This page lists graduate courses only. Courses can be filtered by region, period, core languages, technical skills and object of study. Our listings are current and reflect the last three years of course offerings. If a course has been offered more than once, our listings reflect only the current iteration.
Advanced research in the history of architecture from 1400 to 1750. Topics vary, with the focus each year on important European centers and architects, and on issues related to architectural theory and practice. In fall 2018, this course considers the forms of early modern architectural theory, with particular attention on the history of the architectural book. We explore a set of key genres-including the treatise, the model book, the biography, the construction manual, and the travel narrative-through a close reading of primary sources and direct study of original objects.
The history of ancient Greek literature in the middle ages has long been reduced to "transmission", relegating the period to curator instead of co-creator of the classical canon. We study the medieval reception of antiquity's literary legacy in institutional and intellectual practices which underwrote the copying, reading, and commenting of classical Greek texts, including the manuscript traditions of Homeric epic, the Pindaric odes, Greek historiography, and the works of Plato, among others. Palaeography and codicology are paired with medieval and Byzantine studies more generally in a bid to rewrite this chapter of classicism.
The graduate seminar provides a chronological survey of the development of Latin handwriting from its origins, the Roman scripts, through to humanistic scripts, in all their diversity of forms and styles. A particular emphasis is put on the book-based scripts of the western European Middle Ages and the Renaissance from c. 500 - 1500 AD, including scribal conventions and text typologies.
Texts that survive on stone, bronze, or terracotta provide one of the best and most direct sources for Roman history and culture. Such texts survive in large quantities and new discoveries are made every year. This course offers an introduction to Roman epigraphy, the study of non-literary ancient texts, by familiarizing students with a wide variety of writing preserved from Antiquity.
A half-century after Marshall McLuhan's minting of the phrase "The medium is the message," media theory has made few inroads in the study of ancient Mediterranean literatures and cultures, with some fields making more use of it than others. This seminar approaches the study of the ancient world as a discipline of mixed media, examining the potentials of both its textual and non-textual "things" in shaping past and present modes of knowledge production. Modern media studies and its kindred disciplines (semiotics, communication theory, mediology, the New Materialism, etc.) guide our theoretical approaches to ancient materials.
A seminar covering the basic methodology of numismatics, including die, hoard and archaeological analysis as well as a survey of pre-modern coinages. The Western coinage tradition is covered, from its origins in the Greco-Persian world through classical and Hellenistic Greek coinage, Roman imperial and provincial issues, Parthian and Sasanian issues, the coinage of Byzantium, the Islamic world, and medieval and renaissance Europe. Students research and report on problems involving coinages related to their own areas of specialization. Open to undergraduates by permission of the instructor.
From the inception of writing in ancient times to the present, the intersection of images with texts has created subtle and ingenious systems of signs as well as philosophical, aesthetic and psychological discourses about how such signs relate to cognition and semiotics. This course studies several of these systems and discourses. Objects of study derive from ancient Egypt and Meso-America, Early Modern Europe, Modernism and Post-Structuralism, from competing theses on speech, writing, and gesture to attempts to develop new taxonomies of images. The class makes use of materials in our Rare Books Collection and objects in the Museum.
In this seminar, we read selected poems from the Anhui University Shijing bamboo manuscript from ca. 300 BCE that was published in 2019 and includes 57 poems known from the ancient Classic of Poetry. In closely comparing these poems to those in the received Shijing as well as to other manuscript evidence, we analyze the manuscript text in detail from the perspectives of paleography, historical phonology, and codicology. Thus, the seminar introduces students to the principal technical disciplines in reading an ancient Chinese manuscript while at the same time exploring the formation of early Chinese poetry and of the Shijing anthology.
The seminar examines the gradual evolution of early Chinese textuality from the pre-imperial through the early imperial period, with particular emphasis on questions of materiality and sociology of text; authorship, compilation, and circulation; canon formation and the rise of commentary; and classification and bibliography. Readings are in classical Chinese and in various languages of modern scholarship. Languages of instruction: English and Chinese.
