Department of History
EUH-4930: HISTORY RESEARCH SEMINAR - EUROPE
CATASTROPHES IN THE MIDDLE AGES
Office: 202 Keene-Flint Hall
Office hours: Thursday 12:45-2:45, or by appointment
Phone: 392-0271, ext. 240
Class will meet in Flint 113 on Tuesdays, 12:50-3:50
The popular perception of the Middle Ages is
that of a world of violence and filth, when life, as Thomas Hobbes
put it, was “nasty, brutish, and short.” Imagine the chaos in that
world when a natural disaster like an earthquake, a flood or famine
struck. How did people react to natural abnormalities such as
earthquakes and floods in the Middle Ages? Why did they experience them
as disasters? How did they explain them? In recent years, a growing
concern with climate change and epidemics have drawn the attention of
historians to catastrophic events in history, the ways in which
societies coped with such events, and the long-term consequences they
had on social and religious life. This course is an exploration of such
topics related to disasters, catastrophes, and calamities. The course
is meant to be an interdisciplinary tour of the medieval world--both
East and West. The goal is to examine a series of natural and man-made
disasters and the various reactions to them, in order to open up the
discussion for comparison and analysis. Primary sources will be the
main focus of this seminar. You will be reading a variety of sources,
from chronicles to eye-witness accounts. Those readings will offer not
only a basis for class discussions, but also the research material onto
which the secondary literature is to be grafted. The latter is meant to
help you develop the research skill necessary for your own projects. At
the beginning of the course, you are expected to identify a topic from
the list below around which you will then build your project. You will
then go through various stages of writing a research paper, and at the
end of the course you will have the opportunity to present its results
to your peers in a formal colloquium.
readings are available in pdf format on Canvas (http://elearning.ufl.edu/).
Students are required to check the course page on Canvas regularly for
ACADEMIC HONESTYStudents must conform to the University of Florida
honesty policy regarding plagiarism and other forms of cheating. In
your assignments, make sure to give proper credit whenever you use
words, phrases, ideas, arguments, and conclusions from someone else's
work. Please review the university's honesty policy.
students found to have cheated, plagiarized, or otherwise violated the
Honor Code in any assignment for this course will be prosecuted to the
full extent of the university honor policy, including judicial action
and the sanctions listed in the section 6C1-4.047 of the Student Conduct
Code. For serious violations, you will fail this course.
STUDENTS WITH DISABILITESPlease
do not hesitate to ask for accommodation for a documented disability.
Students requesting classroom accommodation must first register with
the Dean of Students Office. The Dean of
Students Office will provide documentation to the student, who must
then provide this documentation to the instructor when requesting
accommodation. Please ask the instructor if you would like any
assistance in the process.
ASSIGNMENTS AND GRADING POLICIES
There is no attendance policy, but you are responsible for attending
lectures and reading the required texts. Class participation and
preparation constitutes 35 percent of your final grade. Participation
refers not only to regular attendance (despite the absence of a
specific attendance policy), but also to your contribution to class
discussions, to short response papers, and a variety of other
assignments over the course of the semester (e.g., quizzes). Be aware
that thorough preparation for, and active participation in weekly
discussions is crucial for the success of this seminar. Plan in advance
at least two blocks of time (minimally 5 hours a week outside of class)
when you can do the required reading and weekly writing assignments.
This is definitely not a class for which you can prepare in an hour or
two on Sunday night!
The final research paper (due Monday, April 25, before 12:00) represents another 35 percent.
