GER/HIST 278: Medieval Answers to Modern Problems

Course materials: GER-278

Spring 2024. Ger/Hist 278: Medieval Answers to Modern Problems

Instructor: Albrecht Classen, email:, Tel.: 520 6211395

Lecture Notes | Pledge Form | Rubrics | Papers

All UA policies pertaining to classes in one location. For my own specifics, see below.

Syllabus (aka Schedule) to be adjusted

Please make sure to consult this regularly. Changes to the schedule will be reflected only here.



Comments by previous students

This course can also count toward the Cultural Minor in German Studies or toward the THEMATIC MINOR IN MEDIEVAL STUDIES

The German Studies Major and Minor

As we enter the Spring semester, the health and wellbeing of everyone in this class is the highest priority. Accordingly, we are all required to follow the university guidelines on COVID-19 mitigation. Please visit for the latest guidance

The University of Arizona’s Department of German Studies offers a major (B.A.) and a minor in German Studies, with two possible tracks (language and culture). For more information on the German Studies major and minor, see

German Studies majors have pursued careers in a wide variety of fields, including engineering, business, government, medicine, law, education, and social services. German Studies has many double majors, who combine German Studies with majors in a wide range of fields, in order to receive a comprehensive undergraduate education and to stand out when applying for jobs or graduate studies.

If you are interested in declaring a German Studies major or minor, you are encouraged to contact the German Studies Director of Undergraduate Studies, Dr. Albrecht Classen at You also can contact the College of Humanities Advising Office, at

or: click on:


Prof. Albrecht Classen, Dept. of German Studies, 301 Learning Services Building, Office 318; tel. 621-1395;

OFFICE HOURS: Mo and We 10 a.m.-11 a.m., and any other time upon appointment (but always feel free simply to stop by at my office, email me, call me to make sure that I am in). In my email, below the signature, there is an advising link for a zoom meeting.

D2L  and other technical details: The D2L website (login) is:

If you have trouble with or questions about D2L, please contact:
If you do not check on a daily basis your d2l e-mail account (automatically assigned to you and already in place), you must set-up auto-forward to an account that you check daily. Please go to:

Meeting Times: TBA

Tips on best learning practices

I want you to learn from past voices about issues that concern you today, and all people, by way of reading a selection of fun and powerful texts, looking at relevant images and sculptures, etc., to learn something about ourselves in a timeless fashion.

The Middle Ages seem to be a period far away from our own time, but any close analysis indicates that the roots of the modern world reach back directly to the medieval period. Many of the questions raised then are also raised today, and we moderns are obviously still confronted with the same problems as people in those distant times were.

This course does not intend to build a flimsy bridge between two cultural epochs just because historically we grew out of the older epoch. Instead, there is an understanding of fundamental links between both worlds, and we are well-advised to consider the past in order to understand the present, and hence to prepare us for the future. We will examine historical, literary, political, religious, and didactic documents in our search for how people in the past approached their problems and what solutions they found.

Here is a useful quote from Livy (64 BCE – 12 or 17 C.E.):

“The study of history is the best medicine for a sick mind; for in history you have a record of the infinite variety of human experience plainly set out for all to see: and in that record, you can find for yourself and your country both examples and warnings: fine things to take as models, base things, rotten through and through, to avoid.” – Livy

Student Learning Outcomes (SLO):

SLO 1: Students will have acquired a full sense of the discourse on ethical, philosophical, religious, and other aspects in human life expressed in medieval texts.

SLO 2: Students will have developed a strong sense of how to formulate critical responses to the texts under investigation in writing.

In practical terms:
First, I expect you to learn enough about the Middle Ages at large so that you can comprehend the cultural, historical, political, and also economic aspects of the wider context relevant for our primary reading.

Second, we will also examine the question of what history means to us, and what premodern philosophical, literary, political, and religious texts can teach us today through a reading of a wide variety of primary texts from the Middle Ages.

Third, this is a writing-intensive (according to Gen.Ed. requirements in its refresh mode) course that requires you to respond to our texts on a regular basis in writing (mostly on Tophat, but also through your papers) and to develop an understanding of the messages from the past, writing a specific minimum of words.

