Letters, Papal Bulls, and Women's Agency more. Dynastic Franciscan identity and the spiritual gift economy in Bohemia and the Polish duchies more. View on websefimar. Breaking down enclosures: a collaborative approach to the cloistering of medieval nuns more. Grand historical narratives about the medieval period often have a gendered dynamic that treats men as typical and ordinary, with work on women as an extra or add-on. Painstakingly reintroducing women into the masculinist narrative has Painstakingly reintroducing women into the masculinist narrative has not fully addressed this problem, as they are still portrayed as secondary rather than originary.
Instead, working collaboratively across time and place enables us to create new histories of medieval phenomena that include women from the outset. Focussing on the problematic historical discourse around female enclosure in the Middle Ages, this collaborative paper attempts to model a new way of working across different fields, disciplines, and time-periods to create an integrated historiography. It has been assumed that women who took religious orders were strictly enclosed in monasteries against their will.
Comparing eleventh- century English nuns with thirteenth-century east-central European nuns, we show that there is no normal discourse of enclosure that women cleaved to or deviated from. Via a joint assault on the assumptions and generalisations that have shaped modern understandings of enclosure, this paper will reveal the multiplicity of gendered ways in which women interacted with enclosure as a discourse. View on medievalgender. Away from the pleasures of royalty? The example of Agnes of Bohemia as a royal Franciscan nun more. This paper will explore how it was possible for Agnes of Bohemia c.
In the figure of Agnes, the Franciscan ideology is combined with In the figure of Agnes, the Franciscan ideology is combined with the norms of a rich royal institution. A modern audience might find this compound problematic, and the ostensible discrepancy has been noted and investigated by scholars. The complexity of these models created a fluid set of ideals that Agnes and her family were able to seize upon and develop to promote their own spiritual gain, thus forging a symbiotic relationship between the Franciscan and royal ideologies.
Medieval royal foundations. All of the studies resulting from this effort All of the studies resulting from this effort rely upon hagiographical representations of the life of Clare of Assisi — the saintly figure with whom the order of nuns is today most readily associated. Francis c. Studies on the Franciscan women still treat the male expression of the Franciscan ideal, and the ideal itself, as the original norm from which the female copy was derived. Free from a modern gender bias, an analysis of these identities demonstrates that they were far more complex and incoherent than has thus far been considered.
Location: University of St. View on st-andrews. Medieval History and oral sources: how should we use the oral testimony gathered as part of canonisation inquests? Madrid: Editorial Castalia, Jensen, Fred. Troubadour Lyrics: A Bilingual Anthology. New York: P. Lang, Edited and translated by Anthony Bonner. Princeton: Princeton University Press, Maimonides, Moses. Edited by Moshe Lazar and Robert J. Culver City: Labyrinthos, Monroe, James.
Berkeley: University of California Press, Nebrija, Antonio de. Rabadan, Muhammad. Poemas de Mohamad Rabadan. Rojas, Fernando de, La Celestina. Edited by Dorothy S. Ruiz, Juan. The Book of Good Love. Everyman Paperback Bilingual Edition. Translated by Elizabeth Drayson Macdonald. London: C. Tuttle, Translated by James Monroe.
, Announcement: Books Available for Review (November ) | The Medieval Review
Leiden: Brill, The Arabian Nights. Edited and translated by Muhsin Mahdi. Selected and edited by Daniel Heller-Roazen. New York: W. The Penguin Book of Hebrew Verse. Edited by T. New York: Viking Press, Madrid: Editora Nacional, Similarly, the BVMC www. Echoing the work of A. See A. Furst, ; Menocal, The Arabic Role, 71— Yet, while I suspect many teachers approach the classroom in ways that are consonant with these tenets, few have combined these fields to theorize a pedagogical approach, one born of concern for under- standing connections between cultures by fostering connections within the classroom.
Working in medieval and Mediterranean studies—both sites of connections and fields in which one can hardly master every- thing, from geographic, linguistic, and cultural diasporas to the thousand years of history that constitute our time period—has led me to seek a pedagogy that invites us to leverage our collective reading skills to better understand a period and place rich in intersections but relatively poor in sources, one divided into falsely nationalized disciplinary frameworks by its nineteenth-century forefathers.
Here, I will examine one particular instance of such cross-cultural discomfort, when my students and I took on the challenge of reading the medieval Greek ballad Digenis Akritas in a graduate seminar on the medieval Mediterranean taught in English to students from across the campus.
Our resulting discussion of Digenis Akritas suggested that abandoning our modern need for linguistic or disciplinary mastery and approaching the text from a Mediterranean, cross-cultural standpoint would allow us to better understand how mobility helped construct nobility in Mediterranean literature.
Received Medievalisms: A Cognitive Geography of Viennese Women’s Convents
Our questions revolved around imagining Mediterranean noble identities as not constructed through strict ties to nation, but rather through practices of exchange and travel. Mediterranean studies and feminist pedagogy are a natural fit, since they both assume we can let go of dis- ciplinary mastery to shift the questions of our inquiry to focus on the intersectionality of existence. Teaching outside my disciplinary comfort zone revealed how valu- able feminist pedagogy—anchored in admitting discomfort and letting go of mastery—can be to a classroom dedicated to cross-cultural explo- ration, specifically in encounters in the medieval Mediterranean.
