), pp. 73-101 (Book Reserves)
Mary B. Campbell, chapter 2: “The Fabulous East: "Wonder Books" and Grotesque Facts,” and chapter 3: “The Utter East. Merchant and Missionary Travels during the ‘Mongol Peace,’ in The Witness and the Other World: Exotic European Travel (Ithaca, 1988), pp. 47-87, pp. 87-121 (e-book, Electronic Reserves, NYU Classes, NYU Libraries)
14. Traders and Trade Routes of the Medieval Globe – 2 December
Janet Lippman Abu-Lughod, “The World System in the Thirteenth Century: Dead-End or Precursor?,” in The Transnational Studies Reader: Intersections and Innovations, eds., Khagram, Sanjeev and Peggy Levitt (New York and London, 2008), pp. 184-195 (Book Reserves and NYU Classes, Course Resources)
Michael Howard, “Long Distance Traders,” and “Merchant Communities,” in Transnationalism in Ancient and Medieval Societies: The Role of Cross-Border Trade and Travel, pp. 128-168 (e-book, Electronic Reserves, NYU Classes, NYU Libraries)
15.Conference – 9 December
The seminar will become a conference where each student will give an oral presentation of his or her paper.
Papers in their final form must have been posted on NYU Classes, Assignments, by Sunday, December 7th.