The Crusades remain one of the most dramatic and well-known events associated with the medieval period, considered a formative event from a cultural, political, and social standpoint for both the development of Western Europe and the Mediterranean Middle East. While a period of often intense violence, the Crusades also represented a significant period of intercultural contact, prompting increased economic and social exchanges which would go on to play a vital role in Western Europe and the Middle East during the Middle Ages but would also continue to be of influence for centuries afterwards, even down to the present day where the idea of the ‘Crusade’ is used and misused in all manner of contexts.
This upper year seminar will give students the opportunity to explore the origins of the crusading movement, as well as the establishment of the "crusader states" in the medieval Mediterranean from the late eleventh to the mid twelfth century. It will examine the contacts, conflicts, and dialogues which defined this complex process, and study topics ranging from inter-religious textual translations to the gendered aspect of crusading for both Christian and Muslim observers. Students will work with primary sources (in translation) and relevant secondary scholarship to develop a deep understanding of the history of the Middle Ages and origins of crusading, as well as become familiar with recent historiography on the subject. This seminar will develop students' critical thinking and research skills, including historical and historiographical paper writing, and aims to foster a robust discussion space for students interested in medieval history to study one of the most fascinating and enduring processes that defined the Middle Ages in Europe and the Mediterranean.