To that end, I begin by exploring how feminist pedagogy and Mediterranean studies intersect, and explore how that intersection—the pedagogy of connectivity—plays out in the classroom. Finally, I turn toward broader implications for teaching through connectivity. They, like many outsiders to whom I explain my profession, are perplexed by the idea of studying the medieval world, and their questions are always the same: How can I understand the medieval world, given the little evidence we have about it?
What do we know about the medieval world, and what are our assumptions? Their questions of discomfort with the medieval era, though, differ from that first, and most basic, question—the one focused around my role as a facilitator who guides a discussion about medieval literature and culture, and which reveals anxieties about who can help them establish connections to the medieval world.
As a scholar and student of literature, I believe that each reading, at any level, always yields new ideas; each discussion is therefore a unique moment of exchange. My classroom is an extension of these basic tenets, and requires exchange and contact to accomplish the goal of student comprehension and analysis; it therefore focuses on student-led discussions and group work rather than lecturing.
It would be antithetical to tell students what to think—I would rather teach them how to read and how to voice their own questions about the text. One of the main reasons I refuse to tell students what to think is that I want them to work together to come to understanding and make their own connections, and I employ feminist pedagogy in my classroom to facilitate this. However, I recognize that thinking critically and voicing critical questions can be intimidating and difficult, and I invite students to work together to create a welcoming atmosphere built around interpersonal exchange, consistent with the goals of feminist classrooms across a wide range of pedagogic and political objectives.
We learn from each other, through exchange and consid- eration; we also learn from multimedia resources, manuscripts when we can visit special collections, and codicological and musical reproductions. One way we do this is by drawing conceptual maps at the beginning and end of the semester, which evolve from simple depic- tions, for example, of the Mediterranean as a geographical feature, to a place by the end of the semester rife with exchange and violence, where we see drawings of sea-travel, crusade, and the exchange of silk and art.
A feminist classroom does not have to be one in which challenges are not launched and difference cannot f lourish. Yet medieval identities—and, as I argue, in particular medieval Mediterranean identities—lend themselves particularly well to such a pedagogy. Recent work suggests that the Mediterranean provides an important and central site for understanding connections in the medieval world; like- wise, the methodology of Mediterranean studies is grounded in connec- tions spanning national, linguistic, geographic, and religious boundaries.
While Carmel Borg and Peter Mayo worry about the effect of global- ization on Mediterranean pedagogy, it is precisely the Mediterranean itself that permitted the near-globalization of the medieval world: the Mediterranean was a place characterized by connections. A pedagogy of connectivity focuses on the interstices and intersec- tions of ideas by looking for connections not only between ideas pre- sented in the classroom, but among the constituents of the classroom.
The classroom is a place of connections between individuals and teachers, but also among the students themselves. Encouraging students to puzzle things out with each other, building on competencies and even uncer- tainties they have about texts and questions about the Middle Ages, helps them build their own analytic and discursive skills while empowering each student to take charge of her own learning and participation. I do this often by asking students to bring one question to class and making a list on the blackboard of the most pressing questions, then asking them to discuss these in small groups.
In this way, they control both the learning process and its resolution by building on group aptitude.
Having considered the groundwork for a pedagogy of connectivity, I would like to explore one of the specific instances in which I used this approach to ground a class on the medieval Mediterranean, a graduate-level seminar on medieval literature produced in and about the Mediterranean. This seminar was taught in English to encourage discussion among stu- dents from several different departments Classics, Romance Languages, English, and History. Our readings and discussion stemmed from a common interest in understanding how the Mediterranean grounded and shaped these texts, and we embarked on a search for connections between texts, characterization, plot, and even manuscript histories.
Though my own work has focused extensively on many of these texts, my classroom is not based upon the idea of my mastery of these mate- rials, but rather on a literary journey across the sea, one launched to seek connections and parallels between texts from diverse linguistic, cul- tural, and religious backgrounds. The interdisciplinary nature of both the texts and the students required abdicating a dictatorial position of authority in the classroom; for example, I myself admit that I have little expertise in Spanish, Catalan, or Islamic literature, and happily deferred to my students whose specialization in those languages most helped us read the Libro del buen amor attentively in its original wording when nec- essary in class.
The idea of mastery and control—even at the graduate level—is abandoned in order to let the texts tell us their tale of how the Mediterranean is shaping storylines and identities within medieval literature. We agreed during our first meeting that we would use our varied backgrounds in languages and history to help us create textual authority together, seeking connections between and triangulating mean- ing through our shared knowledge.
Despite claiming our group expertise and admitting our limitations, we still felt uncomfortable working beyond our traditional disciplinary boundaries. Students openly expressed their anxiety over discussing the Greek and Arabic texts. We learn that his father, a Syrian emir, abducted and married his mother from her Doukas kin, converted to Christianity for love of her, and had Digenis, his son. For students, such texts can be baff ling.
Reading well beyond our ken reminds us that all texts are foreign and should be read as such: this makes us better read- ers. Students who are allowed to explore without the expectation of mastery suddenly reveal their thought processes much more readily. Together, we can answer the fundamentals of any literary text, whether written in medieval Greek or modern English: What do we see on the page?
