Full Listing of Medieval Studies Courses

Led by over twenty of Western's world-renowned medieval experts, this interdisciplinary program offers a broad array of courses that allow you to create your own roadmap through this fascinating period in history, resulting in a Major or Minor in Medieval Studies.

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     Medieval Studies

Medieval Studies 1022 - Introduction to Medieval Studies
This course will introduce civilization and thought in Europe and the Mediterranean between 400 and 1500, with emphasis on the medieval roots of many modern institutions and attitudes, including philosophy, technology, law, governance, courtly love and attitudes to women, warfare, art and archaeology, Christianity and Islam, literature, music and coinage.

Medieval Studies 1025A/B - Introduction to the Medieval World
This course will introduce civilization and thought in Europe and the Mediterranean between 400 and 1500, with emphasis on the history, technology, law, governance, theology and philosophy of the period. It will focus on a theme, concept or moment in history, such as witchcraft, the Apocalypse, or the Crusades.

Medieval Studies 1026A/B - Introduction to Medieval Cultures and Literatures
This course will introduce civilization and thought in Europe and the Mediterranean between 400 and 1500, with emphasis on the cultures, art, music and literatures of the period. It will focus on a theme, concept or moment in history, such as courtly love and attitudes to women, warfare and weaponry, or the farce.

Medieval Studies 3022F/G - Introduction to Medieval Manuscripts
Using materials available in the Rare Books Room and from private collections, this course will familiarize students with the investigation of medieval manuscripts. It will introduce medieval scripts, the description of a medieval manuscript, issues of provenance and date, and the decoration used. Students will consider the preparation of ink and pigments, and the kinds of illumination and decoration available through the medieval period.

Medieval Studies 3320F/G - Directed Readings in Medieval Studies
Students pursue directed readings in a field of Medieval Studies selected in consultation with a faculty member.

Medieval Studies 4320F/G - Independent Study Seminar
Students develop and pursue an independent research project, reporting on its progress in the seminar, and submitting an interim report and a final written report and oral presentation.

     Classical Studies

Classical Studies 3490F/G - Late Antiquity
This course explores the world of the late Roman Empire from the "crisis" of the third century AD onward, including figures such as Constantine the Great and Julian the Apostate. It examines the political, religious, intellectual and social history of the late Empire through literature, documentary texts, and material culture.

Classical Studies 4580F/G - Vindolanda Field School
This course is a 6-week study abroad experience in northern England. Students participate five days per week on the archaeological excavation at the Roman fort at Vindolanda, learning practical techniques of field archaeology. Weekends are spent taking field trips to the historical sites of Northern England and Scotland.

     Comparative Literature and Culture

Comparative Literature and Culture 2141A/B - Food and Health in the Middle Ages
Discover the fascinating world of medieval food culture and explore the role nutrition played in the theory of health and wellness. Study the presumed medicinal properties of the foodstuffs available in pre-Columbian Europe, their preparation and consumption, and try your hands on period recipes from the different regions.

Comparative Literature and Culture 2142A/B - Courtly Love
The view of erotic love as a central, life-changing event is a product of high-medieval "courtly love", which championed adulterous love. We read some of the most important works, including the troubadours and the original tale of King Arthur, Lancelot, and Guenevere, as well as a few obscene "anti-courtly" works.

Comparative Literature and Culture 3380F/G - Medieval Literature and Modern Cinema
The course studies medieval writings in tandem with films based on them, while also examining other cinematic attempts to recreate a 'real' Middle Ages. Included are the Story of the Grail, Death of King Arthur, Tristan, The Decameron, The Canterbury Tales; and films by Dreyer, Cocteau, Pasolini, Rohmer, and Bresson.


English 2076F/G - Medieval Heroes, Villains and Other Outsiders 
Many medieval heroes and villains are alive today: Thor, Loki, Beowulf, Joan of Arc, Richard the Lionheart, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Robin Hood, Arthur, Mordred, Hildegard of Bingen, Sylvester II. This course will investigate these real-life and literary figures, considering their construction in medieval texts, and their reconstruction through the ages.

English 3114E - Medieval Literature (Huron University College)
An introduction to some of the major themes and forms of Old and Middle English literature, with particular emphasis on Beowulf, Chaucer and his contemporaries, and the Arthurian tradition.

English 3300 (formerly 3001) - History of English Language
A study of the historical development of English phonology, morphology, orthography and syntax from Old English to the modern period. At the same time, we examine the changing roles of English (commercial, literary, and administrative) and the different varieties of the language available to its many speakers.

English 3310 (formerly English 3012) - Old English Language and Literature
Studying the language and literature of England a millennium ago, we will move from introducing the language to simple prose texts to the poetry of the Exeter and Vercelli Books, and for most of the second term to the study of Beowulf.

