Medieval studies offers students interdisciplinary perspectives on the history of Europe and the Mediterranean rim between ca. 300-1500. Courses spanning 18 departments allow students to explore the medieval world from the standpoints of art, visual and material culture, history, law, languages and literature, music, philosophy, religious studies and the history of science and medicine. The certificate in medieval studies is designed to encourage pursuit of interdisciplinary work among several departments.

The Middle Ages was a dynamic period of trans-continental trade and travel that fostered cultural, technological and scientific interactions among the kingdoms and city states of Western Europe, the Byzantine (East Roman) Empire and the Islamic caliphates that eventually encompassed much of Spain, north Africa and the Middle East. It is also known that the Norse (Vikings) established settlements in North America as early as ca.1000, some 500 years before Columbus.

In Western Europe, the Middle Ages laid the foundations of constitutional government and modern nation-states, instituted a system of trial by jury, and developed the first universities along with the concept of a liberal arts curriculum (encompassing both arts and sciences). The period also saw the development of English, Germanic, Scandinavian and romance languages and literature, which came to eclipse Latin by the end of the fourteenth century as vehicles for secular poetry and prose. Further east, Greek dominated the territory of the Byzantine Empire, while the foundation of the Kievan Rus coincided with the development of Cyrillic script used by Russian and other Slavic languages. The Islamic world saw the wide diffusion of Arabic languages and literature, including scientific works which served to mediate knowledge of Greek natural philosophy and medical science to Western Europe.

Other significant cultural developments include the development of the codex or book often with elaborate programs of visual imagery and diagrams, the innovation of musical notation and early forms of polyphony in Europe, the application of optical science to urban planning and of one-point perspective to painting especially in Italy, and the refinement of structural engineering that led to the soaring light-filled architecture of Gothic cathedrals in Western Europe and expansive centralized domed spaces in the Byzantine Empire and related Orthodox states, as well as in the Islamic world.

The program's focus is embodied in the interdisciplinary courses offered under the auspices of medieval studies.  The program cross-lists a number of courses on particular aspects of medieval history and culture that are offered by participating departments, helps to publicize courses with medieval subject matter that are not permanently cross-listed, and offers opportunities for students to undertake independent-study projects with participating faculty members. It also regularly organizes public programming on specific themes under the auspices of the Borghesi–Mellon Workshops administered by the Center for the Humanities.

In addition to departments and programs that cross-list courses with Medieval Studies—Art History, CANES (Classical and Near Eastern Studies), English, French and Italian, German, History, History of Medicine, History of Science, Religious Studies, Scandinavian Studies, Spanish and Portuguese, Women's Studies—the following departments and programs occasionally offer courses and seminars in the medieval area: African Languages and Literature, Comparative Literature, Folklore, Languages and Cultures of Asia, Music, Philosophy, and Political Science.

Like a minor, the certificate documents a rigorous course of study in addition to the major(s). It attests ambitious intellectual goals as well as the ability to imagine historical problems in transnational and transcultural perspectives. As a credential, it demonstrates a capacity for comparative critical thinking and analysis, skills that appeal to a wide range of potential employers.

Students interested in working toward the certificate should contact the director of medieval studies as early in their degree program as possible. The director serves as the undergraduate advisor for all students pursuing the certificate. For further information see the Medieval Studies website.

Requirements for the Certificate

The certificate requires the completion of five courses (15 credits) in the medieval area, according to the following distributional requirements.

Students interested in working toward the certificate should contact the director of medieval studies as early in their degree program as possible. The director serves as the undergraduate advisor for all students pursuing the certificate. For further information see the Medieval Studies website.

Complete one of the following:3-4
Medieval Europe 410-1500
Western Culture: Science, Technology, Philosophy I
The Origins of Scientific Thought
Literature and Culture I: to the 18th Century
History of Western Art I: From Pyramids to Cathedrals
Complete two courses from Category A ("The Middle Ages through History and Social Sciences"). 16
Complete two courses from Category B ("The Middle Ages through Language, Literature and the Arts"). 16
Total Credits15

For a list of which individual courses count toward Category A and which toward Category B, see the course lists below.

Category A Course List 

Category A Courses
HISTORY 115 Medieval Europe 410-15004
HISTORY/​RELIG ST  205 The Making of the Islamic World: The Middle East, 500-15003-4
HISTORY/​MEDIEVAL/​RELIG ST  309 The Crusades: Christianity and Islam3-4
HISTORY 417 History of Russia3-4
HISTORY/​LEGAL ST  426 The History of Punishment3-4
HISTORY/​SCAND ST  431 History of Scandinavia to 18153
HIST SCI/​MEDIEVAL  322 Ancient and Medieval Science3
HIST SCI/​S&A PHM  401 History of Pharmacy2
ILS 201 Western Culture: Science, Technology, Philosophy I3
ILS 205 Western Culture: Political, Economic, and Social Thought I3
INTL ST 266 Introduction to the Middle East3
PHILOS/​JEWISH/​RELIG ST  435 Jewish Philosophy from Antiquity to the Seventeenth Century3
POLI SCI 265 Development of Ancient and Medieval Western Political Thought3-4

