Prof. Deeana Klepper

Hildegard of Bingen, Earth
twelfth century


All students should familiarize themselves with the College of Arts and Sciences Academic Conduct Code and adhere to it. Please see also my plagiarism policy





























This course explores the variety and evolution of Christian beliefs and practices in medieval Europe from the fifth century CE (emergence of distinctive Latin and Greek Christianities) through the early sixteenth century (Reformation) within and outside formal Church structures. We will read and analyze primary sources on diverse topics including the conversion of Europe and religious acculturation of pagan peoples, the power and appeal of Christian saints, Christian kingship and notions of appropriate Christian power, monastic, scholastic, and lay piety, pilgrimage and Crusade, dissent and institutional response, the relationship to those outside the faith, religious developments in the fifteenth century and Protestant and Catholic divergence. 

Required Texts:

• Kevin Madigan, Medieval Christianity (Yale University Press, 2015) 978-0-300-15872-4

• Pauline Matarasso, trans., The Quest of the Holy Grail (Penguin Classics, 1969) 978-0140442205

Also: a set of readings available in pdf format on a blackboard site and a number of internet documents, linked to the syllabus here

Please bring reading materials to class on the day(s) they are assigned, including printouts of web documents or a device for viewing them.

Course Requirements for RN 307

Students are expected to attend and participate in every class. All reading is to be completed before the class for which it is assigned. Written work for the class will include three analytical papers and a ten-to twelve-page research paper on an approved topic within the field of medieval Christianity. The grading for the course will be as follows: 30% for class participation, 15% for each of the short papers, and 25% for the research paper. The class participation grade will be based on attendance, participation in discussion, and the level of preparedness and involvement in the course.

If you know that you will miss class because you are sick or are away from school for an emergency, please try to let me know ahead of time, if possible, via phone or e-mail.  More than three unapproved absences during the semester may result in a lowered overall grade in addition to an unsatisfactory class participation grade.

Course Requirements for RN 607 & STH TX 817

In addition to mastering the material required of undergraduates, graduate students are also expected to familiarize themselves with current scholarship in the field of medieval Christianity and to develop a critical understanding of the relevant issues in scholarship. Additional reading for graduate students includes the following two articles and any three books from the graduate reading list.

John Van Engen, "The Christian Middle Ages as an Historiographical Problem," American Historical Review 91 (1986), 519-52 (access on line via JSTOR) and Van Engen, "The Future of Medieval Church History" Church History 71 (2002), 492-522 (also available on JSTOR).

Graduate students will write three- to four-page reviews of the three additional books and will be asked to make brief (5-10 minute) presentations to the class summarizing the work and placing it within the context of the general course syllabus. In lieu of the undergraduate research paper, graduate students will write a twelve- to fifteen-page bibliographic review essay examining the state of scholarship on a topic chosen in consultation with the instructor. Graduate students will also be responsible for the three analytical papers, which will be judged by a standard appropriate to graduate level work.



Week I Reconstructing Medieval Christianity
9/3 First class

Week II The Legacy of Antiquity and the Conversion of Europe
9/8 Kevin Madigan, Medieval Christianity, 11-49
9/10 The Apostles' Creed; The Nicene Creed; The Conversion of Clovis ;
Bede, On the Conversion of England; Life of St. Columban Chapters 6-22; St. Columban's Boat Song; The Life of St. Clothild [Blackboard]

Week III The Monastic Tradition
9/15 Rosh Hashanah: No class meeting
9/17 Madigan, 50-68; St. Benedict, Rule for Monasteries; Caesarius of Arles, Rule for Nuns [Blackboard]; J. LeClercq, The Love of Learning and the Desire for God, 11-24 [Blackboard]; William of St. Thierry on Lectio Divina

View the Lindisfarne Gospels at the British Library on line: click on link for "pinnacle of Anglo Saxon art"

Week IV The Church and Its Sacraments
9/22 Madigan, 80-94
9/24 Sermon stories on the Eucharist; Sermon stories on Penance
Joseph Dyer, "The Medieval Mass and Its Music" (Introduction through the Table 1); "Tundale's Vision," in Eileen Gardiner, Visions of Heaven and Hell before Dante, 149-195 [Blackboard]

View images from a 14th-century manuscript of the French mystery play, "The Day of Judgment"

Week V Medieval Church and State
9/29 Madigan, 71-75; 132-147; 287-298
10/1 Pope Leo the Great: On the Petrine Doctrine; Einhard, The Life of Charlemagne
B. Tierney, The Crisis of Church and State, excerpts [Blackboard]

Week VI Saints, Relics and Pilgrimage
10/6 Madigan, 320-342
10/8 Bernard of Angers, "The Miracles of St. Foy"[Blackboard]; Jacob Voragine, The Golden Legend: On the Translation of the body of the Apostle James, son of Zebedee to Compostela in Spain; A Pilgrim's Guide to Santiago de Compostela [Blackboard]

Interactive Map of the Pilgrimage route to St. James of Compostela, including a virtual tour of the cathedral

Week VII Violence: Christian and Unchristian

10/13 NO CLASS: Monday Schedule
10/15 Madigan, 103-118, T. Head and R. Landes, eds., The Peace of God.  Social Violence and Religious Response in France around the Year 1000, 327-342 [Blackboard]; Bernard of Clairvaux, In Praise of the New Knighthood

Week VIII Christianity, Crusade, and Courtly Culture

10/20 Quest for the Holy Grail, 31-66
10/22 Quest for the Holy Grail, 80-94; 269-284

Week IX Urbanization and Intellectual Culture

10/27 Madigan, 257-286
10/29 Anselm's Proslogium; Peter Abelard, Excerpt from Sic et Non; The Story of My Calamaties; Aquinas Reading [Blackboard]: Summa, Part I, Question 13

You may want to explore the fabulous Medieval Manuscript Manual put together by Central European University

Week X Urbanization and Religious Revival

11/3 Madigan, 211-250; Images of Chartres Cathedral
11/5 "Our Lady's Tumbler" [Blackboard]; Thomas Celano, The Life of St. Francis; Giotto's Images from the Upper Church at Assisi (from "artist" link at top of page select Giotto, then select "Frescoes at San Francesco," then "St. Francis Legend")

Week XI Insiders and Outsiders
11/10 Madigan, 174-210; 343-362
11/12 Glossary of dissenters; The Conversion of Waldo; Selections from the Fourth Lateran Council (1215): A-general; B-heresy; C-Jews; Bernard Gui, Manual for inquisitors; the Trial of Na Prous Boneta

Week XII Enacting Religion: Instructing Laypeople

11/17 Madigan, 299-319
11/19 R. Beadle, and P. King, eds., York Mystery Plays: a selection in modern spelling, ix-xxx, 8-14; 48-58, 267-279 [Blackboard]; computer simulation of the York production


11/24 No class: Independent Research Day
11/26 No class: Thanksgiving

Week XIV Late Medieval Reform ("the Road to Reformation")

12/1 Madigan, 387-417
12/3 Jean Gerson, "Sermon at the Council of Constance"[Blackboard]; Condemnation of John Wycliff and Wycliff's Response

Week XIV



12/8 Student Presentations
12/10 Student Presentations

In Lieu of a Final Exam: Please attach to your final research paper a 2 page summary reflecting on the way your research paper fits into the broad themes of the class, contributing to your understanding of medieval Christianity as a whole.