Although you will be working on this project since Week 3 of the
seminar, your research project will be your primary focus especially
during the final five weeks of class. Your grade on this 15-20-page
long paper will not be based only on the actual paper, but also on your
timely completion of several "lead-up assignments" listed in the course
weekly topics. Failure to meet the deadlines will result in a grade
The remaining 30 percent is divided equally between
the shorter writing assignments, 15 percent for the primary source
analysis, and 15 percent for the book review. The primary source
analysis is a "warm-up" exercise for the longer paper you will complete
at the end of the course. More specific directions for that paper will
be given in due time. Later in the semester you will be selecting a
secondary source related to your research topic. You will review
critically a book in your field of interest following the guidelines
Grades. The following scale will be used in determining your
COURSE WEEKLY TOPICS
WEEK 1 (January 9): Introduction to the course. Problematic
concepts: catastrophe, disaster, calamity. Theoretical approaches:
"overshoot and collapse" theory (Jared Diamond) vs. "resilience" theory
See: Jared Diamond on why societies collapse, and Joseph A. Tainter on the collapse of complex societies
WEEK 2 (January 16): Personal disasters. Job in the Middle Ages
- John Chrysostom, Commentary on Job, chapter 1
- Gregory the Great, Moralia in Job, Book II
- Martien Parmentier, "Job the rebel: from the rabbis to the Church Fathers," in Saints and Role Models in Judaism and Christianity,
edited by Marcel Poorthuis and Joshua Schwartz (Leiden/Boston: Brill,
2004), pp. 227-242
- Mordechai Cohen, "Maimonides
vs. Rashi: philosophical and philological-ethical approaches to Job,"
in Between Rashi and Maimonides. Themes in Medieval Jewish Thought, Literature, and Exegesis,
edited by Ephraim Kanarfogel and Moshe Sokolow (New York: Michael
Scharf Publication Trust of the Yeshiva University Press, 2010), pp.
- Lawrence L. Besserman, The Legend of Job in the Middle Ages (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1979), pp. 41-65 (chapter 2)
- Samuel Terrien, The Iconography of Job Through the Centuries. Artists as Bible Interpreters (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1996), pp. 44-61 (chapter 6)
- In a two-page essay (due in class, on January 16), compare and contrast John
Chrysostom and Gregory the Great's reading of Job
- As an initial quiz grade, come to class with notes (they can be electronic) on all of the readings for this week
WEEK 3 (January 23): Collective disasters. Invasions and genocide in the Middle Ages.Read:
Written assignment: in
a one-page essay (due in class on January 23), reflect on two of the secondary literature items
pertaining to one of the primary sources for this week (either Roger's Carmen Miserabile,
or the sources concerning the killing of Jews during the First
Crusade). How did the analysis in these items either support or
undermine your interpretation of that source? How are those two items different from each other in their interpretation of that source? Be specific and include at least one footnote (using
the Chicago Manual of Style) in your response.
- Roger of Torre Maggiore, Carmen miserabile
- Andrew Holt and James Muldoon (eds.), Competing Voices from the Crusades (Oxford/Westport: Greenwood World, 2008), pp. 23-37
- Sarolta Tatár, "Roads used by the Mongols into Hungary, 1241-1242," in Olon Ulsyn Mongolch Erdemtnii X Ikh Khural
(Ulaanbaatar Khot: Olon Ulsyn Mongol Sudlalyn Kholboony Nariin Bichgiin
Darga Naryn Gazar, 2012), pp. 334-341
- John R. Sweeney, "'Spurred on by
of death': refugees and displaced populations during the Mongol
invasion of Hungary," in Nomadic
Diplomacy, Destruction and Religion from the Pacific to the Adriatic.
Papers Prepared for the Central and Inner Asian Seminar, University of
Toronto, 1992-1993, edited by Michael Gervers and Wayne Schlepp
(Toronto: Joint Center for Asia Pacific Studies, 1994), pp. 34-62
- Victor Spinei, The Great Migrations in the East and Southeast of Europe From the Ninth to the Thirteenth Century, vol. 2 (Amsterdam: Adolf Hakkert, 2006), pp. 619-684
- David Nirenberg, "The Rhineland massacres of Jews in the First
Crusade: memories medieval and modern," in Medieval Concepts of the Past. Ritual, Memory, Historiography,
edited by Gerd Althoff, Johannes Fried, and Patrick Geary
(Washington/Cambridge: German Historical Institute/Cambridge University
Press, 2002), pp. 279-310
- Robert Chazan, "'Let
not a remnant or a residue escape': millenarian enthusiasm in the First
Crusade," Speculum 84 (2009), no. 2, 289-313
- Jeremy Cohen, Sanctifying the Name of God. Jewish Martyrs and Jewish Memories of the First Crusade (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004), pp. 31-70 (chapters 2 and 3).
