MST Course Descriptions

MST 1002Y Advanced Latin: Medieval Lives of the Authors - P. King
Prerequisite: Level Two Latin pass OR completion of MST1001 OR permission of the instructor
This course looks at the tradition of literary biography in the Middle Ages and its relation to the formation and preservation of the Latin literary canon. We will read a selection of texts from across the medieval millennium, including:

  • the exemplary biographical tradition of brief vitae from Jerome to Boccaccio
  • the many tall tales about Virgil’s magical powers
  • hagiographic authors’ lives such as the Vita Alcuini; the de Vetula, allegedly Ovid’s autobiography
  • the phenomenon of bibliography as autobiography in Augustine, Bede, and Richard de Bury

Particular attention will be paid throughout to: 

  • the relationship between literary biography and book history
  • the tensions between biography, hagiography, and literary criticism
  • questions of truth and authenticity

MST 1003Y Professional development for Medieval Studies PhDs - C. O’Hogan
This course is intended to prepare PhD students in Medieval Studies for the job market. It will provide for them an overview of the non-scholarly skills they will need to acquire for the academic job search and for their professional lives beyond the job search, as well as give them information about non-academic options. The course will meet for 12 two-hour sessions over the course of three academic years and will include presentations from a range of faculty and guest speakers, with special attention given to the unusual challenges faced by students in our unit. Individual sessions will include coverage of the following topics:

  • Funding, Grants, Bursaries, Fellowships
  • Planning for the PhD with an Eye on the Future
  • Coping with Academic Stress; iv. Gender Equity in Medieval Studies
  • Alternatives to Academia
  • The Medievalist and the Department
  • The Teaching Portfolio
  • The Conference Circuit
  • Publishing Research as a PhD Student
  • CVs, Cover Letters, and How to Prepare for Them
  • Postdocs
  • The Academic Job Search in North America and Beyond

MST 1023H.  Early Medieval Latin and Greek Poetry - C. O’Hogan
Study of the Latin and Greek poetry of late antiquity (c. 300 – c. 700 CE), with focus on the major genres (biblical epic, panegyric, hymnody, epigram) and on the continuities with earlier classical and later medieval literature. Students will be introduced to the principal authors of the period (e.g. Proba, Prudentius, Nonnus, Eudocia, Venantius Fortunatus, Paul the Silentiary, Columbanus, Aldhelm, Agathias) and to trends in recent scholarship on late antique poetry. Texts will be made available both in the original and in English translation: additional reading classes will be offered for those wishing to improve their Latin and/or Greek reading skills. Assessment will consist of participation, an in-class presentation, a literature review, and a term paper. 

MST 1101H Codicology - C. O’Hogan
Prerequisite: MST 1104H or MST 1105H
A study of the making and keeping of medieval manuscripts. This course will include selected readings on various aspects of manuscript production as well as a practicum on the codicological description of manuscripts.

MST 1102H Practical Palaeography - J. Haines
This seminar aims to define the field of practical paleography by combining scholarly research and practical experimentation to better understand the process of medieval writing.  Still today, nearly all research on medieval paleography involves little to no experimentation.  Class activities will depend largely on individual student projects: self-motivation is a must!  Term projects will deal with a narrow and carefully circumscribed question related to any aspect of medieval writing on surfaces such as wax, parchment, paper or other historically attested materials.  Phases of writing include the preparation of writing surfaces (e.g., preparing parchment by pricking, ruling or designing layout on wax), the preparation of writing utensils (e.g., sharpening quills), as well as the writing process itself (e.g., drafting text in wax, erasing script on parchment).  The term essay will combine course experiments with historical research on a specific question related to medieval writing.

MST 1104H Latin Palaeography I - S. Pelle
Prerequisite: successful completion of MST1000 OR Level I Latin exam pass
An introduction to early medieval scripts. The course is designed as a practicum in the transcription of scripts from the late Roman Empire to the 12th century.

