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Medieval Technology and Urban Life:  "A Thousand Years Without a Bath" or, What About Printing, Gunpowder, and the Magnetic Compass?
TSCIIN 440
M-W 4:15-6:30 PM Winter 2005
WCG 103
Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences
University of Washington, Tacoma
Michael Kucher <kucher at u dot washington dot edu> 

A link to the Syllabus
Course Bibliography
Class Meeting and Assignments Schedule


Scholars ranging from Lynn White, jr. to David Noble have grounded their critiques of the modern world's problems, especially its relationship to nature, in events of the Middle Ages. This course will begin by examining the nuts and bolts of medieval urban life while exploring larger themes of the gendering of labor, the rebirth of cities, the uneasy relationship to Islamic civilization, and the destruction of the natural world.
We will use Boccaccio's Decameron, and images from art and architecture as windows on urban life in medieval Florence, and by extension, the most urbanized areas of Latin Christendom. We will supplement Boccaccio with readings from Joseph and Frances Gies's Cathedral Forge and Waterwheel (New York, 1995),Pamela O. Long's magisterialTechnology and Society in the Medieval Centuries: Byzantium, Islam, and the West, 500-1300  (Washington, 2003) Ahmad Y. al-Hassan and Donald R. Hill, Islamic Technology:  An Illustrated History (Cambridge, 1992), and other sources.

If you want to get ahead of the curve:

Required books: (available at the University Bookstore)

[Cover of Decameron]Decameron

[Cover of Gies]Cathedral Forge and Waterwheel


Cover to Technology and Society by Pam LongTechnology and Society in the Medieval Centuries: Byzantium, Islam, and the West, 500-1300
by Pamela O. Long


Interesting Links:

The UW Library History Pages

Paul Gans's excellent site at NYU, Medieval Technology Pages

The Decameron Web at Brown University

Paul Halsall's Medieval Sourcebook at Fordham University
See especially his brilliant  annotated guide to: Medieval History in the Movies

Labyrinth at Georgetown University

Plague and Public Health in Renaissance Europe published by the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities at the University of Virginia

Digital Dante


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© Copyright 1997-2005 Michael Kucher. Last revised: 2 January 2005