This course introduces texts of different genres carved into stones in China from the Han to the Qing dynasty. Compared to printed texts and manuscripts, stone inscriptions are a group of sources that remain underutilized and are often read only in transcriptions. Combining close reading of the texts with perspectives from art history and archaeology, this course places these texts back onto the stones and in the social and cultural contexts of their production. The exploration of these inscriptions will help students open up possibilities of their research in various disciplines from history and literature to religion and art history.
This research seminar introduces graduate students to the history and bibliography of archival documents produced during the Qing dynasty (1644-1911), with chronological extensions also into the pre-Conquest period and transition to the early Republican era. Emphasis is on government papers, and students gain essential knowledge of the Qing state from a survey of what primary sources have survived from this period. The second half of this course focuses on the craft of close reading, annotation and translation of original documents, and offers in-class instructions on research, writing and presentation skills.
This course provides an introduction to the written sources of Japanese history from 750- 1600. Instruction focuses on reading and translating a variety of documentary genres, and court chronicles, although visual sources (e.g. maps, scrolls, and screens) are introduced in class as well. Each week entails a translation of five or six short documents and a library research assignment. Research resources and methods are also emphasized. A substantial research assignment, involving primary source research, is due at the end of the semester. The final week of class is devoted to presentations about the research project.
This course examines the practices of collecting and anthologizing literary texts in a wide variety of forms during the Tang and Song dynasties. We begin by looking at a range of pre-Tang models for collecting literary material in different forms and consider their different approaches to compilation, including selection criteria, and organization, and then examine the impact of their choices on canonization and transmission. We study collection practices in state-sponsored anthologies; in primers and literary composition guides in individual literary collections; and finally in large collectanea.
Reading of poetic works from pre-Meiji Japan together with an introduction to relevant topics including: commentaries and reception, book history and manuscript transmission, historical and social background, and the use of modern reference tools.
With a walled city of thirty square miles and a population of more than one million, Chang'an, capital of the Tang dynasty, was the largest city in the world at the time. Through reading texts in different genres including official history, governmental documents, literary collections, anecdotes, legal codes, and stone inscriptions along with secondary scholarship, this course introduces the political, ritual, and economic structures of the city, and explores the lives of its citizens that in different ways either maintained or challenged these structures.
This course introduces manuscripts of medieval China preserved in different forms from caves in Dunhuang and tombs in South China to calligraphic works and manuscripts found on the back sides of printed texts. It helps students to independently approach medieval manuscripts by introducing knowledge about the paper, formal and cursive writing, non-standard characters, and methods of punctuation on medieval manuscripts. It also introduces types of texts found only in manuscript forms, and offers ways of thinking about the culture of writing and reading in medieval China.
The course offers a comprehensive history of books in China, with reference to relevant developments in Korea and Japan and to parallels in the West, from the advent of actual books in East Asia during the first millennium BCE until the introduction of virtual books at the end of the 20th century. It covers the physical evolution of traditional Chinese books as well as their crucial role in the transmission of text and knowledge throughout China's long and complex history, especially for the period of 9th to 19th century. Visual images and actual specimens are used to reinforce presentations and stimulate discussion.
Introduction to Middle High German language and literature 1100-1300. Selections from Arthurian romance (Parzival, Tristan), epic (Nibelungenlied), lyric poetry (Minnesang), and mysticism (Meister Eckhart, Mechthild von Magdeburg). Class sessions focus on close-reading and translating original texts and also include visits to Rare Book Room and Art Museum (in person, if feasible).
This seminar examines the ways in which philosophers and imaginative writers, historians and philologists, antiquaries and collectors interpreted texts and objects from the ancient world. We begin by raising methodological questions, examining "reception" as a concept and setting it in the larger context of hermeneutical theory and practice. Then we carry out a series of case studies. We examine major texts and works of art and architecture, while also attending to the institutional and disciplinary contexts within which the study of the ancient world was carried on.
