History 200C: The Mediterranean in History

Published: August 24, 2015

This year’s CMRS Seminar is History 200C: The Mediterranean in History taught by Jessica Goldberg, Associate Professor of History, on Mondays from 2–4:50 pm in Royce 306.

Syllabus (preliminary)

For more than a century, ‘The Mediterranean’ has not only been the subject of intense and creative historical inquiry, it is the arena in which scholars from several disciplines have tested out ways to write about the past beyond the confines of political boundaries. In this course, we explore both the history of the Mediterranean, and the history of writing about the Mediterranean. We will read a variety of debates in Mediterranean history written over the past century, and covering the topics across the period from Antiquity to the Early Modern era. We will explore several intersecting problems in this historiography: what kinds of topics, methodologies, and questions can successfully be brought to the Mediterranean in particular, or history defined by a sea in general? How do debates in one period or discipline of Mediterranean history help illuminate or re-fresh narratives in other areas? This course is designed to familiarize students working in a variety of Mediterranean fields with an overview of the historiographic landscape. As this is primarily a reading course, assignments will include a book review, an annotated area bibliography, and a final bibliographic essay.

Readings: availability and access
Books listed with a * are available at the UCLA Bookstore. Items with a (B) will be available via blackboard. Items listed (on-line) are available electronically, usually through JSTOR. Starred books will be placed on Reserve at Van Pelt

Reading varies in length each week, owing to the different styles of authors tackling the Mediterranean—alas for us, writing about the Mediterranean often seems to involve writing tomes. Please take note and plan especially of the readings on Feb 10 and Feb 17: there is really no getting around Braudel, though we will discuss ways of tackling Horden and Purcell. Please note there are either research or writing assignments most weeks to be completed in addition to assigned readings, some of these are individual, some meant to benefit the class as a whole. Requirements include:
1. Participation in discussions based on the assigned readings.
2. One short presentations (10 minutes) on a topic related to the readings
3. Completion of writing and research assignments 24 hours before each class session; these must be both sent to me and posted on blackboard forums. These assignments vary in length, and will be discussed each week in more detail.
4. A 2000-2500-word (8-12 page) bibliographic essay discussing 5-8 items. Your bibliographic essay is likely to build off you annotated bibliography, but it need not do so. For students preparing an oral exam field using this course, an alternate final assignment may be in order. Please discuss your goals with me in the first 3 weeks of class. Final papers are due the last day of exam period.

Part 1: Defining and Debating the Mediterranean as a subject

September 28: Introductory overviews of the field: Kären Wigen et al., “AHR Forum: Oceans of History,” American Historical Review 111 (2006), 717–80 (on-line)
David Abulafia, “What is the Mediterranean?” in idem, ed., The Mediterranean in History (Los Angeles, 2003), 11–26 (B)
W. V. Harris, “The Mediterranean and Ancient History,” in idem, ed., Rethinking the Mediterranean (Oxford, 2005), 1–42 (B)
Research assignment: 2 parts, Collecting and assessing bibliography. The articles here are in many ways bibliographic, so there is a huge range of material to collect. From the footnotes of these pieces, gather 10 items on 1-3 topics that interest you. Give topic headers. Post your list on class Bibliography wiki.
Go to one of the articles in your bibliography that you haven’t read. Assess it both as a reference in the piece you read and on its title. Is it as promised? Does it open out your topic more broadly or is it more narrow that you expect? Does it, and the literature it cites, tell you anything about research on the topic you chose?

Oct 5: The first salvo: Unity as Political, unity as cultural and economic. The model and the seminal moment: Rome
*Henri Pirenne, Mohammad and Charlemagne trans. B. Miall (New York, 1939).
Selections from Gregory of Tours, Ten Books of HIstories
Read one/two of the following:
Andrew Ehrenkreutz, “Another Orientalist’s remarks concerning the Pirenne thesis,” JESHO 15 (1972): 94-104 (on-line)
Daniel Dennett, “Pirenne and Muhammad,” Speculum 23 (1948), 165-190. (on-line)
Claude Cahen, “Quelques problèmes concernant l’expansion économique musulmane au Haut Moyen Âge,” Settimane di Studio del Centro Italiano di Studi sull-Alto Medioevo 12 (1965) 391-432. (B)
Optional: Marc Bloch, “Pour une histoire comparée des sociétés européennes,” Revue de synthèse historique 46 (1928), 15-50 (you may omit section VI, except the first paragraph) {trans. in Land and work in medieval Europe: selected papers by Marc Bloch, trans. J. E. Anderson (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1967), 44-81, or Enterprise and secular change: Readings in economic history, ed. Frederic C. Lane and Jelle C. Riemersma (Homewood, IL, 1953), 489-521.}

