The Medieval Mediterranean: The New “Western Civ”?

Sunday, January 5, 2014: 8:50 AM
Maryland Suite C (Marriott Wardman Park)
Kenneth B. Wolf, Pomona College
As a medieval historian hired by a liberal arts college in 1985, my main pedagogical commitment was to our Western Civilization series. But five years later, the department updated its curriculum, pulling the plug on Western Civilization on the grounds that it sent the wrong message to our students about the inevitability of the rise of Europe to global dominance.  I agreed with that decision and yet at the same time wondered if we weren't throwing the baby out with the bathwater. For the last 23 years, I have been working to create a "Medieval Mediterranean" survey that would provide students with a sweeping, "Western Civ"- like experience of history, without the hegemonic master narrative.  This presentation will explore successful unifying themes of cultural and intellectual interaction and why "Medieval Mediterranean" is still a work in progress.