Ross School - Senior Project 2006-07

Student: Christopher Impiglia

Mentor: Mark Foard

Consultants: David Reynolds and Suzanne Nalbanthian

Domain: English

Product                            

Title: The Fall: ConstantinopleÕs Last Stand

Description:

The fall of Constantinople in 1453 is regarded by many contemporary historians as the end of the Middle Ages.  Constantinople: the last remnants of the old world, the remaining Eastern half of the Roman Empire, would eventually fall to the coming of the Ottoman Turks who brought with them objects such as cannon, evidence of a changed world. Besides the ending of the Middle Ages, The Renaissance is attributed directly to the fall of Constantinople, whose refugees brought to Italy lost scrolls of the Roman and Greek Empires that had been preserved in the crumbling Byzantine Empire.  Immensely significant events such as the reclaiming of Jerusalem in the First Crusade, the siege of Troy, and the voyage of Odysseus have been documented in sweeping epic poems that describe the epic nature of these events.  I have therefore taken up the task of documenting the fall of Constantinople, and after extensive research and reading of classical and medieval poems, have written an epic free-verse poem of my own which portrays this immensely significant event in history.  To introduce the poem, I have created a short film that will act as a trailer to my epic poem, so that the poem is assisted by visuals, and so even those who may feel a bit daunted by the task of reading an epic poem may appreciate the significance of the event.

Details:

The Fall, a film based on my epic poem.  Running time 6 minutes.  2 screenshots following:

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The Fall

Abstract

The fall of Constantinople in 1453 is regarded by many contemporary historians as the end of the Middle Ages.  Constantinople: the last remnants of the old world, the remaining Eastern half of the Roman Empire, would eventually fall to the coming of the Ottoman Turks who brought with them objects such as cannon, evidence of a changed world. Besides the ending of the Middle Ages, The Renaissance is attributed directly to the fall of Constantinople, whose refugees brought to Italy lost scrolls of the Roman and Greek Empires that had been preserved in the crumbling Byzantine Empire.  Immensely significant events such as the reclaiming of Jerusalem in the First Crusade, the siege of Troy, and the voyage of Odysseus have been documented in sweeping epic poems that describe the epic nature of these events.  I have therefore taken up the task of documenting the fall of Constantinople, and after extensive research and reading of classical and medieval poems, have written an epic free-verse poem of my own which portrays this immensely significant event in history.  To introduce the poem, I have created a short film that will act as a trailer to my epic poem, so that the poem is assisted by visuals, and so even those who may feel a bit daunted by the task of reading an epic poem may appreciate the significance of the event.

On the journey to write an epic poem, I have learned more than I could have possibly hoped.  I have learned how to engage in very in-depth research and analysis of classical and medieval poetry, and using the knowledge gained from this immense research of both primary and secondary documents, I have learned how to construct a lengthy poem of my own incorporating my knowledge and creativity.  I have enhanced by abilities in the tedious, yet interesting nature of filming and editing in the creation of my short film, and with the use of new elements such as voice over and color enhancing, brought my filmmaking to a new level.

The daunting task of my project has been created successfully, as I fulfilled all my goals.  I have written a text of 87 pages, including an annotated list of works cited, a list of characters, and a final historical, and I have created a six minute film which successfully introduces my poem. I have learned invaluable information after a completing a project that will forever be a most profound, significant experience.  I hope to continue working on my project in the future, for I believe there is so much more I wish to add, so much more to the story of Constantinople which I was not able include do to time restraints.  I am also looking into bringing my epic to the next level by making an audio book out of it, or perhaps staging a one-actor play.  Of course I will also look into the publishing of my poem, and I might want to do so under the alias Yfantes (the narrator of the story), so I seem like a more legitimate poet.  The last thing I want is for people to know I am a contemporary 18-year-old high school student, for from this information can come only bias and clouded eyes. 

Annotated List of Works Cited

Crowley, Roger. 1453: The Holy War for Constantinople and the Clash of Islam and the West.  New York: Hyperion, 2005.  This book documents the events of ConstantinopleÕs fall in 1453.  It details these events with a wide use of primary sources, which are frequently quoted in order to colorfully tell of the story of the clash between the Ottoman Turks and the Byzantines.  The primary sources documented in this book include the chronicles of Doukas, Kritovoulos, Nestor-Iskander, Tsangadas, and Sphrantzes.  The book also cites other books such as those of Babinger, Akbar, and Pertusi, which all contribute to the telling of ConstantinopleÕs fall.  Its bibliography documents all of these sources.

Barbaro, Nicolo. Giornale dellÕ Assedio di Constantinopoli. 1453.  This primary source was written by a surgeon on a Venetian vessel.  The surgeon, by the name Barbaro, witnessed first hand the siege of Constantinople, and was present at the fall.  He later fled the city to the safety of Venice. 

Homer. The Iliad. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1961.  This classical epic poem documents the Trojan War, which was waged between the Greeks and the Trojans.  One of the greatest works of classical literature, this book has forever been under the keen eye of scholars. 

Mandeville, John. The Travels of Sir John Mandeville. London: Penguin Books, 1983.  Written by an inventive English knight in the fourteenth century, this book tells of the authorÕs travels in the Holy Land, Egypt, India, and China.  The authorÕs depiction of the East is described in quite fantastical events that include dog-headed men, cannibals, Pygmies, and Amazons. 

"Mohammad II." Compton's by Britannica. 2007. Encyclop¾dia Britannica Online School Edition. 9 Jan. 2007 <http://0-school.eb.com.opac.esboces.org:80/
all/comptons/article-9312539>.   This website is a good source for basic material on Mohammad [Mehmet] II, such as dates of his rule as Sultan of the Ottoman Turks.

The Poetic Edda. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.  This collection of Norse-Icelandic poems were written by an unknown author in the thirteenth century.  The poems narrate heroism and mythology, from the creation of the world to the godsÕ rivalries. 

The Song of Roland. London: Penguin Books, 1990.  One of the greatest works of French literature, this epic poem written by an unknown author in the twelfth century documents, in majestic verses, CharlemagneÕs campaign in Spain. 

Tasso, Torquato. Gerusalemme Liberata. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000.  This epic poem was written in the late sixteenth century by an Italian from Sorrento.  It documents the events of the First Crusade, when the Christians captured Jerusalem from the Arabs.  It was an attempt to make an epic worthy of Homer and Virgil.  

ÒTheodosius II.Ó Encyclop¾dia Britannica. 2007. Encyclop¾dia Britannica Online School Edition. 9 Jan. 2007 <http://0-school.eb.com.opac.esboces.org:80/
eb/article-9072018>.  This website is a good source for basic information on Theodosian II, such as his dates of rule as the Byzantine Emperor.

Community Member (Details)

David Reynolds:  University professor, author.  He has written many works, the most notable of which are John Brown, Abolitionist: The Man Who Killed Slavery, Sparked Civil War, and Seeded Civil Rights, and Walt WhitmanÕs America: A Cultural Biography.

Suzanne Nalbantian:  University professor, author.  She has written many books which include Anais Nin: Literary Perspectives, The Symbol of the Soul Form Holderlin to Yeats: A Study in Metonymy, Seeds of Decadence in the Late Ninteenth-Century Novel, Memory in Literature: From Rousseau to Neuroscience.  She is also a scholar on the Iliad

They both helped in the proofreading of my epic.  They read through it in its entirety and gave me extremely useful insight.  Page by page we went through the poem together, making alterations and such.  There advice was most welcome, and their complements were inspiring.