Writing assignment: Summarize Pirenne’s thesis in one paragraph (max. 1 page).] Student report

Oct 12: Responses to Pirenne: Evidence, assumptions, and methodology
*Hodges, Richard, and David Whitehouse. Mohammed, Charlemagne & the origins of Europe: archaeology and the Pirenne thesis. London: Duckworth, 1983. If you read French, please add: Mohamet, Charlemagne et les origins de l’Europe (1996), postface (163-176)
*Bulliet, Richard. The Camel and Wheel. Read chapters 1, 3-5, 8, skim remainder

Writing assignment 2: How do Hodges and Whitehead define Pirenne’s thesis? How does their definition differ from yours? On what bases do they test Pirenne? How effective is their critique?
Student Report: The Pirenne Debate

Oct 19: The second salvo (the big one): Geography, ecology and history
*Fernand Braudel, The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II, vol. 1. All. Also, volume 2, 892-900, 1238-1244
Aymard, Maurice. “Braudel, Fernand.” In the International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, pp. 1-5. [a brief biographical sketch] Selections of Pierre Belon

For further reading:
Molho, Anthony. 2001. “Like Ships Passing in the Dark: Reflections on the Reception of La Mediterranee in the U.S.” Review (Fernand Braudel Center) 24 (1): 139-62.

Research assignment: Footnote trace. Choose a footnote in one of the books assigned in the previous weeks. Track every citation in that footnote, and write a review of how responsibly the author of the work we read used the primary and secondary sources they cite. (obviously, make sure that you choose a footnote with at least 2 sources, and ideally, one that seems particularly interesting or difficult of proof).

Oct 26: A Braudel for the Ancient and Medieval World?
Reading: *Horden, Peregrine, and Nicholas Purcell. The corrupting sea: a study of Mediterranean history. Oxford: Blackwell, 2000.
Reviews (read one):
Fentress, James and Elizabeth Fentress. 2001. “The Hole in the Doughnut.” Past and Present 173: 203-19.
Shaw, Brent D. 2001. “Challenging Braudel: A New Vision of the Mediterranean.” Journal of Roman Archaeology 14: 19-53

Research assignment and writing assignment:
Part 1: Group project. Collect as many reviews as possible of this book. Post any that you find and star one that you’ve chosen to read. Please don’t read any read by a classmate.
Part 2: The bibliographic essays in Horden and Purcell are a possible springboard here. Choose a topic that you might want to pursue for your annotated bibliography (you may build off one of the topics from your first research assignment), and begin to collect items of both primary sources and key secondary literature on your area. Create a class wiki for your topic, and make sure you have at least 15 items (no need to annotate yet, but you might want to bold the items you are sure about, and write question marks or comments on the ones you need to track down and examine).

Part 2: Testing the waters—approaching topics (or not) through a Mediterranean lens. Religion, gender, law, and community

Nov. 2: Guest seminar leader: Eve Krakowski, Princeton University
Studies from the Cairo Geniza: Female Adolescence
Readings: TBA

Nov. 9: Guest seminar leader: Ra’anan Boustan, UCLA
Religion and violence in Late Antiquity
Readings: TBA

Nov. 16: Guest seminar leader: Mary Doyno, Sacramento State
Gender, religion, and the urban community
Readings: TBA

Part 3: Imagining the Mediterranean
Nov. 23: Chris Chism, UCLA
Travels real and imagined: English voyagers to the Mediterranean
Readings: TBA

Nov. 30: Imaging the Mediterranean: critiques of Geography and Unity
Bagnall, Roger S. “Egypt and the Concept of the Mediterranean.” In Rethinking the Mediterranean, edited by William V. Harris. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005: 339-347.
Ibn Khaldun, al-Muqadimma. (Dawood abridgment) Princeton: Princeton University Pres, 1-296.
Makdisi, Ussama. 2002. “Ottoman Orientalism.” American Historical Review 107 (3):768-796.
Ze’evi, Dror. 2004. “Back to Napoleon? Thoughts on the Beginning of the Modern Era in the Middle East.” Mediterranean Historical Review 19 (1): 73-94