Indiana University

History H610/H710

Essential Readings in Late Antiquity

Fall Semester 2014 Dr. Deborah M. Deliyannis
Place:  Ballantine Hall 335 Office:  Ballantine Hall 735
Time:  Tu 7:00-9:00 pm  Office Hours:  W 1-3 pm or by appt.

Phone:  855-3431




Since 1971, the historical period "Late Antiquity" has become an important category of scholarship and research, although its chronology and meaning are still hotly debated.  Did it extend from AD 235-800, or should it be understood more narrowly?  Did every part of the Roman empire experience a Late Antiquity, or only some parts?  This course will familiarize students with key issues and scholarly debates in the history of Late Antiquity.  We will read books and articles that represent key scholarly ideas, and will talk both about the periodization of antiquity and the Middle Ages, and about the meanings that are attached to different aspects of culture and society through such periodization.




Readings are assigned from books and/or articles.  Many are available electronically through IUCAT, some are on reserve in Kent Cooper Room in Wells Library, and most of the articles have also been placed on Oncourse in the Resources folder.  Some of these are available for purchase, and you might consider purchasing them.


Course requirements


                 25%         Class participation

                 20%         2 book reviews (10% each)

                 15%         Presentation of bibliographic essay/research paper

                 40%         Bibliographic essay/research paper                        

              100%         TOTAL



A large part (25%) of the course grade is based on class participation.  You are expected to do the reading for each week, and come prepared to discuss it.  Your participation grade will be based as much (or more) on what you say as how much you say.  I will give you an estimate of your participation grade halfway through the semester, so that if necessary you can work to improve it.


Book reviews

Each student will write two book reviews, which will be presented to class (10 mins) on the day listed on the syllabus.  One book will be a monograph, and one book will be a collection of essays.  You should choose any books that you like, ideally items that you will need to use for your final paper.


Each book review should be between 1000 and 1500 words long, and should take the format of a scholarly book review (any journal's format may be used).  These books have been reviewed, of course, when they were published; I recommend that you NOT look at those reviews when writing your own, but you should, of course, look at reviews of other books to get an idea of the way you might go about it.


Bibliographic essay/research paper and presentation

There will also be a 10-15-page bibliographic essay (H610) or a 14-20 page research paper (H710), on a topic of interest to you and related to late antiquity in some way.


You must turn in a statement of your topic on Sept. 16, and you must have discussed it with me first (during office hours or by appointment; talking about it before or after class is not sufficient). 


A preliminary bibliography for your paper must be turned in on Oct. 7.  Some of the materials you may need may not be in our library, and you will be expected to order them from interlibrary loan. 


This project will result in a 20 minute presentation in one of the last two class meetings.  In the interests of preparing you to give conference papers, I would like you to write up and read your presentation.  Part of the preparation will be timing yourself to keep to the 20-minute format.



Tentative schedule


Aug. 26          Introduction


Sept. 2           Peter Brown, before, during, and after 1971

                           Brown, Peter R. L., Review of A. H. M. Jones, The Later Roman Empire, 284-602:  a Social, Economic, and Administrative Survey (Oxford:  Blackwell, 1964), The Economic History Reviewn.s., 20 (1967):  327-43.  PDF

                           Brown, Peter R. L.,  The World of Late Antiquity, AD 150-750, 1st ed.  (New York, 1971).  Wells reserve DG77 .B879

                           Murray, Alexander, "Peter Brown and the Shadow of Constantine," Journal of Roman Studies 73 (1983), 191–203.  This is a review of five books by Brown: The World of Late Antiquity (1971), The Making of Late Antiquity (1978), Religion and Society (1977), The Cult of the Saints (1981), and Society and the Holy (1982).  PDF


Sept. 9           Other people debate the issue

                           Clover, Frank and R. S. Humphreys, "Towards a definition of Late Antiquity," in F. Clover and R. S. Humphreys, eds., Tradition and Innovation in Late Antiquity (Madison, WI:  University of Wisconsin Press, 1989), 3-26.  PDF

                           Various Authors, "SO Debate: The World of Late Antiquity Revisited," Symbolae Osloenses 72 (1997), 5-90.  Incl. Peter Brown, pp. 5-30, PDF; comments, pp. 31-69, PDF; reply to comments by Brown, pp. 70-80, PDF, and bibliography, pp. 80-90, PDF

