The Making of Europe: Medieval Culture, c.500–1500

Between the years 500 and 1500, Western Europeans experienced an era of enormous creativity and cultural change. Kingdoms rose and fell, while poets agonized over courtly love, thousands of knights fought and died on epic crusades, and scholars debated the nature of God at the world’s first universities. This course will introduce students to a foundational epoch in the history of the West, exploring the core medieval ideas and institutions that helped to make Europe into what it is today. At the same time, we will also investigate the radically different answers medieval people had to the fundamental questions of human existence. Studying a wide range of texts and images, from autobiographies and confessional poems to gothic sculptures and fantastical maps, we will unearth the intellectual universe of an ancient culture, probing its continuities and ruptures with the world we inhabit now.

Peter Jones:

Peter Jones is a cultural historian, specializing in the religious, political, and intellectual life of medieval Europe (c.500–1500). Originally from the United Kingdom, where he gained both a BA and an MA from the University of Bristol, Peter received his PhD in History from New York University in 2014. From 2014–16 he was an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at the Jackman Humanities Institute, University of Toronto, and from 2016–17 he worked as a visiting scholar at the Pembroke Center, Brown University. He has published a range of articles on medieval cultural history in academic journals and edited volumes, and has recently completed a book manuscript exploring the role of humor in the political and religious revolutions of the twelfth century.