Courses in premodern cultures, spring 2019

See below for course offerings for Spring 2019 that will touch on earlier centuries.

featured course

Animals and Men.jpg

animal, vegetable, mineral:

medieval ecologies

This course explores relationships between natural, non-human, and human agents in the Middle Ages. Reading natural philosophy, vernacular literature, and theological treatises, we examine how the Middle Ages understood supposedly "modern" environmental concepts like climate change, sustainability, animal rights, and protected land.

Prof. Jamie Taylor, BMC English 293

12:55-2:15 T/Th

Spring 2019 undergraduate courses


the creation of early complex societies, prof. barrier

bryn mawr anthropology 259 9:55-11:15 t/th

In the last 10,000 years, humans around the world have transitioned from organizing themselves through small, egalitarian social networks to living within large and socially complex societies. This archaeology course takes an anthropological perspective to seek to understand the ways that human groups created these complex societies. We will explore the archaeological evidence for the development of complexity in the past, including the development of villages and early cities, the institutionalization of social and political-economic inequalities, and the rise of states and empires. Alongside discussion of current theoretical ideas about complexity, the course will compare and contrast the evolutionary trajectories of complex societies in different world regions. Case studies will emphasize the pre-Columbian histories of complex societies in the Americas as well as some of the early complex societies of the Old World.

mobility, movement, and migration in the past, prof. barrier

bryn mawr anthropology 325, 1:10-3:30 t

The movement of human social groups across landscapes, borders, and boundaries is a dominant feature of today's world as well as of the recent historic past. Archaeological research has demonstrated that migration, movement, and mobility were also common features of human life in the more distant past. From examining cases of small-scale groups that were largely defined by constant movements across their social landscapes, to the study of the spread of complex societies and early political states, this course will consider the role of migration in the formation, reproduction, and alteration of human societies. Attention will be paid to how archaeologists recognize and study movement, as well as to how knowledge of the past contributes to a broader anthropological understanding of human migration.


introduction to classical archaeology, prof. lindenlauf

bryn mawr archaeology 102, 10:10-11:00 MWF

A historical survey of the archaeology and art of Greece, Etruria, and Rome.

hellenistic and roman sculpture, prof. donohue

bryn mawr archaeology 206, 11:10-12:00 mwf

This course surveys the sculpture produced from the fourth century B.C.E. to the fourth century C.E., the period, beginning with the death of Alexander the Great, that saw the transformation of the classical world through the rise of Rome and the establishment and expansion of the Roman Empire. Style, iconography, and production will be studied in the contexts of the culture of the Hellenistic kingdoms, the Roman appropriation of Greek culture, the role of art in Roman society, and the significance of Hellenistic and Roman sculpture in the post-antique classical tradition.

art and archaeology of late antiquity, prof. mcfadden

bryn mawr archaeology 219, 1:10-2:30 mw

This class examines the art and archaeology of the late-antique Mediterranean, tracing various iterations of artistic and architectural experimentation as well as socio-political expression from the Late Roman world of the Tetrarchs (3rd century CE) to the first Islamic Dynasty, the Umayyads (7th century CE). We will explore how the vitality of classical styles and pagan beliefs mixed with the creative energies of other "indigenous" traditions - Egyptian, Arabic, Jewish, Gallic, etc., as well as those of the new church, so as to better understand the cultural plurality and vigor of this period formally considered a "Dark Age."

art and archaeology of greco-roman egypt, prof. mcfadden

bryn mawr archaeology 225, 11:25-12:45

This course examines the art and archaeology of Greco-Roman Egypt from the conquests of Alexander the Great in the 4th century BCE to the Late Roman Era, ca. 4th century CE.

classical bodies, prof. donohue

bryn mawr archaeology 303, 2:10-4:00 t

An examination of the conceptions of the human body evidenced in Greek and Roman art and literature, with emphasis on issues that have persisted in the Western tradition. Topics include the fashioning of concepts of male and female standards of beauty and their implications; conventions of visual representation; the nude; clothing and its symbolism; the athletic ideal; physiognomy; medical theory and practice; the visible expression of character and emotions; and the formulation of the "classical ideal" in antiquity and later times.

topics in ancient athens: acropolis, prof. lindenlauf

bryn mawr archaeology 305, 1:10-3:30

This course is an introduction to the Acropolis of Athens, perhaps the best-known acropolis in the world. We will explore its history, understand and interpret specific monuments and their sculptural decoration and engage in more recent discussions, for instance, on the role of the Acropolis played in shaping the Hellenic Identity.

trade and transport in the ancient world, prof. magee

bryn mawr archaeology 316, 9:10-12:00 t

Issues of trade, commerce and production of export goods are addressed with regard to the Bronze Age and Iron Age cultures of Mesopotamia, Arabia, Iran and south Asia. Crucial to these systems is the development of means of transport via maritime routes and on land. Archaeological evidence for traded goods and shipwrecks is used to map the emergence of sea-faring across the Indian Ocean and Gulf while bio-archaeological data is employed to examine the transformative role that Bactrian and Dromedary camels played in ancient trade and transport.

art history


BRYN MAWR ART HISTORY 112, 11:10-12:00 MWF

This course aims to explore how art was used as a symbolic form to overcome death and to assure immortality in a variety of archaeological, philosophical, religious, sociopolitical, and historical contexts.

naturalism and the supernatural in south asian art, prof. houghteling

bryn mawr art history 102, 10:10-11:00 mwf

This course examines the representations of gods, plants, humans and animals in the Hindu, Buddhist, Jain and Islamic artistic traditions of India. It traces both the development of naturalistic representations, as well as departures and embellishments on naturalism in the painting, sculpture, architecture, metalwork and textiles of South Asia. The course will consider the spiritual, social, political and aesthetic motivations that led artists to choose naturalistic or supernatural forms of representation.