English 3315E - Disenchanted Chaucer: Authority and Literature in Medieval England
The authority of crown, family, and church, and even the texts that supported those institutions, was questioned in the late medieval period. While introducing the Middle English language, this course will explore how Geoffrey Chaucer and his contemporaries used literature to critique social and political institutions.

English 3316E - Love in the Middle Ages
This course explores representations of love and desire in the culture of Europe from the twelfth to the fifteenth centuries. While introducing the Middle English language, we will read romances, dream visions, mystical visions, love letters, and plays in their scientific, historical, and religious contexts.

English 3318E - Middle English Literature (Brescia University College and King's University College)
This course is an introduction to some of the major texts and themes of Middle English literature, with an emphasis on Chaucer and his contemporaries. Examples of medieval drama, romances, texts from the Arthurian tradition, and medieval autobiography and letter-writing may also be included.

English 3319F/G - Topics in Medieval Language and Literature
This course allows for further study in medieval literature beyond the introductory level. It may concentrate on a shorter historical span, a particular genre, or use some other principle of selection. Consult the Department for offerings.

English 3579F/G - Canadian Medievalism
Medievalism, the reception of the Middle Ages, is a relatively new field of scholarly endeavour, and even newer is analysis of medievalism as it functions in the literature of a particular nation. Australia is far in the lead, with several monographs and many articles specifying the particularly antipodean approach to the Middle Ages, and especially nowadays addressing how Peter Jackson makes the hobbit into a species indigenous to New Zealand. The study of Canadian medievalisms is a new one, but well worth our attention. One of the two inventors of Superman, a thoroughly medieval and chivalric hero, was Canadian. Several modern ventures in the field of real "reel" medievalism are Canadian: the joint Canadian­Icelandic production Beowulf and Grendel and more recently the Irish-Canadian television series The Vikings. There is also the strain of the academically trained individual engaging in a highly sophisticated way with the Middle Ages, notably the poets Earle Birney and Jeramy Dodds, the Icelandic immigrant literature of Western Canada (especially Manitoba), and the noted twentieth-century thinker, Robertson Davies. The course, then, will introduce the field of medievalism in general before looking at the roots of Canadian medievalism (in British and American nineteenth-century medievalisms by writers such as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Walt Whitman, Alfred Lord Tennyson, and T.S. Eliot). We will look at some other manifestations of Canadian medievalism: institutions, architecture, restaurants, stained glass, videogames, the role of the forest, and much more. We will then turn to the medievalist fantasy (which in Canada sometimes intersects with indigenous legend and myth), including works by such writers as Jack Whyte, Guy Gavriel Kay, Sean Stewart, and Charles de Lint. Finally, we will consider whether Canada's major contribution to modern medievalism lies in a recreation of the real Middle Ages or in a fantastic hybrid construction of the medieval with the modern. Available by special permission depending on student's major project.

English 4311E - Seminar in Medieval Language and Literature: Tolkien and Anglo-Saxon
At the age of sixteen, a master at King Edward's School in Birmingham lent Ronald Tolkien an Anglo-Saxon primer, which he devoured with enthusiasm before turning to the reading of Beowulf, then Middle English, then Old Norse, and then Germanic philology as a subject of some fascination.  And then he turned to inventing languages.  In this course, we will study Old English as Tolkien did, beginning with introductory short prose texts, then some of the shorter poems, and then Beowulf, always comparing our approach to Tolkien's, and the primer and reader that he used with our own introductory texts.  When we get to Beowulf, we will read his landmark Gollancz Lecture from 1936, which arguably turned the study of the poem from the quarrying philologists and archaeologists, and towards scholars of literature and culture.  We will briefly consider the other poems which Tolkien addressed in his scholarly role as Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon in the University of Oxford, before turning to the works that Tolkien wrote himself, inspired by the medieval texts he studied professionally.  We will read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and consider their reception during and after Tolkien's life, and will delve somewhat into Tolkien's own compositions in Old English, and his other engagements with Anglo-Saxon matters.

English 4312F/G - Seminar in Medieval Language and Literature: Geoffrey Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde
This course is an in-depth study of Geoffrey Chaucer's masterpiece. Troilus and Criseyde was composed in the 1380s and tells the love story of Troilus, son of Priam and prince of Troy, and Criseyde, daughter of Calchas the traitor, as it unfolds during the siege of Troy. Widely considered to be the pinnacle of medieval romance, Troilus and Criseyde was also profoundly influential on English writers after Chaucer, including Shakespeare. Our study of the poem will entail some exploration of Chaucer's sources, such as Boethius's Consolation of Philosophy, Boccaccio's Il Filostrato, and Benoît de Saint-Maure's Roman de Troie, as well as selected readings in the poem's rich afterlife, with such texts as Henryson's Testament of Cresseid and Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida. We will read Chaucer's Middle English but all Latin, Italian, and French texts will be read in modern English translations. Our reading will be supported and informed by lectures and seminar discussions on such topics as Middle English poetics and the romance genre; philosophical ideas about time, free will, and necessity; key concepts and practices of textual transmission, translation, and adaptation; and late medieval politics of sex and gender.