                           Cameron, Averil, "The 'Long' Late Antiquity: A Late Twentieth Century Model," in T. P. Wiseman, ed., Classics in Progress. Essays on Ancient Greece and Rome, (Oxford:  Oxford University Press, 2002), 165-91.  PDF

                           Bowersock, Glen, "Centrifugal Force in Late Antique Historiography: Moving to the Periphery," in Carole Straw and Richard Lim, eds., The Past Before Us: the Challenge of Historiographies of Late Antiquity (Turnhout:  Brepols, 2004), 19-23.  PDF

                           Marcone, Arnaldo, "A Long Late Antiquity?  Considerations on a Controversial Periodization," Journal of Late Antiquity 1 (2008):  4-19.  PDF

                           James, Edward, "The Rise and Function of the Concept 'Late Antiquity'," Journal of Late Antiquity 1 (2008):  20-30. PDF

Sept. 16        Other options:  Fall of Rome and Transformation of Europe?

                           paper topics due

                           Liebeschuetz, J. H. W. G., "The uses and abuses of the concept of 'decline' in later Roman history, or, Was Gibbon politically incorrect?" with comments by Averil Cameron, Bryan Ward-Perkins, Mark Whittow, and Luke Lavan, in Luke Lavan, ed., Recent Research in Late Antique Urbanism (Portsmouth, NH:  2001), 233-45.  PDF

                           Noble, Thomas F. X., "Introduction:  Romans, barbarians, and the transformation of the Roman Empire," in T. F. X. Noble, ed.,  From Roman provinces to Medieval kingdoms (London:  Routledge, 2006), 1-22.   PDF

                           Gillett, Andrew, "Rome's Fall and Europe's Rise," The Medieval Review 07.10.12, 2007, review of 6 recent books,

                           Ando, Clifford, "Decline, Fall, and Transformation," Journal of Late Antiquity 1 (2008):  31-60. PDF


Sept. 23        Monographical surveys of Late Antiquity that are not by Peter Brown

                        Each person will pick one of the following, and read it or, in the case of the longer books (Lee, Mitchell) read parts of it.  Each person will present his/her book's chronological, topical, and methodological scope, and what seems to be the intended audience.  These do not have to be formal presentations, the point is to provide a base for discussion. 

                           Cameron, Averil M.,  The Mediterranean World in Late Antiquity A.D. 395-600 (London:  Routledge, 1993). Pp. 251.  online through IUCAT

                           Garnsey, Peter D. and Caroline Humfress, The Evolution of the Late Antique World (Cambridge:  Orchard Academic, 2001). Pp. 252.  Wells reserve DG272 .G27 2001 [currently checked out, due 11/14]

                           Clark, Gillian, Late Antiquity:  a Very Short Introduction (Oxford:  OUP, 2011). Pp. 128.  Wells reserve D57 .C53 2011

                           Lee, A. D., From Rome to Byzantium AD 363 to 565: The Transformation of Ancient Rome (Oxford:  OUP, 2013). Pp. 337.  online via IUCAT

                           Mitchell, Stephen,  A History of the Later Roman Empire, AD 284-641:  the Transformation of the Ancient World (Oxford:  Blackwell, 2007).  Pp. 469.  Wells reserve DG311 .M66 2007


Sept. 30        Late Antique Government

                           Gwynn, David M., ed.  A.H.M Jones and the Later Roman Empire (Leiden:  Brill, 2008).  Read Michael Whitby, "The Role of the Emperor," pp. 65-96; Peter Heather, "Running the Empire:  Bureaucrats, Curials, and Senators," pp. 97-119.  online via IUCAT

                           Cameron, Averil M. , Bryan Ward-Perkins and Michael L. Whitby, eds., The Cambridge Ancient History, vol. 14: Late Antiquity. Empire and Successors, A.D. 425-600  (Cambridge:  CUP, 2001).  Read Michael McCormick, Ch. 6, "Emperor and Court," pp. 135-163; and Sam Barnish, A.D. Lee and Michael Whitby, Ch. 7, "Government and Administration," pp. 164-206.  PDF


Oct. 7              Christianity and the Holy man issue

                           bibliographies due

                           Brown, Peter, "The Rise and Function of the Holy Man in Late Antiquity", Journal of Roman Studies 61 (1971), 80-101.  PDF

                           Fowden, Garth, "The Pagan Holy Man in late antique society", Journal of Hellenic Studies 102 (1982), 33-59.  PDF

