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East and West in Medieval Europe: Bohemia as Center in Age of Luxemburgs

ENGL 524.401
Mondays 12-3:00 pm

The seminar will examine a range of topics in Medieval Studies viewing European medieval civilization as encompassing the whole (“global”) geographic and cultural space of Europe and ignoring reference to contemporary socio-political division of Europe into “Western” and “Eastern.” As a case study, the course focuses on the 14th-century Holy Roman Empire from Henry VII to the Emperor Sigismund, and particularly on the reign of Charles IV, in a context in which Prague becomes the imperial capital and Bohemia a center of Europe. A detailed examination of this monarch’s vision of a “Global Europe” will allow us to explore a network of connections, a network that stretches from Prague to the farthermost western, eastern and southern corners of the European continent. We will examine correspondences and differences between various linguistic, textual, political, and religious communities, while attempting to show how Latin and Slavic European cultures were interwoven. Some of the titles from the reading list are Charles IV’s The Life of St. Wenceslas and Autobiography, The Golden Bull, Dante’s Letters & Monarchia, Machaut’s Jugement of the King of Bohemia, Petrarch’s Epistolae & Poems, Froissart’s Prison of Love, Johannes von Tepl’s The Plowman of Bohemia, The Life of St. Constantin the Philosopher, fragments from Czech, French, Italian, Polish, Hungarian and Rus medieval chronicles, etc. All reading will be done in English, with original language versions always available.