MST Course Descriptions

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MST1002Y Advanced Latin: Medieval Lives of the Authors — C. O'Hogan

PR: 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.

MST1003Y Professional development for Medieval Studies PhDs — S. Ghosh

This course is intended to prepare PhD students in Medieval Studies for the job market. It will provide 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 giving 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: i. Funding, Grants, Bursaries, Fellowships; ii. Planning for the PhD with an Eye on the Future; iii. Coping with Academic Stress; iv. Gender Equity in Medieval Studies; v. Alternatives to Academia; vi. The Medievalist and the Department; vii. The Teaching Portfolio; viii. The Conference Circuit; ix. Publishing Research as a PhD Student; x. CVs, Cover Letters, and How to Prepare for Them; xi. Postdocs; xii. The Academic Job Search in North America and beyond.

MST1020H The Medieval Latin Epic — C. O’Hogan

Prerequisite: MST 1001Y or Level Two Latin Pass

A reading of extensive selections from a range of representative Latin epics, with attention to the appropriation and transformation of classical traditions.

MST1022H Transmission and Reception: The Survival and Use of the Latin Classics — A. Andrée

Prerequisites: Level One Latin Pass. MST1104 or 1105 are recommended.

This seminar, an exercise in Überlieferungsgeschichte, will investigate the transmission of the Latin Classics from Antiquity to the invention of print, with a focus on the medieval centuries. Manuscript traditions will be considered as well as reception in all its forms: indirect transmission (testimonia, references, quotations and allusions), commentary, and imitation. Professorial presentations of sample textual traditions will provide models for student research projects. As this seminar helps student improve Latin reading skills, it is assumed that significant amounts of text are prepared for translation and discussion at each session.

MST1101H 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.

MST1102H 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.

MST1104H Latin Palaeography I — S. Pelle

Prerequisite: The successful completion of MST1000 or pass of the Level I Latin exam.

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 twelfth century.

MST1105H 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.

MST1110H Diplomatics and Diplomatic Editing — S. Ghosh

Prerequisite:Level One Latin, MST1104H and/or MST 1105H

Most of the written evidence that survives from the Middle Ages takes the form of archival documents—charters, contracts, account books, testaments, notarial protocols, administrative minutes, court records and so forth. This course examines the production of such material by royal, papal, imperial and municipal chanceries and its use by modern historians. Diplomatic sources, which often survive in a single copy, present editors with special problems. A central objective of the course is therefore to introduce students to the conventions of diplomatic editing through weekly exercises in editing and annotating documents from the Carolingian era through to the fifteenth century.

MST1373H English Language and Literature in Translation, 1100-1250 — S. Pelle

This course is an introduction to the different kinds of texts written in English during the 150 to 200 years after the Norman Conquest. Until recently, English literary activity in the post-Conquest period was commonly labeled derivative, antiquarian, or even nonexistent. However, the last several years have seen the emergence of a more nuanced appreciation of the texts composed or copied after the so-called “end” of the Anglo-Saxon tradition and before the earliest works usually included in the Middle English canon. In the first half of the course, we will focus on the language of the texts. What changes in phonology, morphosyntax, and vocabulary occurred during this period? How did the various Old English dialects (often only sparsely attested) develop into the major early Middle English literary dialects (Kentish, East Midlands [like theOrrmulum], West Midlands [incl. the ‘AB’language], etc.)? A good knowledge of Old English is necessary for this component of the course, though no expertise in Old English dialectology is expected. After reading week, we will shift our attention to questions of genre and style. Various texts in prose and verse—homilies, prayers, lyrics (both sacred and secular), debate poems, and epic—will be read in the original. Special attention will be paid, on one hand, to the continued use of Old English forms and motifs and, on the other, to innovations that anticipate trends in later Middle English literature.