What are our assumptions about this genre and are they met? What exceeds or even disappoints our expectations? In the classroom, beginning with these essential and basic questions helps us articulate our own disciplinary assumptions about what medieval literature and medieval French identities should look like. Yet, for several students, there were moments of disjuncture. He crosses from one family, wife, religion, and set of cultural and gendered practices all Syrian to another all Byzantine , and he marks this transition by changing from f lowing garments into more clearly articulated pants.
Reading these texts in a classroom devoted to connectivity means that students were able to identify the passing taking place as well as build off of other passages of passing that their own disciplinary and reading back- grounds may have prepared them for. Students used intertextual con- nections to read the passing episode within a Mediterranean framework of nobles desperate to position themselves through the consumption and display of exotic Mediterranean goods.
While in Erec et Enide the passing is done between classes, in Digenis Akritas the bor- ders are multiple: religious, linguistic, and ethnic, but are also bridged by citizens of the world like Digenis. Students ultimately identified the episode as revealing how f luid identities can be, even in the Middle Ages, bringing medieval identity politics closer to their modern under- standing of the world.
Discussing how Digenis passes from one cul- ture to another also shows that there is a certain amount of knowledge developed through cross-cultural exchange around the Mediterranean, as the f luidity of borderlands permits the f luidity of identities performed there. As students discussed, they focused more and more on connections between the texts—and then they sought to explain critical differences in plot. In particular, they started to interrogate the parallels in the narrative structure of a bi-gen- erational story about dual-blooded protagonists who love and gain honor abroad, only to bring that culture back to their homelands.
By thinking from a perspective of connectivity my students learned to ask important methodological questions only attentive, tuned-in read- ers can achieve. They posed questions such as: Why are there parallels not only in the plot but also in the structure of these two disparate romances? When were each of these texts composed, and by whom? Their initial inquiries led to even better, codicologically based questions such as: What evidence do we have of their produc- tion, circulation, and popularity? Is it probable that the stories traveled? Were they copied out or performed abroad for onlooking crusaders?
Students were trying to get at questions about textual circulation, and their questions relied on two basic and correct assumptions that they had gained throughout a semester dedicated to connectivity in our class- room: first, ideas traveled in the Middle Ages, and they often traveled along the Mediterranean with trade, war, and conquest; and, second, cultural information would come to be reported through storytelling.
How can we account for the circulation of this motif among texts that are linguistically, generically, and geographi- cally dissimilar? While we eventually agreed that we could not claim a textual geneal- ogy, one student was able to challenge others even farther. Essentially, the questions revolved around fashion- ing the self in a multicultural world, and, for the nobility especially, how to represent that self in a way that people across the Mediterranean could recognize, interpret, and decode as noble.
For my students, reading on the edge of their comfort zone helped them gain new knowledge about other texts. For them, reading from a position of liminality helped articulate the assumptions of their center, in this case Old French literature. Digenis and other Mediterranean texts helped contextualize Paris as important to the medieval West, but paling in comparison to Cairo and Constantinople in terms of trade, music, food culture, literary psychology, and luxury goods. Other texts helped put French literary production into a context in which many cultures were writing about exchange across the sea and using the Mediterranean to imagine nobility, explain identity, and justify warfare.
Reading together and across boundaries helped students understand medieval nobility to be dependent on the Mediterranean. Unlike my undergraduates, my graduate students do not, of course, ask me what to think about Digenis Akritas or any of the texts we read. They are, however, invested in understanding the dynamic of the text in its quest to articulate a borderland identity, and to get to that, we try to explore how interpersonal relationships are represented.
It was particularly rewarding that when some of these intertexts were brought up, students would engage in debate among themselves over whether they really made a good comparison, and how they brought more mean- ing to Digenis. Sometimes, our model only made us more acutely aware of the narratological differences separating the Greek text from our other readings; yet this, too, was knowledge gained. Students whose main goal was to understand how the Mediterranean functions as a methodology used the test case of a lone, mixed-blood frontiersman to understand how far the approach can be pushed, and they began to collectively question the categories of identity set up in Mediterranean studies scholarship to see if its tenets still held.
The classroom is a microcosm of the connectivity we read about in texts: teaching across disciplinary boundaries; encouraging students to reach out and plant, harvest, and even trim away suggestions about how texts overlapped and interlaced; exploring the ways scholarship and mod- ern perception confront medieval expectations of how to define oneself in the world.
Creating a feminist classroom grounded in fostering connectivity permitted us to seek resonances with that same connectivity in the medieval Mediterranean, irrespective of whether our discussions in each class focused on gender or other aspects of identity politics. The Mediterranean, with all its pro- clivities to exchange, encounter, and connections, was our site. Feminist pedagogy, with its proclivity toward building knowledge together and fostering classroom connections, was our tool.
Combined, the two brought out interesting and unexpected moments of exchange among participants and within texts, and revealed the usefulness of a feminist pedagogy beyond the borders of a gender studies classroom. While a graduate seminar specializing in medieval Mediterranean lit- erature was an ideally specialized vehicle for trying out this new feminist approach, it lends itself well to larger pedagogical practice.
With careful syllabus design and an insistence on losing mastery in the classroom, this approach may bear fruit in a wide variety of settings. My experiences teaching texts outside my linguistic area of expertise—from The Arabian Nights to the Livro del cavallero Cifar a Spanish prose adaptation of the life of Saint Eustace, c. By discarding the necessity for mastery, and making connectivity an integral part of the pedagogic approach, this material can be easily converted for discussion in an undergraduate classroom.
