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The Global Middle Ages:the medieval period in a transcultural perspective - MST00060M

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  • Department: Centre for Medieval Studies
  • Module co-ordinator: Information currently unavailable
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2020-21

Module summary

This module will enable students to have a broad understanding of cultural exchanges across the "global" Middle Ages and an understanding of the Middle Ages in a transcultural perspective.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Spring Term 2020-21

Module aims

We are used to talking about our world as a globalized world. Courses of global literature are taught in many departments, mostly addressing the contemporary period. The Middle Ages, however, were also an age of travels and exchanges across the globe. 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 by the sharing of common cultural traits across the East and West divide. The course will enable its participants to think about the Middle Ages beyond a Western framework. The module will address both issues of exchange, comparison of different societies and divergent developments from common roots. It will explore how transcultural contacts were experienced at different levels. It will discuss the difference between transcultural and comparative approaches.

Module learning outcomes

Subject content

  • A knowledge of processes of cultural exchange across different areas in the Middle Ages
  • An understanding of the Middle Ages in a transcultural perspective
  • An understanding of how medieval societies thought and act ‘globally’
  • An awareness of the breadth and limits of the use of the category ‘Middle Ages’
  • A theoretic understanding of multicultural and multilingual interactions
  • An understanding of medieval practices of translation, text re-elaboration and their relationship with different medieval audiences
  • An understanding of material culture in a transcultural perspective

Academic and graduate skills

  • Read closely and critically, both primary and secondary material, on a high level
  • Articulate, orally and in writing, innovative and cogent critical arguments


Task Length % of module mark
Essay 3500 words
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Essay 3500 words
N/A 100

Module feedback

Feedback report within 6 weeks of essay submission.

Indicative reading

Allen, Rosamund (ed), Eastward Bound: Travel and Travellers, 1050-1550, Manchester 2004
Campopiano, Michele; Bainton, Henry (ed.) Universal Chronicles in the High Middle Ages, York 2017
Crone, Patricia, Pre-Industrial Societies: Anatomy of the Pre-Modern World, Oxford 1989
Gutas, Dimitri. Greek Thought, Arabic Culture: The Graeco-Arabic Translation Movement in Baghdad and
Early Abbasaid Society (2nd-4th/5th- 10th c.), London and New York 2012.
Heng, Geraldine. "The Invention of Race in the European Middle Ages II: Locations of Medieval Race."
Literature Compass 8.5 (2011): 332-350.
Literature Compass. Special Issue: The Global Middle Ages July 2014 Volume 11, Issue 7
McClure, J. (2015) A New Politics of the Middle Ages: A Global Middle Ages for a Global Modernity. History
Compass, 13: 610–619.
Rubiés, Joan-Pau, Medieval Ethnographies. European Perceptions of the World Beyond, London and new
York 2009
Tischler, Matthias M., "Academic challenges in a changing world." Journal of Transcultural Medieval Studies
1.1 (2014): 1-8.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.