                           Rapp, Claudia, Holy Bishops in Late Antiquity. The Nature of Christian Leadership in an Age of Transition (Berkeley, Calif. 2005). Read chs. 1 and 9.  online via IUCAT


Oct. 14           Christianity and the Late Antique State

                           Fowden, Garth, Empire to Commonwealth: Consequences of Monotheism in Late Antiquity (Princeton:  PUP, 1993), chapters 1 and 4. online via IUCAT

                           van Dam, Raymond, Leadership and Community in Late Antique Gaul (Berkeley:  University of California Press, 1985), chapters 3 and 7.  online via IUCAT


Oct. 21           Women in Late Antiquity

                           Book reviews: one monograph, one collected essays review

                           Clark, Gillian, Women in Late Antiquity:  Pagan and Christian Lifestyles (Oxford:  OUP, 1993).  Wells reserve HQ1127 .C53 1993


Oct. 28           Art in Late Antiquity

                           Book reviews: one monograph, one collected essays review

                        Each person will read the introduction, and skim one of these books, so that both books are covered by someone.  We will have the same sort of presentations as on Sept. 23.

                           Mathews, Thomas F., The Clash of Gods:  a Reinterpretation of Early Christian Art (Princeton 1993, rev. ed. 1999). Pp. 237.  Wells reserve N7832 .M36 1999 (note:  there are copies of the older editions in the stacks, I'm happy if you use them)

                           Elsner, Jas, Art and the Roman viewer : the transformation of art from the Pagan world to Christianity (Cambridge:  CUP, 1995), esp. part 2.  Pp. 375.  Wells reserve N5760 .E48 1995


Nov. 4             The ethnicity question

                           Book reviews: one monograph, one collected essays review

                           Geary, Patrick, "Ethnic identity as a situational construct in the Early Middle Ages," Mitteilungen der anthropologischen Gesellschaft in Wien 113 (1983):  15-26. PDF

                           Pohl, Walter, "Telling the Difference:  Signs of Ethnic Identity," in Walter Pohl and Helmut Reimitz, eds.  Strategies of Distinction:  The Construction of Ethnic Communities, 300-800 (Leiden:  Brill, 1998),  17-69.  PDF

                           Gillett, Andrew, "Ethnogenesis:  a Contested Model of Early Medieval Europe,"  History Compass 4.2 (2006):  241-60.  PDF

                           Curta, Florin, "Some remarks on ethnicity in medieval archaeology,"  Early Medieval Europe 15 (2007):  159-85.  PDF


Nov. 11          The economy

                           Book reviews: one monograph, one collected essays review

                           Hodges, Richard and Whitehouse, David, Mohammed, Charlemagne, and the Origins of Europe:  Archaeology and the Pirenne thesis (London:  Duckworth, 1983), chapters 1, 3, and 4.  Wells reserve D121 .H63 1983

                           Wickham, Chris, "The Other Transition: From the Ancient World to Feudalism," Past and Present 103 (1984):  3-36.  PDF

                           McCormick, Michael, Origins of the European Economy:  Communications and Commerce AD 300-900 (Cambridge:  CUP, 2001), read pp. 1-24 and 778-98.   Wells reserve HF3495 .M333 2001


Nov. 18          The end of Antiquity?  the Plague of 541-750 and Islam

                           Book reviews: one monograph, one collected essays review

                           Little, Lester K., "Life and Afterlife of the First Plague Pandemic," in L.K. Little, ed.,  Plague and the End of Antiquity: the Pandemic of 541-750 (Cambridge:  CUP, 2007), 3-32.  PDF

                           Sarris, Peter, "The Justinianic Plague: Origins and Effects,"  Continuity and Change 17.2 (2002):  169-82.  PDF

                           Kennedy, Hugh, "Islam," in Glen W. Bowersock, Peter R. L. Brown and Oleg Grabar, eds.,  Late Antiquity:  a Guide to the Postclassical World (Cambridge, MA:  Harvard UP, 1999). online via IUCAT

                           Marsham, Andrew, "The Early Caliphate and the Inheritance of Late Antiquity (c. AD 610–c. AD 750)," in Philip Rousseau, ed.  A Companion to Late Antiquity (Oxford:  Blackwell, 2009), 479-92.  online via IUCAT 






Dec. 2             student presentations


Dec. 9             student presentations



Papers due in my email, Thursday Dec. 18 at 5:00 pm