Fall 2013

The Byzantine World: History and Texts  

Listed in: History, as HIST-122


Jesse W. Torgerson (Section 01)


[EUP] Lasting for over a millennium (330-1453), the Medieval Roman Empire known as Byzantium was the model culture and polity to which neighboring civilizations aspired. However, through the lens of the Italian Renaissance, the post-Enlightenment West tended (and still tends) to perceive Byzantium as a center of decadence and an inhibition to studying the glories of classical-era Greece and Rome. We will shatter this “lens” by gazing out from the walls of Constantinople upon Byzantium as a civilization worth studying for its own values, accomplishments, glories, tragedies, and personalities. We will watch as Byzantium negotiates its place in the ever-changing world around it, always claiming to be unchanging even as it is marked by exchange with, and absorption of, a great variety of cultures (including Persian, Arab, Turkish, Latin, Syrian, and Slavic). Through lecture, discussion, and analysis of an array of source materials students will acquire a basic narrative of the empire, formulate an understanding of how the Byzantines perceived their own culture and history, and engage with the creation and perpetuation of history itself. Two class meetings per week.

Fall semester.  Visiting Professor Torgerson.


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2013