Many of the more academically theorized concepts that inform my graduate semi- nar—such as the permeability of borderlands, the intersectionality of feminist standpoint epistemolgical theory, and postcolonial notions of centers and peripheries—can be adapted to the undergraduate classroom because many students are already interested in identity politics, whether they have been formally trained or not. For undergraduates, starting from the readings—progressing from the questions of identity posed by the text, and moving toward these bigger theoretical frameworks—is doubly advantageous.
Second, they are taught that the medieval is accessible and asks many of the same questions about identity gender, region, language, and religious practices that still interest us today. Since most of the primary texts staging Mediterranean exchange are available in English, abandon- ing mastery to explore what seem like inaccessible texts translated from medieval Greek can produce fundamental discussions of self and other that are integral to any undergraduate study of culture.
Howard R. Some of the tenets of feminist pedagogy may seem natural to us now, but they are a recent intervention in a field that still seeks to complicate the dynamics of medieval identity in ways that defy its founding in nineteenth-century ideologies focused on the role of men in power. For more on feminist pedagogy, see Carolyn M. These evaluative criteria include the extent to which a community of learners is empowered to act responsibly toward one another and the subject matter and to apply that learning to social action.
Alexis J. Kathleen Martindale critiques modern feminist pedagogy, claiming the assumption of nurturing and mothering inherent in these writings only replicates—rather than interrogates—societal norms about woman- hood. See in particular the kinds of pedagogical equality and challenges she identifies in Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom New York: Routledge, In class, students would cite work by feminists and other borderland the- orists working on identity politics.
There is a longer critical tradition about border identities that would also help contextualize the discussion of this femi- nist vein within the larger borderlands literature. From elementary school through college, with keen national pride, I learned about the Silk Road as a crucial conduit for international trade across Eurasia. The Korean Peninsula, though relegated to the northeastern corner of Eurasia, was part of this global trade route. I also learned that several trade items from the heyday of the Silk Road during the seventh and eight centuries CE were excavated in tombs in South Korea and across the ocean in the islands of Japan.
Some of our Korean ancestors were significant players in this history. He recorded his four-year journey in a book titled Memoir of the Pilgrimage to the Five Indian Kingdoms, which includes valuable accounts of the five Indian kingdoms and the Byzantine Empire, as well as reports about Arabs, Persians, and Central Asians. When I began studying for my graduate degrees in the United States in the late s, however, I had yet to discover a new aspect of the Silk Road in courses on Byzantine art and Roman art.
The materials were familiar: fragments of Chinese silk demonstrate how much silk was treasured in the West, while Persian metalwork and glass went from the West to the East. But associations were quite different. My perspective on the Silk Road transitioned from being centered on Buddhist religious objects to including a range of artifacts and ethnic communities. I often fantasized about how Byzantine emperors and aristocrats could have been fascinated by Chinese and Central Asian silk carried along the Silk Road, as shown, for example, in the patterned dresses of Empress Theodora and her companions on wall mosaics of the San Vitale Church in Ravenna, built during the reign of Emperor Justinian I — CE.
The animal patterns in roundels that decorate their dresses stem from Sogdian silk or Tang-dynasty silk fabrics with the same patterns. When planning this course on the Silk Road in , I was thrown into yet another world to interpret and find meaning out of the Silk Road in a classroom in Brooklyn—a physical space far removed from this ancient trade route. I address the practical and conceptual challenges I encountered, focusing on two challenges in particular: 1 discussing the difference between aesthetic standards in order to interpret material culture, and 2 offering a balanced view of Central Asia and Islam.
I also discuss how theorizations of cosmopolitanism equipped my students with a frame- work to more effectively analyze historical, literary, and artistic content related to the Silk Road. Through this teaching experience, I have firmly come to believe that studying cross-cultural encounters, past and present, is highly beneficial to students in our new information age crowded with so-called knowledge workers, for example software engineers, scientists, doctors, business consultants, and the like from all over the world.
They did, however, possess a wealth of multicultural and international experiences from which to draw. Teaching a multicultural course on the Silk Road was an effective way to engage these multiethnic students in a course on the medieval and early modern periods, which might otherwise strike them as exclusively white and European. One student later told me that she came from Samarkand and was excited to take this course to learn more about her place of ethnic origin.
Another student told me that he was pleased to learn more about the Timurid Empire because he was named after Timur, the fourteenth-century hero in Central Asia. It occurred to me that students could easily relate these medieval metropolises to contemporary New York, also full of foreign residents and tourists. To help theorize multiculturalism, in both the present and past, I began my course by discussing several views on cosmopolitanism along with some controversies on immigration.
My goal was to expand the common perspective of emphasizing Chinese or Indian contributions to the Silk Road, an approach familiar from my own undergraduate courses. Because I also included more materials from the Islamic world, our dis- cussion also often included the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Both are easy to read at about two hundred pages of text, and contain some black-and-white images. In his traditionally historical account, Foltz succinctly summarizes various ethnic and reli- gious groups coming in and out of the Silk Road, particularly in Central and West Asia.