survey of western architecture, prof. cast

bryn mawr art history 253, 9:55-11:15 t/th

The major traditions in Western architecture are illustrated through detailed analysis of selected examples from classical antiquity to the present. The evolution of architectural design and building technology, and the larger intellectual, aesthetic, and social context in which this evolution occurred, are considered.

exhibiting africa: art, artifact, and new articulations, prof. scott

bryn mawr art history 279, 1:10-4:00 tH

At the turn of the 20th century, the Victorian natural history museum played an important role in constructing and disseminating images of Africa to the Western public. The history of museum representations of Africa and Africans reveals that exhibitions--both museum exhibitions and "living" World's Fair exhibitions-- has long been deeply embedded in politics, including the persistent "othering" of African people as savages or primitives. While paying attention to stereotypical exhibition tropes about Africa, we will also consider how art museums are creating new constructions of Africa and how contemporary curators and conceptual artists are creating complex, challenging new ways of understanding African identities.

exhibiting byzantine textiles, prof. robbins

bryn mawr art history 301, 1:10-4:00 f

This course builds toward a student-curated exhibition of early Byzantine textiles. Students will investigate past exhibitions of early Byzantine textiles as case studies, reading catalogues and accounts of critical reception in order to understand different curatorial strategies and to apply what they learn in the organization of their own public exhibition. They will develop original documentation of objects for entry in Philadelphia University's online, publicly accessible collection database. Collectively, they will determine a curatorial agenda, produce didactic materials, develop public programs, script tours for different audiences, and install an exhibition of approximately 20 early Byzantine textiles.


BRYN MAWR ART HISTORY 323, 2:10-4:00 W

This seminar is concerned with the idea of architecture in the Renaissance and with Palladio in particular. But it is also concerned, at a wider level and at different moments and indeed cultures beyond Italy, with the idea of the villa, the country house and all that is invoked by the idea of living and building, not in a city, but beyond it, in the countryside.


BRYN MAWR ART HISTORY 345, 2:10-4:00 M

This seminar will examine the history and theory of ornament from a wide range of disciplinary, temporal and geographic perspectives.


athletics and the competitive spirit in ancient greece, prof. mahoney

swarthmore classics 026

Athletic competition was born in ancient Greece, where contests were held to honor the gods, such as Zeus, Poseidon, and Apollo. This course will explore the world behind these phenomena, focusing in particular upon the wider cultural context of the Archaic and Classical Greeks, for whom athletics and an ethos of strife went hand in hand. By reading ancient sources - literary, artistic, and archaeological - students will have the opportunity to understand ancient athletics from the ground up.

roman africa, prof. conybeare

bryn mawr classical studies 108, 2:40-4:00 mw

In 146 BCE, Rome conquered and destroyed the North African city of Carthage, which had been its arch-enemy for generations, and occupied many of the Carthaginian settlements in North Africa. But by the second and third centuries CE, North Africa was one of the most prosperous and cultured areas of the Roman Empire, and Carthage (near modern Tunis) was one of the busiest ports in the Mediterranean. This course will trace the relations between Rome and Carthage, looking at the history of their mutual enmity, the extraordinary rise to prosperity of Roman North Africa, and the continued importance of the region even after the Vandal invasions of the fifth century.

roman revolutions, prof. mulligan

haverford classics 121

An introduction to what it meant to be a Roman by exploration what made the Romans revolutionary (in politics, military, philosophy, literature, art, and more) in their time and of lasting influence thereafter. The course culminates in a three-week role playing game, in which you will embody a particular Roman persona during a particular socio-political flashpoint in 63 BCE.

the form of tragedy, prof. sigelman

bryn mawr classical studies 202, 12:10-1:00 mwf

This course will introduce the student to two of the three great Athenian tragedians--Sophocles and Euripides. Their dramas, composed two-and-a-half millenia ago, continue to be performed regularly on modern stages around the world and exert a profound influence on current day theatre. We will read Sophocles' Oedipus Tyrannos and Euripides' Bacchae in full, focusing on language, poetics, meter, and performance studies.

magic in the greco-roman world, prof. edmonds

haverford classics 242

Bindings and curses, love charms and healing potions, amulets and talismans - from the simple spells designed to meet the needs of the poor and desperate to the complex theurgies of the philosophers, the people of the Greco-Roman World made use of magic to try to influence the world around them. In this course students will gain an understanding of the magicians of the ancient world and the techniques and devices they used to serve their clientele, as well as the cultural contexts in which these ideas of magic arose. We shall consider ancient tablets and spell books as well as literary descriptions of magic in the light of theories relating to the religious, political, and social contexts in which magic was used.

lucretius, prof. conybeare

haverford latin 303

Lucretius' poem "De Rerum Natura", On the Nature of Things, is one of the most remarkable works of classical antiquity: in six books of didactic epic it gives a detailed exposition of Epicurean philosophy while exploiting all the riches of poetic imagery, smearing the "honey of the Muses" round the lip of the cup containing the "wormwood" of its message. Atomic theory, sexual relations, fear of death: these are just some of the topics addressed. We shall read and interpret almost the entire poem, giving equal weight to its philosophy and its poetry.

pagans and christians in the roman empire, prof. turpin

swarthmore ancient history 056

This course considers the rise of Christianity and its encounters with the religious and political institutions of the Roman Empire. It examines Christianity in the second and third centuries of the Common Era and its relationship with Judaism, Hellenistic philosophies, state cults, and mystery religions and concentrates on the various pagan responses to Christianity from conversion to persecution. Ancient texts may include Apuleius, Lucian, Marcus Aurelius, Porphyry, Justin, Origen, Lactantius, Tertullian, and the Acts of the Christian Martyrs.

