The desire to take a class with me, of course!
During the Spring and Summer quarter, I’ll be teaching at the Graham School, in the Spring on Nature in the Middle Ages and in the Summer on Medieval Travel. Here are the course descriptions, first, nature:
All the creatures of the world are like a book, a picture and a mirror to us,” so wrote the medieval poet and philosopher Alain of Lille. Our task in the course is to understand how medieval men and women read that book of nature, both by exploring the philosophy of nature and investigating the practical encounter with the natural world in the daily life of farmers, hunters, travelers, and saints. Using the seven days of creation as our framework, we will learn how the people of the Middle Ages thought about stars and planets, birds and beasts, plants and human beings, and how their understanding of nature shaped their lives and thought in ways that still resonate today.
It is commonly believed that the Middle Ages was an age of stagnation and stasis in which people lived narrow lives, confined geographically and intellectually to small villages and family farms. This course challenges that belief, demonstrating that the era was one of dynamic movement in which people motivated by curiosity, by conquest, by gold, and by God traveled throughout Europe to the edges of the known world. We will explore these journeys in the words of missionaries, pilgrims, crusaders, and adventurers as they pushed the boundaries of European consciousness towards China, into the far north, and across the Atlantic. Our goal is to understand why medieval men and women traveled, what they sought, what they found, and what they brought back with them.
The classes are open to everyone and will run for eight weeks on Monday afternoons at the Gleacher Center downtown. They’re going to be a lot of fun, I’m really excited. If you’re interested, follow these links: Nature & Travel to see the syllabi (also linked on the Teaching page above), register, etc. There’s also going to be an open house at Gleacher on the 15th, if you’d like to swing by and chat with me about the courses and/or check out other offerings.
Don’t be the only one on your block who doesn’t get references to Mandeville’s Travels and the Cosmographia! Think of the shame when you can’t even explain the basics of Gregory of Nyssa’s anthropology! Be cool! Sign-up today!