JAN 040 - Empires and Barbarians
TTH, 12:00 PM - 2:35 PM, Saturday, 10:00 AM to 3:10 PM
The course examines the notion of the global ‘empire’ in its cultural, political and economic manifestation, as well as the inevitable resulting definition of the idea of the ‘other’ as the historical barbarian. We will look at preconceived notions of what a barbarian is from the point of view of imperial cultural institutions; then we will try to switch our perspective and adopt the points of view of Celtic, Germanic and Central European cultures. We will explore the world of the Celts, the Goths and the Vikings, and the way of life of the Huns, the Magyars and the Mongols. We will compare Greek, Roman and Christian understanding of non-Classical civilizations with China’s, where the Song dynasty was overrun by Kublai Khan’s Mongols.
The coursework, activities and readings encourage an analysis of how empires construct their cultural identity in opposition to that of the barbarians, and at the same time provide a realistic view of the lives and the challenges of young men and women on either side of the divide had to face in order to survive. Through readings, activities films and presentations we will discover the cultural inheritance of these ‘barbaric’ tribes and the lasting effect they had on medieval and early modern culture.
Several class activities make the course unique, and at least one day a week an extended class time, equal to two regular classes, is dedicated to hands-on events. This will be a 5-hr class, planned in order to have sufficient time for activities organized by the Mongols cultural group, the Gaesatae Iron Age Celts, the X Roman Legion, and the Vikings of Bjornstadt. Four special lunches will be provided, each reflecting a specific historical culture and geographical environment. Students will eat food from 200 BCE, 200 CE and 900 CE. using cups and bowls purchased with the class fee.
During the visits from the historical re-enactors, besides a lecture and various cultural activities, students will be involved in physical activities, including learning skills in weapon handling, crafts, agility games, and more. Students attending this class should be willing to participate in such activities, which are conducted with the highest degree of safety in mind.
Core Designation: Global Perspectives
Instructor(s): Costanza Dopfel
Prerequisites & Notes
Course Fee: 190
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