Course: Mobility, Identity, and Contactin the Medieval Mediterranean

This course will compare three movements of people critical to the history of the medieval Mediterranean: the barbarian migration of the fifth and sixth centuries, the Arab conquest of the Levant and North Africa in the seventh and eighth centuries (and the Byzantine response), and the Norman conquest and administration of southern Italy in the eleventh and twelfth centuries (and especially the reign of Roger II). These three movements of people were watersheds -some more highly recognized than others- that put new peoples in contact and created the opportunity for the new expressions of identity in novel ways. Using medieval texts, contemporary scholarship, and new methodological approaches and evidence, including those from other disciplines, the course will offer a broad understanding of these migrations as historical events, but also how they were perceived by those contemporary to them, and the evidence they left from material culture to aDNA. Finally, we will address how we can interpret a variety of often conflicting perspectives, how we can look beyond written evidence, and how we might come to a consensus on the impact of these events for all participants, while judging these movements in the larger scope of medieval history. No background knowledge is assumed, and the main prerequisite is enthusiasm for the material and curiosity.

Lecturer: Edward Schoolman

I am an associate professor in Medieval History at Department of History at the University of Nevada, Reno, and completed my graduate work at UCLA (PhD, C.Phil, MA in History), the University of London (MA in Archaeology), and the University of Chicago (BA in History). My past research has focused on a range of topics centered on late antiquity and early medieval cultural practices, including a book, “Rediscovering Sainthood in Italy,” which examined the political and social conditions in which old saints were restore and new saints were created. In particular, I focus on the case of “Barbatianus” – a saint said to have been the confessor to the fifth-century empress Galla Placidia – whose cult is restored and reinvented in Ravenna in the 10th century during a period of rapid transformations. My current research extends in three directions, covering the aristocracy and origins of hereditary nobility in Medieval Romagna and Tuscany; Greeks, the mobility and migration of “easterners,” and the expression of “Greekness” in Early Medieval Italy; and the intersections of land management, climate, and environment made visible through medieval historical records and paleoecological data, a project supported by a National Science Foundation (USA) grant.

more info