Fourth, through your own research acquire basic knowledge about the art history, manuscript culture, and research relevant to the Middle Ages (this is very similar to point 1);

Fifth, you will gain deep insights into fundamental issues of human life and acquire insights into ways thinkers and writers in the past dealt with critical issues in all existence, offering thereby some answers even for us today.

Learning objects in particular:

  1. Recognize the true value of humanistic studies for all human existence
  2. Learn to appreciate the value of historically conditioned texts
  3. Gain the competence to contribute to the discourse through writing both short blurbs online and longer essays, supported by research
  4. Appreciate the insights of pre-modern thinkers, poets, artists, and writers
  5. Establish a solid foundation of self-reflection in light of the historical discourse
  6. Recognize the relevance of historical perspectives for us today and tomorrow
  7. Acquire the competence to engage with other opinions and statements (from the past) regarding fundamental concerns in human life and to formulate one’s own position and understanding (reg. happiness, dignity, death, love, God, etc.).
  8. Write in every class responding to cues and questions, developing critical thinking in that process.
  9. Produce several larger papers in response to the class material.

Signature Assignment: The most valuable signature assignment will be a portfolio done by each student, focusing on a particular author or text. To help students learn how to approach interdisciplinarity, each document must be contextualized historically, philosophically, religiously, and art-historically. Students will have to find a contemporary building or artwork and identify the specific location of a medieval manuscript containing the original text discussed in class (library, shelfmark, present location, etc.), and then they are expected to investigate the modern critical edition of that text and the use of the original sources for that edition. This portfolio will serve as a crucial background for all class materials and open many new perspectives that allow us to situate the discussion of universal human problems in a historical (art-historical, etc.) context. The final synthesis will consist of a demonstration in writing that students can situate the relevant discourse on a specific topic or theme within the cultural-historical framework. It will finally consist of a critical review of a recent scholarly study, connecting this portfolio with the current scholarship, in writing (like a book review, ca. 900 words).

Diversity: “We seek to create a comprehensively engaged university with the expectation that everyone will make a contribution to inclusive excellence. Diversity and inclusiveness are core values for the University of Arizona and offer a competitive advantage in attracting faculty, staff, students, and their partners. Moreover, diversity allows the institution to prepare students to be leaders in global contexts.” It is my personal goal to provide an all-inclusive classroom where everyone is equally respected and receives the same treatment and dignity and has the same opportunity. (

Accessibility and Accommodations
At the University of Arizona,we strive to make learning experiences  as accessible as possible. If you anticipate or experience barriers based on disability or pregnancy, please contact the Disability Resource Center (520-621-3268, to establish reasonable accommodations.

Two books:

1. Albrecht Classen, Medieval Answers to Modern Problems. Second Edition (San Diego: University Readers/Cognella, 2017). We will use only that edition, please. The publisher and I have worked long and hard during the Fall semester 2016 to revise and update this book. I believe you will enjoy it.


(The required course material for GER / HIST 278 is now available for purchase. Medieval Answers to Modern Problems (Second Edition) is published and distributed by Cognella, Inc.

Cognella is committed to publishing affordable learning materials for students, so when you purchase directly through their student store, you’ll always receive the lowest price possible. Purchasing directly from the publisher is also a safe and effective way for you to receive everything you need for the term.

For print textbooks purchased from the Cognella student store, you’ll also receive a PDF file of the first 30% of the material so you can begin reading and studying right away. Ebooks will be immediately available upon purchase.

Purchase your course material here: 

Since 2023, this book is available through the UA Bookstore and is part of the inclusive package.

This course material includes information that we will reference and use in class regularly, so please purchase your own copy. Please keep in mind that our school is strict about copyright law and course material should never be copied or duplicated in any manner.

If you need any help ordering from the Cognella student store, email or call 858-552-1120 x503.

2nd book: A. Classen, Love, Life, and Lust in Heinrich Kaufringer’s Verse Narratives (Tempe, AZ: ACMRS, 2014, now in its 2nd ed., 2020; please purchase only that one); available at the UA Bookstore (also through the inclusive price)

I have selected both textbooks for this class because I have developed them specifically for our purposes and deem them to be the best and most cost-effective class material. There are no other comparable textbooks available, in print or digitally. If I asked you to purchase the original texts in other English translations (if available in the first place), the costs would be much higher. A lot of work has gone into the creation of both textbooks over the years, both in their 2nd ed. by now. I do receive nominal royalties as compensation for my editorial work and for my translations. 