Discussion of general themes for the research papers
WEEK 4 (January 30): Group disaster. Sacking a city in the Middle Ages
- John Kaminiates, The Capture of Thessaloniki
- Eustathios of Thessalonica, The Capture of Thessaloniki
- Joseph D. C. Frendo, "The Miracles of St. Demetrius and the capture of Thessaloniki. An examination of the purpose, significance and authenticity of John Kaminiates' De Expugnatione Thessalonicae," Byzantinoslavica 58 (1997), 205-224
- Florin Curta, The Edinburgh History of the Greeks, c. 500 to 1050. The Early Middle Ages
(Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2011), pp. 166-208 (chapter 6)
- Alexander P. Kazhdan and Simon Franklin, Studies on Byzantine Literature of the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984), pp. 115-195 (chapter 4)
- Michael Angold, The Byzantine Empire, 1025-1204. A Political History (London/New York: Longman, 1997), pp. 295-303
week you will be writing a primary source analysis based on two
accounts of the capture of the city of Thessaloniki at two historically
different moments--904 and 1185--and by two very different attackers.
The authors of both texts, John Kaminiates and Eustathios of
Thessalonica, were men of the Church, and therefore with sufficient
education to display a thorough grasp of the rudiments of rhetorical
composition. Although both accounts were cast in the traditional genre
of lamentations (for the destruction of a city), their authors had in
mind specific audiences and therefore made a careful selection and
arrangement of events to include in the narrative. In your 2-3 page
essay, you will discuss how they persuaded their audiences by means of
comparison and contrast. Look at the two works entitled Capture of Thessaloniki
as pieces of rhetoric (and literature). Each of you
will have one aspect to examine (see list below). How does
the description of that particular aspect function as a piece of
rhetoric? What is its role in the general economy of the text?
How do the authors use
the story to appeal to their audiences? Who may have been the members
of those audiences (in other words, for whom were those texts written)?
What details of the sack of the city are particularly effective in each
case? In addition, I would like you
to scan the texts for specific religious references (e.g., citations
from the Bible) and their use in explaining the events narrated. Your
this week will give you some background on John Kaminiates and Eustathios of Thessalonica.
- Groups 1-2: Portrait of the besieged: names, faces, characters
- Groups 3-4: Portrait of the attacker: names, faces, characters
- Groups 5-6: Pointing fingers: who is to blame for the disaster?
- Primary source analysis due in class on January 30
- Initial project statement due on Thursday, February 1
WEEK 5 (February 6): Disaster in the making? Climate change and mutant seasons.
- Theophanes, Chronographia
- Istvan Fodor, "Ecology and migrations on the Eurasion steppes and the Carpathian Basin," Chronica. Annual of the Institute of History, University of Szeged 7-8 (2007-2008), 77-84
- Oleksyi V. Komar, "The climate factor in life of
the North Black See region nomads at the end of fifth-seventh centuries
A. D.," Chronica. Annual of the Institute of History, University of Szeged 7-8 (2007-2008), 125-133
- Ronnie Ellenblum, The Collapse of the Eastern Mediterranean. Climate Change and the Decline of the East, 950-1072 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), pp. 41-58 and 228-240 (chapters 3 and 10)
- (optional) see Brian Fagan on the Medieval Warm Period
assignment: One of the great issues of modern politics is global
warming (climate change). Some of the most heated arguments between
political personalities and scholarly figures evolve around the
question of whether the current climate changes are in any way
comparable to those of the past, and if so, whether humans may be blamed for that. Did any climate changes take place during the
"medieval millennium" (500-1500),
and how were those changes perceived by people living at that time?
Ronnie Ellenblum offers an overview of the evidence of climate change
in the East Mediterranean region, but you will also be reading two
articles pertaining to climate changes in the steppe lands north of the
Black and Caspian Seas. Finally, we will discuss the account of
Theophanes the Confessor regarding a particularly remarkable bout of
cold weather in Constantinople and the Black Sea region. In a two-
to three-page essay (due in class on February 6) highlight what you believe to be the three
most important characteristics of the climate changes taking place in
all those regions between ca. 700 and ca.
