Course Details

HIST 330: Ideas Incarnate: Institutional Formation, Reform, and Governance in the Middle Ages

Institutions emerge from the translation of ideas, ideals, needs, and values into human communities living in particular conditions, equipped with certain resources, guided and controlled by certain norms, and protected and challenged by particular ideas and actions. Once formed, institutions encounter further issues of governance and change as they evolve and encounter new realities, success, and failure. This seminar examines the complex histories and cultures of medieval institutions—churches, monasteries, secular and religious courts, households, and the universities. Through theoretical readings and case studies we will examine how, over time, questions of purpose, leadership, the distribution of power and authority, the acquisition and disposition of material and human resources, record keeping, and legitimacy are encountered and resolved. This course will be of interest to anyone interested in the dynamics of institutions and the dialogue between concepts and material conditions as they play out in time.
6 credits; HI, IS, WR2; Not offered 2021-2022