3. Top Hat (also required) – this is the only required material/software for this course in Spring of 2021.

We will be using the Top Hat learning management system in class.  You will be able to submit answers to in-class questions using Apple or Android smartphones and tablets, laptops, or through text message.

Please use this link

You can visit for the Student Quick Start Guide which outlines how you will register for a Top Hat account, as well as providing a brief overview to get you up and running on the system.  An email invitation will also be sent to your school email account (if you don’t receive this email, you can register by visiting our course website See also this link.

Top Hat: This is now (2023) an inclusive aspect of the LMS offered by the University free of charge.

The link to Top Hat is:

-Access code 


Join Code: tba

Although it is assumed that you will attend all class sessions, you are informed hereby that excessive absences will have consequences. We will use the tophat LMS to check your attendance. 10% of your grade will reflect your attendance, and 10% your active participation along with your homework which I will check through Top Hat (correct answers). So, this amounts to 20% of your overall grade!

For Spring 2022: this will be replaced by your participation in the homework assignments on Top Hat.

The UA’s policy concerning Class Attendance, Participation, and Administrative Drops is available at

The UA policy regarding absences for any sincerely held religious belief, observance or practice will be accommodated where reasonable:

Participating in the course and attending lectures and other course events are vital to the learning process. As such, attendance is required at all lectures and discussion section meetings. Absences may affect a student’s final course grade. If you anticipate being absent, are unexpectedly absent, or are unable to participate in class online activities, please contact me as soon as possible. To request a disability-related accommodation to this attendance policy, please contact the Disability Resource Center at (520) 621-3268 or If you are experiencing unexpected barriers to your success in your courses, the Dean of Students Office is a central support resource for all students and may be helpful. The Dean of Students Office is located in the Robert L. Nugent Building, room 100, or call 520-621-7057.

Please treat each other with respect and tolerance. People do have different views and opinions, but all these can only contribute to the rich learning experience I hope you all will have in this class. You are strongly encouraged to participate in class as much as possible. The two class meetings per week will only be of profit for you if you respond to my questions and those of your classmates.

The University of Arizona is committed to fostering a learning, working, and living environment free from all forms of discrimination, including harassment. The University’s Nondiscrimination and Anti-harassment Policy prohibits discrimination and harassment on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, and gender identity. The policy also prohibits retaliation for opposing discriminatory conduct, filing a discrimination-related complaint, or participating in the investigation of a discrimination-related complaint.
For definitions of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation, please see the University’s Nondiscrimination and Anti-harassment Policy here or visit the Office of Institutional Equity website.

The UA Threatening Behavior by Students Policy prohibits threats of physical harm to any member of the University community, including to oneself. See

Classroom behavior: Are you this nerd or are you a mature adult? See this video (facetious)

Accessibility and Accommodations

Our goal in this classroom is that learning experiences be as accessible as possible. If you anticipate or experience physical or academic barriers based on disability, please let me know immediately so that we can discuss options. You are also welcome to contact the Disability Resource Center (520-621-3268) to establish reasonable accommodations. For additional information on the Disability Resource Center and reasonable accommodations, please visit


Code of Academic Integrity 

Required language: Students are encouraged to share intellectual views and discuss freely the principles and applications of course materials. However, graded work/exercises must be the product of independent effort unless otherwise instructed. Students are expected to adhere to the UA Code of Academic Integrity as described in the UA General Catalog. See

The University Libraries have some excellent tips for avoiding plagiarism, available at

Selling class notes and/or other course materials to other students or to a third party for resale is not permitted without the instructor’s express written consent. Violations to this and other course rules are subject to the Code of Academic Integrity and may result in course sanctions. Additionally, students who use D2L or UA e-mail to sell or buy these copyrighted materials are subject to Code of Conduct Violations for misuse of student e-mail addresses. This conduct may also constitute copyright infringement.

