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Course Syllabus
HIST2401E (Medieval Europe)
Medieval Europe (2020)
  • Jason Dyck
The medieval period (or Middle Ages) has often been presented as a dark age in European history, an unfortunate detour in the inevitable march of progress from antiquity to modernity. When people hear the word “medieval,” images of superstitious mobs, intolerant crusaders, and repressive governments quickly come to mind. They also think of iron maidens, racks, and other instruments of torture now that “to get medieval” has become a common expression popularized by the 1994 film Pulp Fiction. Others approach medieval times by romanticizing the era with elaborate costumes of knights and maidens or by reimagining the tales of King Arthur and Robin Hood. The entertainment industry has exploited these mythic visions of the Middle Ages in restaurant theatre, video games, and Hollywood movies.
This course takes a different approach to medieval Europe. It highlights episodes of daily violence, exploitation, intolerance, and colonization as much as it seeks to understand the creativity and diversity of European peoples in shaping architecture, higher education, and representative government in our world today. Instead of projecting modern constructions of ethnic “French,” “German,” or “English” peoples into the past, this course represents Europeans as a mixture of men and women of various cultural and religious backgrounds that interacted and blended with each other over the course of roughly a thousand years. Lectures and tutorials highlight the Roman heritage, Christian past, barbarian influences, and Muslim and Jewish contributions to medieval history; they concentrate on kings, queens, nobles, bishops, popes, and intellectuals as much as they focus on peasants, slaves, tradespeople, and minorities. Overall, this course seeks to understand how Europe went from being a primarily rural and impoverished region during much of the medieval period to a powerful force in world history.
  • medieval,
  • Middle Ages
Publication Date
Citation Information
Jason Dyck. "HIST2401E (Medieval Europe)" Medieval Europe (2020)
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