Thinking about the Orient in Late Medieval Europe

Course Status: 
CEU credits: 
ECTS credits: 
Academic year: 
Start and end dates: 
1 Jun 2015 - 12 Jun 2015
Additional information: 
A detailed bibliography of the course will be made available to students prior to the start of the course
Learning Outcomes: 
At the end of the course, students will be familiar with different textual typologies concerning the reception of distant lands and populations in late medieval Europe. The aim of the course is to help students to develop skills of source criticism and familiarity with the questions and methods of cross-cultural and connected history.
Assessment : 
a) It is required that students attend the course, prepare the readings, and participate in class discussions (50% of grade); b) Each student will prepare a 20 minutes presentation and lead the discussion concerning a topic proposed or suggested by the instructor, based on the analysis of primary and secondary sources (50% of grade).

How did non-Latin and non-Christian peoples fit into Western categories of representation? And what knowledge was actually available about them? This course aims to provide an overview of a plurality of representations of the “Orient” produced in late medieval Europe (13th-15th centuries), regarding them as crucial objects of cultural and religious history. By examining specific cases, pertaining to different textual genres, such as historiography, travel writing, polemical works, and missionary accounts, we will explore the different ways in which Western authors took otherness into account, whether internal or external to Christianity. In doing so, we will examine how these accounts fit into precise intellectual schemes and political and ecclesiological agenda and we will take into consideration patterns of knowledge circulation and cross-cultural interaction.



1) Thinking about the Orient in Late medieval Europe: texts, questions and methods.

2) From crusading strategy to exotic literature: Hayton of Korykos.

3) Between “heresy” and “schism”: polemical writings and lists of errors.

4) First-hand witnesses: accounts of journeys to the lands of the Mongols.

5) First-hand witnesses: preachers in the Christian East.

6) Fitting the Orient in Latin historiography.