Do not ever copy from the work produced by your classmates or by other students who might have taken this course in previous semesters. If you receive help in writing your papers, make sure that the final outcome still represents your own work. You can discuss your papers with your fellow students, but in the end, they need to consist of your own ideas and words! Be advised that the Web is a great search tool, but never, never copy from there without identifying very clearly what you used.  At this point, the scholarly value of web-based material still is not totally reliable, and the chances that you might stumble upon a most dubious webpage with untrustworthy information are very high.  When you quote from a secondary source, clearly identify the quote and tell the reader in a footnote where you quoted from.  Every year more than 100 students at the UA are caught having committed the crime of plagiarism, resulting in penalties that could be as severe as expulsion from the University!  You are smart enough not to copy from other people.

If there is any doubt in your mind whether you might commit plagiarism, see:

Plagiarism and the Web
If you commit plagiarism, you could either receive a 0 on your specific assignment, or an F for the entire course.  Depending on the gravity of the case, you might even be expelled from the University. Every plagiarism case must be reported to the Head of my depart., to the head of my dept., and to the Dean of Students.

UA Nondiscrimination and Anti-harassment Policy

Required: The University is committed to creating and maintaining an environment free of discrimination; see

Our classroom is a place where everyone is encouraged to express well-formed opinions and their reasons for those opinions. We also want to create a tolerant and open environment where such opinions can be expressed without resorting to bullying or discrimination of others.

Help with writing: The Writing Skills Improvement Program offers a number of valuable workshops at 1201 E. Helen Street.  Please consult with them if you have a need to improve your writing skills (no walk-ins).  For perhaps more immediate help, see the Writing Center (walk-ins allowed). Tel.: 621-5849

Writing Center: The Writing Center is a free resource for UA undergraduate and graduate students as well as faculty and staff.  At the Writing Center, a trained peer consultant will work individually with you on anything you’re writing (in or out of class), at any point in the writing process from brainstorming to editing. Appointments are recommended, but not required.  For more information or to make an appointment, visit their website at, stop by at Bear Down, main level, or call (520) 626-0530.

How to avoid logical fallacies in your arguments

GRADING: (100% total)

1. 2 exams, on Tophat (10% + 10% each): 20%

2. 3 papers (I will provide you with questions for your writing), to be submitted to D2L (Essay 1: 10%; Essay 2: 20%: Essay 3: 20%: a total of 50%

Daily writings throughout the semester: 15%

3. Participation (quizzes) and attendance, on Tophat, weekly assignments, as homework (15%)

Topics: I will give you a selection of possible topics for each paper, but feel free to come up with your own (consult with me). I would discourage you from pursuing a perspective comparing past with modern issues, as much as the entire course is concerned with that because it is very difficult to pinpoint easily what those issues really might be in the present time.

Each essay will be graded as follows:
Must be typed, with at least 1″ margin on all sides, at least 12 points letter size. Upload to the assignment box in D2L in time before the due date, though only the paper copy will count for the grading. Keep in mind that each paper will be automatically examined as to the degree of similarities with other papers by yourself, your classmates, published studies by scholars, and online material (turnitin software!). You will always receive an automatic confirmation from the assignment that you have submitted your paper. Make sure to keep that alert as proof that your submission has worked well. If your paper is not in the assignment box, I cannot help you, and you will lose all your points. When there is suspicion of plagiarism, I will call you in for a conference, and the consequences of plagiarism might be very harsh. Do not write your paper together with a classmate, though you can, of course, discuss the topics with him/her, or with one of the preceptors, if available. If you copy from another paper/chapter/article in print or online, without acknowledging the author and without indicating the extent to which you have copied by means of quotation marks and references, you commit plagiarism. Even if you quote and indicate so, limit this to a minimum because only your own work/words will count. You must also not copy from your previous work.

Thesis: Concisely developed, clear concept, well-formulated (avoid paraphrase!) –  20 pts. Always provide a title that captures your thesis. Keep the thesis statement in bold.

Argument: Good use of original text to illustrate the thesis; complex argument based on a solid knowledge of the text; convincing organization; engage with one outside source: 50 pts. If you do not engage with a critical secondary source at all, loss of 10 points, if only fleetingly or superficially, loss of 5 points. There are very simple ways of referring to an outside source: While, whereas, although, even though, in contrast to, following x’s argument, according to, regarding this issue, x has claimed, etc. 

