For associate professor of history Jamie Kreiner, who teaches the history of Christianity and society from Constantine to Luther, the medieval period is full of surprises:
[I]t’s weird in ways you wouldn’t expect and very similar to our experiences in ways you wouldn’t expect. And the students who sign up have a great mix of interests. They come to the Middle Ages via “Game of Thrones,” actual gaming, Christianity, Islam, Monty Python, or all-around history geekiness. It makes class discussions really multi-vectored.
The history of the early Middle Ages basically starts with the end of the western Roman Empire, so it’s a history of how societies were both deliberately and non- consciously changing the ways they worked. It’s a time period that constantly calls our sense of scale in question: Did everyone think that the Empire was ending? What did “the Empire” mean to different groups in the first place? How did events in Constantinople or Damascus or Alexandria continue to reverberate across the Mediterranean? How could seemingly small things, like stories or farm animals, affect the way that people worked or made policy decisions? How could very large things, like a royal government or the diffuse culture we call Christianity, change their way of seeing the world? My research has pointed to some of the less visible forces that altered the politics and ethics of societies in transition (like literature and domesticated animals). It also showcases their cleverness, subtlety and sense of humor. We have totally underestimated the Dark Ages!
An amazing portal to critical thinking and evaluating how our society was constructed, these are among the courses and majors that prompt students toward a better understanding of who we are. The richness of a classical education undergirds the liberal arts learning environment, the essential block of our society and culture. Dr. Kreiner shares a wealth of knowledge that branches out and connects to every other discipline, helps us build a network to the past that reaches back to our precursors and antecedents - history is our history.