MST1384H Exeter Book of Old English Verse — A. Walton

Prerequisite: Basic Old English, ENG1001H or equivalent

The late tenth-century Exeter Book is one of the four major codices containing Old English verse, and includes the greatest variety of vernacular poems of any surviving Anglo-Saxon manuscript. In this series of seminars, readings, translations, and presentations, we will consider the full range of saints’ lives, elegies, riddles, translations, snippets of Germanic legend, and adaptations from Latin in the Exeter Book. With its eclectic mixture of both native secular heroic poetry and verse that draws deeply on the imported Latin Christian tradition, the Exeter Book offers a unique and compelling snapshot of the literary culture of Anglo-Saxon England.

MST 1422H Introduction to the Study of Magic in the Middle Ages — J. Haines

In the last few decades, the field of medieval magic has developed into an important interdisciplinary area of scholarship. This seminar will serve as a broad introduction to magic in the Middle Ages for students working in disciplines ranging from literature to the history of science; to my knowledge, this is the first such course offered at the CMS. Following an introduction to the different types of magic – from healing and astrology to exorcism and necromancy – the seminar will briefly survey the historiography of medieval magic from the 1500s onwards. The bulk of the seminar will concern the vast range of mostly Latin literature related to medieval magic. While genres such as dream-books have been relatively well studied, others, such as chiromancy manuals, have received less attention. Significant time will be devoted to well-known works such as the Secret of Secrets and the Notory Art.

MST2010H Old Norse — R. Getz

This course is an introduction to Old Norse language and literature, focusing on basic instruction in Old Norse grammar and short readings from poetic and prose texts.

MST2030H Introduction to Old Irish — B. Miles

An introduction to classical Old Irish. This comprises instruction and assignments in grammar and translation. A selection of Old Irish texts will be read and some instruction and reading will be given in handling later transitional Irish literary texts.

MST2031H Topics in Medieval Celtic Literature — B. Miles

Topics in Medieval Celtic Literature is meant to serve 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 the 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.

MST2037H Legendary History of Britain and Ireland from Celtic Sources — B. Miles

The course is designed to introduce CMS students to early historiography from the medieval Celtic nations in both Latin and the Celtic vernaculars, with emphasis on legendary narrative depicting pre-historic Ireland and Britain. The approach will be to read especially the foundation myths of the Celtic world as texts relevant to the political and intellectual history of early medieval Europe, as well as narrative literary works in their own right. Sources will be read in chronological order, and will include, on the Irish side, the Irish Book of Invasions, and on the British side Nennius’s History of the Britons, Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain and historical narrative from the Welsh vernacular tradition. All materials will be read in English translation, but the instructor will give assistance to students who wish to use their Latin and, for specialists, their Irish and Welsh, in their seminar research.

MST2040H Beginnings of Medieval Rhetoric and Poetics — J. Ross

This course will trace the medieval transformation of classical ideas about persuasive language and literary aesthetics. We will focus on such topics as the role of figurative language, especially metaphor and allegory, the structural principles of literary works, and the function of literature in society. The course will consider the classical basis of medieval rhetorical thought through an analysis of select writings of the Sophists, Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Quintilian, Augustine and Horace. We will then turn to early medieval rhetorical and linguistic thought in the writings of such theorists as Martianus Capella, Isidore of Seville, and Donatus. We will also examine how the views of language expressed in classical and early medieval rhetorical texts shaped the later development of medieval literature.

MST2051H Introduction to Middle Welsh — B. Miles

The course is an introduction to Middle Welsh language, the native language of medieval Wales. Middle Welsh is the language of one of the most vibrant literatures from medieval Europe, comprising writings in both poetry and prose from ca. 1100 to 1500.  Students will work from a course book which introduces the grammar and structures required to read the medieval language, and which includes an edition of a complete Middle Welsh prose text. Class-time will be devoted to translation and reading from the original Welsh text under the supervision of the instructor. The course will also teach the linguistic vocabulary for describing a Celtic language. No prior knowledge of Welsh is assumed.