French 3540F/G/Z-3542F/G/Z- Culture and Literature in Society: The Middle Ages in France
Through the study of the cultural productions from the Middle Ages in France, students will deepen their knowledge of specific productions as well as of critical approaches to them in order to be able to formulate their own critical perspectives and to communicate them effectively and accurately orally and in writing. Permission of the Department is required for all Z-courses.

French 3870A/B - History of the French Language
An overview of the internal and external evolution of French, from Latin to the present. Historical phonetics, morphology and syntax shed light on lexical developments as well as philological issues arising in French texts of different periods. Social and political factors influencing the status of French today are also considered.

French 4040A/B - Old French Language
The introduction to Old French has a double objective: it permits the direct study of the earliest examples of French literature and at the same time provides a diachronic overview of the morphological, phonetic and syntactic evolution of the French language.


German 3341F/G - Literature and Culture of the Middle Ages
Study the 12th century revitalized intellectual life in Europe, and the great medieval works of chivalry and romantic love in their cultural context. Gain indepth knowledge of castle and cathedral architecture, fashion, food, travel, sexuality, courtly love, and the hunt in text and image. Taught in English and German.


History 2149A/B - Medieval Lives
An introduction to medieval western Europe through an examination of the lives of some of its inhabitants, with a particular focus on their daily lives. The historical reality of such lives is juxtaposed against contemporary popular notions about the middle ages. What can these lives tell us about their society.

History 2173 - War in the Ancient and Medieval World
A consideration of technical, cultural, social and political aspects of warfare. The course ends with the fall of Constantinople and the use of gunpowder.

History 2401E - Medieval Europe
This course examines the transformation of European economies, political structures, religious and social institutions, and cultures in the thousand years between the fall of Rome and the European voyages of discovery, and the degree to which ordinary people shaped their societies and affected the course of historical change.

History 2405E - Thrones Games: The English Monarchy from the Anglo-Saxons to the Death of Richard III
The course begins with the Anglo-Saxon heptarchy (seven kingdoms) and ends in 1485. We shall study such themes as the means used to attain and keep power, the nature of rebellions and the relationship between rulers and ruled. Students will undertake document work and a Computer Module assist analysis.

History 2606E - The Making of the Modern Middle East
This course moves from the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire through the formation of independent Turkey and the Arab and Jewish states to a consideration of social, economic and political developments such as the development of secular nationalism, socialism, pan-Islamism, and the challenges facing the modern Middle East.

History 2607F/G - History & Civilization of Medieval Islam
The course introduces the main events and themes of Islamic history and civilization and their place in world history. Topics include: Muhammad and the Qur'an, the Islamic legal system, social structure and political institutions, literature, philosophy, theology, art and architecture, medicine and science, interaction with Europe, the Crusades, and trade.

History 2650E - Peppers, Pirates and Priests: East Asia in World History Before 1800 (King's University College)
Explores cultural, social, religious and economic interactions both within East Asia and between East Asia and the rest of the world before the age of European dominance.

History 3423F/G - North of the Wall: Scotland from Foundations to 1603
The creation of the kingdom of Scotland and of a sense of Scottish identity, from beginnings up to the union of the crowns of Scotland and England in 1603. Topics include Scottish geography, the racial composition of the Kingdom and the role of church and crown in uniting the country.

History 3426F/G - Making A Living In The Middle Ages: Farmers, Guild Artisans And Merchants
This course provides an overview of select critical debates about the medieval western European economy by examining the lives of its most important actors: farmers, guild artisans and merchants. Students will also learn how to analyse some of the historical documents employed by historians in these debates.

History 3497F/G - Selected Topics in European History (Huron University College)
See History Department for current offerings.

History 3605E - Crusaders & Moslems in the Twelfth Century
Aspects of Frankish and Moslem Societies and Cultures in the Middle East.

History 4603F/G - Silk Roads and Spice Routes: Ancient and Medieval Asia and World Contacts
This course will investigate the economic, political, religious, cultural, and technological impact of long distance land and sea trade between Asia and other world regions in ancient and medieval times up to around 1500.