apuleius, augustine, and the african tradition, prof. turpin

swarthmore 034

Description TBA

capstone: greek and roman religion: text, theory, and archaeology, prof. mahoney

swarthmore 108

This seminar focuses upon religion in the ancient Mediterranean world. Through a comprehensive approach that combines reading ancient texts, the discussion of modern theories of religion, and a thorough investigation of archaeological sites and monuments, we will reconstruct the cult practices, ideologies, and belief systems of the ancient Greeks and Romans. Particular emphasis will be placed upon how such systems changed over time. This course will also introduce students to Greek and Latin epigraphy, or the study of ancient texts inscribed in stone, bronze, and clay.

east asian languages & cultures

chinese civilization, prof. jiang

bryn mawr ealc 131, 11:25-12:45 t/th

A broad chronological survey of Chinese culture and society from the Bronze Age to the 1800s, with special reference to such topics as belief, family, language, the arts and sociopolitical organization. Readings include primary sources in English translation and secondary studies.

dream of the red chamber, prof. kwa

bryn mawr ealc 212, 2:25-3:45 t/th

The Dream of Red Chambers (Hongloumeng) is the most important novel in Chinese.

pre-modern japanese literature, prof. glassman

haverford ealc 231

This is a course introducing classical and medieval Japanese literature, and also related performance traditions. No background in either East Asian culture or in the study of literature is required; all works will be read in English translation. (Advanced Japanese language students are invited to speak with the instructor about arranging to read some of the works in the original or in translation into modern Japanese.) The course is a chronological survey of Japanese literature from the tenth century to the fifteenth. It will focus on well-known texts like the Tale of Genji and the Pillow Book, both written by women, and the ballad-form Tale of the Heike.

spirits, saints, snakes, swords: women in east asian literature & film, prof. kwa

bryn mawr ealc 315, 1:10-3:30 w

This interdisciplinary course focuses on a critical survey of literary and visual texts by and about Chinese women. We will begin by focusing on the cultural norms that defined women's lives beginning in early China, and consider how those tropes are reflected and rejected over time and geographical borders (in Japan, Hong Kong and the United States). No prior knowledge of Chinese culture or language necessary.

legal culture in chinese history, prof. jiang

bryn mawr ealc 325, 12:55-2:15

This seminar explores legal culture in Chinese history with an emphasis on the imperial age. Topics includes philosophical foundation of legal culture; evolution of legal institutions; the role of law in the founding of the Chinese empire, stabilizing government, regulating family, structuring society, defining gender, and transforming the people.

pure land buddhism in east asia, prof. glassman

haverford ealc 370

Advanced course on a topic chosen annually by instructor. The purpose of this course is to give students with a basic background in Buddhist Studies deeper conversancy with a particular textual, thematic, or practice tradition in the history of Buddhism. The 2017-2018 iteration will focus on Pure Land Buddhism, and especially on visual culture and iconology.


tolkein and pullman and their literary roots,

prof. williamson swarthmore english 046

A study of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings and Pullman's His Dark Materials in the context of their early English sources. For Tolkien, this will include Beowulf, Old English riddles and elegies, and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. For Pullman, this will include Biblical stories of the Creation and Fall, Milton's Paradise Lost, and selected Blake poems. Some film versions will be included.

shakespeare, prof. song

swarthmore english 101

Study of Shakespeare as a dramatist. The emphasis is on the major plays, with a more rapid reading of much of the remainder of the canon. Students are advised to read widely among the plays before entering the seminar.

western drama: shakespeare and the middle ages, prof. watson

haverford english 118, 10:00-11:30, t/th

Much like modern audiences, Renaissance readers and theater-goers were captivated by depictions of medieval violence and intrigue and were drawn to adaptations of medieval love stories. Shakespeare’s History plays, which dramatize two medieval conflicts, the Hundred Years War and the War of the Roses, were enormously popular both on stage and inprint. Why were audiences drawn to this depiction of England’s past? What kind of history did the plays present and how did this history relate to contemporary conceptions of the English nation? Shakespeare’s comedies and romances also drew on medieval sources and re-engaged with cultural issues that were live in earlier periods. Following a classic formula of exclusion, adventure, and return, medieval and Shakespearian romances explore what it means to be part of a cultural community or pushed to the outskirts of a social group. Through a study of four plays by Shakespeare, Richard II, Henry V, The Merchant of Venice, and Pericles, and various medieval sources and analogues, this course explores the medieval foundations of Shakespeare and the development of Western drama. We will analyze the themes of national history, war, community, exclusion, and romance and consider why these themes persistently captivate audiences across time.

the bible and literature, prof. finley

haverford english 212, 12:45-2:15 mw

A study of the Bible and its diverse genres, including legendary history, law, chronicle, psalm, love-song and dirge, prophecy, gospel, epistle, and eschatology. This study is accompanied by an extremely various collection of literary material, drawn from traditional and contemporary sources, and from several languages (including Hebrew), in order to illustrate the continued life of Biblical narrative and poetry.

early modern crime, PROF. GORDON

BRYN MAWR ENGLISH 215, MW 10:10-11:30

This course taps into our continuing collective obsession with criminality, unpacking the complicated web of feelings attached to crime and punishment through early modern literary treatments of villains, scoundrels, predators, pimps, witches, king-killers, poisoners, mobs, and adulterers. By reading literary accounts of vice alongside contemporary and historical theories of criminal justice, we will chart the deep history of criminology and track competing ideas about punishment and the criminal mind. This course pays particular attention the ways that people in this historical moment mapped criminality onto dynamics of gender, race, sexuality, disability, religion, and mental illness according to cultural conventions very different from our own. Authors may include Shakespeare, Marlowe, Massinger, Middleton, Dekker, Webster, and Behn.

