HIST 203 Lecture Outline (Fall 2020 – Week 15)

HIST 203



Week 15: Tuesday


The Hobbit: Riddles in the Dark (3:00 min.):

Andy Orchard (U. of Toronto): An Anglo-Saxon Food Riddle (1:06 min.):

Three more Anglo-Saxon riddles from the Exeter Book (1:54 min.):

“The Thief of Baghdad” (silent film, 1924, starring Douglas Fairbanks, Sr.):

Trailer (2:27 min.):
Mortimer Wilson, original score (21:08 min.):


Alcuin of York, “The Debate Between Pippin and Alcuin”

(If the above webpage is unavailable, use the archived version at:

Very revealing about scientific knowledge and understanding in the Carolingian world, and the fondness for riddles and word-games

Anglo-Saxon poetry and riddles from the Exeter Book: Excerpts from The Ruin and The Wanderer, and three riddles

Provide glimpses of the physical and psychological landscape of the Anglo-Saxons:

who viewed ruined Roman cities with awe
for whom to be a kinless wanderer was to be a lonely and vulnerable outcast
and for whom riddles and word-games were a favorite form of entertainment (at least for the literate)

Three tales from The 1001 Nights (translated by Sir Richard Burton):

“The Ruined Man Who Became Rich Again Through a Dream”

“The Sweep and the Noble Lady”

“The Second Voyage of Sindbad the Seaman”

The “Thousand and One Nights” (often known in English as the Arabian Nights) is a collection of  Middle Eastern and South Asian stories and folk tales compiled in Arabic beginning in the 9th century.  (The earliest manuscript in Arabic dates from the fourteenth century.)  The collection survives in various versions, but all employ the initial frame story of the Persian king Shahryar and his wife Scheherazade.

Note the features of life in Baghdad, Cairo, and Mecca that appear in these two tales.

How would you compare the Muslim world with that of Western Europe, as seen in these primary sources?



There is no lecture or quiz today, and attendance is not required.

Instead of a lecture, Mark and I will hold open office hours today on Collaborate Ultra during our usual class time (9:30-10:45 AM). Please join us or drop in with any questions or comments you might have about History 203, or the final mini-paper (due this afternoon), or about majoring in History at UWM, or anything else that we can help you with.

If we don’t see you in our open Review session today, we hope that you have a good end of the semester, and a happy and healthy holiday break. We will be posting final grades for History 203 in PAWS, and I will send out an email to the class when we have done so.

Next semester (Spring 2021) I will be teaching two online lecture classes: History 101 (Western Civilization to 1500) and History 204 (High Middle Ages, c. 1000-1500). It would be great to see you in either or both of these!

Take care and stay well, everyone.