Literature from Late Antiquity and the Medieval Period

Fall 2007




This course, making extensive use of resources available via the internet, focuses on the evolution of Latin literature during late antiquity and the medieval period, beginning in the third century and continuing until the twelfth century. Students will read and study the works of some of the major authors of the period, including Tertullian, Jerome, Augustine, Prudentius, Hrotsvitha, Abelard, Heloise, Geoffrey of Monmouth, and others. The course will focus on four main themes-- religion, education, gender, and latinity itself-- within the consideration of changing historical, social, and cultural modes and values. Students will participate in a weekly webcast lecture, an on-line discussion moderated by faculty members from participating institutions in Sunoikisis, and weekly tutorials with faculty members at their home institutions.


This course is specifically designed for advanced students and will include a rigorous study of the cultural and historical context during late antiquity and the medieval period. Students will continue developing their understanding of the language by studying the literature as it evolved over this long period of time. The goals of this course are to read and enjoy late antique and medieval Latin poetry and prose with full comprehension of form and content; to master its genres and conventions and follow essential points of written discourse; to demonstrate an awareness of the aesthetic properties of medieval Latin language and literary style and how these differ from classical Latin; to understand the historical, social, and cultural world of the medieval period as the bridge between antiquity and the modern world and the problems associated with such "periodization" of history; and to become familiar with current trends in scholarly interpretation.

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Course Components

Preparation: Students should read all assigned primary texts for the week by the common session. Students who choose to take this course at the 295 rather than 395 level will be responsible for less reading in Latin but will be expected to complete all of the reading in English.

Common Sessions: Mondays, 6:30-8 PM Eastern. Students at all partipating institutions will meet together online for a common session via multipoint interactive video-conferencing and a chat room. These interactive sessions have a different faculty leader each week and typically combine mini-lectures with discussion, questions, and exercises.

Study Questions: Responses to the study questions are due Wednesdays, with additional responses due on Fridays. The study questions afford students the opportunity to expand on and synthesize issues that arise in the reading and common session, as well as engage with secondary literature. Students may be asked to complete additional reading in English for the study questions.

Due Dates and Times for Discussion Questions
4 PM (ED/ST) Wednesdays First Answers to Study Questions due
4 PM (ED/ST) Fridays Responses to other students' answers due

Tutorials: Each student will meet for at least one hour every week with a mentor at her or his home institution. The times and locations of these meetings will be determined on each campus. Students are responsible for contacting their faculty mentors and finalizing the details of their weekly meetings. These sessions will focus more closely on issues of language, translation and interpretation of assigned readings. Home campus mentors will be the final authority for all grades.

Examinations: Translation exams and quizzes will be handled by home institutions, but there will be a communally designed essay-based midterm and final exam that will be administered and graded by course faculty as a whole. Students will often be asked to interpret passages of Latin or use passages to support their arguments on the midterm and final.

For students in ICLAT 295, grades will be based on the following components:

Class preparation and work in tutorial: 40%
Participation in the study questions: 30%
Midterm examination: 15%
Final examination: 15%

For students in ICLAT 395, grades will be based on the following components:

Class preparation and work in tutorial: 30%
Participation in the study questions: 30%
Midterm examination: 20%
Final examination: 20%

Suggested Texts

Harrington, K. and J. Pucci. Medieval Latin (2nd ed.). Chicago, 1997.

Lewis, Charlton and Charles Short. A Latin Dictionary. Oxford, 1879. (Lewis and Short contains more references to late Latin than the Oxford Latin Dictionary.)

Sidwell, S. Reading Medieval Latin. Cambridge, 1995.

Many texts and commentaries will be made available in electronic versions linked to the Moodle site for the class.

Schedule of Topics and Readings

Week 1: 9/4-10/2007



Common Session, 9/10/07

Week 2, 9/11-17/2007



Common Session, 9/17/07

Week 3, 9/18-24/2007



Common Session, 9/24/07

Week 4, 9/25-10/1/2007



Common Session, 10/1/07

Week 5, 10/2-8/2007



Common Session, 10/8/07

Week 6-7, 10/9-15/2007, 10/16-22/07



Common Session: 10/22/07

Week 8, 10/23-29/2007


Common Session: 10/29/07

Week 9, 10/30-11/5/2007



Common Session: 11/5/07

Week 10, 11/6-12/2007



Common Session: 11/12/07

Week 11, 11/13-19/2007


  • Heloise, Epistulae 2, HP 506-508, line 19 [432], whole letter in English
  • Discuss:

    Common Session: 11/19/07

    Week 12, 11/20-26/2007

    Common Session: 11/26/07

    Week 13, 11/27-12-3/2007



    Common Session: 12/3/07