philadelphia: inventing a city, prof. devaney

haverford english 222, 10:00-11:30 t/th

Philadelphia has been called the Quaker City, the City of Brotherly Love, home of the Leni Lenape, City of Neighborhoods, the Hidden City, and more. The city’s literary history and culture is rough and dark as it is rich and enlightened. From its patricians to its philistines, the course explores Philadelphia through a roster of writers, journalists, civic scribes, Quaker legerdemain, and pamphleteers who charted a number of cultural transformations. Discover how the asymmetrical evolution of Philadelphia, from the 1680s to the present, has informed the character of the city and its diverse residents. The course is a combination in-class lectures and discussion, and self-directed and class-led tours to cultural destinations throughout the city. Six to seven times during the semester, students will seek out new experiences in Philadelphia’s cultural community and visit, research and respond to what they’ve experienced. Course meets in Center City Philadelphia.

topics in early modern literature: virtue, vice, and profit

haverford english 228

This course introduces students to prominent works of English drama from the late 16th and early 17th centuries, with an emphasis on the rise of political economy. We will consider how English drama written and performed during the emergence of capitalism participates in shifting notions of spiritual, moral and economic value. Plays by Kyd, Marlowe, Webster, Beaumont, Jonson, and Shakespeare will be read alongside intellectual and cultural history by Marx, Hirschman, Agnew and others.


BRYN MAWR ENGLISH 314, 9:55-11:15 T/TH

Examines Chaucer's magisterial Troilus and Criseyde, his epic romance of love, loss, and betrayal. We will supplement sustained analysis of the poem with primary readings on free will and courtly love as well as theoretical readings on gender and sexuality and translation. We will also read Boccaccio's Il Filostrato, Robert Henryson's Testament of Cresseid and Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida.

topics in 18th century literature: new(s) media, print and performance culture, prof. mcgrane

haverford english 346, 1:30-4:00 w

The English Civil War wrought massive changes in the scope, format, and distribution of printed matter and ideas of authorship. This course explores a century of critical response and creative media innovation while reflecting on questions of form, authorship and labor in a contemporary context. We will read works across genres that embody and comment on fraught networks of writers, printers, and performers. In particular we will focus on shifting representations of materiality, orality and circulation; ownership, authority and license; and selfhood, memory, and knowledge. What structures mightcontrol systems of knowledge production and dissemination? What forms of readership and audience were imagined in this anxious and ambitious marketplace?

representations of american slavery, prof. solomon

haverford english 361, 11:00-1:30 f

Over the past three centuries African American writers have mined the rich vein of the experience of chattel slavery in the cause of literal and artistic emancipation. Slave narratives, as well as poetry, essays and novels depicting slavery, constitute a literary universe so robust that the term subgenre does it injustice. In work spanning the 18th-21st centuries, the reader will find pulse-quickening plots, gruesome horror, the most tender sentiment, heroism, degradation, sexual violation and redemption, as well as resonant meditations on language and literacy, racial identity, power, psychology, democracy, freedom and the American character.

french and francophone studies

theatre et raison e’etat en france au grand siecle, prof. sedley

haverford french 203

This course is about seventeenth-century French culture. We will study the tensions that define this period in France–between love and reason, finesse and geometry, gallantry and piety, the environments of cour and salon, among other–in order to see how these tensions made the century “classic” as well as “grand” in the eyes of its successors. We will pay particular attention to: theatre, whose canonical texts are by Corneille, Molière, and Racine; the invention of the novel, in large part by women like Scudéry and Lafayette; and the establishment of a centralized–i.e., modern–state, as represented through the palace of Versailles and its gardens. In French.

lafayette et les mondes du roman, prof. corbin

haverford french 312

This seminar is about the phenomenon known as “the rise of the novel,” whose result is the fact that much of the literature we read today consists of prose narratives featuring realistic fictions. At one time, however, the novel was a marginal kind of text compared to other genres, and the worlds it represented had apparently little to do with natural or social realities. How did the novel rise to a preeminent place in the literary world, and how did its worlds come to reflect reality? We will confront these questions through series of objects (novels, film, art, and architecture, along with critical works) centered around Madame de Lafayette’s early modern masterpiece, La Princesse de Clèves. In the process, we will explore how the novel found its place in the world of literature, and how literature found its place in the world. In French.

la liberte ou la mort, prof. le mentheour

bryn mawr french 326, 1:10-4:00 w

Comment les valeurs des Lumières ont-elles inspiré la Révolution Française dans ses réformes les plus éclatantes, mais aussi dans ses développements les plus sombres? Comment en est-on venu à emprisonner au nom de la liberté et à guillotiner au nom de la sûreté ? Nous lirons des textes politiques de la période révolutionnaire (Robespierre, Saint-Just, etc.), mais aussi des œuvres ultérieures proposant une interprétation rétrospective de la Révolution Française (Michelet, Hugo, France). Le but sera de comprendre comment au nom d'idéaux républicains, on a pu en venir à mettre la terreur à l'ordre du jour.

growth and structure of cities

the form of the city: urban form from antiquity to the present, prof. lee

bryn mawr cities 190, 9:55-11:15

This course studies the city as a three-dimensional artifact. A variety of factors, geography, economic and population structure, politics, planning, and aesthetics are considered as determinants of urban form.


