Special Topics: Mediterranean Trade and Exchange, 1200-1550
270 Tappan
W 10:00-1:00pm
3 Credit Seminar

This seminar will explore trade in luxury arts in the Mediterranean over nearly four hundred years. This trade, encompassing both Christian and Islamic states and goods from Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia, represented one of the major economic engines of the then-known world, as well as one of its principle avenues of cultural exchange. As we re-explore the well-trodden ground of this subject, we will find that it is privileged by a wealth of surviving objects and archival documents, as well as by ideas and perceptions, both historical and contemporary. Our approach will be multidisciplinary: As we examine basic mechanisms of trade--maps and map-making, ships and navigation, currencies and exchange--we will also consider perceptions of globality and regionality, and of religious, ideological and cultural difference. As we scrutinize objects of cultural exchange, their manufacture, patronage, consumption and transformation in new contexts, we will consider ideas about hybridity. We will also examine social and cultural aspects of trade: evidence of traders and their contacts, and ideas about splendor and display. The course will include a study visit to the Detroit Institute of Arts. No prerequisites required.

This is principally a reading and discussion course that will include hour-long lectures to orient the discussion. Class size is limited and students should be prepared to articulate their critical views about the readings in class. Students will be be required to submit a research paper of about 5,000 words, after submitting a proposal and discussing it during office hours. A.D.2