University of Malta

Study-Unit Description
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TITLE The Mediterranean: Encounters of Civilizations

LEVEL 05 - Postgraduate Modular Diploma or Degree Course


DEPARTMENT Faculty of Arts

DESCRIPTION This study-unit will examine political, cultural, economic, religious, social, and ecological interconnections among the peoples of the Mediterranean from the early middle ages through the sixteenth century. Following a roughly chronological approach, each session will adopt a comparative approach to analyze distinct themes such as urbanization, trade networks and commercial organization, political structures, travel and communications, conflict, foodways, and belief systems. In each instance, students will be exposed to different interpretations, methods of analysis, and schools of thought ranging from the "grand narratives" of Pirenne, Braudel, and Horden and Purcell, among others, along with more focused studies that build on the theoretical and conceptual insights provided by the former. As is the case with other study-units proposed for the M.A., the readings and assignments for this study-unit will reflect a multi-disciplinary approach to the study of Mediterranean societies. Indeed participated students will be expected to draw on their own disciplinary background to provide different perspectives to the theme under discussion.

Study-unit Aims:

• To guide students through an exercise of close reading of seminal works on Mediterranean societies in pre-modern times that are exemplary of specific theoretical approaches and which have profoundly influenced subsequent studies;
• To explore various studies focusing on particular aspects of the political, social, cultural, and economic history of the Mediterranean, and explore how these draw upon theories and insights from the core readings.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

• Identify key theories that have shaped the study of Mediterranean history;
• Compare and contrast methodological approaches in the study of Mediterranean history;
• Apply key theoretical insights and methodologies to analyse arguments made in various monographs and scholarly articles.

2. Skills:
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

• Synthesize in writing and through oral presentations the main analytical tools and arguments found in a text;
• Compare groups of texts and draw out similarities and differences in their theoretical and methodological approaches to specific problems;
• Compose an analytical essay reflecting on an original argument and drawing upon a range of written sources.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Main Readings
Abulafia, D. The Great Sea: A Human History of the Mediterranean. Oxford, 2011 [DE71 A25]
Albala, K. Eating Right in the Renaissance. Berkeley, 2002
Remie Constable, O. Housing the Stranger in the Mediterranean World: Lodging, Trade and Travel in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages. Cambridge, 2003 [TX910 A1C659]
Fleet, K. European and Islamic Trade in the Early Ottoman State: The Merchants of Genoa and Turkey. Cambridge, 1990
Goitein, S. D. A Mediterranean Society: An Abridgment in One Volume. Berkeley, 2003 [D199.3 G58]
Horden, P. and N. Purcell. The Corrupting Sea: A Study of Mediterranean History. London, 2000 [DE59 H66]
McCormick, M.. Origins of the European Economy: Communications and Commerce, AD 300 - 900. Cambridge, 2001 [HF3495 M335]
Pryor, J. H.. Geography, Technology and War: Studies in the Maritime History of the Mediterranean, 649 - 1571. Cambridge, 1988 [VK55 P78]
Wickham, C. Framing the Early Middle Ages: Europe and the Mediterranean, 400-800. Oxford, 2005 [D121 W53]

Supplementary Texts
Flandrin, J. L. and M. Montanari, eds. Food: A Culinary History from Antiquity to the Present. Columbia University Press, 1996
Greene, M. Catholic Pirates and Greek Merchants: A Maritime History of the Early Modern Mediterranean. Princeton, 2010 [MZH, E]
Reyerson, K. The Art of the Deal: Intermediaries of Trade in Medieval Montpellier. Leiden, 2002
Trivellato, F. The Familiarity of Strangers: The Sephardic Diaspora, Livorno, and Cross-Cultural Trade in the Early Modern Period. Yale, 2012

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Group Learning and Seminar

Assessment Component/s Resit Availability Weighting
Report Yes 40%
Assignment Yes 60%


The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the study-unit description above applies to the academic year 2017/8, if study-unit is available during this academic year, and may be subject to change in subsequent years.
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