Published: May 21, 2020 By

After seminar moved online, enrollment more than doubles

The pandemic did not cut enrollment in a summer seminar hosted by the CU Mediterranean Studies Group and the Mediterranean Seminar. Quite the opposite, in fact.

Brian Catlos

Brian Catlos

The summer skills seminar, held from May 12-14, is dedicated to the study of Mediterranean societies and cultures and their role in World History and the History of "the West." It was originally planned as an in-person event at the University of Colorado Boulder but was quickly reconfigured as an online, remote learning experience in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Rather than cancel, I moved it onto an online platform,” said Brian A. Catlos, CU Boulder professor of religious studies. “The result was that enrollment more than doubled.”

Twenty-five faculty members and graduate students from 23 universities from around the world (including CU Boulder) took the four-day course.

Noting the high praise he received from the seminar participants this year, Catlos said, “It would be no exaggeration to say this program reflected very well on CU Boulder and enhanced its reputation among scholars on three continents.”

It would be no exaggeration to say this program reflected very well on CU Boulder and enhanced its reputation among scholars on three continents​"

This year’s edition, “Introduction to the Archive of the Crown of Aragon (documents in Latin to ca. 1350)” was taught by Catlos, who has researched at the Archive of the Crown of Aragon for the last 25 years. 

Over the course of four days of intensive collaborative learning, participants were introduced to the collections of the historical archive, the fundamentals of reading and analyzing unedited Latin diplomatic (administrative) documents, as well as research techniques and document editing. 

The Archive of the Crown of Aragon is one of the largest and most important medieval archives in Europe, with a volume and variety of documentation for the 11th to 13th centuries that is rivalled only by the Vatican, and includes hundreds of thousands of documents that have not been edited or catalogued in modern times. 

The Crown of Aragon was a major political entity that spanned the medieval Mediterranean (including parts of Italy, North Africa and the eastern Mediterranean) and had substantial populations of Muslims and Jews. 

The archive’s documentation can be used to study a gamut of themes, including political and institutional history, economics, culture, art history, literary history, history of science, social history, legal history and religious history.

The Summer Skills Seminar is organized by the CU Mediterranean Studies Group through the Mediterranean Seminar. Based at CU Boulder and housed in the Department of Religious Studies, the seminar is the leading initiative in the emerging interdisciplinary field of Mediterranean Studies and has more than 1,600 scholarly associates in more than 40 countries. 

Circumstances permitting, the fourth Summer Skills Seminar will be held at CU Boulder in May 2021 on the same topic; this year’s participants will be eligible to attend at no cost.

Previous editions of the Summer Skills Seminar focused on reading Aljamiado (late medieval Spanish written with Arabic characters) and Ladino or Judezmo (late medieval Spanish written with Hebrew characters).

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