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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : History

Undergraduate Course: The Cult of Saints in Medieval Christendom, 1200-1500: A Global History? (HIST10421)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe cult of saints played a powerful role in late-medieval Christian society as intercessors between humans and God. Cultic manifestations of Latin Christendom's holiest figures were thus ubiquitous in medieval culture. This meant that such cults were both highly regulated devotional outlets and melting pots of popular discourse on the place of medieval individuals and cultures within the rest of the world. This course explores the written, visual, and material evidence for the cult of saints as evidence for a global Middle Ages.
Course description Saints and the devotional objects with which they were associated were familiar points of reference to Latin Christians, and vehicles for ideas about culture and society during the Middle Ages. This course examines how the cult of saints in late-medieval Christendom brought Latin Christians into contact with a global mode of thinking, while considering how the cultural variance embodied by saints' cults was both embraced and curbed by a Church that was pushing for uniformity in practice. It will also interrogate the connections between concepts of sanctity in Christianity and other world religions, and how influences from contact with other religions shaped the saints' role in the volatile, shifting climate of the Church c. 1200-1500.

After becoming familiar with the frameworks necessary to understand the phenomena of both sanctity and global history, of which race and gender will be critically important, we will then explore cult of saints in the context of the Church's attempt to expand the geographic remit of Latin Christendom, and how it was brought into contact with other faiths via the developing global infrastructure of the later Middle Ages. Through an examination of sources relating to the cross-regional transmission of saints' cults, such as through the donation and trade of relics, the development of pilgrimage sites, and concerted efforts to develop a 'universal' iconography, we move on to thinking critically about the saints as channels for the transfer and exchange of cultures. Finally, we will reflect on whether historians can use the cult of saints as evidence that late-medieval Latin Christians thought in global terms.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements A pass or passes in 40 credits of first level historical courses or equivalent and a pass or passes in 40 credits of second level historical courses or equivalent.

Students should only be enrolled on this course with approval from the History Honours Programme Administrator.
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have at least three History courses at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this). We will only consider University/College level courses. Applicants should note that, as with other popular courses, meeting the minimum does NOT guarantee admission.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Be confident in applying global frameworks to textual, visual and material evidence for the medieval cult of saints.
  2. Have an awareness of the major debates and areas of study within the fields of medieval global history and the cult of saints.
  3. Be able to use the evidence for sanctity to explore cross-cultural influences and connections between faiths.
  4. Gain a broad understanding of regional differences in the development of sanctity via a comparative approach.
Reading List
David Abulafia and Nora Berend, eds, Medieval frontiers: concepts and practices (Aldershot, 2002)
Robert Bartlett, Why Can the Dead Do Such Great Things? Saints and Worshippers from the Martyrs to the Reformation (Princeton, 2013; paperback 2015)
Molly H. Bassett and Vincent W. Lloyd, eds, Sainthood and Race: Marked Flesh, Holy Flesh (London, 2014)
James Belich, John Darwin, Margret Frenz, and Chris Wickham, eds, The Prospect of Global History (Oxford, 2016)
Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, The World: A History, 3rd ed (Hoboken, NJ, 2016)
Candice Goucher and Linda Walton, World History: Journeys from Past to Present (London: Routledge, 2008)
Josef W. Meri, The Cult of Saints among Muslims and Jews in Medieval Syria (Oxford, 2002)
James Muldoon, Travellers, Intellectuals, and the World Beyond Medieval Europe (London, 2010)
Kim M. Phillips, Before Orientalism: Asian Peoples and Cultures in European Travel Writing, 1245-1510 (Philadelphia, 2013).
Sam Riches and Sarah Salih, eds, Gender and Holiness: Men, Women and Saints in Late Medieval Europe (London, 2002)
Mary-Ann Stouck, ed., Medieval Saints: A Reader, 2nd ed. (Toronto, 1998)
Brett E. Whalen, Pilgrimage in the Middle Ages: A Reader (Toronto, 2011)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills This course will help students develop a range of transferable skills, including:
- the ability to manage one's time effectively, work to deadlines, and perform effectively under pressure;
- the ability to gather, sift, organise and evaluate large quantities of textual evidence;
- the ability to marshal argument in both written and oral form;
- the ability to work independently and as part of a pair or larger group.
Keywordssaints,global history,race,gender,medieval history
Course organiserDr Kirsty Day
Course secretaryMiss Mel Baker
Tel: (0131 6)50 4030
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