This course examines the changing relationship between Italians and the rest of the Mediterranean world from late antiquity through the end of the Middle Ages. We will examine the way Italian culture, politics and economy were shaped by the peninsula's changing relationship with the other peoples and societies around the shores of the middle sea. Key moments include the decline of Roman power and establishment of Germanic kingdoms in Italy, the rise of crusading and contact with the Islamic world, and the rise of commercial cities and the diaspora of Italian merchants around the sea and beyond. The emphasis throughout will be on reading and interpreting primary sources, although influential secondary authors will also be introduced. Primary sources will be balanced between classic authors and texts (The Decameron, Inferno, Marco Polo) and lesser-known but engaging works like The History of the Tyrants of Sicily, The Deeds of Tancred on Crusade, and others.