Students were able to obtain a timeline of events and a summary of religious practices from Foltz. My students were particularly fascinated by the Chinese demand for foreign-born entertainers, musicians, cour- tesans, and merchandise. He travels along the Silk Road to sell specialty merchandise from Central Asia and buy enough silk to bring back to people in West Asia.
One student, who was majoring in chemical engineering, pointed out that having a special skill can be beneficial in multilinguistic, multiethnic communities, as in the case of the Central Asian monk who had medical expertise and settled in Dunhuang, or the Tibetan painter with a talent for copying Buddhist iconography who remained a popular employee among Chinese monks and artists. Because Foltz and Whitfield do not discuss artistic production along the Silk Road in detail, I supplemented these readings with visual materi- als drawn from exhibition catalogues and art historical documents.
For example, Central Asian entertainers and musicians on camel were often represented in three-color glazed earthenware of the Tang Dynasty. When I teach this course again, I am likely to include readings from the following publications, most of which were not available for Fall Christopher I. Millward is short yet essential introductory reading on the subject.
My students understood that artifacts in rare materials such as glass bowls or ivory ornaments were considered valuable, and that desire for luxurious goods prompted international trade across the Silk Road and later across the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, but struggled to find the aesthetic merit in individual works. Though I carefully chose politically correct terms for the peoples, cultures, and artistic productions of Central Asia, I had to admit that by trying to present material objects from the Silk Road as comparable to the standards of fine arts museums in the West, I was also a product of the European Enlightenment.
It seems conceivable that, as modern viewers, students might fail to see the artistic merit of a piece of art despite understanding that certain objects were valued in a liturgical or funerary context in their original period and thus considered worth collecting in a museum. As Appiah argues in Cosmopolitanism, people impose their own aesthetic values and symbolic meanings on artifacts made in different cultures. To overcome this challenge, our discussion of archaeological findings also tackled questions such as the following: In which context would a piece of textile from Central Asia be collected and displayed?
Does it belong to an art museum or a natural history museum? Are images on a wall painting unclear or murky because the original pigments are opaque, or because of deterioration over time? Sogdian silk with Sassanian- Persian pattern of ducks in pearl roundels. That these outfits are tailored in a Tibetan style further intrigued my students. They speculated on how a Tibetan prince or member of a high-class family could have acquired such luxurious fabrics, and in turn on how textiles might have been traded.
I also addressed my own sensitivity to different aesthetic standards and shared my personal experiences. Had these objects remained in Korea, they would have been legitimately classified and housed in a folk art museum, historic society, or art museum. Some students related this context to their knowledge of pre-Columbian and African art works found in art, folk art, and natural history museums.
An integral component of my teaching was a mission to expose my students to the most sophisticated aesthetics of non-Western art works. We also discussed the compara- tive perspectives of aestheticism and technology. For those who do not have access to superb collections of Asian art, I would recommend the educational Web sites of museums and documentary videos. For example, it is relatively easy to convince stu- dents of the artistic merit of ceramics and textiles.
In the case of porcelain, European counterparts never reached the superb quality of Asian works. This is exactly why Europe was so eager to trade with Asia. Chinese porcelain vessels were so outstanding in their artistry that Persian and later Arab potters tried hard to imitate them but never achieved the same standards. The same was true for silk: even though the Byzantine Empire launched a successful silk industry under Emperor Justinian, Europe was always in need of high-quality silk textiles imported from the East. Precious glass vessels from Sassanian Persia were buried in tombs or deposited in pagodas as reliquaries in Korea and Japan.
They looked lovely and attractive regardless of religious, linguistic, or ethnic back- ground across the Silk Road. Another hurdle for my Silk Road class was that most artifacts and material objects dated from the sixth to twelfth centuries and represented a diverse range of religious beliefs: their intrinsic value as liturgical or devotional objects was often incomprehensible to young people in the twenty-first century.
Students were often at a loss to understand the highest accomplishments of Buddhist scripts, wall paintings, and hang- ing scrolls. Moreover, it is difficult for an audience accustomed to the tactile pleasure of objects, for instance of Renaissance paintings with glaring oil varnish, to appreciate a Buddhist pantheon illustrated in dusty old books. Students had difficulty appreciating what these art works were about because of their own lack of cultural background in the doctrines and values of various religions.
To overcome this challenge, we discussed how Christian, Buddhist, and Islamic cul- tures all produced illustrated books as instructional tools and devotional objects, splurging on precious materials like gold and silver to decorate sacred scriptures. Illuminations of Christian iconography and silk paint- ings of Buddhist iconography are similar in their hierarchical depictions of figures and conventional representation of religious visions such as the Heavenly Jerusalem and the Western Paradise of Amita Buddha, although the degree of naturalism differs depending on subperiods and pictorial styles.
By reading anthologies of literary, religious, and philo- sophical treatises, students came to understand that certain religious ico- nographies, for instance those depicting three deities together the Holy Trinity, the Three Graces, or a Buddha Triad could be commonly found in different cultures.
Our readings included essays on ethnographic art, such as those in Views of Difference: Different Views of Art, which effectively address aesthetic differences in the visual arts of East Asian, European, South Asian, and African cultures. Central Asia is currently under the inf luence of Russia and China, much as it had been under the Chinese or Arab Empires before.
