Examining an opaque period in Western civilization’s history
Instructor: Richard Friswell
Faculty, Wesleyan’s Institute for Lifelong Learning
Dates: April 8, 15, 22, 29 & May 6
(Thursdays 10:30 am – 12 pm)
Fee: $125 members / $150 non-members
- Participants must register in advance with the Education Department to receive the Zoom link for the course. Please contact Sophia Gipstein at 860.443.2545 ext. 2140 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The term ‘Middle Ages’ (500-1500 C.E.), is often muddled in misrepresentation and myth. This is particularly true of the period surrounding the dawn of the 2nd millennium: several centuries lost to history, thereby earning the moniker, the ‘Dark Ages.’ There is no doubt that the collapse of the Roman Empire in the 5th century CE, led to a major shift in power and influence throughout Europe. It was not until the early Renaissance period, principally in 14 th-15th century northern Italy, that the influential, dominant theocratic community regained control of the historical narrative—and inclined the arc of history in their favor.
Was our understanding of this period in history—leading to the Renaissance—shaped by just a handful of Florentine men and their Church? This course will examine that often overlooked opaque part of European cultural history known as the ‘Dark Ages.’ In addition to highlighting conflicts on the field of battle, classes will explore evidence of progress on the frontiers of science, mathematics, literature, philosophy, and other fields of critical thinking foundational to our understanding of early modern times.
Richard J. Friswell, M.Ed., M.Phil, is a cultural historian and associate director of Wesleyan University’s Institute for Lifelong Learning. He is publisher and managing editor of ARTES magazine, a fine arts publication. He is an elected member of the Inter-national Art Critics Association, and author of a collection of autobiographical short stories, Balancing Act: Postcards from the Edge of Risk and Reward. Friswell lectures and speaks widely on topics of modernism, its art, literature and history.