History of Women in the Ancient Mediterranean and Medieval Europe (Proseminar in Comparative History)

History 103U.002

Fall 2016
3104 Dwinelle
Day & Time: 
M 2-4

Ancient and medieval historians paid little attention to women. When they did, it was either to praise them lavishly or disparage them irredeemably. Since the 1970s scholars have done much to change this two-dimensional presentation through new readings of visual and textual sources as well as through innovative new theories and methods. In this class we’ll engage this rich scholarship with several objectives in mind. We will consider the gamut of women’s experiences: social and gender roles, economic and legal rights, faith, passions, and religious responsibilities. We will read about Greek prophetesses and Christian visionaries, martyrs and sorceresses, slaves and queens, poets and benefactors. We will also analyze women’s imagined realities and ideas about women in art and literature. All of this will be done through critical engagement of primary and secondary sources. The class will be organized chronologically and will cover selected topics from ancient Greece, Rome, Byzantium, and medieval Europe.