Because most accounts of Central Asians during the Silk Road era were not written by Central Asians themselves, it is important for students to take into consideration the cultural biases that inform these accounts. To address these biases, we studied depictions of Central Asians in artistic and textual traditions. For example, we analyzed the physical appearances of foreigners depicted on Chinese porcelain and wall paint- ings.
Additionally, we discussed the cus- toms and languages of Central Asians we read about in Chinese historical documents and Arabic sources. Many students wondered what Central Asian historical tribes had really looked like, and how local people would have described certain events. I also introduced the historiography of Central Asia and touched upon the preconceptions and personal interests of great scholars of the Silk Road. Nikolai Mikhaylovich Przhevalsky —; Polish-Russian , Aurel Stein —; Jewish-Hungarian-British , Sven Hedin — ; Swedish-German , and Paul Pelliot —; French were all, whether willingly or involuntarily, in service of the Imperial expansion- ism of the late nineteenth century.
This was one of the best moments of the class: to think like a real historian trying to skim off deep-rooted biases and preconceptions and to maintain fairness as much as possible. Treating strangers with unconditional hospital- ity through ethical principles is easier said than done. Even in New York, an archetype of a global city, according to students, many people are con- strained by their own stereotypes and biases. This sentiment lingered on in our discussion of people and artifacts in Central Asia.
The discussion on the early modern history of the Silk Road and Central Asia also presented opportunities to discuss Islam. The ques- tion of why Central Asians converted to Islam made students deliberate outside the simplistic mindset that conversion comes only from conquest. After the fall of the Mongolian Empires, myriad ethnic groups converted to Islam one after another. Foltz describes in a judicious tone how Islam was chosen out of business interests to benefit from more trade with the Islamic world, or in some cases was voluntarily adopted by people to avoid a lawless void of power.
He sets a balanced tone to overthrow the stereotype of Islamic invaders imposing merciless conversion on the conquered. The topic of Islam as a dominant ideology in the region was of particular interest to my Muslim students and broad- ened our discussion. I often divided the class of 37 students into five or six small groups and sat in on each group so that I could hear some stu- dents who had not voiced opinions during the larger group discussions. One student from Turkey described the many positive aspects of being a Muslim today.
Women students from Pakistan or Indonesia also empha- sized the importance of charities in Islamic societies as represented by Zakat or almsgiving in the Five Pillars of Islam. The heated, but productive, discussion that this event inspired demonstrates the useful perspectives that cross- cultural encounters from the past can provide when examining current world events.
I related to students my own experience of viewing large hanging photographs of the destroyed Buddhas at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris during research for my doctoral dis- sertation in Having spent a good portion of my twenties studying Gandhara art, including the Bamiyan Buddhas, I told students how bereft I felt about their destruction.
Some Muslim students became agitated and interrupted my empathetic reaction to the destroyed Buddha statues. One student remarked that the anthropomorphic icons of other religions are considered idols in the Islamic tradition and quoted a Taliban state- ment that the West offered money to preserve the Bamiyan Buddhas but refused to provide funds to feed Afghan children.
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This was the perfect moment to discuss Muslim attitudes toward other religions. Several Muslim stu- dents were surprised by the f lexible and creative adaptation of foreign visual elements by the Ghaznavid and Ghurid Sultanates in Islamized Afghanistan and Indian territories from the eighth to the thirteenth cen- turies. Conclusion: To Be a Cosmopolitan Citizen In retrospect, my course on the Silk Road at Brooklyn College was unusually satisfying because most of the students already had some college experience and came from diverse cultural backgrounds.
One Muslim student thanked me for giving him an opportunity to eluci- date more about his own religious practices through our readings and discussions. I also learned a lot from his presentation on the policy for converting non-Muslims conquered by Islamic powers in Central Asia. A group of Chinese students also gave a presentation on Chinese imperial policies of tolerance and polytheism.
As an instructor, the Silk Road class was not easy to teach. That is perhaps why similar courses are often only offered in schools with large programs in regional studies. This Brooklyn College class was the first time I was able to teach a course dedicated to the Silk Road. My own syllabus focused much more on ancient and medieval periods; an Islamist teaching a variant of this course might give more time to the post-Mongolian Empires; with a Byzantinist or an Asian art historian instructor, the syllabus and readings would also be very differ- ent: the burden on the instructor is to read more broadly and provide a balanced viewpoint.
Ultimately, it is not easy to develop this kind of cross-cultural material without institutional support. The more diverse the class, the better the outcome for classroom discussion. If two professors in the same department, or ideally several professors across the disciplines of history, anthropology, political science, and regional studies, could organize a forum for regular meetings as well as classroom lectures, this would offer students a great opportunity for intellectual development and professors avenues for future research as well.
Expanding the chronological scope to include the modern and con- temporary periods is also crucial for American universities and colleges in less cosmopolitan regions. The United States has made indelible contact with Central Asia through its recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the Silk Road is an important precedent of global encounters and cross- cultural exchanges for Eurasia, encounters and exchanges that now focus more on economic interests such as natural gas pipes and railroad con- structions. Instead of devoting two-thirds of my semester to the ancient ruins of Gandhara art and Buddhist cave temples along the Silk Road, next time I teach this course, I will include modern and contemporary art works inspired by Central Asia or created by artists from these regions.
I am convinced that more pedagogical activities, such as those described in this essay, would nur- ture cosmopolitan classroom communities tolerant of multiple belief sys- tems and values.
