This course asks students to think outside the traditional box into which history is typically squeezed – the nation state – and explore the past from an oceanic perspective. It examines key events, people, and developments in the history of the Mediterranean world between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. We will focus on the ambitions, and intersections, of the Ottoman, Habsburg, and British Empires. Topics include trade, colonization, piracy, war, imperial governance, islands, and imperial cultures.
Field WorkCountry: Malta
Day: 1 - Valetta - Monday, 29 July
July 29 (Valetta, Malta) Held for nearly three centuries by the Knights of Saint John, besieged by the Ottomans, seized by the French and eventually occupied by the British, Malta stood astride the great Mediterranean Empires of the early modern and modern periods. As a class, we will explore and study the historic sights and landscapes of Malta’s capital, Valletta and adjacent city, Birgu. The day begins with a viewing of Valletta Living History, a 35-minute high definition documentary that overviews the island’s fascinating history. We will then tour the Grand Masters’ Palace and Armoury, seat of government of the Knights, the British, and contemporary Malta. We will see its ornate staterooms, priceless artistic treasures (including Gobelins tapestries and frescoes commemorating the Great Siege), and massive collection of armor and weapons. In the afternoon, we will journey around the Grand Harbour to Birgu. Our first stop: a bakery off the main square that offers freshly baked Maltese bread. Next we will visit the Malta Maritime Museum, housed in a former British naval bakery and presenting enlightening exhibitions on both the early modern and British periods. We will end the day at the Freedom Monument, which commemorates the departure of the British from Malta in 1979. Academic Objectives:
- Introduce students to the historical sights representing both the early modern and British periods of Maltese history, paying particular attention to how the Maltese remember and represent these periods of history.
- Explore how the themes explored in the course play out in the landscape and sights of Malta.
- Analyze and interpret non-textual primary sources, such as urban landscapes, buildings, material culture, and maps.