We are used to talking about our contemporary world as a globalised world and tend to view this as a recent phenomenon. Yet, the Middle Ages were an era during which the world opened up as never before, with travel and exchange across the globe. As well as the movement of people, this period saw massive growth in the movement of ideas, technologies, objects and foodstuffs; this makes the Middle Ages a fascinating place to explore from a multi-disciplinary perspective. Texts originally written in India could find, translation after translation, their way into Britain, as it is the case for the story of Barlaam and Josaphat, a story of two Christian saints actually based on a life of Buddha. Similarly, social practices could also make long journeys: the game of chess originates in the Indian world and came to Europe through Persian and Arabic mediation. This module will show how these exchanges were made possible, how they were thought of in the medieval world, and how we might explore what global meant during this period. Participants will be empowered to think about the Middle Ages beyond a Western framework. Through archaeology, history, art, literature, and politics, we will address what it meant to be global in the middle ages, and what this recognition means to us now.
Academic and graduate skills
The module is team-taught, and students will have one 2-hour seminar a week.
Assessment for this module will be by a final essay of 3500-4000 words. Students can chose their topics and their disciplinary focus for this coursework, and will have the opportunity to submit a draft piece of work for discussion with their tutors.
The final essay will be due in Week 1 of the following term.