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.
Spring 2018 GPS Courses
Premodern European Urban History
This course will focus on the urban history of Europe and the Mediterranean world, broadly conceived, in the medieval and early modern periods. Throughout the semester there will be a concern for questions of continuity and change, for urban/rural connections, for a comparative focus within Western Europe and the Mediterranean world, and for questions of urban layout, the urban environment and urban demography. Also of interest are economic conjuncture in the fourteenth century, merchant religion, women in cities, and urban dispute resolution with a view to asylum and exile, compromise and arbitration. Additional issues will be added, according to student interest.
Food, Magic, Medicine: History of the Atlantic World, 1500-1800
"Food, Magic, Medicine" introduces the age of exploration as an era of encounter and exchange. Rather than focusing on conquest, it asks how Native and African cultures transformed European, American and global history during the early modern era. While imperialism relied on an ideology of supremacy, both in politics and culture, colonists were often dependent on Native and African knowledge, food and expertise. Paying careful attention to the social meaning of specific foods, such as sugar and chocolate, as well as cultural practices like scientific collecting and healing, this course will interrogate the revolutions in taste, knowledge and belief that took place in the Atlantic world between 1500 and 1800. Part 1, "Taste," examines eating, drinking and smoking as socially constructed experiences that have major economic, political and religious implications. Focusing on crops rather than specific regions, it views the culture of consumption as a vital force fueling transatlantic transformations. Part 2, "Knowledge," asks how individuals made sense of the massive amount of information that circulated throughout the Atlantic World. It investigates the European culture of collecting alongside Afro-Atlantic and Native American forms of knowledge production that both challenged and contributed to the development of a "Western canon." Part 3, "Belief," examines cultures of belief on a regional basis, using case studies to contextualize religious, political and economic movements within an Atlantic framework. Students will be asked to pair microhistorical analysis with a broad transatlantic and, at times, global framework to recognize the importance of locality in Atlantic and world history.
From the 2012 London Olympics to a prison in South Africa, from Japanese internment camps in World War II to U.S. Civil war soldiers, Shakespeare has become "the world's poet," an author whose works have been read, adapted, appropriated, and performed in nearly every corner of the world. Covering such topics as Shakespeare in Asia, Africa, Europe, America, and the Middle East, this course will examine how Shakespeare is enmeshed with local performance and cultural practices around the world, and how various connotations of "Shakespeare" have shifted according to time, place, and geography. We will begin by asking "what is global Shakespeare?" and "why Shakespeare?", and then we will follow up on some of the national threads of global Shakespeare studies in as many corners of the world as possible. Students will pursue a topic related to global Shakespeare in an independent research paper. This course should appeal not only to students interested in Shakespeare, but also to those interested in global studies, nationalism, colonialism, heritage studies, performance traditions, theories of adaptation, and ideas of the transnational traffic of literary texts.