This seminar explores the transition from the late ancient to the medieval world through the lens of law and legal practice from the late Roman to the Carolingian empire. We look at how the different codifications built on earlier legal models and traditions but adopted and adapted them in their respective circumstances. We explore these processes until the ninth century when the Carolingian rulers came to rule an Empire which comprised a variety of different Roman and post Roman legal traditions and laws and were confronted with the challenge to find new ways and strategies for their coexistence, compatibility and convergence.
The seminar explores the cultural history of Europe from the 9th to the 12th c. and the emergence of a cultural convergence that allowed to imagine the Latin West as the Latin West. Our window into this process is the codification of various subjects in books and libraries and in the collection, arrangement and transmission of history books, legal handbooks, patristic, hagiographical or liturgical collections. In so doing the course introduces students to paleography, codicology, basic techniques of editing texts and the study of Latin manuscripts, scriptoria and libraries.
The seminar explores the transition from the late ancient to the medieval world in the Merovingian kingdoms, the most successful successor state of the Western Roman empire. We study the various efforts to find order and orientation in a quickly and constantly changing world that was shaped by its continuing connections to the Mediterranean as well as by its interaction with the European North and Northwest. We particularly focus on how the intellectual, social, and spiritual resources and models of the late Roman world were adopted and adapted in an ongoing bricolage which some of the baselines of medieval Europe were created.
Reading and research seminar on thirteenth-century France.
The aim of this course is to introduce students to the history of the Syriac language and Syriac-speaking Christians. We focus on important individual authors, key historical moments, and significant themes and aspects of the history of Syriac-speaking Christians in the Middle East. Since Syriac-speaking churches have traditionally been classified by Western authors as "heretics" we also examine the nature of orthodoxy and heresy. Students are introduced to and trained in the use of the most important instrumenta studiorum of Syriac studies.
The goal of this seminar will be to introduce students to some of the most important ideas and debates surrounding the two major religious revolutions of Late Antiquity: the triumph of Christianity and the subsequent emergence and world conquests of Islam. The course will focus on extensive reading in both primary and secondary literature and students will be introduced to and trained in using major instrumenta studiorum for this period; texts may also be read in Greek, Syriac, and Arabic. No prior knowledge of Late Antiquity, Christianity, or Islam will be assumed.
What counts as an experiment and how did experiment become the arbiter of scientific discovery? Certain experiments have achieved iconic status: Galileo's pendulum, Boyle's air pump, Newton's 'crucial experiments.' But what happens when we reevaluate these from the perspective of 'borderline' practices: anatomical dissections, chemical recipes, medical cases, craft techniques? We draw on ancient, medieval and early modern sources, as well as the modern historiography of experiment, to explore the challenge of observing and testing nature. As far as possible, we attempt to recreate practices in class, from glassworking to alchemy.
This course takes alchemy as a starting point for exploring the history of medieval and early modern science and medicine. Alchemy's goals ranged from transmuting metals to prolonging life. They also invoke broader themes: religious belief, artisanal practice, secrecy, medical doctrine, experimental philosophy, visual culture. This Spring, the University Library will host an exhibition on alchemical imagery that seeks to combine these themes. We'll use this opportunity to investigate the historical approaches that inform modern presentations of art and science: from displaying artefacts, to reconstructing experiments in a modern laboratory.
An introduction to Ottoman paleography and diplomatics. The documents are in divani and rika scripts.
Introduction to the Judeo-Arabic documents of the Cairo Geniza, including personal and business letters, legal testimonies and other ephemera of the tenth through thirteenth centuries. Students learn the Hebrew alphabet, the peculiarities of middle Arabic, diplomatic technique, research methods, manuscript paleography, digital tools and the existing literature. They also have the opportunity to contribute to an evolving state of knowledge by writing up unpublished texts for an online database.
This course is designed to introduce advanced students of Persian to later Classical Persian prose from the Mongol conquests of the thirteenth century down to the middle of the nineteenth century, when significant innovations were introduced into Persian literary style. Over the course of the semester, students gain familiarity with texts composed in Iran, India, and Central Asia in a variety of literary genres including history, biography, hagiography, and travelogues. Each week's classes consist of excerpted readings from primary sources along with secondary sources related to the readings.
