Historiography II: Grand Debates in Mediterranean History

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Students on-site
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Course Description: 

This mandatory elective MA historiography seminar addresses the emergence and recent transformations of the Mediterranean as an historical object. The first part of the course will offer an overview of the historiography of the Mediterranean from Braudel to his most recent critics, and situate this historiography within the broader field of contemporary scholarship. It will focus in particular on politics of definition, naming and perdiodization in the relatively recently constituted “Mediterranean studies,” as well as on the tropes that are often associated with the Mediterranean. The second half of the course will examine, in light of recent historiography, to what extent the concept of the Mediterranean is useful or relevant in various historical contexts and fields, from classical and late antiquity to the present day. In terms of particular issues in historiography, the course will focus particularly on the centrality of religious conflict and coexistence, hybridity, boundary-crossing and migration, but also ecology and climate to the definitions of the Mediterranean. The class caters in particular to students who focus on Late Antique, Byzantine, Islamic, Ottoman, Balkan, and Modern Middle East Studies.

Learning Outcomes: 

The purpose of this course is to provide students with a capacity to situate their own intellectual interests into a broader, multi-disciplinary framework and compare and assess different approaches to the Mediterranean in the longue duree. Students are expected to hone the following skills in this class: familiarize themselves with different historiographical schools and disciplinary approaches to the notion of the Mediterranean; reflect on the readings both in class discussions and in writing in a coherent manner; develop an understanding for what is at stake in creating geo-political categories; develop the ability to lead the discussion and pose questions that generate conversation.


Discussion leading activity (20 pts): depending on class size, every student will be in charge of leading the discussion at least once during the semester. It means that the student should ask 5 questions about the assigned article(s) that will stimulate conversation in the classroom. It is in this discussion of the questions that the presenter can offer her own opinion and answer to his/her questions, only after other students have attempted to answer them. In this sense, the students will be evaluated on their ability to stimulate and sustain an intellectual conversation with their peers and professor.

Class Participation (20 pts): every student will be expected to come to class and actively participate in the class discussions. Up to two absences are allowed. Any further unexcused absences will result in an automatic decrease of the final grade by half a letter grade. Students should come to class on time and are not allowed to surf the internet during class.
Short Papers (60 pts— 30 pts each): 2 four-page papers on designated topics (submission times are indicated in the syllabus).