Fall 2019 - HIST 460 D100

Themes in Byzantine History (4)

Fantasy and Byzantium

Class Number: 4951

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 3 – Dec 2, 2019: Wed, 1:30–5:20 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units.



Familiarizes the student with the main problems in the study of Byzantine social, political, economic and intellectual history. Students will be exposed to the main primary sources available to the Byzantinist and will read articles and books by the most influential scholars in the field of Byzantine studies. Content may vary from offering to offering; see course outline for further information. HIST 460 may be repeated for credit only when a different topic is taught. Students with credit for HS 460 may take HIST 460 for credit only when a different topic is taught. Breadth-Humanities.


Themes in Byzantine History: Crafty Byzantium – Writing the history of the Medieval Roman Empire

Conceived as crafty and even deceitful the Byzantines remain a distortion in our field of historical vision. Our early modern and modern concerns and political, cultural agendas have twisted both Byzantium and the Byzantines beyond recognition. To address fundamental questions regarding the history of Byzantium and the making of Byzantine history we shall endeavour to study modern scholarship and ancient text by setting the two next to each other and interrogating the one by means of the other. We will thus subject to dissection and study modern works on the history of Byzantium and explore the fundamental questions they pose and seek to answer, while looking at the material on which such modern analysis is based.

Our historical focus will be the eleventh century. This period, during which the Medieval Roman polity we call Byzantium reached the peak of its power only to nearly collapse just a few years before the first Crusade becomes our historian’s laboratory. Since this course is addressed to students of history who are not necessarily well acquainted to Byzantium and its culture, we will use biography as an entry point to our course. Thus, the familiarity of a personal history will unlock questions of interest to the historian, while the narrative itself of biography will raise questions about the crafting of history.


  • Informed seminar participation 15%
  • In-class material presentations 15%
  • Proposal: due Sept. 18 5%
  • Prospectus: due Oct. 2 10%
  • First Draft: due Nov. 6 20%
  • Seminar Paper: due Nov. 27 35%


First you need to actively participate. This class is reading intensive and convenes in seminar form once a week. Students are responsible for all the readings on a weekly basis. Each week will see students teaming with the instructor for the discussion of the assigned material.



All course material will be provided in PDF format at the beginning of the semester. All texts studied in this course, both modern and medieval, will be written in or translated into English.

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html