1300. You must select one trait from each of the three secondary
In the second part of the essay consider Theophanes' account as a
literary text, along the lines of our previous discussion of the two
accounts of the sacking of Thessaloniki. Does Theophanes' account
complement or contradict the conclusions of the secondary
literature? Explain. Do
these texts approach the question of climate change in different and
perhaps conflicting ways, or do they really
agree in perspective and outlook? Make sure you support your
answer with examples from the texts. Also consider the ways in
which these texts illustrate some of the basic principles and dynamics
of the "overshoot and collapse" and "resilience" theories. How do they
reflect the notion of catastrophe or catastrophic event, which is
central to both theories?
WEEK 6 (February 13): Unmitigated disasters. Drought, locusts, famine.
- Johannes de Trokelowe, Annates (on the famine of 1315)
- Izz al-Din ibn al-Athir, The Perfect Work of History, pp. 261-262
- William Chester Jordan, The Great Famine. Northern Europe in the Early Fourteenth Century (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996), pp. 7-39 (chapters 1 and 2)
- Sarah Kate Raphael, Climate and Political Climate. Environmental Disasters in the Medieval Levant.
Brill's Series in the History of the Environment, 3 (Leiden/Boston:
Brill, 2013), pp. 73-94 and 167-177 (chapters 4 and 7)
- Using all the readings for this week (including the primary sources),
bring a list of 7-10 discussion questions that highlight the major
themes of this week's topic--short-term or sudden, "natural disasters"
produced by factors completely outside human control. Bring the list to class as a hard copy.
a topic that is effective and appropriate for an undergraduate research
paper requires significant thought and work. This week you
will describe and justify your topic in class by means of a
brief presentation to your
peers. So come to class with notes that address three
What is the broad theme or issue you will be addressing?
How you are going to examine that theme?
What is the specific gateway to your topic? It needs to be
discrete, concrete and worthy of study.
What are the primary sources that you will use to
examine that specific focus of your paper? Also briefly mention
the types of secondary sources you will use.
WEEK 7 (February 20): Disaster by collapse and overfill. Landslides and floods.
- Gregory of Tours, History of the Franks IV 31
- The Chronicle of Salimbene de Adam, pp. 319-320
- Caesarius of Heisterbach, Dialogue on Miracles VII 3
- Allison Williams Lewin, "Salimbene de Adam and the Franciscan Chronicle," in Chronicling History. Chroniclers and Historians in Medieval and Renaissance Italy,
edited by Sharon Dale, Allison Williams Lewin, and Duane J. Osheim
(University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2007), pp.
- Brian Patrick McGuire, "Friends and tales in the cloister: oral sources in Caesarius of Heisterbach's Dialogus Miraculorum," Analecta Cisterciensia 36 (1980), 167-247
- Jussi Hanska, "Late medieval catastrophe sermons: vanishing tradition or common custom?" Medieval Sermon Studies 45 (2001), 58-74
- Paolo Squatriti, "The floods of 589 and climate change at the
beginning of the Middle Ages: an Italian microhistory," Speculum 85 (2010), no. 4, 799-826
secondary material. Read Paolo Squatriti’s essay, “The floods of
589...”. Your writing assignment consists of no more than two
paragraphs (due in class on February 20). In one paragraph, summarize his arguments and answer the
questions: what is the main point? what are his major claims? In
the other paragraph, analyze his use of evidence through his footnotes.
What are the sources he uses? How many can you identify?
How does he deploy them to support his claims? Does he ever make
a claim that he does not seem able to substantiate?
- Identify a book for your book review. Come to class (on February 20) with a secondary source (a book) related to your topic
that you plan to review. It must be a scholarly text and have
notes and/or a bibliography. Bring a physical copy to class.
on the primary source accounts of landslides and floods for this week.
You will be allowed to use written notes (not electronic) for this
Groups 1-3 only: when analyzing the primary sources for this week, what
can we learn from them about geology and/or physics? List five
observations (due in class on February 20). Feel free to work with a
partner for this exercise.
