Lifelong Learners Center

The Institute for Classical and Medieval Studies offers open adult courses for the community independent of Canisius College degree programs. Our instructors come from a wide range of academic disciplines to give our courses a broad cross-section of knowledge, experience, and experience. No papers or tests are given! Just much good discussion! Due to continuing COVID-19 protocols, classes meet through Zoom.

Classes meet weekly for six weeks and are limited to 16 students. Cost is $60. Questions? Email us at

Fall 2021

A Brief History of Byzantium

Thursdays, July 29 to September 2
3:00 PM to 4:30 PM

The Eastern Roman Empire, today known as the Byzantine Empire, long outlived its western counterpart, emerging as one of the most dynamic cultures and potent powers on the Mediterranean world for most of the Medieval period. Its rulers and people determined the course of history for much of Europe and Asia for over a millennium, contributing still to our modern world.

These sessions will give context to the 1100-year history of Byzantium, from its origins in the 4th century AD to its conquest by the Ottoman Turks in 1453. Specific themes to be examined include the political evolution of the empire, the developing role of religion in state and society, and questions surrounding the role of gender and economic progress. Students will also delve deeply into the the problem of identity in Byzantium: What was a Byzantine? What was Byzantium? The complexities of such questions, which appear simple, will be explored.

Session 1: Rome apres Romans. Examining the later Roman Empire, we will consider the foundations of what historians will later refer to as “Byzantium.”

Session 2: A Christian Empire? This session will examine the evolution of the Early Christian Church and its impact on the Byzantine world.

Session 3: A Medieval Empire. Repeated invasions in the Late Antique Period gave the empire an increasingly narrow geographic focus with tremendous consequences to our idea of Byzantine identity.

Session 4: The Byzantine Commonwealth? We will consider the extent to which the wealth and culture of the empire may have formed an ideal for neighboring peoples to emulate or plunder.

Session 5: Being Byzantine. This session examines concepts of identity in the Byzantine world in the context of society, religion, sex, etc.

Session 6: The Byzantine Legacy. The final session will consider the challenges facing late Byzantium and its continuing impact on our modern world.

Jeff Brubaker completed his PhD in history at the Department of Classics, Ancient History & Archaeology of the University of Birmingham in 2016. He is the author of multiple articles on the history of the Crusades, church schism, and medieval diplomacy. His volume, Disputatio of the Latins and Greeks, 1234: Introduction, Translation and Commentary, is due for publication in the Translated Texts for Byzantinists series by Liverpool University Press in late 2021.

Fall 2021

A Brief History of Byzantium

Jeff Brubaker (Classics)

Spring 2021

The Plague in Medieval Literature

Johanna Fisher (English)

The Crusades

Jeff Brubaker (Classics)

Fall 2020

Arthur: The Once & Future King

Kara Maloney (English)

Tempters & Temptresses: The Medieval Romance

Johanna Fisher (English)

Spring 2020

Jesus: From Messiah to God

Rebecca Krawiec & Matthew Mitchell (Religious Studies/Theology)

Fall 2019

The Vikings

Bridgette Slavin (History)

China & The Silk Roads

David Devereux (History)

Spring 2019

Medieval Art & Architecture

Eileen Sullivan (Art History)

From Odysseus to Harry Potter: The Evolution of the Hero

Robert Butler (English)

Fall 2018

Crown, Sword, & Charter: Making the Monarchy

Julie Gibert (History)

The Seven Wonders: Ancient & Modern

Erin Warford (Classics)

Spring 2018

The Great Persian War: Ancient Greek Influence on Modern Attitudes of War

Thomas Banchich (Classics & History)