MST3021H Boethius — J. Magee

Prerequisite: Level One Latin Pass and either French or German

The course will cover a range of works in the Boethian corpus, with special attention given to the Philosophiae consolatio.  Although the emphasis will be on the Boethian works and their ancient background, students are invited to pursue aspects of the medieval Fortleben that may interest them.

MST3123H 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 thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, medical responses to the Black Death, and anatomy on the eve of Renaissance medicine.

MST3165H Vernacular Religious Literature in Medieval France — D. Kullmann

This course combines an overview over vernacular (French or Occitan) religious literature in medieval France with the detailed study of a few selected cases. Topics discussed will include: the typology of religious literature, the role of the Church in the birth of vernacular literature, its complex relationship with the emerging profane genres, historical practices of piety, bilingualism, types of translation and re-writing, the role of women. Selected paraliturgical and hagiographic texts from different genres and periods will be studied in class or be presented by the participants. The second half of the term will be dedicated to the in-depth study of a Latin-French Book of Hours.

Prerequisite: Basic reading knowledge of Latin and Old French or, alternatively, Old Occitan (normally an Old French or Old Occitan course), or permission by Instructor.

MST3226 Medieval Mediterranean History — M. Meyerson

This course treats major themes in the history of the ‘multi-cultural’ (Christian, Muslim and Jewish) Mediterranean world during the Middle Ages.  Among the themes treated are:  conquest and colonisation; relations between the adherents of ruling faiths and religious minorities; ideologies and practices of ‘holy war’; slavery; gender, honor, and shame; interfaith commerce; and cultural exchange.

MSTS3231H Clio’s Workshop; Introduction to Historical Methods — S. Ghosh

History is rarely, if ever, ‘innocent’: all historians select their themes, sources, and methods in accordance with conscious or unconscious agendas which, more often than not, are dictated by contemporary preoccupations. It is therefore incumbent on the historian to reflect on the methodologies she uses, and to render explicit the underlying assumptions that inform his or her research. This course has three objectives: (1) to help historians at CMS think reflexively about historical methodology by reading and discussing some key texts on the practice of history in general; (2) to introduce students to key texts and theories that have been influential in historical practice in the past several decades, including those from cognate disciplines; and (3) to see how various methodologies work in practice by examining medievalist scholarship influenced by some of the theoretical approaches discussed in the course. In addition to classic attempts to define history, the course will cover the following topics: the Annales school; Marxist history; economic history; nations, tradition, ‘ethnicity’; sociology and historical sociology; gender and queer studies; anthropology and history; art and history; environmental history. There are no prerequisites for taking this course.

MST3237H 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.

MST3263H Gender and Sexuality in Medieval Literature — M. Roby

Questions surrounding gender and sexuality loom large in the cultural conversation of twenty-first-century western society. Notable examples include, but are by no means limited to, the relationship between biological sex and gender identity, the rights of LGBTQIA2 individuals, and the issue of consent in the #MeToo era. But since gender and sexuality are essential both to individual identity and to interpersonal, familial, and societal relationships, strikingly similar questions crop up in texts from throughout the medieval world. This course will introduce students to medieval texts dealing with topics such as masculinity and femininity, gender fluidity, homosexuality, and sexual assault. The reading list will draw from a wide range of medieval corpora, including the Old Norse-Icelandic, English, French, and Arabic. With reference to key works of theoretical and literary-critical scholarship, students will be encouraged to consider how these texts reflect the attitudes and customs of their originating societies, well as how they relate to ideologies in the pre- and post-medieval context. Texts will be read in translation where appropriate, though students will be encouraged to engage with the lexis of gender and sexuality in various medieval contexts.

MST3301H Themes in Medieval Philosophy — P. King

This course will look at medieval discussions of the issues later raised, famously, by Descartes in his *Meditations*.  To that end, we’ll consider topics such as the following: scepticism, self-knowledge, certainty, the distinction between mind and body, dualism, the nature of matter, proofs for the existence of God, real and diminished being, error, what can be known of the material world, and the content of our sensations.  The exact topics will depend on how much will be available in translation by then.  Most of the readings will be drawn from philosophers working in the Latin Christian West after the rise of the Universities (so roughly 1240+).

