France 2008


This five-week summer program took place in Paris, France.

The MMW courses provides an examination of  world history from 1200 to 1750.   This is a period of tremendous transition with increased interaction between cultures and continents and momentous changes in science and technology, political and economic systems, philosophical ideas and religious beliefs.  We examine civilizations in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas and analyze their growing ties and tensions throughout the medieval and early modern period.  We study the expansion of inter-continental communication, trade, and empire with the integration of the Americas into the existing systems of Eurasian and African networks to create a global structure which systematically moved products, ideas, technologies, peoples, and diseases across cultural and continental divides.  We look at responses to the growth of Western power and conclude with a consideration of religious and intellectual movements, including those for tolerance as well as those championing fundamentalist movements.

versailles-0141.jpgParis offers a range of relevant sites for this historical inquiry. Its Gothic churches (Basilique de St. Denis, Notre Dame, Sainte Chapelle), medieval fortifications and complexes (Conciergerie on Îsle de la Cité, Château de Vincennes, Hôtel de Cluny), and the Sorbonne, a leading medieval and early modern educational institution, highlight the urban, intellectual, and economic revival of the High Middle Ages.   Paris also offers a plethora of Early Modern sites, including the historic Marais district with its wealth of pre-Revolutionary architecture, the royal gardens (Tuilleries, Jardin des Plantes, and du Luxembourg), the Hotêl des Invalides built for the wounded and disabled veterans of France’s many wars, and palaces like Palais Royal, Louvre and the renowned complex built by King Louis XIV at Versailles which demonstrates the transition of the state from feudal to absolutist monarchy.   The museums of Paris (Musée nationale de moyen age, Louvre, Museum of Judaism) provide further insight into developments from the Medieval through the Renaissance and Early Modern period.   Museums also furnish access to the world beyond Europe (Louvre, Musée nationale des Arts Asiatiques (Guimet), Musée des Arts d’Afrique et d’Oceanie, and Institut de Monde Arabe).   Finally, Paris itself offers a living example of the interaction of cultures and civilizations (themes for the course) with its diversity of religious sites (churches, synagogues, mosques, etc.), markets and restaurants, and peoples.