This course is not a history of the many cultures that have existed around the Mediterranean - Roman, European, Arab, Turkish - but rather a course about the sea itself; we will look at what and why scholars have written with fascination and even love about the "Middle Sea" both in ancient times and today. In particular, 20th century historiography has often sought to portray the multitude of nations and peoples who have populated the Mediterranean since ancient Greece and Rome as inextricably linked - through geography, environment, economy and even in anthropological descriptions of culture. This discourse of interconnectedness in turn influenced thinkers and writers studying everything from Japan to the 17th century Atlantic.
As a historiography course, we will survey the idea of Mediterranean unity, the theoretical ideas underpinning the writing of history, and examine the many tools historians have used to dissect the life of the sea and the lives of its peoples. We will have weeks dedicated to questions of geography, anthropology, environment and economy. We will traverse several of the major historiographical debates about the sea that have occurred beginning in the early twentieth century and extending to today.
Throughout the semester, students will work in groups to focus deeper on particular areas of intense debate amongst scholars. Topics will be developed along student lines of interest, although certain possibilities include religious relations, the fall of Rome, the modern Mediterranean and others. By Spring Break, every group will have an annotated bibliography of works relevant to their area. From this bibliography will come four seperate assignments - individual video presentations, individual historiography papers, group assignments for readings for the class that will involve a discussion led by the group, and a final essay team written attempting to integrate the various views wpresent in the historiography papers (for more information, see Assignments).