REMgrB31 Narratives of Empire in the Post-Classical World: From Late Antiquity to the Renaissance

Faculty of Arts
Autumn 2018
Extent and Intensity
0/2/0. 4 credit(s). Type of Completion: z (credit).
Florin Leonte, PhD (lecturer)
doc. Mgr. et Mgr. Markéta Kulhánková, Ph.D. (seminar tutor)
Guaranteed by
doc. Mgr. et Mgr. Markéta Kulhánková, Ph.D.
Department of Classical Studies - Faculty of Arts
Contact Person: Jitka Erlebachová
Supplier department: Department of Classical Studies - Faculty of Arts
each odd Wednesday 14:00–17:40 A21
There are no prerequisites for this class. We will read texts in translation.
Course Enrolment Limitations
The course is also offered to the students of the fields other than those the course is directly associated with.
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Course objectives
In this course we will explore examples of historical and fictional narrative beginning with late antique compositions and extending to late medieval texts. While we will focus primarily on individual works translated from Greek, occasionally we will compare them with Latin sources. We will also address their cross-cultural nature as well as their common ancient models. In particular, the course will discuss issues like the development of medieval narrative genres, the treatment of key historical events taking place in both East and West (e.g. transition from the ancient world, crusades, conquests), or reader responses.
Learning outcomes
The principal aims will be:
1. To explore and contextualize the major historical and fictional narratives from Late Antiquity to the late Middle Ages.
2. To introduce students to the main concepts used in the analysis of narrative accounts both historical and fictional.
3. To give students an overview of the major historical events and social processes that shaped the medieval world and investigate their treatment in narrative accounts.
4. To explore the differences and the similarities between the genres of historical writing (e.g. chronicle versus history) in both the Latin West and the Greek East.
5. To explore the reception of ancient historiographical and fictional models into the Greek and Latin Middle Ages.
  • Reading assignments for discussion in class will consist of selected passages of primary sources (in English translation) and secondary literature (also in English). Students will be provided with .pdf versions of the readings in advance. For each topic we will use two sessions in which we will discuss primary sources and relevant secondary literature. This semester will explore several broad themes as follows:
  • 1. Introduction. Byzantine and western medieval narratives: ancient models, social contexts, and cultural practices.
  • 2. Transformations of the Roman Empire: narrating confrontations with the barbarians in East and West. a. Primary sources: Readings from Procopius of Caesarea’ The Wars and the Secret History, John Malalas’ Chronicle. Optional: Gregory of Tours’ History of the Franks b. Secondary literature: Cameron, A. (1985). Procopius and the Sixth Century. Berkeley: University of California
  • 3. Reflecting on early developments in the Christian Church: late antique and early medieval ecclesiastical histories. a. Primary sources: Readings from Eusebius of Caesarea’ Life of Constantine and Ecclesiastical History. Optional: Bede’s’ Historia ecclesiastica b. Secondary literature: A. Cameron (1994), Christianity and the Rhetoric of Empire
  • 4. Prophecies and apocalyptic visions: a. Primary sources: Readings from Pseudo-Methodius’ Apocalypse. An Alexandrian World Chronicle b. Secondary literature: P. Alexander (1985), The Byzantine Apocalyptic Tradition
  • 5. After Iconoclasm: The birth of a new historiography. a. Primary sources: Leo the Deacon’s History b. Secondary literature: TBA
  • 6. Epic heroes: coping with the Other. a. Primary sources: Readings from Digenis Akritas b. Secondary literature: TBA
Assessment methods
The requirements for this class are the following:
1. Regular attendance in class.
2. Short Paper: Analysis of two primary sources (due by mid-term) (2 pages).
3. Class Presentation.
4. Final essay (4 pages)
Language of instruction
Further Comments
The course is taught only once.

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