Saturday, January 5, 2008



LECTURE I: The Greco-Roman Legacy in the Medieval World

The Medieval Euro-Mediterranean world as an undivided cultural space of contact and exchange – an area of “cultural symbiosis”

Uninterrupted Mediterranean trade and lively commercial networks during the expansion of Islam in the region

The Crusades and the Islamic expansion as attempts (of Northern/Western Europe and the Arabic speaking regions) to draw closer to the center of the world – the rise of new contact zones along frontier regions

Rising culture of coexistence (“convivencia”) in Andalusia (Southern Iberian peninsula)

mozarabs” – Arabized Christians under Islamic rule

The culture of “convivencia” appropriated by Christian Spanish kingdoms through the “reconquest” of Andalusia

mudejar” – Muslim diaspora living under Christian rule in Spain

Cultural hybridity (coexistence of Arab, Latin, Greek and Germanic elements) in Sicily and Southern Italy under Norman rule (11th-13th centuries)


LECTURE II: Medieval Encounters: Conflict and Coexistence

Two Medieval Renaissances (with common Graeco-Roman roots) engendered by:

i) The Arabic (Early Abbasid) translation movement (8th-10th centuries) - Baghdad

ii) The Latin translation movement (southern/western Europe) (12th-13th centuries) – Toledo, Sicily, Naples

The Arabic translation movement initiated by Caliph al-Mansur (r. 754-775), supported by Harun ar-Rashid (r. 786-809), and culminating at the time of Caliph al-Ma’mun (r. 813-833)

Channels for the transmission of Ancient knowledge in the Abbasid world:

i) Greek/Hellenistic centers of learning: Alexandria, Tarsus, Antioch, Harran (the Sabians)

ii) Sasanian (Zoroastrian) centers of Hellenistic learning in Persia

iii) Syriac-speaking Biblical centers: Edessa (Urfa), Nisibis (Nizip), Mosul


LECTURE III: Medieval Encounters: Trade and Material Culture

The full incorporation of the “rationalist school” in Greek philosophy (Platonian idealism, Aristotelian logic and dialectical argument) into Islamic thought by 11th century – Complex Aristotelian methods of discussion fully absorbed into doctrines of Islamic law and theology

The crucial role played by Ibn Sina (Avicenna) (d. 1037) in the integration of Greek philosophy into Islamic theology and kalam (field of theological discussion) – Aristotelian logic and disputation (munazarah) becoming essential to the curricula of the madrasa, the newly instituted centers of learning in the Islamic world (11th century)

The appropriation of Greek knowledge in Europe through Arabic translations and commentaries during the High Medieval translation movement

New knowledge (derived from Classical works and original scientific/philosophical sources from the Islamic world) disseminated in Europe through new institutions of higher learning in the 12th century: The university / “universitas” (Bologna, Paris) and college (Sorbonne, Oxford)

The rise of a new practice of learning and systematic method of reasoning: “scholasticism” – highly informed by Aristotelian forms of dialectical argumentation

Thomas Aquinas (c. 1225-1275) as the most prominent representative of scholastic thought – reconciling Greek philosophy and Christian theology