New: The Origins Of The Medieval World

This course will explore the development, of human societies in Europe and the Mediterranean world
from the 5th to the 10th Centuries CE, including the consolidation of the Byzantine and Sasanian
Empires; the emergence of Ostrogothic culture in Italy; the emergence of Islam and its expansion
under the Rashidun and Umayyad Caliphates. Drawing on archaeological evidence, literary texts,
architecture and the visual arts, it will look at the complex and shifting relationships between
the present and the past in the definition and transformation of European cultures and identities.

Who is this course for

No prior knowledge is necessary but a good understanding of English is essential. If you wish to read before the course the following book is recommended: Tom Holland (2013) In the Shadow of the Sword: The Battle for Global Empire and the End of the Ancient World. The course will not, however, assume that all participants have read this text.

What does this course cover

We will begin by looking at the conflict between the Byzantine and Sasanian Empires from the 5th to the 7th Centuries CE, and at the emergence of a distinctive Ostrogothic culture in Italy following the collapse of the Western Roman Empire. We will go on to consider the divergence between the Catholic (western) and Orthodox (eastern) Christian traditions; and the emergence of Islam as a new religious and political force in the Middle East and North Africa, including the distinction between the Sunni and Shia traditions.

By the end of this course, you should be able to:
' Give an account of the history of Europe and the Mediterranean world between the 5th and 10th Centuries CE.
' Contribute to a discussion on the nature of Catholic, Orthodox, and Islamic beliefs in the early Middle Ages.
' Discuss the key features of Byzantine, Ostrogothic, and early Islamic art and architecture.
' Use the knowledge gained on the course to identify aspects of ancient Roman thought that continue to influence the literature, politics, and philosophy of the modern world.

What will it be like

Each week there will be an informative talk using PowerPoint and group discussion of aspects of early Medieval archaeology, history, religion, art, and architecture. You will be encouraged to share your thoughts and ideas in a relaxed and friendly environment. Occasionally homework reading will be provided. Although this is not an accredited course leading to a formal qualification, you will be encouraged to complete a self-assessment form in which you can monitor your progress.

What else do you need to buy or do

You are advised to acquire a copies of the following text: The Qu'ran, translated by Talif Khalidi (Penguin Classics). You are also advised to bring note-taking materials to all sessions.

What this course could lead to

We will continue our exploration of the Medieval world in the September term of the new academic year. You might also consider enrolling on other history/history of art/literature/philosophy courses run by the Centre.

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I've been to many Centres to study in London and the Mary Ward Centre is one of the nicest I've studied in.

MWC student

Got a Question about this Course?

Contact The Departmental Administrator.

Why come to Mary Ward Centre?

Mary Ward Centre is the adult education centre with a difference. We provide a wide range of subjects for people at all levels and run courses during the day, evening or weekend to suit your timetable.

Get inspired and enjoy excellent teaching in an environment where each individual’s learning experience is valued. That’s what makes Mary Ward Centre ‘the friendly place to learn.’