HSTRY 201 A: History Lecture Series Colloquium

Winter 2023
Th 12:00pm - 1:20pm / SIG 225
Section Type:
Syllabus Description (from Canvas):

Joan of Arc

Medieval Made Modern

This 2-credit, C/NC colloquium is designed to be taken in conjunction with the History Lecture Series for Winter of 2023, “Medieval Made Modern.”  Both the series and the colloquium are focused on the ongoing reinterpretation of characters from the European Middle Ages. “Medievalism,” as it is called in academic circles, is a hot topic nowadays. As a culture, we are literally surrounded by symbols and images taken from the medieval period, as is evident from the multi-genre popularity of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and Martin’s Game of Thrones.  However, we not alone in this. Theologians, politicians, artists and advertisers have been reimagining the Middle Ages ever since 1500 CE, when the medieval period is usually regarded as having ended.  We are, in fact, the beneficiaries of literally centuries of reinterpreting the period and its inhabitants—to such an extent indeed that the Middle Ages to which we are responding often bears little resemblance to what the medieval persons in question would recognize as their own experience.

This disjunction between past and present is the primary focus of the lecture series this term. Each of our colloquium sessions will encourage us to think in more depth about the issues raised in lecture by allowing us to place medieval evidence side-by-side with later re-imaginings of particular individuals or groups. The broader goal of the class, as of the series, is not to identify “errors” since, after all, “real” history itself is also a reconstruction of sorts. My hope is rather to encourage all of us to become more aware of the ways we integrate the past into our own contemporary experience.  How have we--and others before us, of course--made use of historical symbols and images in voicing our own priorities and shaping our present reality?  Why do we use the past to speak about the present?

A colloquium is not a lecture but, rather, a discussion of questions and ideas generated largely by you in response to the lectures, readings, and screenings you have done for that week. Students are expected to come to class with topics and questions that we can pursue over the hour we have together. This is your chance to react to what you are hearing, seeing, and learning; it is also an opportunity to draw connections between the materials covered in the lectures and readings and your own everyday experiences. My hope for this course is that we have a great deal of fun and learn something serious in the process. If contemporary politics teaches us nothing else, it is that the past is never truly past!

Class format and requirements

  --Students must attend all five history lectures held on Wednesday nights beginning in week three and continuing on through week seven.  The lectures will be available both in person and digitally on Zoom. 

 --Students must attend and participate in all five of our colloquium sessions. These will be held on Thursdays beginning in week three and continue through week seven. There are no class sessions in weeks one, two, eight, nine, and ten. If you know that you will not be able to attend all colloquium sessions and view the lectures, you should not take the class. 

 --Students will be assigned weekly short screening and reading assignments that will form the basis of our discussions in class every Thursday.  

   --Students must complete four short written reflections on the lecture and colloquium assignments during the quarter. Reflections are due on the Monday following our colloquium discussion of that topic, and they should reflect your thinking about the issues raised by the lecture, reading/screenings, and our class discussion.  (The only exception to the Monday due date is the final reflection paper, which is due by midnight on our final class day.) Reflections for weeks four to six should be 300-500 words (maximum of 500 words); the final reflection for week seven should be 750-1000 words (maximum 1000 words). 


All written assignments will be graded C/NC.  Reflections must show evidence of good faith efforts to answer the prompts provided.  If I judge a paper as insufficient to earn the grade of Credit, I will return that paper to the author with comments and suggestions on how he or she might rewrite it for credit.   If you receive an unsatisfactory grade on an assignment, you have two weeks to revise and resubmit the assignment for credit.

This class is offered on a Credit/No Credit basis only. No numeric grade is offered for this class. To receive a passing grade (“Credit”), you must attend all five lectures, participate in all class meetings and complete all assignments satisfactorily.  Class ends at the beginning of week eight with the submission of your final paper.

For a week-by-week schedule of readings and assignments, see Files/Syllabus.




Catalog Description:
Students attend weekly lectures through the History Lecture Series, then discuss themes generated from the lectures. Students write reflective papers comparing, contrasting, and expanding upon themes presented. Credit/no-credit only. Offered: W.
Last updated:
May 19, 2024 - 2:41 pm