MST 1105H Latin Palaeography II - G. Dinkova-Bruun
Prerequisite: MST1000Y
Study of Latin Scripts from 1200 to 1600 A.D. with attention to the cultural-historical background of Gothic writing, the physical characteristics of manuscripts, library practices and bibliographical resources. Training in reading scripts is provided through weekly exercises.

MST 1117H Medieval English Handwriting 1300-1500 - S. Sobecki
The study of handwriting in late-medieval medieval England is a complex and dynamic field. Since the publication in 1969 of M.B. Parkes’ foundational English Cursive Book Hands, 1250-1500, English palaeography has diverged significantly from continental practice in terminology and approach. The specificity of the main scripts used in England – Anglicana and Secretary – has developed into a highly specialised field, often at the expense of acknowledging points of contact with continental and, especially, French handwriting. 
This course will introduce students to the study of handwriting in late medieval England (1300-1500), with a focus on literary and administrative writing in English, though French and Latin will also be considered. We will study the main scripts used in England (Anglicana, Secretary, and Textura) in their administrative and literary guises, and we will explore the different systems to classify scripts as used by English and continental European scholars. Our approach will be both specialist and comparative, taking account of developments in France and elsewhere in Europe. In addition, we will examine in detail existing controversies in English palaeography, in particular the cases of Adam Pinkhurst and Thomas Hoccleve. 

MST 2031H Topics in Medieval Celtic Literature - B. Miles
Serves as an introduction to the rich vernacular literary remains of the medieval Celtic nations. This seminar course is intended both for students with a general background in Medieval Studies, as well as those who already have a specialization in medieval Ireland, Scotland and Wales. In any given year the course may focus on different selected literary genres or geographic areas, for example, ‘The Heroic Tradition in Ireland and Wales’, ‘Wales and the Four Branches of the Mabinogi’, or ‘The Otherworld in Medieval Irish and Welsh Literature’. No knowledge of Celtic languages is required and all material will be read in English translation, though the instructor will be able to help students who may wish to do their seminar research primarily in Irish, Welsh or Latin.

MST 3123H Medieval Medicine - N. Everett
This course surveys the major developments and examines key texts in the history of medicine in Europe and the Mediterranean from c.300 to 1400 AD. Topics include pharmacy and pharmacological treatises, surgery, therapeutics, regimen and diet, the transmission and adaptation of ancient medical works, the contributions of Arabic authors, the school of Salerno, the rise of academic and professional medicine in the 13th and 14th centuries, medical responses to the Black Death, and anatomy on the eve of Renaissance medicine.

MST 3158H Roman de la Rose - D. Kullmann
The seminar will have three parts. During the first part of the term, we will read and interpret the various aspects of the first part of the Roman de la Rose, written by Guillaume de Lorris, focusing on its conception of love in comparison with preceding and contemporary love discourses. The middle part of the seminar will be dedicated to the emergence of allegorical romance in the 13th century, which we will discuss in the context of medieval allegory in general. During the final part of the seminar, we will study more closely various aspects (genre and relationship to the first part, sources, rhetoric, philosophy etc.) of the second part of the romance, composed by Jean de Meun, and the impact of the work as a whole.   

MST 3237H Through the Lens of Monastic Rules and Customaries - I. Cochelin
This course explores the history of monasticism from late antiquity to the late Middle Ages through its so-called normative sources, especially rules and customaries. The main goal of the course is in-depth reading of primary sources, however, attention will also be given to the recent secondary literature on these texts, challenging the traditional history of monasticism. While the focus is on monasticism, it is also a social history course as it allows the study of medieval daily life even in periods for which we have no similar sources for other groups of society. Students will be able to choose one theme to study through all the sources read in class (in translation and Latin) –such as food, organization of space, punishment or sexuality–, or to investigate lesser-known (and usually not yet translated) rules and customaries.