the golden age of piracy, prof. azfar

swarthmore history 001

This course explores the profound intertwinings of myth and reality, fact and fiction, in the golden age of piracy, a period that is centered in the early 18th century. As outlaws, rebels, and celebrity criminals, pirates played multiple roles in the histories of capitalism and the modern world system. Topics to be covered include pirate nests, pirate ships, pirate sex, female pirates, pirate novels, pirate trials, and the multifaceted relationship between piracy, smuggling, and slave resistance.

medieval europe, prof. bensch

swarthmore 002a

The course will explore the emergence of Europe from the slow decline of the Roman world and the emergence of new Germanic and Celtic peoples (3rd to the 15th century). Topics will include the rise of Christianity, the emergence of Western government, the articulation of vernacular culture, and the invention of romance.

chivalric society: knights, ladies, and peasants, prof. bensch

swarthmore history 012

Around the year 1000, a new nobility emerged to dominate Europe until the Industrial Revolution and in many regions even later. The course will explore the nature of what some now call "The Feudal Revolution" and its consequences through topics such as the Peace of God, the Crusades, Chivalry, predatory kinship, seigneurialism, and the invention of romantic love and courtly sophistication.

origins of the global south, prof. krippner

haverford history 114

This course analyzes the first phase of globalization in world history, a complex historical process rooted in the ancient and medieval worlds, initiated and consolidated from the mid-fifteenth through the seventeenth centuries, and redefined over the course of the eighteenth century as the “early modern” era drew to a close. During the first half of the semester, we will examine Asia, Africa and the Americas prior to the emergence of Iberian (Portuguese and Spanish) colonialism. In the second half of the semester we will assess the increasingly interconnected world negotiated in the centuries after 1492, a useful though controversial date signifying the start of sustained European overseas expansionism and the construction of a world linked in unprecedented ways. The course concludes with an investigation into the Haitian Revolution (1791-1804), the first successful anti-colonial revolution in world history and one of several late-eighteenth century popular rebellions signaling the dawn of modernity.

history of gender and u.s. women to 1870, prof. saler

haverford history 204

This course surveys the history of American women from the colonial period through 1870. We will consider and contrast the lives and perspectives of women from a wide variety of social backgrounds and geographic areas as individuals and members of families and communities, while also examining how discourses of gender frame such topics as colonization, slavery, class identity, nationalism, religion, and political reform.

the age of enlightenment, prof. graham

haverford history 231

This course approaches the Enlightenment as a process of political and cultural change rather than a canon of great texts. Special emphasis will be placed on the emergence of a public sphere and new forms of sociability as distinguishing features of 18th century European life.

colonial encounters in the americas, prof. gallup-diaz

bryn mawr history 265, 12:55-2:15

The course explores the confrontations, conquests and accommodations that formed the "ground-level" experience of day-to-day colonialism throughout the Americas. The course is comparative in scope, examining events and structures in North, South and Central America, with particular attention paid to indigenous peoples and the nature of indigenous leadership in the colonial world of the 18th century.

histories of water, prof. azfar

swarthmore history 061

This course explores the cultural, social, and political history of water with a focus upon formative events and cultural processes. Throughout, we will examine the different ways in which the history of water can be plotted into the histories of states, cultures, institutional practices, and social ideologies.

extreme weather in pre-modern europe, prof. hayton

haverford history 350

This course explores the ways weather was understood, the ways people tried to prepare for or predict weather, and the ways people interpreted weather. There’s no shortage of strange and severe weather in pre-modern Europe: rains of blood or frogs or stones, floods, meteors (which were weather phenomena for them), earthquakes (again, weather for them), apparitions in the sky, etc. What did all this mean?

nationalism and migration, prof. kitroeff

haverford history 357

This course examines the ideas of the nation and citizenship in France, Germany, Greece and Italy from 1789 to the present. It covers the history of nationalism chronologically, on the two categories of “civic” (or political) and “cultural” (or ethnic) nationalism so important in understanding the way nations define themselves as who are its citizens. It tests the civic / cultural concept of nationalism by looking at how those countries treated the challenge posed by the post-WWII arrival of immigrant communities Algerians in France, Turks in Germany, Albanians in Greece.

topics in enlightenment history: the self before the selfie, prof. graham

haverford history 358

This course explores the field of Enlightenment History in the European and Atlantic worlds. Topics will rotate to reflect current debates. The seminar reflects the interdisciplinary nature of the field through readings in primary sources, historical scholarship, and theoretical texts.

the early modern pirate in fact and fiction, prof. gallup-diaz

bryn mawr history 371, 9:10-12:00 t

This course will explore piracy in the Americas in the period 1550-1750. We will investigate the historical reality of pirates and what they did, and the manner in which pirates have entered the popular imagination through fiction and films. Pirates have been depicted as lovable rogues, anti-establishment rebels, and enlightened multiculturalists who were skilled in dealing with the indigenous and African peoples of the Americas. The course will examine the facts and the fictions surrounding these important historical actors.

perils and phobias: the case of yellow, prof. chen

swarthmore history 073

This course surveys the vast literature of American and European accounts of China, ranging from early travel accounts to contemporary non-fiction works. Our goal is to reconstruct European/American-centered genealogy of knowledge about "China" - defined as a nation, a culture, and an identity - through close readings of textual and visual representations.

irish history, prof. murphy

swarthmore history 090b

Settlement from Ancient Ireland to the Celts, the rise of the McNeill Kingship, the arrival of St. Patrick, the Norman invasion, and the Flight of the Earls. We examine the darkest hours of Irish History: Cromwell, the Potato Famine, the Easter Uprising, Irish Independence, up to Bloody Sunday in Derry, 1972.

