Medieval and Renaissance Studies

Coordinator: Karen Robertson (English and Women's Studies);Steering Committee: Nicholas Adams (Art), Mark Amodio, Leslie Dunn, Don Foster (English), Nancy Bisaha, Mita Choudhury (History), Christine Reno (French), John Ahern (Italian), Marc Epstein (Religion);Participating Faculty. Susan D. Kuretsky (Art); Robert D. Brown (Classics); Robert DeMaria, Eamon Grennan, Ann Imbrie, James P. Saeger (English); Patricia Kenworthy (Hispanic Studies); Eugenio Giusti (Italian); Brian Mann (Music); Mitchell Miller (Philosophy); Betsy H. Amaru, Lynn R. LiDonnici (Religion).

The interdepartmental program in Medieval and Renaissance Studies is designed to provide the student with a coherent course of study in the arts, history, literature, and thought of European civilization from the fall of Rome to the seventeenth century. The student is expected to elect work above the introductory level in each of three groups of disciplines: Art and Music; History, Philosophy, Religion; Language and Literature. In the senior year each student is expected to complete advanced courses in at least two departments and write a long paper on a subject that is interdisciplinary in nature. Furthermore, each student is expected to show competence in at least one vernacular language (besides Middle English) and/or in Latin by completing courses at the intermediate level. Students expecting to concentrate on the Renaissance should acquire a reading knowledge of Italian.

In fulfillment of the program each student should elect at least 12 units from the approved list of courses, including Medieval/Renaissance Culture. At least three courses must be chosen from each of the three groups of disciplines and a thesis must be completed in the senior year.

Students interested in Medieval and Renaissance Studies should contact the coordinator or one of the members of the participating faculty soon after arriving at Vassar. In order to gain an understanding of the common philosophical and religious assumptions of the periods, students should take some of the following courses:

History 215 Medieval Civilization (1)

History 225 Renaissance Europe (1)

Medieval/Renaissance 220 Medieval/Renaissance Culture (1)

Philosophy 101 History of Western Philosophy I (1)

Political Science 170 Political Theory (1)

Religion 150 Western Religious Traditions (1)

Correlate Sequence in Medieval and Renaissance Studies: 6 graded units from the list of approved courses are required, including Medieval and Renaissance Studies 220 or History 215 or History 225; Art 220 or the equivalent; and English 220 or English 230-231 or the equivalent in a foreign language. These courses should be taken early in a student's career. 100-level work cannot be included in the sequence and at least 1 unit must be at the 300-level. The courses selected for the sequence must form a unified course of study and a written proposal articulating the focus of the sequence must be submitted to the correlate sequence adviser for approval prior to declaration.


Course Offerings

220b. Medieval/Renaissance Culture (1)

Topic for 2000/01: Cultural Crossroads of the Mediterranean 1000-1500. This course examines the conflict and coexistence of Christian and Muslim cultures in the Mediterranean region from historical and literary perspectives. Our examination of this period of extraordinary vitality and cultural ferment includes the following topics: Norman migrations, the Schism between the Eastern and Latin churches, the Crusades, the rise of Italian trading cities such as Venice and Florence, Frederick II's court in Sicily, and the impact of Arab learning on Spain and Northern Europe. Ms. Bisaha and Mr. Ahern.

300. Senior Thesis (1)


Approved Courses

Art and Music

Art 220a. Romanesque and Gothic Architecture (1)

Art 221b. The Sacred Arts of the Middle Ages (1)

[Art 230a. Northern Renaissance Painting] (1)
Not offered in 2000/01.

Art 235a. Early Central Italian Painting and Sculpture (1)

Art 236b. Later Central Italian Painting and Sculpture (1)

[Art 270a. Renaissance Architecture] (1)
Not offered in 2000/01.

Art 271b. Early Modern Architecture (1)

Art 320b. Seminar in Medieval Art (1)

Art 331a. Seminar in Northern Art (1)

Art 332b. Seminar in Italian Renaissance Art (1)

Music 232a. Studies in Music of the Medieval/Renaissance Period (1)


History, Philosophy, Religion

Classics 218b. Republican Rome: From the Foundation through the Age of Augustus (1)

Classics 219b. The Roman Empire: From the Julio-Claudian Era Through the Fall (1)

[History 215a. The High Middle Ages c. 950-1300] (1)
Not offered in 2000/01.

History 225a. Renaissance Europe c.1300–c.1525 (1)

History 315b. Crusades (1)

History 320b. Studies in Sacred Texts (1)
Topic for 2000/01: Historical Jesus: Constructs and Conflicts

History 330a. The World Turned Upside Down: Disorder,
Dissent, and Deviance in Early Modern Europe (1)

History 331a. Women and Gender in Early Modern Europe (1)

Religion 220a. Text and Tradition (1)
Topic for 2000/01: Adam and Eve

Religion 225. The Hebrew Bible (1)

Religion 227. The New Testament and Early
Christianity (1)

Religion 243. Islamic Traditions (1)

[Religion 246. Jewish Politics and Religion] (1)
Not offered in 2000/01.

Religion 320. Studies in Sacred Texts (1)

Topic for 2000/01: The Matriarchs and Their Sisters

Religion 346. Studies in Jewish Thought and History (1)
Topic for 2000/01: Portraits of Biblical Women


Language and Literature

[Africana Studies 203a. The Origins and Development of Islamic Literature] (1)
Not offered in 2000/01.

Classics 300a. Seminar in Classical Civilization (1)
Topic for 2000/01: Greek and Roman Sexuality

English 220-221. Development of English Literature to the Close of the Eighteenth Century (1)

English 235. Old English (1)

English 236. Beowulf (1)

English 237. Chaucer (1)

English 238. Middle English Literature (1)

[English 239. Renaissance Drama] (1)

Not offered in 2000/01

English 240. Shakespeare (1)

English 241-42. Shakespeare (1)

English 340. Studies in Medieval Literature (1)
Topic for 2000/01: The Middle English Romance

English 341. Studies in Renaissance Literature (1)

Topic for 2000/01: Identity, Sex, Soul, Power: Renaissance Subjectivities

English 342. Women in the Renaissance (1)

English 345. Milton (1)

English 381. Art of Anonymity (1)

English 384. The Bible as Literature (1)

French 230. Medieval and Early Modern Times (1)

French 332. Literature and Society in Pre-Revolutionary France (1)
Topic for 2000/01: France on Trial

Hispanic Studies 226a. Medieval and Early Modern Spain (1)
Topic for 2000/01: Jews, Muslims and Christians in Medieval Spain

Italian 175a. The Italian Renaissance in English Translation (1)

Italian 220b. Italian Civilization: Interpreting the Texts (1)

Italian 237b., 238a. Dante's Divine Comedy in Translation (1)

Italian 242. Boccaccio's Decameron in Translation: The "Novella" as Microcosm (1)

Italian 330b. The Italian Renaissance: The Italian Epic (1)

Tradition from 1300-1500

[Italian 331a. The Italian Renaissance: Poetry, Theatre, (1)
Politics, and Ideology]
Not offered in 2000/01.

Italian 337b, 338a. Dante's Divine Comedy (1)

Latin 105a-106b. Elementary Latin (1)

Latin 215a. Republican Literature (1)

Latin 220b. Literature of the Empire (1)

Latin 301b. Topics in Latin Literature (1)
Topic for 2000/01: The Life and Works of Horace

[Latin 302a. Vergil] (1)

Not offered in 2000/01.

[Latin 303a. Tacitus] (1)
Not offered in 2000/01.

[Latin 304a. Catullus and Cicero] (1)
Not offered in 2000/01.