MST 3253H King Frederick of Sicily - N. Everett 
This course explores the complex Mediterranean world of the first half of the thirteenth century by tracing the colorful life and career of King Frederick II (1194-1250), known in his time as a ‘wonder of the world’ for his cosmopolitan court in Sicily, his knowledge of languages (including Arabic), his engagement with science and philosophers from around the world, his many titles (king of Sicily, Italy, Burgundy, Jerusalem, and Roman Emperor) and his ex-communication (three times) by the most powerful popes of medieval Europe who labelled him an Antichrist. The course examines key sources for Frederick’s reign, particularly Frederick’s own laws and contemporary chroniclers, and surveys major developments for context to Frederick’s reign, such as the Norman inheritance in Sicily, relations with the Islamicate world, the rise of mendicant orders, Pope Innocent III and the international papacy, early universities, and scholastic education.  

MST 3301H Themes in Medieval Philosophy - P. Porro 
This course will be a graduate-level survey of medieval philosophy designed to acquaint newcomers with the field. To that end, we'll look at many issues that cover several different periods of medieval philosophy, with some attention given to the institutional and social role played by philosophy at different times. Some of the issues may include:

  • epistemology (scepticism and the limits of what can be known)
  • philosophy of mind (faculty psychology, the nature of the mind, relation of the soul to the body)
  • metaphysics (identity, individuation, the problem of universals); natural philosophy (the eternity of the world, causation, determinism, the existence of a first cause)
  • ethics (virtue and vice, free will)

The exact topics will be chosen depending on student interest.  Knowledge of Latin (or Greek / Arabic / Hebrew) is *not* necessary but of course, will be helpful.  Students can write either one long research paper at the end or two/three shorter papers during the course of the term.

MST 3346H Medieval Islamic Philosophy - D. Black
This course is an introduction to the major figures and themes in classical Islamic philosophy (falsafah) from the 9th to the 12th centuries, with a focus on the works of Al-Farabi, Avicenna (Ibn Sina) and Averroes (Ibn Rushd), as well as other less well-known figures from the classical period. We will consider a range of philosophical problems in the areas of metaphysics, philosophy of mind, and epistemology, as well as topics in ethics and political philosophy. Some consideration will also be given to the views of the Mu’tazilite and Ash’arite schools of theology (kalām), the rival intellectual traditions to philosophy within the medieval Islamic world.

MST 3501H Introduction to the Medieval Western Christian Liturgy - J. Haines
This introductory course is designed to supply participants with essential tools for further research in medieval liturgy, regardless of their field of expertise. The first four weeks cover basic aspects of private and public Western Latin worship in the Middle Ages. This is followed by an in-depth study of extant liturgical books, especially those from the 13th through the 15th centuries. The latter will include hands-on work with liturgical books housed in University of Toronto library collections.

MST 3604H.  Medieval Culinary Cultures - Y. Iglesias
This course aims to search the field of culinary culture through daily life and tradition during the Middle Ages. Given that food has always been connected with the economy, religion, medicine, law, and politics, we will examine cuisine and cooking as relevant areas of research to understand life and society during the Middle Ages. We will explore Europe with a particular emphasis on Spain. Since we count on a better number of primary sources, the major focus will be the late Middle Ages (c.1300-1550). As primary sources, we will analyze cookery books, recipe collections, literature, images, legal documents, diaries, and chronicles, among others. To put in context and understand better our primary sources, we learn about celebrations, markets, religion, festivals, taverns, and food in towns, villages, and castles. These sources complement each other to build up a portrait of medieval culture and tradition through food. 
MST 5004H. Topics on Medieval Manuscripts and Textual Cultures - W. Robins
Prerequisite: Set by the instructor if/as relevant to the topic
This course will explore a topic and/or a problem related to manuscript studies and textual cultures of the Middle Ages, globally envisioned, from late antiquity to the Early modern period, but not necessarily including the entire breadth of this temporal period. By the design of the instructor, the course may address select developments in manuscript studies and textual cultures. Some modules might involve the study of sources in their original format, and convey specialized notions in paleography, codicology, and/or book history. The course will examine key sources for its topic and explore its secondary literature, while also guiding students in understanding the larger contexts of its topic.