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The Middle Ages and the Formation of European and National Identities
Course code: ELCS6015
Tutor: Dr Haki Antonsson
Mode of Assessment: 2 assessed essays of 2000 words each
Term: taught in term 1
This course will explore the origins and the concept of Europe and European nationhood in the Middle Ages. Nationalism is very much an Early Modern phenomenon, yet ethnicity and national or communal sentiments were instrumental in shaping the political map of medieval Europe and, by extension, that of modern Europe.
The Middle Ages (here defined as ca. AD 500-1500) also saw the emergence of a European identity which was defined and re-defined through encounters with peoples of other religions, chiefly the Jews at home and the Muslims in both the Near East and Spain through the Crusades and the so-called Reconquista respectively. Throughout the course we will explore how medieval people understood their own communal identities and those of others. We will also consider how medieval myths and legends of peoples and nations have been used, and often abused, in the promotion of nationalism in modern Europe.
The course will be taught through lectures and seminars in which original sources (in translation) and modern scholarly works will be analysed.
- Olivia Remie Constable (ed.), Medieval Iberia: Readings from Christian, Muslim and Jewish Sources (Philadelpia, Penn: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1997)
- Edward Dutton (ed.), Carolingian Civilization: A Reader (Peterborough, Ont: Broadview Press, 2nd edition, 2004)
- Simon Keynes and Michael Lapidge (ed. and tr.), Asser’s Life of Alfred the Great and Other Contemporary Sources (Penguin Classics, 1983)
- John O’Meara (tr.), Gerald of Wales, The History and Topography of Ireland (Penguin Classics, rev. edition, 2006)
- Edward Peters (ed), The First Crusade: ‘The Chronicle of Fulcher of Chartres’ and Other Source Material (Philadelphia, Penn: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2nd edition, 1998)
- Excerpts from Tacitus’ Germania and original sources relating to the Hundred Years’ War will be distributed in class.
Initial Secondary Bibliography:
- Benedict R Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (London: Verso 2nd ed., 1991)
- Patrick Geary, The Myth of Nations. The Medieval Origins of Europe (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2002)
- Jacques Le Goff, The Birth of Europe (Oxford: Blackwell, 2005)
- Susan Reynolds, Kingdoms and Communities in Western Europe, 900-1300 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997).
- Anthony D. Smith, The Ethnic Origins of Nations (Oxford: Blackwell, 1986)
- Anthony D. Smith, Nationalism: Theory, Ideology, History (2nd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge, University Press 2010)