- Discussion Groups 4-6 only: complete a revised project statement (1-2 paragraphs) with a
bibliography of at least 4 secondary sources and 2 primary
sources. This assignment will be due at the end of the day
on Friday, February 16.
WEEK 8 (February 27): Disasters from above and from underneath. Meteorite impact and cataclysmic mountains
- The Chronicle of Salimbene de Adam, pp. 602-603
- Roberto Santilli, Jens Ormo,
Angelo P. Rossi, and Goro Komatsu, "A catastrophe remembered: a
meteorite impact of the fifth century AD in the Abruzzo, central
77 (2003), no. 77, 313-320
- Adnan A. Husain,
"Writing identity as remembered history: person, place, and time in
Friar Salimbene autobiographical prose map," Viator 36 (2005), 265-292
WEEK 9: Spring break (no classes)
- Take notes on all the readings and bring a hard or electronic to class (due on February 27)
no more than two paragraphs (due in class on February 27), answer the following questions.What is Adnan
Husain's argument concerning Friar Salimbene? In what way is he
changing your own interpretation of Salimbene de Adam's text about King
Pero III of Aragon? What is the unique perspective that he brings
onto Fra Salimbene, and how do
his ideas contrast with the work of other scholars mentioned in the
- Discussion Groups 1-3 only: complete a revised project statement (1-2 paragraphs) with a
bibliography of at least 4 secondary sources and 2 primary
sources. This assignment will be due
on Friday, March 2, at 12:00
- Discussion Groups 4-6 only:
What is the significance of King Pero III's story?
Highlight one or two aspects associated with this story (due in class on February 27). Why was the
meteorite impact of the 5th century remembered in Abruzzo?
Highlight at least one passage
that is relevant to our ongoing discussion of catastrophic
events in medieval history (due in class on February 27).
WEEK 10 (March 13): Natural hazards. Earthquakes, volcanoes, and tsunamis.
- Procopius, Wars
- Agathias, Histories 2.15-17
- Michael Attaleiates, History, chapter 15
- Caesarius of Heisterbach, Dialogue of Miracles X 40
- Anna Akasoy, "Islamic attitudes to disasters in the Middle Ages:
a comparison of earthquakes and plagues," Medieval History Journal 10 (2007), 387-410
- Christian Rohr, "Man and natural disaster in the Late Middle Ages: the earthquake in Carinthia
and northern Italy on 25 January 1348 and its perception," Environment and History 9 (2003), no. 2, 127-149
- Sarah Kate Raphael, Climate and Political Climate. Environmental Disasters in the Medieval Levant. Brill's Series in the History of the Environment, 3(Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2013), pp. 127-163 (chapter 6)
- Clive Oppenheimer, Eruptions That Shook the World
(Cambridge/New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011), pp. 253-268
- Michael McCormick, Paul Edward Dutton, and Paul A. Mayewski,
"Volcanoes and the climate forcing of Carolingian Europe, A.D.
750-950," Speculum 82 (2007), no. 4, 865-895
- Hendrik Dey and Beverly Goodman-Tchernov, "Tsunamis and
the port of Caesarea Maritima over the longue duree: a
geoarchaeological perspective," Journal of Roman Archaeology 23 (2010), no. 1, 265-284
resources at your disposal (scientific literature in
the library or on the internet) localize the possible epicenters
of the earthquakes mentioned in the accounts of
Agathias, Michael Attaleiates, and Caesarius of Heisterbach, and
identify the main fault lines and areas of
seismic activity in those respective regions. Put them all on a map of
the Mediterranean region. Now try to explain what happened based on the
information provided by the sources.This is a group assignment (due in class on March 13) and will be evaluated as such.
- In a substantial paragraph (due in class on March 13), compare the explanations provided by
Agathias and Michael Attaleiates. What are the most important
similarities? In what respects are they different? Be specific and use
examples from those accounts.