My journey along the Silk Road in a Brooklyn College classroom taught me more than any book on the subject. Although I still struggle to portray cross-cultural encounters that were mutually ben- eficial and that do not favor a single tradition, I encourage others to have the courage to teach a class on the Silk Road that favors multiple perspectives including those of Central Asians, even if they do not have complete expertise in all the cultures along the Silk Road.
Teaching a course on the multicultural Silk Road provides a learning opportunity for both students and the instructor, and approaching the class in this way allows professors to cover material beyond their disciplinary mastery and to learn with students during the course. Yu, The Journey to the West Chicago: University of Chicago Press, — and , which includes an extensive scholarly introduction and notes. Norton and Co. Jennifer Ball, who taught this course for many years and invited me to teach it during her sabbatical, recommended several books.
I thank her for sharing her syllabus and textbook recommendations with me. Appiah, Cosmopolitanism, —5 and — Purchase from the J. Wade Fund The lining silk has accession number as Purchase from the J. In the famous Annunciation panel at the Uffizi Gallery ca. Metropolitan Museum of Art, also includes luxury silks traded along the Silk Road. A group of students in my class undertook an inter- esting project on materials derived from these catalogues. When my class on East Asian art was observed by faculty members, I was often asked why my images looked unclear and whether the projector was out of focus.
Old images on a clay wall or on silk do not preserve well, and natural pigments made from minerals and plants do not bear clear, saturated hues. Catherine King, ed. Students responded well in discus- sions after reading the Introduction. I thank Bokyung Kim for drawing my attention to it. See also Satya P. Literary criticism on Orientalism and race can provide additional crucial issues for discussion. Whitfield, Lives along the Silk Road, For good summaries of the incident see W. E nglish travel writing in the early modern period is full of cross-cul- tural encounters, and the study of that literature today also involves a complex set of cross-cultural negotiations.
Our job, as teachers, is to facilitate those negotiations by introducing students to the pleasures of exploring early modern literature, and by giving them the tools they need to effectively contextualize their encounters with the past. In this essay, I address some of the difficulties and delights of teaching early modern cross-cultural encounters in the context of an undergraduate survey of English travel writing from to the present.
Survey courses present a predictable set of challenges when it comes to teaching cross-cultural encounters in early modern literature—not least the need to historicize, in a very concise way, those encounters—but they can also be richly rewarding to both teachers and students.
They present us, for example, with unique opportunities to explore how writers respond, at different times, to changing literary and cultural contexts. And they also offer the opportunity to think not just about cross-cultural encounters that occur within literary texts, but also those that might occur between or among texts, and between ourselves as readers and the early modern texts we are studying. In the week, second-year survey course that I teach on travel writ- ing in English, we spend three weeks at the beginning of the term look- ing at early modern texts.
Much, by necessity, is left out of such a brief survey. The Victorians and the moderns—and thus many of the best-known travel writers in the English tradition—are conspicuously absent. Instead, as a specialist in early modern literature, my desire is to expose students to earlier, less familiar periods in English literature, and to bring these rich and complex works into dialogue with contemporary travel writing. In each of the three units, we tackle writing about three or four broadly defined regions: our readings in the early modern period focus on English writing about the Americas, Europe, and the Near East.
Rather than privi- lege any single writer during these first weeks, I assign works in excerpt to give students a sense of the multiple and often contradictory points of view that characterize this early literature. For our final unit on con- temporary travel writing, we look at four different authors, each writing about a different part of the world. The course thus enables us to historicize the early modern cross-cultural encounters we read about as well as our own assumptions about the past.
Students come to the course with an enthusiastic interest in travel and perhaps even the desire to become travel writers themselves. I find, therefore, that an interactive, or dialogic, lecture style helps me to identify the areas where students are most knowledgeable and to home in on historical top- ics that need further explication.
I thus begin almost every lecture with questions about the assigned readings: Was there anything about them that surprised you? What did you find most challenging? As time allows, we then turn to the readings themselves and address issues or contexts specific to individual works. Since there is usu- ally more material here than can be discussed in a two-hour class session, we spend much of our additional tutorial hour on further close reading and discussion. From their initial answers gen- erally on the side of Bacon , we talk about the dangers associated with travel in the sixteenth century, and why Roman Catholic Italy might have seemed especially threatening to an Englishman in To lay the groundwork for this discussion, my lecture on early modern travel writ- ing about Europe begins with a discussion of the European Reformation and the religious struggles of the sixteenth century.
I make available the main points of my lecture on slides illustrated with images from the period, so that students can take notes and ask questions as we proceed. England with the Armada of Modern travel writing is considerably less diverse in this respect. By looking at narratives written at different times about the same broad geographical areas, we can see how the contours of travel not just who travels but how, where, and why and the cultural and aesthetic concerns of writers change over time with the development of scientific empiricism, for example, or the language of the picturesque in Romantic writing.
We can see, for instance, how the religious concerns that shape so many of the cross-cultural encounters in Reformation-era English writing give way, in later works, to other political and economic issues. We can also see, very clearly, how and when, and why new voices and perspectives— women writers, Afro-British writers, working-class writers, diasporic writers—emerge in English travel writing as a ref lection of broader cul- tural and historical changes.
