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History- HY 104: Culture, Society, and History: The Mediterranean

Blocks 1 and 2: Susan Ashley
Piri Reis - Map of the Eastern Mediterranean Coastline with the Cities of Jaffa and Caesarea

This two-block course fulfills two units of the Critical Perspectives: The West in Time requirement or one unit of Critical Perspectives: Global Cultures credit.

The Eastern Mediterranean 1430, artist unknown, Brooklyn Museum of ArtThis course focuses on the Mediterranean Sea and on the cultures it supported, connected, and divided.  We’ll examine the ways the sea itself shaped the societies which emerged on its edges, looking at how geography, ecology, and history connected to each other. 

In particular, we’ll explore three major cultures: the Greek and Roman, the Christian, and the Muslim, paying close attention to the ways they imagined the cosmic order and translated these visions of the divine into social and political structures.  We’ll look at how each culture saw itself but also how each saw the others. Although often in conflict, these societies still depended on each other in important ways. We’ll examine the interchange of values and ideas as well as the moments of intense confrontation such as the early spread of Islam, the Crusades, and the current “clash of civilizations.” 

Primary texts, films, and historical studies will provide the basis for our collective discussion of the connections and conflicts across and around the Mediterranean.  This course, as a comparative investigation of cultures from the ancient to the modern period, fulfills either the West in Time or the Diverse Cultures and Critiques (Global Cultures) requirement.

A two-block course with one instructor; one grade will be given for the course as a whole.


  • This course serves as a gateway to the History major and fulfills two units of major prerequisites.
  • Occasional organized activities possible.  Will work around students’ schedules.
  • The course may include an overnight trip to the Baca.