Conclusion: Convincing connection with the thesis, a good summary of the argument, final comment on the outside source (negatively or positively), concise formulation; 20 pts.


Outside Sources: Each time you must engage with at least one pertinent outside source, i.e., a critical study of recent vintage (not from prior to 1980! and it must be an article or chapter in a scholarly book dealing with the Middle Ages and then specifically with your topic). This must be a solid piece of scholarship, published in a reputable journal, edited volume, or the like (no webpage articles, unless it’s an online journal by its own right). Bring in the author’s opinion and use it either to support your own argument or demonstrate why you believe that that other opinion misreads the text. Loss of points if no source used, or if inappropriate. Pertinent means that the scholar writes about the text you are discussing. You can lose up to 10 points if this does not happen systematically in your paper. Mostly, this will show in the argument! Include the full bibliographical information of your source at the end of your paper! You must also list at least 4 other relevant studies in that bibliography, either books (monographs) or collected volumes, or articles and chapters in books. So, always a bibliography of 5 titles, one of which you identify as the one source that you have engaged with.

Format: Write down your first last name, SI, class, instructor, term, year on the top of your paper. Next follows the title. Next the thesis in bold.

At the end of your paper write a statement and sign it that this is your own piece of work and that you did not receive outside help.

Stylistics: 10 points: Correct use of grammar and diction, sophisticated use of vocabulary, complex sentence structure.

LENGTH: first paper should consist of ca. 1/3 p. for thesis and 1/3 page for conclusion, with ca. 1 pages for the main body of arguments (ca. 500-700 words); second paper (1000-1500 words), and ca. triple for third paper (1000-1500 words). If you fall considerably short of the expected number of words, a deduction of up to 10 points.

Again: Always submit a hard copy and upload a version to the assignment page on D2L! You must do both! We will grade only the hard copy, while the electronic version serves only to check your work regarding plagiarism issues. 

Online databases: Modern Language Bibliography, Iter, International Medieval Bibliography, Regesta Imperii, JSTOR, etc.

There is a very large bibliography and a collection of valuable articles available in my Handbook of Medieval Studies, ed. A. C. (Berlin and New York: De Gruyter, 2010; online, in our library under Articles and Databases). See now also my Handbook of Medieval Culture, ed. A.C. (Berlin and Boston: Walter de Gruyter, 2015), available in hard copy in the reference library. You can, for instance, quote individual articles from both reference works. Moreover, familiarize yourself with the various research sources in our library (MLA, JSTOr, etc.).  Your outside sources have to engage with the same text you are working with. The studies that you will consult cannot be from prior to 1960.

If you use an article in either reference work, then that would be your secondary source because the individual articles here are fully-fledged independent articles. Otherwise, do not cite, for instance, from the Dictionary of the Middle Ages or Lexikon des Mittelalters; both are very valuable, but they are really just that, dictionaries, and the short pieces just digest our knowledge. Never use an article on Wikipedia.

Ex. for a thesis for Paper One: As Boethius illustrates, misfortune is a misnomer as it proves to be a real test of friendship. Or: The Hildebrandslied argues that the traditional value of heroic honor has a devastating effect on all of society. How to cite your secondary sources :
Trumpener, Katie. “Memories Carved in Granite: Great War Memorials and Everyday Life.”  PMLA 115 (2000): 1096-103. – this is a journal article – please pay attention to the details!

Hanks, Patrick.  “Do Word Meanings Exist?”  Computers and the Humanities 34 (2000): 205-15 – journal article.

Kurlansky, Mark. Salt: A World (New York: Scribner’s, 2001). – this is a monograph, that means, a single-authored book

“Selected Seventeenth-Century Events,” Romantic Chronology.  Ed. Laura Mandell and Alan Liu. 1999. U of California, Santa Barbara.  12 November 2003 <;. (last accessed on Month, date, year) – this is an online source

You must use this format! Otherwise loss of points.

The following does not apply for Spring 2022.