Category B Course List 

Category B Courses
ART HIST 201 History of Western Art I: From Pyramids to Cathedrals4
ART HIST 305 History of Islamic Art and Architecture3
ART HIST 310 Icons, Religion, and Empire: Early Christian and Byzantine Art, ca. 200-14533
ART HIST 318 Romanesque and Gothic Art and Architecture3-4
ART HIST 320 Italian Renaissance Art3-4
ART HIST 322 Italian Art from Donatello to Leonardo da Vinci, 1400-15003-4
ART HIST 331 Angels, Demons, and Nudes: Early Netherlandish Painting from Bosch to Bruegel3-4
ART HIST/​RELIG ST  373 Great Cities of Islam3
ART HIST 413 Art and Architecture in the Age of the Caliphs3
ART HIST/​MEDIEVAL  415 Topics in Medieval Art3
ART HIST 515 Proseminar in Medieval Art3
ART HIST 525 Proseminar in Italian Renaissance Art3
ART HIST 535 Proseminar in Northern European Painting3
ENGL 177 Literature and Popular Culture3
ENGL 241 Literature and Culture I: to the 18th Century3
ENGL 314 Structure of English3
ENGL/​HISTORY/​RELIG ST  360 The Anglo-Saxons3
ENGL 417 History of the English Language3
ENGL 422 Outstanding Figure(s) in Literature before 18003
ENGL/​MEDIEVAL  423 Topic in Medieval Literature and Culture3
ENGL/​MEDIEVAL  424 Medieval Drama3
ENGL/​MEDIEVAL  425 Medieval Romance3
ENGL/​MEDIEVAL  426 Chaucers Courtly Poetry3
ENGL/​MEDIEVAL  427 Chaucer's Canterbury Tales3
ENGL/​MEDIEVAL  520 Old English3
ENGL/​MEDIEVAL  521 Advanced Old English Literature3
ENGL 546 Topic in Travel Writing before 18003
FRENCH 430 Readings in Medieval and Renaissance Literature3
GERMAN 650 History of the German Language3
GERMAN/​MEDIEVAL  651 Introduction to Middle High German3
ILS 203 Western Culture: Literature and the Arts I3
ITALIAN 321 Studies in Italian Literature and Culture I3
ITALIAN/​MEDIEVAL  659 Dante's Divina Commedia3
ITALIAN/​MEDIEVAL  671 The 13th Century3
LATIN/​MEDIEVAL  563 Mediaeval Latin3
LITTRANS/​MEDIEVAL  235 The World of Sagas3
LITTRANS/​MEDIEVAL/​RELIG ST  253 Of Demons and Angels. Dante's Divine Comedy3
LITTRANS/​MEDIEVAL  255 Black Death and Medieval Life Through Boccaccio's Decameron3
LITTRANS 256 Lit in Translation: Images of the Individual in the Italian Renaissance3
LITTRANS 271 In Translation:Masterpieces of Scandinavian Literature, Middle Ages-19003-4
LITTRANS/​FOLKLORE/​MEDIEVAL  346 In Translation: The Icelandic Sagas3-4
LITTRANS/​FOLKLORE  347 In Translation: Kalevala and Finnish Folk-Lore3-4
MUSIC 411 Survey of Music in the Middle Ages3
MUSIC 412 Survey of Music in the Renaissance3
SCAND ST 373 Masterpieces of Scandinavian Literature: From the Middle Ages to 19003-4
SCAND ST/​MEDIEVAL  407 Introductory Old Norse3
SCAND ST/​MEDIEVAL  409 Survey of Old Norse-Icelandic Literature3
SCAND ST/​MEDIEVAL  430 The Vikings4
SCAND ST/​LITTRANS  435 The Sagas of Icelanders in English Translation3
SCAND ST/​MEDIEVAL  444 Kalevala and Finnish Folk-Lore4
SPANISH 322 Survey of Early Hispanic Literature3
SPANISH/​MEDIEVAL  414 Literatura de la Edad Media Castellana (ss. XII-XV)3
SPANISH/​MEDIEVAL  503 Survey of Medieval Literature3
SPANISH/​MEDIEVAL  504 Survey of Medieval Literature3
SPANISH/​MEDIEVAL  541 Old Spanish3

Residence and Quality of Work

  • At least 8 certificate credits must be completed in residence.
  • Minimum 2.000 GPA on all certificate courses.

Certificate Completion Requirement

This undergraduate certificate must be completed concurrently with the student’s undergraduate degree. Students cannot delay degree completion to complete the certificate.

  1. to provide opportunities for students and faculty to pool their interests and knowledge and explore the interrelationships among the medieval studies disciplines in ways usually not feasible within conventional academic compartmentalization.
  2. to help interested undergraduates develop skills in historical languages, critical reading of primary sources of all kinds (texts, visual and material culture, music and oral culture), historiography and current methodologies necessary to prepare them for graduate studies in medieval areas.
  3. to offer the non-specialist critical analytical skills and historical perspectives on current issues such as religious conflict and the concept of "holy war", colonialism and cultural globalism, gender and sexual identity, scientific and technological innovation.
  4. to foster appreciation of all aspects of medieval culture and its manifestations in contemporary popular culture.

Students can obtain advising for the certificate by contacting the director of medieval studies. The director serves as the undergaduate advisor for all students pursuing the certificate. For further information see the Medieval Studies website.

L&S career resources

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