Medieval and Renaissance Studies Program

Coordinator: Karen Robertson (English and Women’s Studies); Steering Committee:Peter Huenink (Art), J. Bertrand Lott (Classics), Mark Amodio, Leslie Dunn, Don Foster, (English), Christine Reno (French), Nancy Bisaha, Mita Choudhury (History), John Ahern (Italian), Lynn LiDonnici (Religion); Participating Faculty. Susan D. Kuretsky, Jacqueline Musacchio (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), Margaret Leeming (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.

Requirements for concentration: 12 units, including Medieval/Renaissance Culture 220, and the senior thesis. Three units, one of which is the senior thesis, must be at the 300-level. Distribution and language requirements, listed below, must also be satisfied.

Distribution Requirement: In addition to Medieval/Renaissance Culture 220 and the thesis, students should take 10 units from the approved list. Two courses must be chosen from each of three groups of disciplines: Art and Music; History, Philosophy, Religion; Language and Literature. 300-level work is required in at least two departments.

Language Requirement: The major requires demonstration of competence in Latin or in at least one vernacular language besides Middle English. Competency is demonstrated by completion of at least two courses at the 200-level. Languages may include French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Latin, Old English, and Spanish.

Recommendations: Since Latin is a core skill for medieval studies, all students are strongly urged to take at least one year of Latin. Students expecting to concentrate on the Renaissance should also study Italian. 

Certain courses help form a foundation for this major. A selection from these 100-level courses may be applied toward the major in consultation with the coordinator: Art 105, Classics 102, Classics/College Course 101, Italian 175, History 123, Religion 150, Philosophy 101 or 102. No more than two 100-level courses may be offered toward the major.

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 220-221 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

116a. The Dark Ages, c. 400-900
(Same as History 116a)
202. Thesis Preparation
220a. Medieval/Renaissance Culture
Topic for 2003-04: Detectives in the Archive: Reading Medieval and Renaissance Texts. Study of medieval manuscripts of various types. The course involves direct work with manuscripts from Vassar’s collection. Mr. Ahern, Ms. Reno.
300. Senior Thesis
An interdisciplinary study written under the supervision of two advisors from two different disciplines.

Aproved Courses

Art and Music
Art 220a. Romanesque and Gothic Architecture (1)
Art 221b. The Sacred Arts of the Middle Ages (1)
Art 235a. Renaissance Painting, Sculpture and Decorative Arts in Italy (1)
Art 236b. Sixteenth Century Painting, Sculpture and Decorative Arts in Italy (1)
[Art 270a. Renaissance Architecture] (1)
Not offered in 2003/04.
[Art 271b. Early Modern Architecture] (1)
Not offered in 2003/04.
Art 320b. Seminar in Medieval Art (1)
Topic for 2003/04: Workshops of Vulcan: The Industry of the Sacred Arts in the Middle Ages
Art 331a. Seminar in Northern Art (1)
Topic for 2003/04: Master Printmakers: the art of Dürer and Rembrandt
Art 332b. Seminar in Italian Renaissance Art (1)
Topic for 2003/04: Representing Renaissance Women
Music 323a. Music and Poetry of the Italian Renaissance (1)
History, Philosophy, Religion
Classics 102. Reading Antiquity (1)
Classics 215. The Rome of Caesar Augustus (1)
Classics 217. History of the Ancient Romans (1)
[History 215. The High Middle Ages c. 950-1300] (1)
Not offered in 2003/04
History 225a. Renaissance Europe c. 1300-c. 1525 (1)
History 259b. The History of the Family in Early Modem Europe (1)
History 315b. The World of the Crusades (1)
Religion 220a. Text and Tradition: Religion and Culture of Ancient Egypt (1)
Religion 220b. Text and Traditions: Magic (1)
Religion 225b. The Hebrew Bible (1)
Religion 227a. The New Testament and Early Christianity (1)
Religion 243a. Islamic Traditions (1)
Religion 346a. Studies in Jewish Thought and History (1)
Topic for 2003/04: Sexuality and Gender in Judaism
Religion 350. Comparative Studies in Religion: (1)
Topic for 2003/04: Courtly Visions: The Religious and Palatial Architecture of Medieval India, Turkey and Persia
Language and Literature
Africana Studies 203a. The Origins and Development of Islamic Literature (1)
Classics 215. The Rome of Caesar Augustus (1)
Classics 217. History of the Ancient Romans (1)
Classics 301. Seminar in Classical Civilization (1)
English 220-221. British Literature through 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)
English 240. Shakespeare (1)
English 241-42. Shakespeare (1)
English 281/MSDP 281. The Medium of Print and the History of Books (1)
English 340. Studies in Medieval Literature (1)
Topic for 2003/04: The Gawain Poet and His Contemporaries.
English 341. Studies in Renaissance Literature (1)
Topic for 2003/04: The Renaissance Self: Identity, Sex, Soul, Power.
English 342. Women in the Renaissance (1)
English 345. Milton (1)
[French 230. Medieval and Early Modern Times] (1)
Not offered in 2003/04.
[French 332. Literature and Society in Pre-Revolutionary France] (1)
Not offered in 2003/04.
Hispanic Studies 226b. Medieval and Early Modern Spain (1)
Topic for 2003/04: Early Spanish Heroes and Scoundrels.
[Italian 175. Italian Renaissance in English Translation] (1)
Not offered in 2003/04.
Italian 220b. Italian Civilization: Interpreting the Texts (1)
Italian 237b. Dante's Divine Comedy in Translation (1)
[Italian 238a. Dante's Divine Comedy in Translation] (1)
Not offered in 2003/04
[Italian 242b. Boccaccio's Decameron in Translation: “The Novella” as Microcosm] (1)
Not offered in 2003/04.
Italian 300. Senior Seminar (1)
Topic for 2003/04: The Italian Renaissance: Poetry, Theater, Politics, and Ideology
Italian 330a. The Italian Renaissance: The Italian Epic Tradition from 1300 to 1600 (1)
[Italian 331b. The Italian Renaissance: Poetry, Theatre, Politics, and Ideology] (1)
Not offered in 2003/04.
Italian 337b. Dante's Divine Comedy (1)
[Italian 338a. Dante's Divine Comedy] (1)
Not offered in 2003/04
[Italian 342b. Giovanni Boccaccio's Decameron: The “Novella” as a Microcosm] (1)
Not offered in 2003/04.
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)
Latin 304. Roman Lyric and Elegy (1)