3. Portfolio: 20%: Focus on one of the texts we discussed in class and explore its cultural-historical context. You are required to create one folder with all material in it, such as a PDF, which you then upload as one file to D2L! (new)

A. Find a relevant image (painting), must be at least 800 dpi (scan, photograph, etc.). First step: identify your text, determine the time period. Go to the library, find a book dealing with the history of art of that period. Search for the image there. Only then: search in ARTstore, on the library webpage, search for a relevant book on art history, identify a contemporary image, scan it in, take a photo, etc. Provide information on the artist, title, date and where you got the image from. I need you to consult library resources, and embed the artist in his/her time. Specify what the author of your study has informed you about (so, the picture itself 10, the background information 5 pts, for a total of 15 pts)

B. Image of a relevant building reflecting the specific time period, language, and culture (provide an image, again, min. 800 dpi). The image can be scanned from a book using the UA Libraries book scanner, copy and pasted from ARTstor or other library source or from the Web.  Provide information on the artist, title, date and where you got the image from. You are required to do a little more research on the building, so a simple copy and paste process is not good enough here. I would prefer if you copied the image from a printed source. (Same here: background: 10, picture itself 5 pts, for a total of 15 pts)

C. Identify where the medieval manuscript of your text is currently housed, in what library, and under what call number. In many cases, there are at least 4-8 manuscripts, and in that case I expect you to list at least 4. In very rare cases is there only one manuscript. We hardly have the medieval writers’ autographs, but you can always identify one of the early manuscripts of their text. Do not confuse this with the call numbers used in the modern libraries. An edition or translation of the works by Marie de France might have a call number such as PQ 480 (such as in the UoA Library), etc., since that’s what we might have in the library. The call number for the medieval manuscript would be something very different, identifying the original Old Anglo-Norman text where it is kept in what library in the world. Each critical edition of the original text, and often also the English translations, contain, in the introduction, a clear reference to the original manuscript, with the exact call number. A useful search tool online might be: go to Dictionary of Literary Biographies, online, or consult the Dictionary of the Middle Ages, or the Lexikon des Mittelalters (all in the Reference Area, now, on the 3rd floor behind the elevators) (10 pts). Otherwise, search for the critical edition of the text and identify at least one major manuscript listed there. If confused, check out the critical edition and bring it to me, so that I can help you with that. German texts are particularly easy, I can point out a relevant web page where you can search well.

D. Create a bibliography using, as your starting point, a relevant monograph held in the library (nothing earlier than 1980). Put the bibliographical information of this book on the top of the page. Identify the major references in the book, that is, in the foot- or endnotes, or then in the bibliography. That means: Identify which sources your author uses most commonly. Once you have realized that, put together this list of 5 major titles to which the author has regularly referred to (not prior to 1960). I do not expect you to engage much with them, since this is only a bibliographical exercise, but feel free to read deeper. However, you must copy either a direct quote used by your primary author or his/her comments about the studies. Simply put, just a bibliography of the 5 most commonly cited secondary sources, and indicate how your primary author referred to those previous studies. Use the MLA style, as outlined above (10 pts)

E. Create a bibliography using, as your starting point, an online bibliographical database (MLA, Iter, IMB, etc.), consisting  of at least 5 major studies pertaining to your primary author/poet. (10 pts) (nothing prior to 2000, please)

For D and E you are required to identify those titles and to list them alphabetically. But still, provide the full bibliographical information according to the MLA model. And copy a statement/quote.

F. Identify one modern study specifically dealing with your text, not older than ca. 1980 (if you have a question, please ask me), provide the bibliographical information, and write a critical summary: What does the author say or argue about. Ca. 500-700 words. This pertains to a short article, perhaps also to an independent chapter in a book (but it must be a brief and concise study standing on its own. Include a copy of that article or chapter into your portfolio (hence a short study, please, but it must consist of at least 10 pp.), along with the critical summary. (30 pts) Do not use a monograph since this is far beyond the scope of this assignment unless you use a chapter from it. This mean, you detail what the author has argued, and you try to evaluate its relevance or whether it convinces you or not. This must be a different article from the one you might engage with in your papers.

Submit the portfolio in electronic form any time throughout the semester, but no later than May 1, 4 p.m. Appearance, format, style: 10 pts. Now, since 2018, you can simply upload the entire file to D2L, under assignments

G. For expedient library research, see this tutorial.

H. Before you submit the portfolio, you are invited to consult with the grader or the instructor. We can help you verify whether you got a good image of a painting, or a building, check on the bibliography and review perhaps whether your critical summary is good enough.