women and gender in chinese history, prof. chen

swarthmore history 145

This seminar explores the theoretical frameworks and multiple methodologies that have been applied to the study and interpretation of women and gender in late imperial and modern China (1700-1980s). Our primary aim is to understand the relationship between the construction of gender (in particular, the formation of "woman" and "man" as fixed and normative subjects) and the writing of Chinese history.  


rome as palimpsests: from ruins to virtual reality, prof. giammei

bryn mawr italian, 1:10-4:00 w

From the urban dream that Raphael confessed to pope Leo X in the middle of the Renaissance to the parkour on the top of the Colosseum in the Assassin's Creed videogames, Rome has always been both a memory and a vision: a place of nostalgia and endless potential. In this course we will investigate some crucial places, moments, and ideas in the modern history of this ancient capital of Western culture: XVI century Mannerist painting and the Pop Art of Piazza del Popolo, the early modern re-uses of the Colosseum and its cubic clone designed under fascism, the narrations of Romantic grand-tours and the ones of contemporary postcolonial authors. We will adopt a trans-historical and inter-disciplinary perspective, focusing on the main attempts to revive the glory of the ancient empire. We will try to understand weather Italy's capital is a museum to be preserved, an old laboratory of urban innovations, a cemetery, a sanctuary, or simply an amalgam of past and future, glory and misery, beauty and horror.

middle eastern studies

the art and architecture of islamic spirituality, prof. salikuddin

bryn mawr middle eastern studies 210, 7:10-10:00

This course examines how Muslim societies across time and space have used art and architecture in different ways to express and understand inner dimensions of spirituality and mysticism. Topics to be studied include: the calligraphical remnants of the early Islamic period; inscriptions found on buildings and gravestones; the majestic architecture of mosques, shrines, seminaries, and Sufi lodges; the brilliant arts of the book; the commemorative iconography and passion plays of Ashura devotion; the souvenir culture of modern shrine visitation; and the modern art of twenty-first century Sufism. Readings include works from history, religious studies, anthropology, sociology, and the history of art and architecture.


happiness and reality in ancient thought, prof. dostal

bryn mawr philosophy 101, 1:10-2:30 mw

What makes us happy? The wisdom of the ancient world has importantly shaped the tradition of Western thought but in some important respects it has been rejected or forgotten. What is the nature of reality? Can we have knowledge about the world and ourselves, and, if so, how? In this course we explore answers to these sorts of metaphysical, epistemological, ethical, and political questions by examining the works of the two central Greek philosophers: Plato and Aristotle. We will consider earlier Greek religious and dramatic writings, a few Presocratic philosophers, and the person of Socrates who never wrote a word.

social and political philosophy, prof. baumann

swarthmore philosophy 121

This seminar deals with basic questions in social and political philosophy such as the following: What is a good state or a good government? How does politics relate to ideas of a good life? Is there an inescapable tension between politics and morality? Can one justify State authority? What is the nature and role of power and liberty in all this? How should benefits and burdens be distributed in a society? What is justice? What, if any, are the moral limits of markets? We will discuss both classical and contemporary approaches.

early modern british philosophy, prof. yurdin

haverford philosophy 222

How can we think all that we actually do think? What is mind-independent reality like? This course examines these and related questions in the philosophical writings of Locke, Berkeley, Hume, and Reid. Emphasis is on a philosophical understanding of the theories of cognition and reality developed in these texts.

ethics, prof. fugo

bryn mawr philosophy 221, 9:10-10:00 mwf

An introduction to ethics by way of an examination of moral theories and a discussion of important ancient, modern, and contemporary texts which established theories such as virtue ethics, deontology, utilitarianism, relativism, emotivism, care ethics. This course considers questions concerning freedom, responsibility, and obligation. How should we live our lives and interact with others? How should we think about ethics in a global context? Is ethics independent of culture? A variety of practical issues such as reproductive rights, euthanasia, animal rights and the environment will be considered.

metaphysics: global ontology, prof. gangadean

haverford philosophy 254

A critical examination of philosophical accounts of reality and being. Special attention is given to how world views are formed and transformed: an ontological exploration of diverse alternative categorical frameworks for experience. Metaphysical narratives of diverse thinkers in the evolution of the European tradition are explored in global context. Heraclitus, Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Spinoza, Kant, Heidegger, Whitehead, and other ontologists are explored.

topics in ancient greek and roman philosophy, prof. yurdin

haverford philosophy 310

zen thought in a global context, prof. gangadean

haverford philosophy 342

This advanced seminar focuses on the development of Zen (Japanese) Buddhism culminating in the work of Nishida and his influential Kyoto School of Zen Philosophy. The background in the Indian origins of Madhyamika dialectic introduced by Nagarjuna is traced through the Zen Master Dogen and into flourishing of the modern Kyoto School founded by Nishida. The seminar focuses in the texts by Dogen and on selected writings in the Kyoto School: Nishida, Nishitani and Abe. The seminar involves intensive discussion of the issues on global context of philosophy. Nishida s thought is developed in dialogue with thinkers such as Aristotle, Descartes, Kant, Hegel, Husserl, Sartre and Heidegger, Nagarjuna and others.


talmud, prof. kessler

swarthmore religion 006b

This course introduces students to the academic study of the Babylonian Talmud (Bavli)-and through it, the academic study of Judaism. Through close, critical, and engaged readings of both brief selections and more lengthy passages, the course not only explores the vast seas of the Bavli but also considers the Bavli's foundational place within Judaism and its importance to Jewish tradition. We begin by reading selections of the Talmud that both seek to situate the material in its immediate historical-literary contexts and to explore current points of relevance. We proceed to a close reading of one sugya (passage) and then spread out to examine some specific topics, focusing on rabbinic constructions of gender and rabbinic theology. The close readings of texts are supplemented by contemporary scholarship on the Talmud and the rabbis of antiquity. Finally, we read two contemporary mediations on Judaism that use the Talmud as their "anchor," their point of reference.

