RELS239 - DEATH, DISEASE & DEMONS

How did life end for people in the medieval world? For most, death was not considered an end point because the soul journeyed on after the end of the body. But to where did it journey? And how would it be re-united with the body in the future? Between the classical period and the High Middle Ages, death shifted from a moment of quiet release to a frightening struggle in which angels and demons lay in wait for a soul as soon as it exited the body. This course will examine these changing beleifs about dying, focusing primarily on Christian medieval Europe but drawing comparative examples from Judaism, the Roman world, and Byzantine Christianity. Other topics we'll consider include martyrdom and fears of bodily dismemberment; the emergence of purgatory and depictions of the afterworld; and the development of Christian rites for the dead. We'll also investigate beliefs about the invisible powers of demons and the apocalyptic end of times. The course will also explore not only the process by which people entered the afterlife in the Middle Ages but also the causes of their deaths-- what kinds of disease primarily afflicted medieval society, and how did age, class and gender intersect with disease to affect certain populations? We will end the semester by examining that most apocalyptic of Medieval events-- the Black Death-- in light of recent scientific discoveries, medieval medical explanations, and social changes brought on by this demographic catastrophe. Students will be exposed to a range of primary sources as well as evidence from tombstone inscriptions, architecture and manuscript illuminations, and archaeology. No prior knowledge of Medieval history is necessary.
Section 301 - SEM
W 0200PM-0500PM
LEJA, MARY
DAVID RITTENHOUSE LAB 3N6