101.009 Spring 2015 The Pre-Modern Mediterranean and Middle East

This research seminar will guide students through the process of writing a senior thesis on pre-modern Mediterranean and Middle Eastern topics. A selection of themes and methodological problems in classical, late antique, Byzantine, and Early Islamic political, economic, social, cultural, and intellectual history will be considered. Readings will include both primary sources and modern scholarship.

103A.002 Fall 2014 The Power of the People: Participatory Politics in the Ancient World

This seminar will focus on two very different ancient states with a strong participatory element: Athens and Rome. In Athens, a vigorous, even radical, direct democracy developed over the course of the 5th century, as Athens itself transformed into an aggressive imperial power. In Republican Rome, citizens' assemblies practiced a form of deferential democracy, electing candidates to powerful magistracies from a narrow range of aristocratic contenders; this phase of moderated participatory engagement took place at a time when Rome likewise rocketed to Mediterranean hegemony.

281 Fall 2014 Paleography and Other Auxiliary Sciences

This course is designed as a general introduction to the use of primary documents pertinent to Mediterranean history and culture during the ancient and medieval periods.  It will address issues of paleography, codicology, textual tradition, and the critical edition of sources. The main focus will be on Greek and Arabic documents,  but the issues covered will be of interest to anyone interested in the manuscript culture of the medieval Mediterranean even beyond these two languages. We will mainly study books, but will also refer to administrative documents.

4A Fall 2014 Origins of Western Civilization: The Ancient Mediterranean World

This course offers an introductory survey of the history of the ancient Mediterranean world, from the rise of city states in Mesopotamia circa 3000 BC to the emergence of the Byzantine Empire in the sixth century AD.  The course has three main foci.  The first is to survey the major events and developments in the social, economic, and political history of the ancient Near East, Egypt, Greece, and Rome.   The second focus is to consider, very much along the way, the origins and development in the ancient world of ideas, practices, and institutions that have had an enduri

2 Fall 2014 Ancient Empires

At the dawn of the first millennium, nearly one half of the world’s population lived within one of two extensive imperial systems, the Roman empire in the Mediterranean basin and the Han empire in East Asia (ruling roughly the territory of today’s China).  This course examines these two durable and far-flung empires in comparative perspective, and also considers the nature of empire as a particular type of polity in the premodern world.  Structurally similar in some ways but strikingly different in others, the Roman and Han empires form an ideal subject for sustained,

84 Spring 2014 The Origins of Historical Writing in the Ancient West

The first historians of western civilization emerged in Israel, Greece, and Rome in the first millennium BC. They preserved information about the great empires, major personalities, and crucial events now lost to us; they established our major narratives of archetypal events such as the battle of Marathon, the foundation of Rome, and the spread of Christianity; and they have all been accused repeatedly of gross dishonesty in their portrayal of events.

185A Spring 2014 History of Christianity to 1250

Like adherents to many (but probably not most) religions, Christians looks to its origins to determine its essence. In this course we will attempt to understand those origins, from the early Roman Empire until Charlemagne’s revival of a “Roman Empire,” particularly in relation to the wider political, economic, and cultural conditions in which Christianity developed.


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