patterns of asian religions, prof. hopkins

swarthmore religion 008

A thematic introduction to the study of religion through an examination of selected texts, teachings, and practices of the religious traditions of South and East Asia structured as patterns of religious life. Materials are drawn from the Buddhist traditions of India, Tibet, China, and Japan; the Hindu and Jain traditions of India; the Confucian and Taoist traditions of China; and the Shinto tradition of Japan. Themes include deities, the body, ritual, cosmology, sacred space, religious specialists, and death and the afterlife.

first year seminar: religion and the meaning of life, prof. ross

swarthmore religion 011

What is the purpose and meaning of life? What constitutes "a life well lived"? Themes include religion and personal and social change, understandings of the Sacred, religion and radical action, community, suffering, love, hope, religion and healing, religion and violence, and good and evil. Readings include Gospel of Matthew, Gospel of Thomas, Frederick Douglass, Lucretia Mott, Sybrina Fulton, Thich Nhat Hanh, Dorothy Day, Abraham Joshua Heschel, Martin Luther King, Jr., Bryan Stevenson, Eboo Patel, Gregory Boyle, Terry Tempest Williams, and Krista Tippett.

the history of daoism in china: religions, magic, medicine, prof. fodde-reguer

haverford religion 114

General introduction to the history and development of Daoism in China, including: philosophical beginnings, religious transformations, and the relationship to magic and medicine.

introduction to the new testament, prof. mcguire

haverford religion 122

An introduction to the New Testament and early Christian literature. Special attention will be given to the Jewish origins of the Jesus movement, the development of traditions about Jesus in the earliest Christian communities, and the social contexts and functions of various texts. Readings will include non-canonical writings, in addition to the writings of the New Testament canon.

themes in the anthropology of religion: ritual, prof. ngwane

haverford religion 155

What is it that rituals actually do? Are they enactments (affirmations) of collective ideals or are they arguments about these? Are they media for political action or are they expressions of teleological phenomena? The course is a comparative study of ritual and its place in religious practice and political argumentation. Concrete case studies will include an initiation ritual in South Africa, the Communion Sacrament in Christianity, a Holocaust commemorative site in Auschwitz, and the cult of spirit-possession in Niger.

poetics of religious experience in south asia, prof. ghosh

haverford religion 208

An examination of the aesthetics of epic poetry, drama, song, dance, architecture, sculpture, landscape and painting from South Asian religious traditions. Topics may include how such practices inscribe religious experience, provide parameters for social organization, and offer religious critique.

in quest of god: the latin american religious arena, prof. padilioni

swarthmore religion 043

For millennia, humans have confronted a cosmos populated with unseen beings, imagined places, and supernatural powers. These agencies, and their sources of power and authority, form various understandings of God. In quest of God, humans have discovered meaningfulness in objects, beings, and persons; by connecting things together in symbolic patterns; and by creating elaborate forms of symbolic action and mythic narratives. This course focuses upon mythology in Latin American. Students will learn about different conceptions of God (polytheism, henotheism, pantheism, monotheism, etc.) and become familiar with various mythic traditions that one encounters in the Latin Americas, including the Mesoamerican and Caribbean indigenous deities of the Taíno, Nahua, Inca, and Maya peoples; the African Diasporic pantheons of the Yoruba orishas, Bantu simbi, akin to mermaids and other nature spirits; and the cult of Iberian Catholic folk saints and the Virgin Mary.

women and gender in early christianity, prof. mcguire

haverford religion 221

An examination of the representations of women and gender in early Christian texts and their significance for contemporary Christianity. Topics include interpretations of Genesis 1-3, images of women and sexuality in early Christian literature, and the roles of women in various Christian communities.

yoga: art, text, and practice, prof. ghosh

haverford religion 257

This course investigates the range of meanings attributed to the term yoga over two thousand years and across multiple geographical and cultural communities. These include exploring relationship between texts, images, and the practice of yoga in Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain communities, as well as modern manifestations associated with nationalist developments of the nineteenth century and global cosmopolitanisms and contemporary politics as part of ongoing transformations.

politics and power in modern jewish thought, prof. may

haverford religion 313

This course will explore how Jewish thinkers from the enlightenment to the present wrestled with the question of how Jews might achieve freedom and secure survival in the modern world. We'll examine the challenge that the democratic and scientific revolutions of the 17th and 18th century posed to Jewish life and thought, before delving into the various responses that Jews embraced to meet those challenges. Topics will include Orthodoxy, separatism, Jewish liberalism in Europe and the US, diaspora nationalism, Zionism, anti-Zionism, Bundism and Socialism, post-Holocaust politics and theology, and race and gender in Jewish thought.


drama y sociedad en espana, prof. quintero

bryn mawr spanish 208, 9:55-11:15 t/th

A study of the rich dramatic tradition of Spain from the Golden Age (16th and 17th centuries) to the 20th century within specific cultural and social contexts. The course considers a variety of plays as manifestations of specific sociopolitical issues and problems. Topics include theater as a site for fashioning a national identity; the dramatization of gender conflicts; and plays as vehicles of protest in repressive circumstances.

latin american and iberian culture and civilization, prof. sandoval

haverford spanish 240

An interdisciplinary exploration of Latin America and Spain. Topics will include imperial expansion, colonialism, independence, national and cultural identities, and revolution. This course is designed to serve as the introduction to the Concentration in Latin American and Iberian Studies. Course taught in English. Students who wish to obtain Spanish credit are expected to read Spanish language texts in the original and write all assignments in the language.

