11-Week Session: May 28 - August 9, 2019
We twenty-first century folk pride ourselves on thinking globally and having at our fingertips information about all people, places, and times. How did people before c.1600 imagine the whole world? In this course we
read a variety of medieval and early modern texts that try to take the whole world into account. We will trace the geographical and cultural imaginations of early writers across different genres, from maps, to Islamic, Jewish, and Christian travel narratives, such as the voyages of Marco Polo; to fictive ethnography, such as the account of John de Mandeville (one of Christopher Columbus's favorite writers); to monstrous encyclopedias and books of beasts, such as the "Wonders of the East"; to universal chronicles and crusader romances. Assignments will include weekly responses and a final project. We will have many opportunities throughout the course to study Penn's collection of medieval manuscripts.