- Why did historians in the past mention earthquakes? Their explanations
of those phenomena are very different from ours. What can we learn
about how the explanatory structures operated, how
evidence was understood, presented and evaluated, how such events were
integrated into history? Highlight 5-10 observations (due in class on March 13) along such
lines of thinking. You can simply list these points but again
refer to the text in support of your observations.
were the beliefs of medieval people about the natural and
supernatural world? What does Procopius' account of a tsunami and
Caesarius of Heisterbach's account of an earthquake tell us about their
contemporaries' views on these
matters. Again highlight 5-10 observations (due in class on March 13)
that are supported by references to the text.
- What do these documents tell us about the educated
audience, such as that that Procopius, Agathias, Michael
Attaleiates, and Caesarius of Heisterbach had in mind? What did they expect from an account of an
earthquake or a tsunami? How is that different from the expectations of
a modern audience? Once more highlight
5-10 observations (due in class on March 13) and include references to the texts
- Book reviews are due on Friday, March 16
WEEK 11 (March 20): Disaster by pestilence. Pandemics
- Procopius, Wars II 22-23
- Giovanni Boccaccio, Decameron, introduction
- Jo N. Hays, "Historians and epidemics. Simple questions, complex answers," in Plague and the End of Antiquity. The Pandemic of 541-750
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), pp. 33-56
- Peregrine Horden, "Mediterranean plague in the age of
Justinian," in The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Justinian,
edited by Michael Maas (Cambridge/New York: Cambridge University
Press, 2005), pp. 134-160
- Anthony Kaldellis, "The
literature of plague and the anxieties of piety in sixth-century
Byzantium," in Piety and Plague: from Byzantium to Baroque,
edited by F. Mormando and T. Worcester (Kirksville: Truman State
University Press, 2007), pp. 1-22
- Shona Kelly Wray, "Boccaccio and the doctors: medicine and
compassion in the face of the plague," Journal of Medieval History 30 (2004), no. 3, 301-322
- James Hatty, "Coping with disaster: Florence after the Black Death," in Disasters. Image and Context, edited by Peter Hinton (Sidney: Sydeny Association for Studies and Culture, 1992), pp. 153-165
- Timothy Newfield, "Early medieval epizootics and landscapes of
disease: the origins and triggers of European livestock pestilences,
400-1000 CE," in Landscapes and Societies in Medieval Europe East of the Elbe. Interactions Between
Environmental Settings and Cultural Transformations,
edited by Sunhild Kleingartner, Timothy P. Newfield, Sebastien
Rossignol, and Donat Wehner
(Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 2013), pp. 73-113
Philip Slavin, "The great bovine pestilence and its economic and
environmental consequences in England and Wales, 1318-50," Economic History Review 65 (2012), no. 4, 1239-1266
This week you will read two accounts of the plague, one
from the mid-sixth, the other from the mid-fourteenth century. Neither
is a simple report from the field, and both are carefully crafted
texts. For this week’s exercise you will have to adopt the
“voice” of a specific
individual who is investigating those accounts. Your response
should be 1-2 pages in length (due in class on March 20). For extra credit you can do
both. Be creative in the instance and tone that you adopt in your
Project outline and annotated bibliography (at least 5 items) due on Friday, March 23WEEK 12 (March 27): Writing workshop I
- Groups 1-3: Imagine
you are one of Boccaccio's friends in Renaissance Florence. The city
has just been struck by a terrible epidemics, which nobody understands.
But because of the study of ancient authors, including Procopius,
reports of similar catastrophes in the past are available to guide
action. Using Procopius' account, draw up a document
addressed to the
leadership of the Florentine Commune that explains how the
sixth-century description of the plague is exactly matching that of the
fourteenth-century epidemics. On the basis of Procopius' account,
propose a number of measures to meet the challenge. What conditions in
sixth-century Constantinople could apply to fourteenth-century
- Groups 4-6:
Imagine you are a historian at the University of Florida in the late
20th century, specializing in the history of the plague. To this
point your research has focused on the Black Death. You have
examined most accounts and a wide variety of written sources pertaining
to both southern (Italy) and northern Europe (England and
Scandinavia) in 1348-1349. You have become convinced that the
fourteenth-century plague was in fact a disease different from that
described by Procopius in the mid-sixth century. You plan to write a
book on this discovery and have started to look for a publisher. One
day, you decide to write to the acquisition editor of Oxford University
Press to see if that publisher would be interested in your manuscript
(which you have not yet written). In an e-mail message, you are about
to describe briefly your book and to explain your main arguments. In
your message, you also want to give a few, but concrete examples of how
the existing evidence (such as Procopius' and Boccaccio's accounts)
supports your thesis.