Cross-cultural encounters are a central concern of English travel writ- ing in every period, and so it would be useful to define more specifi- cally the kinds of encounter that occur in this course. Geraldo U. How closely might an English reader have identified with the opinions or experiences of a writer like Montaigne, and what factors might have worked against that identification? Pointing this out to students opens up the oppor- tunity to think about communities of readers in the early modern period, and the circulation of texts and ideas across national boundaries. To a cer- tain extent, English readers did share or were receptive to the opinions of Montaigne, Las Casas, and other foreign writers.
Their works, we know, were immensely popular in England. Yet writers like Montaigne or Las Casas were highly critical of their own cultures, and sometimes served to reinforce English prejudices. How, he asks implicitly, had England managed to avoid similar conf lict within its own borders?
By engaging critically with early modern discourses of cultural difference, students can become more attuned to the functioning of ste- reotypes and cultural commonplaces at different historical moments— including our own. Since my students and I come from a range of cultural and religious back- grounds, the precise nature of this encounter differs somewhat for each of us, but our historical time and place is such that the guiding cultural perspective in the classroom is neither European nor early modern.
The English travel writing we encounter is already, by definition, foreign to us on several counts. As a teacher, an important part of my job is to encour- age and facilitate these complex cross-cultural encounters. Early modern literature can be alienating and overwhelming for students encountering it for the first time. The vocabulary is often difficult, the spelling irregu- lar, and the syntax complex and confusing. What is more, the difficulties of early modern English can leave students feeling vulnerable especially when they encounter a text that does not make sense to them.
All of these objections can open the way to productive discussion: Why are there not more travel narratives by early modern women? Why is religion so contentious in the sixteenth century, and is it any less so today? How does our experience of language shape the way we perceive other cultures?
Early modern travel writing is full of contradictions, and can elicit a passionate curiosity in students to learn about times, places, and cultures radically different from our own. Language difficulties are often a feature of cross-cultural encounters, and one of the first things we must address in my course is the diffi- culty of working with unmodernized texts.
Although every encounter with the past is mediated, we are, in a way, meeting these authors on their own terms—letting them speak for themselves—by engaging with their language in its original form. This can prove advantageous in the classroom: quite often, bilingual or polyglot students can shed light on our reading of early modern texts that monolingual Anglophones can- not. This may be because they recognize more easily the presence or inf luence of other languages in the vocabulary of early modern English.
Or it may be because they are better attuned to the slipperiness of words both within and across languages. Almost all my students, as I have said, express an interest in travel and travel writing, but few have any knowledge of the early mod- ern period, its politics, or its literature. Most will have read a few plays by Shakespeare in high school or in a first-year English or Humanities course.
For all of my students, then, reading early modern English lit- erature involves a complex set of negotiations and is, itself, a kind of cross-cultural encounter. In this way, the course methodology ref lects its content. Early modern literature is often strange and estranging to our modern, pluralistic sensibilities. Indeed, I expect my students to be affronted by some of the intolerance they encounter in early mod- ern writing; our job, as readers, is to try to understand critically the intent of such writing and the conditions that produced it, and to learn what we can from other aspects of the narrative as well.
Making stu- dents aware that our engagement with this literature is a cross-cultural encounter can help them to think critically about the challenges and value of this work. We might, for instance, consider the Scottish writer William Lithgow, whose account of his imprisonment in Spain is an exemplary work of religious and ethnic hostility.
Why ask my students to read this, if not to illuminate some aspect of early modern English culture or more specifi- cally of seventeenth-century English travel writing? Our job is to guide our students toward an appreciation of what their discomfort and the writing that has prompted it can teach us—not just about the past, but also about the attitudes and innovations that inform our present culture. Or, they might be as complex as exploring the roots of early modern religious intolerance, the broader cultural forces behind the fear and ambivalence as well as the genuine curiosity that so markedly shaped English travel writing in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
He writes:. His haire is red coloured, with many black and white spots; I could scarce reach with the points of my fingers the hinder part of his backe, which grew higher and higher towards his foreshoulder, and his necke was thinne and some three els long, so as hee easily turned his head in a moment to any part or corner of the roome wherein he stood, putting it over the beames thereof, being built like a Barne, and high for the Turkish building, not unlike the building of Italy, both which I have formerly described by reason whereof he many times put his nose in my necke, when I thought my selfe furthest distant from him, which familiarity of his I liked not; and howsoever the Keepers assured me he would not hurt me, yet I avoided these his familiar kisses as much as I could.
How might it enable us, also, to ref lect on the mixed emotions we might feel about our own encounter with Moryson, who may not always seem as likeable or as like to us as he does in this moment? Early modern writers can seem more approachable if we treat their claims with a little skepticism. From the beginning, my aim is to foster discussions in which every student feels encouraged to ask questions.
When we come up against an interpretive problem, we might need to test out dif- ferent answers, and indeed there might be more than one right answer. Or is his ambivalent choice of word meant to suggest all of them? And is Africa, then, a place of wonder or something more fearful? Similarly, when we encounter religious intolerance or racism in early modern writing, we talk about it. It is okay not to like everything we read—we are not here to endorse these opinions, but to try to under- stand something about them and the culture that produced them.
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And what of our own assumptions and expectations? What can we learn from the gaps between our beliefs and those of early modern or eighteenth- century writers?