blackness in latin america, prof. hernandez

haverford spanish 308

This course offers a historical and cultural approach to blackness in Latin America. Understood as an epistemological discourse and as embodied practices, blackness has been at the center of Latin American identity since colonial times. Taught in Spanish.

la mujer en la literatura espanola del siglo de oro, prof. quintero

bryn mawr spanish 309, 2:10-4:00 m

A study of the depiction of women in the fiction, drama, and poetry of 16th- and 17th-century Spain. Topics include the construction of gender; the idealization and codification of women's bodies; the politics of feminine enclosure (convent, home, brothel, palace); and the performance of honor. The first half of the course will deal with representations of women by male authors (Calderón, Cervantes, Lope, Quevedo) and the second will be dedicated to women writers such as Teresa de Ávila, Ana Caro, Juana Inés de la Cruz, and María deZayas.

graduate seminars, spring 2019


topics in ancient athens, prof. lindenlauf

bryn mawr archaeology 505, 1:10-3:30 f

This course is an introduction to the Acropolis of Athens, perhaps the best-known acropolis in the world. We will explore its history, understand and interpret specific monuments and their sculptural decoration and engage in more recent discussions, for instance, on the role of the Acropolis played in shaping the Hellenic Identity.

interrogating the dead, prof. bradbury

bryn mawr archaeology 613, 4:10-6:00 t

One of the most direct forms of evidence we have for ancient societies are graves. From these contexts we often find skeletal remains; vestiges of once living people. The burial record, however, raises as many questions as it does answers. This graduate seminar will draw upon archaeological and anthropological literature to explore the different ways in which mortuary archaeology can inform us on wider socio-cultural phenomenon. When, for example, can we see individuality emerging? What was the impact of monotheistic religions upon the treatment and conceptualization of the body? How were burial assemblages manipulated by living populations? Using cases studies from the Neolithic through to the Islamic periods, we will also explore patterns of similarity and difference that can be identified across this broad region over time and space.

east mediterranean interconnections, prof. mcfadden

bryn mawr archaeology 640, 4:10-6:00 th


the hippocratic corpus, prof. pearcy

bryn mawr greek 607, 2:00-4:00 th

Thinking about ancient medicine is a process not only of discovering lost knowledge but also of recreating lost ignorance. Widespread acquaintance with scientific medicine makes it a challenge for twenty-first century readers to imagine what it would be like not to have exact knowledge about basic anatomy or physiology, to say nothing of biochemistry and genetics, and studying ancient medicine can sometimes seem to be merely an outlet for antiquarian curiosity. But in principle, reading an ancient medical text should be no different from reading any other ancient work. Like Plato, Thucydides, or the dramatists, the Hippocratic Corpus invites us to think about what it means to be human, how we can know anything about the world, and how we ought to act toward our fellow humans. This seminar, then, will focus on Hippocratic anthropology, epistemology, and ethics. We will apply the techniques of classical philology--close reading, careful attention to style and rhetoric, and consideration of a work's situation and context--to a selection of works from the Hippocratic Corpus, and to a few other texts more or less contemporary with it. Readings in secondary scholarship will provide additional knowledge and springboards for discussion. Our goal will be to understand the Hippocratic Corpus as part of ancient Greek literary culture.

aeschylus’ oresteia, prof. sigelman

bryn mawr greek 615, 2:10-4:00 m

In this seminar we will conduct an in-depth reading of Aeschylus' Oresteia trilogy (Agamemnon, Libation Bearers, and Eumenides). We will explore Aeschylus' poetic craft including metrics, vocabulary, syntax, metaphor-construction, plot patterns, rhetoric, character-portrayal, and staging. Special attention will be devoted to close study of choral lyric passages and the language and function of the tragic chorus. We will devote some time each week to scansion and out loud recitation of the choral odes with the aim of developing a feel for the text as poetry. Weekly secondary reading selections and oral in-class reports will be geared toward giving students a good sense for dominant interpretative trends in Aeschylean scholarship. We will also be looking at some of the incredible detective work done by twentieth-century editors in their endeavor to reconstruct Aeschylus' often fragmentary and obscure text. Towards the second half of the semester, students will begin working on research papers.

lucretius, prof. conybeare

bryn mawr latin 633, 1:10-4:00 t

Lucretius' poem "De Rerum Natura", On the Nature of Things, is one of the most remarkable works of classical antiquity: in six books of didactic epic it gives a detailed exposition of Epicurean philosophy while exploiting all the riches of poetic imagery, smearing the "honey of the Muses" round the lip of the cup containing the "wormwood" of its message. Atomic theory, sexual relations, fear of death: these are just some of the topics addressed. We shall read and interpret almost the entire poem, giving equal weight to its philosophy and its poetry.

the literature of exile, prof. klause

bryn mawr classical studies 612, 4:10-6:00 w

This graduate seminar will introduce students to a range of writings produced by exiles, both Roman and "Greek," in the twilight of the Roman Republic and the first centuries of the Roman Empire. The purpose of the course is to allow students to examine various facets of exilic experience, including: grief, nostalgia, alienation, patriotism, and identity. Students will also consider how Roman imperial expansion conditioned the circumstances of exile and how exiles positioned themselves in relation to imperial power. Throughout the course, students will pay attention the manner in which both the genre of the exilic works under examination and the philosophical commitments of their authors affect the depiction of exile. One session of the course will be devoted to the reception of these texts in later periods. Primary sources are intended to be read in the original languages, but students with an interest in the topic who do not possess knowledge of Greek and/or Latin may make special arrangements with the instructor.

history of art

topics in baroque art: ornament, prof. houghteling

bryn mawr art history 640, 2:10-4:00 m