Current Courses

Global Premodern Studies (GPS) courses are graduate-level seminars that explore topics in global premodern studies. The consortium provides funding for these courses to bring in visiting scholars to contribute new perspectives and ideas to the class.

Fall 2016 GPS Courses


HIST 5286    JB Shank    Galileo and the Beginnings of Modern Science

This course will explore the historical life and work of Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), the man often called the "founder of modern science." Topics will include the Renaissance Italian context for Galileo's work, namely the particular arrangements of authoritative knowledge that prevailed in sixteenth-century Tuscany and Venice and the role that universities, the Catholic church, learned academies, and the state played in disciplining knowledge in this context. We will then consider the monumental episodes of Galileo's career and read his seminal texts in conjunction with secondary commentaries upon them. Topics will include his telescopic observations of 1609-10; his battles with traditional Aristotelian natural philosophy; his experiments and arguments on behalf of experimental and mathematical physics; his defense of Copernican "heliocentric" cosmology and his trial and condemnation by the Roman Catholic Church for heresy; and his work in mathematics and mathematical physics that paved the way for Newton and Einstein. Throughout, the goal will be to understand the achievements of Galileo in their specific historical and cultural context.


MUS 5950    Gabriela Currie    Performing the Mediterranean

The aim of this course is to familiarize students with culturally specific and translocal performative manifestations in the Mediterranean. We will investigate networks of power, gender and class as expressed in social and cultural performative instances: from liturgy and mystery plays, to festivals and funerary rituals; from performance of epics in medieval traditions, the Balkans, and contemporary Egypt, to memories of the homeland in the Sephardic tradition, among other topics.


ARTH 5950     Ivana Horacek    Collecting and Knowledge Making in Early Modernity

In the early modern period encyclopedic collections composed of sumptuous works of art, of specimens of nature, of scientific instruments, and of things perceived as exotic due to their origin in foreign lands were formed among the ruling aristocracy and elite professionals. At this time, a renewed interest in knowledge of the classical past, coupled with encounters with foreign lands, peoples, and things contributed to a heightened sense that objects mattered. The study of natural history, as established by the ancients merged with attempts to reform knowledge through experience and direct observation of nature. Broadly speaking, this seminar will examine the early modern practice of collecting and its connection to knowledge making in relation to these contributions. Its main goal will be to interrogate the interconnections between various ways of knowing that centered on the collecting of things (such as medicine, alchemy, natural history, and art), as well as the interconnections between key players (such as the elite and the middle class) and the fluidity between these people and practices. Ultimately, this seminar seeks to understand the complex ways in which things within collections mediated knowledge of the world.


HIST 5900/8900    Howard Louthan    Reformation Europe and the World

This course is intended to expose the student to a broad range of readings (both primary and secondary) in the field of early modern religion, primarily in the European context but also with attention to global developments. Chronologically we will be moving from the fifteenth through the early eighteenth century. Though our primary focus will of course be religion, the course is intended to introduce students to a broad range of themes in the study of early modern world. Throughout the course students will be encouraged to use their language skills both for the weekly seminars and in the research of specific paper topics.


TH 8113    Michal Kobialka    Theatre History/Theory: The Enlightenment Moment

History, theories, arts, and crafts of western theatre from the ancient world to the present. Some of the topics discussed in this class include:

  • The Neo-classical Ideal:  The Cid Controversy & the Preface
  • Restoration: Procedures of Intervention
  • XVIIIth Century France: Heterologies
  • XVIIIth Century England: The Royal Exchange—1707-1713
  • XVIIIth Century England: Trans-Atlantic Community—1715-1738
  • XVIIIth Century England: Pan-Atlantic Community—1743-1776
  • The French Revolution: the Collection and the Archive
  • What is Enlightenment?: Parts I, II, & III