An introduction to hands-on work with medieval Arabic documentary sources in their original manuscript form. Between 100,000 and 200,000 such documents have survived, making this an exciting new area of research with plenty of discoveries still to be made. Students learn how to handle the existing repertory of editions, documentary hands, Middle Arabic, transcription, digital resources and original manuscripts, including Geniza texts currently on loan to Firestone from the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. The syllabus varies according to the interests of the students and the instructor.
Intensive study of the documentary sources and document-based historiography of the medieval Middle East. The course covers the scholarship to date. Focus is typically on the Cairo Geniza, but varies according to student interest. Students read diplomatic editions, translations and commentaries, familiarizing themselves with genres such as letters, decrees, memoranda, petitions, lists, deeds, registers, receipts and accounts. The approach combines diplomatics with social and institutional history. Reading knowledge of classical Arabic, Aramaic and/or Hebrew required depending on the semester.
Introduces advanced Persian students to Classical Persian prose from the appearance of literary New Persian in the 10th century to the time of the poet Sa'di Shirazi, whose Gulistan was regarded as the culmination of good literary style and a classic in ensuing centuries. Gain familiarity with a variety of genres including history, geography, travelogues, ethical texts, and hagiography. Develop archival skills through an introduction to Islamic codicology. Acquire both linguistic competency in working with Classical Persian sources as well as an introduction to the scholarly debates surrounding the works in question.
Hands-on introduction to Arabic manuscripts and their material history via Princeton's Garrett Collection of Middle Eastern manuscripts, the largest such collection in North America. Covers the anatomy of the medieval Arabic book, including codicology, supports, scripts, ink, ownership notes, certificates of audition and other paratextual information; and the social history of the book, including reading and transmission, libraries, the modern book trade, and the ethics and legality of the transfer cultural patrimony. Good classical Arabic is a prerequisite; prior experience with manuscripts and paleography is neither expected nor assumed.
How did women and men appear before the divine in late antiquity? And what did they wear in everyday life? This interdisciplinary seminar examines self-representation through dress, footwear, hairdo, and jewelry. Special attention is reserved for questions regarding religion and ritual. We study a wide range of sources, including literary and documentary texts (papyri, inscriptions), iconographic representations (mosaics, frescoes, sculpture), and archaeological finds (shoes, clothes). Students conduct research with these sources and relate them to modern theoretical works about dress and self-representation.
In this cross-disciplinary course about ancient Antioch students learn about religious and ethnic diversity, imperial power, and domestic life in antiquity and communicate their knowledge clearly through creating virtual exhibits that draw on objects in collections at Princeton and Harvard. The seminar focuses on literary, archaeological, and art historical materials. This course is parallel-taught at Harvard Divinity School by Prof. Laura Nasrallah. Participants travel to collections at Dumbarton Oaks, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Worcester Art Museum, and Harvard University.
Close reading of Chinese Buddhist texts surviving among the Dunhuang manuscripts. Introduction to the Dunhuang corpus, paleography, codicology, & research tools. Survey of different genres: canonical sutras & commentaries, indigenous sutras, miracle tales, sectarian literature, ritual handbooks, documents of lay congregations, & performance literature (sutra lectures, transformation texts, etc.).
Introduction to essential genres of Chinese Buddhist writing, especially texts translated from Sanskrit into Chinese in the second through seventh centuries. Close reading of early, foundational texts in Chinese. Focus on content, genre, style, grammar, and vocabulary. Research tools, methods, some secondary sources also introduced. Reading knowledge of classical Chinese required. Students from all departments welcome.
This seminar introduces Buddhist texts and genres from ancient and medieval Japan (roughly eighth through twelfth centuries). We read tales, homiletic notes, and doctrinal works (Tendai and Shingon) as well as other texts in accord with student interest. Topics include narrative, cosmology, ethics, ritual, manuscript cultures, and esoteric Buddhism. Significant time is spent on research methods and tools necessary for the study of Buddhism. Readings require basic familiarity with at least one of the following languages: classical Chinese, kanbun, or classical Japanese.