Christ and the Middle Ages
About the course
For more than a thousand years, Christianity shaped and ruled the world that the Greeks and Romans had left behind. The study of the Middle Ages from the vantage point of how God’s providence moved in and through the fallible works of men and women can be very rewarding. Far from being “the Dark Ages,” in reality the Christian Middle Ages were a time of great creativity in most areas of culture. As with any time period, flaws existed - but these flaws are always much easier to see when one has historical hindsight. On balance, the Christian Middle Ages represent a a living and vibrant cultural force that in many ways remains a live factor for us. Gaining a better understanding of how Christ used Medieval achievements and failures to advance the Gospel, may help us better understand our own problems and prospects.
This 32-week course consists of four eight-week quarters. Each quarter students will be assigned a weekly pre-recorded lecture, reading appropriate for the week, relevant reading questions, a weekly 1.5 hour live recitation, one 1200-1500 word essay, and a quarterly exam. In the course of the year, the students will read all the texts listed below, listened to 32 lectures, write four essays and attended a minimum of 30 (ideally 32) live recitations to discuss the texts in Socratic fashion.
- To develop the skill of closely reading a variety of texts, seeking to allow them to suggest and refine the interpretive questions we bring to them.
- To synthesize themes and messages drawn from several types of writing about the same topic, so as to arrive at a more robust and considered view of the whole.
- To engage with great characters and events of the past with a developing sense of their fundamental connectedness to and relevance for our own present and future.
- To clarify and sharpen a distinctively Christian understanding of Medieval culture, and refine awareness of the redemptive hope our Faith imparts to us as we strive to “think God’s thoughts after Him.”
- Cantor, Norman F., The Civilization of the Middle Ages - ISBN 10: 0060925531
Primary Source Readings:
The following sources will be provided in PDF format with the course. You may select and purchase other hardcover versions at your own discretion, though the translations and paginations may complicate live discussions.
- Selected patristic writings (excerpts)
- The Life of St. Anthony
- The Rule of St. Benedict
- The Wars of Justinian (excerpts)
- Einhard, Life of Charlemagne
- Selections from Medieval Christian authors (Bernard of Clairvaux, Hugh of St. Victor, the Crusades, popes vs. kings, Dante, etc.)