The Structure of Representation in the Post-Roman Era -- Historical Reflections on Communication Acts

LecturerShoichi SATO, Professor
DepartmentSchool of Letters / Graduate School of Letters, 2006 Spring
Recommended for:Literature department Second-year Students and upwards, Graduate School of Literature (21.5 hours / session 1 session / week 15 weeks / semester)

The Structure of Representation in the Post-Roman Era -historical reflections on communication acts-

Course Overview

A series of lectures is a "Special Research" course, and therefore a new theme will be set each semester. So there will be never happened to be repeated the same one. In the lectures of the first semester in 2006, we will work on the theme mentioned above. One of the aim of this course is, also, to foster among students a research oriented mind accompanied with an original thinking, by demonstrating teacher's own inquiries into a number of historical topics on the basis of the most recent achievement in the historical sciences. That will be a good opportunity for the teacher to show from which stand point of view a given historical problem should be approached, which kind of documents could be available to settle down it and finally which facts should be related each other for making the approach more effective, so on. For the students attended, it will give a good occasion to train their historical thinking all through the work of tracing and checking whether the given demonstration is valid or not. The course constitutes accordingly a kind of original research itself.

Key Feature

  • The teacher will try to introduce the latest research outcomes on the theme of this course, because the course is on the cutting-edge.
  • The teacher tries to make the students conscious of the information which is evidence for the discussion, and master the habits for pointing out this information.
  • Because historical sciences have a strong aspect of exacting science, the teacher will try to present pictures and figures related to the course.
  • Although this course requires rather a high level understanding, taking this into consideration, the teacher tries to help the students with acquiring presentation skills such as conference reports.

Course Aims

As indicates a subtitle of this course, "historical reflections of communication acts", the aim of it is to examine several historical issues involving communication styles, which is the most essential relationship among human beings, in medieval Europe after the fall of the Western Roman Empire. First of all, we are going to survey languages used by the human groups in the post-Roman world which gave a historical fluctuation of language behavior, and then we will talk over the decline of the once supreme Latin, and the process of acquiring the writing system in the German speaking peoples.

Taking account of the genre of this "Special Research" course the lectures contain an element of research as I remarked above, so the teacher will pay attention to the latest research as far as possible throughout the lectures. The conclusion of this course will not be clear until the end of the semester even for the teacher.

P. Heather, The Fall of Roman Empire. A New History, Macmillan, London, 2005.

Julia Smith, Europe after Rome. A New Cultural History 500-1000, Oxford, 2005.

Burry Cunliffe, Facing the Ocean. The Atlantic and its Peoples, 8000BC-AD1500, Oxford, 2001, pp. 461-462.

Donnchadh Ó Corráin, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, c.700 to the Early Eleventh Century'', The New Cambridge Medieval History, t. II, Cambridge.

K. S. Dark, Civitas to Kingdom, Leicester, 1994.

Wendy Davies, The Celtic Kingdoms, The New Cambridge Medieval History, vol.1, Cambridge, 2005.

Joseph F. Eska, Continental Celtic, The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the World's Ancient Languages, edited by Roger D. Woodard, 2004.

Léon Fleuriot, Les origins de la Brtagne. L'émigration Paris, 1982.

Venance Fortunat, Poémes, t. 1, Livres I-IV, texte établi et traduit par Marc Reydellet, Paris, 1994.

Gregorii Turonensis Historiarum libri decem, lib.1, c.32, MGH, SRM, t.1, fasc.1, pars 1, Hanover, 1937.

Soazick Kerneis Proto-féodalité. Vassaux et fiefs avant la société féodale, in Les féodalités, sous la direction de E. Bournazel et J.-P. Poly, Paris, 1998.

Gregorii Turonensis Gloria confessorum, c.72.

Michel Rouche, L'Aquitaine des Wisigoths aux Arabes. Naissance d'une region, Paris, 1979.

Lucien Musset, Les invasions. Les vagues germaniques, PUF, Paris, 1965.

Jacques Fonataine, Education and Learning, in The New Cambridge Medieval History, vol. 1., Cambridge, 2005.

E. A. Thompson, The Visigoths in the time of Ulfila, Oxford, 1966.

Florin Curta, The Making of the Slavs. History and Archageology of the Lower Danube Region, c.500-700, Cambridge, 2001.

Norbert Rouland, Rome, démocratie impossible? Les acteurs du pouvoir dans la cité romaine. Le paradou, 1981.

Hagith Siva, Ausonius of Bordeaux. Genesis of a Gallic Aristocracy, London / New York, 1993.

Michel Baniard, Genése culturelle de l'Europe, Ve-VIIIe siécle, Seuil, 1989.

C. A. Ferguson, Diglossia, Word, 15, 1959, pp. 325-340.

M. Van Uytfanghe, Histoire du latin, protohistoire des languesw romanes et histoire de la communication. À propos d'un recueil d'études et avec quelques observations preliminaries sur le débat intellectuel entre pensée structurale et penée historique, Francia, t. 11, 1983.

Michel Baniard, Viva Voce. Communication écrite et communication orale du IVe au IXe siécle en Occident latin, Paris, 1992.