I. Put the entire portfolio into an appropriate folder, create subcategories, provide a table of contents and submit the critical summary. 10 pts for mechanics, organization, stylistics, etc. (but now all digitally, upload to D2L)

K. For specific grading rubrics, click here.
L. Submit the portfoilo to the D2L Assignment page (deadline: April 30, 1 p.m.).

M. Please note, the entire portfolio is an exercise in how to do basic research, how to connect with the cutting edge research, how to trace the original source, and also how to make an impressive case with your portfolio. Form and content must correlate! This is a crucial step toward professionalization in any field of study.

LATE SUBMISSION: Papers must be submitted on time, late submissions are not permitted (except with a really valid excuse).

You will be responsible for checking your D2L account as to your grades. Please report immediately to me if a grade is missing after the paper or exam has been returned. Missing points for attendance or participation must be reported within 3 days after that specific class. I cannot help you with that at the end of the semester. You will have 10 days max. after the paper grade has been uploaded to D2L to verify or question the grade.
Top Hat

We will be using the Top Hat ( classroom response system in class.  You will be able to submit answers to in-class questions using Apple or Android smartphones and tablets, laptops, or through text message.

You can visit for the Student Quick Start Guide which outlines how you will register for a Top Hat account, as well as providing a brief overview to get you up and running on the system.  An email invitation will also be sent to your school email account (if you don’t receive this email, you can register by visiting our course website

Top Hat will require a paid subscription, and the standard pricing for the most cost-efficient option is $48 for 12-months of unlimited access. For a full breakdown of all subscription options available please visit


Join Code:

CLASS SCHEDULE: to be changed for Fall 2024

March 11, 2021: First Day of Class: Welcome and Introduction.

Let us discuss specifically what 5 of the most prevalent topics have always been for people throughout time. These will then be dealt with throughout the class looking at them through a variety of lenses

Alternatively, read this intro.

March 16: Continuation with Amt/Classen: literature, religion, education, Jewish-Christian relations

March 18: Marie de France: Guigemar, Bislavret

March 23: Marie de France: Equitan, The Two Lovers

March 25: Marie de France: Eliduc, Les Fresne

March 30: Father-Son Conflict, Loyalty, Honor, Death

March 31: 1st paper, due at 6 p.m.
April 01: 1st exam: multiple choice questions reg. the historical time frame, Marie de France, Hildebrandslied, all on tophat
April 06: Hildebrand, cont.,

April 08: We begin with our preparations for the portfolio. Please go to the library and bring a single-authored book on some of the texts we have or will discuss with you to class today. Everyone with a name ending on A-C: Boethius (or medieval philosophy); ending on D-G: Nibelungenlied; ending on H-N: Marie de France; ending on O-R: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight; S-T: Abelard, ending on U-W: Heinrich Kaufringer; ending on X-Z: Dante. Try to find a monograph of recent vintage (not prior to 1970, or so).  We’ll read for today: Nibelungenlied:1-15. For a modern, facetious online youtube summary, see this link.
April 13: Nibelungenlied: 16-22
April 15: Nibelungenlied  23-30

April 20: Nibelungenlied 31-39

April 23: 2nd essay due, 6 p.m.

April 27: Our Lady’s Tumbler. As background, see, for instance, Le Thionet (photos), watch (assignment): Le Thionet (video I, with speaker) (video II, only music in the background) (video III, with Gregorian chant). You are also asked to read this article: A. Classen, “The Human Quest for Happiness and Meaning”  in Athens Journal of Humanities and Meaning,
Introduction to Boethius. Book I
May 04: Boethius, Book II and III. Last day of class.
Students are responsible for checking on their grades posted on D2L. After 10 school days no further review is possible. 


Subject to Change Statement

Information contained in the course syllabus, other than the grade and absence policy, may be subject to change with advance notice, as deemed appropriate by the instructor.

Final Grade Review: If there might be a problem with your grade, you can ask me for a review until May 14, 12 p.m. Beyond that, there will not be any opportunity to revisit your grade.

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