Knowledge of Latin is *not* necessary but of course would be helpful.  Students can write either one long research paper at the end of the term or three shorted papers in the course of the term.

MST3311H Topics in Medieval Metaphysics — P. King

In this course we will focus on the metaphysics of Ibn Sīnā (Avicenna, d. 1037), perhaps the most original and influential metaphysician in classical Islamic philosophy. Our focus will be on the Metaphysics of his main work, the Healing or Cure, although some consideration will also be given to Avicenna’s predecessors Al-Kindī (d. 870) and Al-Fārābī (d. 950), and to Avicenna’s critical reception by al-Ghazālī (d. 1111) and ibn Rushd (Averroes, d.1198). Topics to be covered include the conception of metaphysics as the study of being; the distinction between essence and existence; necessity and possibility; causality; universals and particulars; the existence and attributes of God.

Principal Text: Avicenna, The Metaphysics of the Healing. Trans. M. E. Marmura. Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 2005.

MST3321H Philosophy of Mind in the Middle Ages — D. Black

This course will be devoted to a close reading of Avicenna’s most comprehensive work on philosophical psychology, The Book on the Soul from his summa of philosophy, The Healing (Al-Shifāʾ). This text had a lasting impact on philosophy and theology both in the Islamic world and the West. Avicenna covers a wide range of topics, including the relation of the soul and the intellect to the body; personal identity, consciousness, and self-awareness; the nature of intellectual cognition; the nature of sense perception and imagination; animal cognition; and the relations between intellectual and sense cognition.

Main Texts:  Our readings will be drawn from the complete draft English translation by D. Black and M. Marmura, Avicenna, Healing: Psychology. The text is also available in the original Arabic, in medieval Latin translation, and in French.

MST3346H 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.

MST3347H Late Antique and Early Medieval Philosophical Commentators — J. Magee

The course treats of the Platonic and Peripatetic traditions of philosophical commentary from the 1st c. BCE to the 6th c. CE, and emphasizes points of continuity between Greco-Roman, Medieval, and Byzantine thought as represented by commentators such as Alexander of Aphrodisias, Porphyry, Iamblichus, Calcidius, Macrobius, Proclus, Ammonius, Boethius, and Simplicius.  Level-One Latin or higher is strongly recommended, also a reading knowledge of either French or German; students should contact the instructor to discuss qualifications for enrolment. 

MST3501H 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 thirteenth through the fifteenth centuries. The latter will include hands-on work with liturgical books housed in University of Toronto library collections.

MST3602H Crime and Punishment in the Middle Ages — Y. Iglesias

This course focuses on the most common crimes and punishments in the Middle Ages. We review crimes like theft, infidelity, rape, insults, treason, prostitution, murder, and punishment as death penalty, amputations, forced matrimonies, economic sanctions, and torture. A goal of the course is to understand how punishments not only depended on the crime itself but on the criminal’s position in the social hierarchy. The course draws on a wide variety of source material including records of individual court cases, legal codes, literary texts, and images. It will be a survey of the middle ages.

MST3603H Society and Literary Texts in Medieval Spain — Y. Iglesias

The course presents a historical overview of fundamental aspects of Spanish society in the Middle Ages and provides a look at social issues through the analysis of representative literary texts of this period. The course begins by reading articles that provide the historical background on how medieval society viewed and dealt with death, love, faith, crime, marriage, prostitution, treason, and honour. Secondly, the course develops into the analysis of the main corpus of literary works written in medieval Spain between the beginning of the 13th and the end of the 15th century as documents for the study of the Middle Ages. We will read literature in translation, such as The poem of Mio Cid (c.1200), The Miracles of our Lady (c. 1250), The Book of Good Love (c. 1330), Tales of Count Lucanor (c. 1335), Stanzas about the Death of his Father (c. 1476), and La Celestina (1499).