purpose of the writing workshops is to give you an opportunity to
constructive feedback on your writing from your peers. This is one of
the most efficient ways to check whether or not your
writing says what you intended it to
say, and whether its meaning is clear. You will also have the
opportunity to comment on your peers' project by looking indetail as
such things as vocabulary, sentence structure,
paragraphs, and arguments. The writing sample for this week
is a draft of a
section (or the introduction) of your research paper. Your draft
should be at least 3 pages long
including footnotes. You should have at least two footnotes, properly
cited according to the Chicago Manual of Style. The draft should
present an argument and some supporting evidence you have been able to
find in your research up to this point. Post
the writing sample to class members on the Canvas course page (discussion tab) by 6.00
pm the evening before class. On March 27, come with at least one
extra copy of your writing sample. You will read the sample in
class and explain briefly the context, if necessary, after which all
your peers will have the opportunity to comment on the draft. You will
have the opportunity to respond, and a discussion may ensue on the
writing sample and the broader project.
See more recommendations about how to write a good paper.
When evaluating your peers' drafts, use the following guidelines:
What is the central question or set of questions the author is trying to answer?
What is the issue about which there is disagreement?
What is the author’s position?
What is (are) the opposing position(s)?
How are they presented?
Is the introduction effective?
What kind of evidence does the author use to back up his/her claim?
Does the author cite sources correctly?
What are the paragraphs like in general?
Does each paragraph have one main point?
Are there clear transitions between paragraphs?
Are the ideas well organized?
How might the author re-organize a paragraph or section to make his or her point clearer?
What are the sentences like in general?
What kinds of words are used? What are the key terms?
Which words or phrases seem awkward, ambiguous, or grammatically incorrect?
Which sentences seem redundant?
Where does the reader get confused?
WEEK 13 (April 3): Writing workshop II
Follow the instructions for the previous week (due date is April 3).
WEEK 14 (April 10): Conference presentations I:
- Spencer Strom, The Christian response to catastrophe in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages
- Maria Panais, The plague of Justinian: catastrophe and the end of an empire
- John Abernethy, Christian and Muslim catastrophes in medieval Spain
- Jacob Lemaster, Pandemonium and rinderpest in the Carolingian age
- Aaron Blandina, Comparing how Christians and Muslims treated the Jews in medieval Europe
Print out the oral presentation rubric and fill in the corresponding score.
WEEK 15 (April 17): Conference presentations II.
- Ethan White, A Comnenian catastrophe: the persisting perception of Emperor Andronikos as the embodiment of disaster
- Jude Wender, The catastrophe of the Fourth Crusade
- Miranda Cunniff, The Children's Crusade of 1212
- Erik Trzyna, Genghis Khan or Prester John? A comparison of expectation and experience
- Taha Hashmi, The Mongols and the Muslim catastrophe
- Francisco Marcano-Santos, The Great Famine of the early 14th century and religious behavior
- Print out the oral presentation rubric and fill in the corresponding score.
- Rough draft of research paper (at least 10 pages) due on Friday, April 13
WEEK 16 (April 24): Conference presentations III.
- Rachel Moseley, An untimely war: Bruce's invasions of Ireland, 1315-1318
- Sean Zeitlin, The Knights Templar. A medieval catastrophe
- Isabelle Wakeman, The Black Death in Florence. An analysis of post-plague social structure
- Marshal Wille, Heresy and Black Death: the Flagellant movement of 1348-1349
- Bailey Lefever, The evolution of the portrayal of disastruous death
- Steven Calcutt, Understanding the peasant revolt of 1381: a closer look
Print out the oral presentation rubric and fill in the corresponding score.
25, by 12:00 pm: Research paper (together with the writing sample and
marked-up rough draft) due in hard copy in my office.
2017 © Florin Curta