Core class + tutorial: The Medieval Nation

Course Level: 
Course Open to: 
Students on-site
Academic Year: 
US Credits: 
ECTS Credits: 
Course Code: 
MEDS5416, MEDS5417
Course Description: 

This course aims to challenge classical assumptions about nation formation, by showing how concrete power issues lead, at a time neglected by theoretical work on the nation, to the crystallization of a more or less intense medieval ‘national fact’. Combining an empirical and comparative approach with theoretical reflection, it will set out to understand what made the creation of a nation ‘necessary’ and ‘successful’ at a particular moment in European history and society. To that end, it will address the issue in an original way on two levels – collective and individual – the responses and actions of individuals being essential to understand how the nation has come to be a ‘fundamental political factor’. In the context of profound transformations in both religious and political spheres, which increasingly involved the participation and the consent of the individuals from the 13th century onwards, the nation was also being built by engaging and, simultaneously, shaping its own members as ‘national subjects’ sensitive to the idea of the nation and willing to be a part of it. To better reveal the mechanisms at work in the development of the nations, this seminar intends to follow a comparative approach through a European scale typology and to deeply analyze medieval sources written in the different studied polities.

Learning Outcomes: 

By the end of this course, students will
- be introduced in the theoretical and historical debates on the development of nation;
- distance themselves from the traditional narrative on the birth of the nation as a strictly modern phenomenon;
- get a better understanding of the national phenomenon as the result of a complex and long-term societal process rooted in the Middle Ages;
- be able to critically assess by comparing many historical contexts how social position and political aspirations shaped the medieval nation(s);
- have demonstrated that they can apply this knowledge independently by identifying in a text of their choice the political conflicts and social issues. that the idea of nation masks and the mechanisms in play.


Core class+tutorial: Continuous and active participation in the class discussions (30 %); two in-class presentations (bibliographical and topical) of c. 5-10 minutes, with outline and bibliography (30%), two class journals to be handed in at week 5 and 10 (40%). The two grades might be different, according to a more emphatic consideration of the topical presentation for the lecture course and the class journal quality for the Tutorial.

Only core class: Continuous and active participation in the class discussions (30 %); one in-class presentation (preferably topical) of c. 5-10 minutes, with outline and bibliography (30%), an 8-10 page-term paper on the same subject (40%).