Course Description

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.

In this course we will survey the idea of Mediterranean unity 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 some of the major historiographical debates about the sea prior to spring break. After spring break, students working in groups will 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.

Required Texts:
Harris, W. V., Rethinking the Mediterranean (Oxford; $60).

Horden and Purcell, Corrupting Sea: A Study of Mediterranean History (Wiley and Blackwell; $46.95)

Ghosh, Amitav, In an Antique Land: History in the Guise of a Traveler's Tale (RH; $15.95).

Goitein, S.D., Mediterranean Society: An Abridgment in One Volume (California-Princeton; $29.95).
Last modified: Monday, December 19, 2011, 9:18 AM