Max Bonnet, Le latin de Grégoire de Tours, Paris, 1890.

3. the logic of written words ~ Bonifatius' Propaganda of the Germanic language

Jack Goody, The Domestication of the Savage Mind, Cambridge, 1977.

Jack Goody, The Logic of Writing and the Organization of Society, Cambridge, 1986.

Jack Goody, The Interface between the Written and the Oral, Cambridge, 1987.

Jack Goody, The East in the West, Cambridge, 1996.

Tineke Looijenga, Texts and Contexts of the Oldest Runic Inscriptions, Brill, Leiden/Boston, 2003.

Pierre Riché, Dictionnaire des Francs. Les temps mérovingiens, Édition Bartillat, 1996.

Mark Blackburn, Money and coinage, in New Cambridge Medieval History, vol. II.

John, Hines, Coins and Runes in England and Frisia in the Seventh Century, Amsterdamer Beiträge zur älteren Geschichte, Bd. 45.

Rosamond McKitterick, England and the continent, The New Cambridge Medieval History, vol. II.

J. M. Wallace-Hadrill, The Frankish Church, , Oxford, 1983.

3.4. the hegemonic struggle in the North Sea -Frisian people and the Caroling lineage- ~ 3.4.2. the situation of Maastricht

Annales Mettensis priores, M.G.H.SS. r. Germanicarum in usum scholarum.

M. Werner, Die Lütticher Raum in frühkarolingischer Zeit. Untersuchungen zur Geschite einer karolingischen Stammlandschaft, Göttingen, 1980.

Liber Historiae Francorum, M.G.H. Scriptores rerum Merovingicarum, t. 2.

Lukas Clemens, Tmpore Romanorum constructa. Zur Nutzung und Wahrnehmung antiker Überreste nördlich der Alpen während des Mittelalters, <>, Stuttgart, 2003, p. 65 plan.

J. P. Laporte, Les monastèresw francs et l'avènement des Pippinides'', Revue Mabillon, t. 30, (1940), pp. 1-30.

Stéphane Lebecq, Marchands et navigateurs frisons du haut Moyen Âge, 2 vols, Lille, 1983.


Discuss, including the evidence of your process, the role of religious factors in the transformation of the language communication of the post-Roman period in Europe.

Sample answers

Sample answers 1

Sample answers 2

Course Schedule

Session Contents
1 1. the aim and framework of lectures
2. Entangled languages
2.1. 'Tower of Babel'
2 2.1.1. Mode of Communication in the Roman Empire
2.1.2. Languages in the British island area
2.1.3. Breton language and the Bretagne peninsula
3 2.1.4. the extinction of the Gaulish
2.1.5. the transformation of Germanic peoples
2.1.6. Languages in the Roman Empire
4 2.1.7. Trends of Greek language
2.1.8. the advance of Slavonic language
5 2.2. When did people stop speaking in Latin? -the case of Gallia-
2.2.1. the establishment of the Latin language and Latin culture in Gallia
2.2.2. the reality of Latin education
2.2.3. "Sermo Rusticus" and 'Lingua Romana'
6 2.2.4. Diglossia
2.2.5. the influence of Christianity -the growth of Sermo Humilis-
2.2.6. Theory before 500 A.D.
7 2.2.7. Theory before 700 A.D.
2.2.8. Theory after 600 A.D.
2.2.9. Process of the extinction of Latin as a spoken language
8 3. the logic of written words
3.1. Characteristic cultures of ethnic groups surrounding the Roman Empire
3.1.1. runic letters
9 3.1.2. the meaning and origin of 'runic letters'
3.1.3. the grave of Borghaaren
3.1.4. Frankish people in the Merovingian dynasty and rune letters
10 3.1.5. the language of rune letters
3.1.6. the rune letters on coin inscription
3.1.7. what the four rune coins found in Friesland represent
11 3.2. the development of the Old High German
3.2.1. Cross-continental relationships in the eighth century
12 the pioneer Willibrord Bonifatius' Propaganda of the Germanic language Religious and cultural legacy of Bonifatius
13 3.3. the generation of the Old High German as a written language
3.4. the hegemonic struggle in the North Sea -Frisian people and the Caroling lineage-
3.4.1. the old home of the Pippinide
14 3.4.2. the situation of Maastricht
3.5. Manuscripts of the early the Old High German
3.6. Examples of letters in the early ages
15 3.7. Freising in Bavaria and Italy
4. Conclusion

Lecture Handouts

Note: All files are in Japanese. The Structure of Representation in the Post-Roman Era -historical reflections on communication acts-

Week 5-7
The extinction of conversation in the Latin language

Week 8
Map representing the logical relationship of character symbols

Week 9
Instruction given by Chilperic

Week 11-12
Echternach Illustration

Week 12
The North Sea Echternach


Depending on the questions in the examination;

Criteria for evaluation

  • To acquire basic knowledge
  • To have diverse discussions
  • To have a solid perspective on the questions as a whole
  • To be motivated to study the issues in depth

Last updated

April 23, 2020