History 4421E - Medieval Villages, Medieval Worlds
Welcome to the worlds present in a single medieval village! Students in this methodology research-oriented seminar course will reconstruct a fourteenth century English village and analyze the behaviors of its inhabitants. Questions to be examined include the nature and significance of violence, co-operation, governance and women's roles.


Latin 2000 - Advanced Latin
A continuation of Latin grammar and an introduction to the works of Latin authors.


Music 3700A/B - Topics in Medieval Music
Selected topics in the historical, cultural, and analytical study of medieval music (c. 900 – 1400).


Philosophy 2006 - The Metaphysics and Epistemology of Witchcraft
Witches: who they were, why they were thought to be witches by themselves and others, what was done to them and why? The course will treat a number of standard philosophical issues (the mind-body problem, causation, free-will, theories of knowledge) through a study of Renaissance and early modern material.

Philosophy 2201F/G - Introduction to Medieval Philosophy (Huron University College)
A brief survey of some main problems in mediaeval philosophy. Emphasis will be placed on metaphysical and epistemological issues.

Philosophy 2205W/X - Ancient and Medieval Philosophy (King's University College)
A survey of the great philosophers from the pre-Socratics to Aquinas; focusing on the systematic unity of their thought, the influence of their ideas and their importance for us today. Themes include: the nature of reality, human existence, truth, God, political agency, and ethics.

Philosophy 2214 - Thomistic Philosophy I (King's University College)
An introduction to the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas through textual analysis and discussion of a selection of his philosophical writings. The course will concern principally his philosophy of nature, philosophical psychology, moral philosophy, metaphysics and philosophical theology.

Philosophy 3012F/G - Medieval Philosophy
A survey of core issues and figures in medieval philosophy.

Philosophy 3014F/G - Later Medieval Philosophy (Huron University College)
An intermediate survey of selected works by philosophers writing in the high middle ages. Figures to be studied may include Siger of Brabant, Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scotus, and William of Ockham.

Philosophy 4023F/G - Special Topics in Early Medieval Philosophy

Philosophy 4026F/G - Special Topics in Later Medieval Philosophy

Philosophy 4027F/G - Special Topics in Later Medieval Philosophy

     Religious Studies

Religious Studies 2126F/G - The Early Church to the Late Middle Ages (Huron University College)
The history of the Christian Church from its origin to the late Middle Ages.

Religious Studies 2204F/G - World Religions: Judaism and Islam (King's University College)
A study of the history, faith and practices of Judaism and Islam.

Religious Studies 2285F/G - Introduction to Islam (King's University College)
A study of Islam, its origin, main beliefs and practices; Islamic law, theology and mystical traditions; the diversity of modern Islam and its responses to the modern world.

Religious Studies 2297F/G - Faith in Sound, Stone, and Paint (Huron University College)
An exploration of how music, architecture, and the visual arts can both reflect and help shape faith. Representative works from a wide variety of historical periods will be studied in their theological and cultural contexts.

     Theological Studies

Theological Studies 3331F/G - Liturgical Music (Huron University College)
Course description tba.

     Visual Arts History

Visual Arts History 2251E - Early Mediaeval Art
Art and architecture of Europe and the Mediterranean from late antiquity to the year 1000. Topics include Judeo-Christian, Byzantine, Islamic, Carolingian, and Ottonian art, with emphasis on cultural interactions.

Visual Arts History 2252F/G - Early Medieval Art
A brief introduction to the art and architecture of Europe and the Mediterranean from late antiquity to the year 1000, with emphasis on cultural interactions.

Visual Arts History 2253E - Romanesque and Gothic Art
European artistic culture from 1000 to 1500, contextualizing varied manifestations of the visual languages now termed "Romanesque" and "Gothic" in architecture, sculpture, stained glass, manuscripts, metalwork, and other media.

Visual Arts History 2254F/G - Romanesque Art
European art and architecture from the 10th through 12th centuries, contextualizing its diverse forms, functions, and audiences in relation to such international phenomena as monasticism and pilgrimage.

Visual Arts History 2255F/G - Gothic Art
European visual culture from ca. 1150 to ca. 1500, with historical contextualization of the building and decoration of cathedrals and the production of objects in other media.

Visual Arts History 2259F/G - Italian Renaissance Art
Architecture, painting, and sculpture in Italy from 14th-century Tuscany to late 16th-century Venice. This is a blended course with an online component.

Other Course Options:

Additional courses from those listed above or senior-level courses in Medieval Studies on an approved list*, or Latin 2000** (1.0 of these 2.0 courses may also be taken through study abroad, e.g., at Poitiers for an intensive Latin course, or engaging in a relevant archaeological dig in Europe or the Middle East.)