Medieval and Renaissance Studies Program

Director: Karen RobertsonProfessors: John Aherna (Italian), Mark C. Amodio (English), Nancy Bisaha (History), Robert D. Brown (Greek and Roman Studies), Eve D'Ambra (Art), Robert DeMaria (English), Don Foster (English), Susan Donahue Kuretsky (Art), J. Bert Lottab (Greek and Roman Studies),Mitchell Miller (Philosophy), Christine Reno (French and Francophone Studies); Associate Professors: Roberta Antognini (Italian), Mita Choudhuryb (History), Leslie C. Dunna (English), Eugenio L. Giustib (Italian), Lynn R. LiDonnici (Religion), Brian R. Mann (Music); Assistant Professors: Zoltán Márkus(English), Andrew Tallonb (Art); Visiting Associate Professor: Karen Robertson (English); Adjunct Instructor: 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. 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. To determine which courses satisfy concentration and correlate requirements, students must consult with the coordinator. A partial list of approved courses is appended below; a full list appears on the program’s webpage.

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 are required, including Medieval and Renaissance Studies 220 or History 215 or History 225; Art 220 or 235 or the equivalent; and an intermediate level course in English or 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.

Below is a partial list of approved courses. For current offerings and a full list of courses, please visit the Medieval and Renaissance Studies webpage on the Vassar website.

I. Introductory

116. The Dark Ages (1)

(Same as History 116) Was early medieval Europe really Dark? In reality, this was a period of tremendous vitality and ferment, witnessing the transformation of late classical society, the growth of Germanic kingdoms, the high point of Byzantium, the rise of the papacy and monasticism, and the birth of Islam. This course examines a rich variety of sources that illuminate the first centuries of Christianity, the fall of the Roman Empire, and early medieval culture showing moments of both conflict and synthesis that redefined Europe and the Mediterranean. Ms. Bisaha.

Two 75-minute meetings.

II. Intermediate

202a. Thesis Preparation (1/2)

220b. Medieval/Renaissance Culture (1)

(Same as History 220)

Topic for 2010/11a: Before Feminism. From the fifteenth century until the end of the seventeenth century, European women and men argued about the nature and status of woman and their debates still engage us today. These discussions were the result of a number of critical developments, which included urbanization, increased female literacy, the rise of print culture, and Protestant and Catholic Reform. Furthermore, women, such as Isabella of Castile, Elizabeth I, Catherine de Medici, and Christina of Sweden, became powerful rulers, as a result of hereditary accidents, which gave greater urgency to the definition of woman's nature. Writers and intellectuals raised questions about woman's essence, her lineage from Eve, and her proper position in society and family. While many accepted the more conventional patriarchal framework, others resisted and challenged the denigration of woman through writing, legal action and work. We read writers and thinkers from the writer and poet Christine de Pisan to the playwright Aphra Behn. Literature, political treatises, and polemical works reveal that the discussion shifted from theological to biological definitions of woman. Studying the question of woman in this era leads us to ask what was "feminist" and "feminism" in the past and even today. Ms. Choudhury, Ms. Robertson.

Two 75-minute meetings.

246a. Music and Ideas I: Medieval and Early Modern Europe: The Power of Church and Court (1)

(Same as Music 246a) Mr. Mann.

290. Field Work (1/2 or 1)

298. Independent Work (1/2 or 1)

III. Advanced

300a. Senior Thesis (1/2)

An interdisciplinary study written over two semesters under the supervision of two advisors from two different disciplines.

Year-long course, 300-301.

301b. Senior Thesis (1/2)

An interdisciplinary study written over two semesters under the supervision of two advisors from two different disciplines.

Year-long course, 300-301.

302a or b. Senior Thesis (1)

An interdisciplinary study written during one semester under the supervision of two advisors from two different disciplines.

388. Petrarch's Letters (1)

399. Senior Independent Work (1/2 or 1)

Approved Courses

Art 220 Medieval Architecture (1)

Art 235 Art in Early Renaissance Italy (1)

English 236 Beowulf (1)

English 240 Shakespeare (1)

History 225 Renaissance Europe (1)

History 315 The World of the Crusades (1)

Italian 237 Dante’s Divine Comedy in Translation (1)

Latin 301 Topics in Latin Literature (1)

MRST 220 Before Feminism (1)

Religion 227 The Kingdom of God and the Empire of Rome (1)

Courses Accepted for Credit Towards Medieval and Renaissance Studies Major and Correlate

Art and Music

Art 105: Introduction to the History of Art

Art 210: Greek Art and Architecture

Art 211: Roman Art and Architecture

Art 220: Medieval Architecture

Art 221: The Sacred Arts of the Middle Ages

Art 230: Northern Renaissance Painting

Art 231: Dutch and Flemish Painting in the 17th c.

Art 235: Art in Early Renaissance Italy

Art 236: Art in the Age of Leonardo, Raphael, and Michelangelo

Art 242: 17th c. Painting and Sculpture in Italy and France

Art 243: Art and Ideas of the Golden Age in Spain

Art 270: Renaissance Architecture

Art 310: Seminar in Ancient Art

Art 320: Seminar in Medieval Art

Art 331: Seminar in Northern Art

Art 332: Seminar in Italian Renaissance Art

Music 246: Music and Ideas I; x-list with MRST

Music 323: (When Topic is Music of the Renaissance)

History, Philosophy, Religion

Classics 103: Crosscurrents

Classics 104: Introduction to Greek Archaeology

Classics 216: History of the Ancient Greeks; x-listed with History

Classics 217: History of the Ancient Romans ; x-listed with History

Classics 283: Women in Antiquity

Classics 301: Seminar in Classical Civilization

Classics 302: Blegen Seminar

History 116: Dark Ages; x-listed with MRST 116

History 123: Europe at the Crossroads

History 215: High Middle Ages, c. 950-1300

History 225: Renaissance Europe

History 315: World of the Crusades

History 316: Constantinople/Istanbul: 1453

Philosophy 101 and 102

Religion 150: Western Religious Traditions

Religion 215: Religion and the Arts

Religion 225: The Hebrew Bible

Religion 227: Revolution, Heresy, and Messianism: The Earliest Christians

Religion 243: Islamic Traditions

Religion 255 Western Mystical Traditions

Religion 250: Across Religious Boundaries (Depending on the Topic)

Religion 320: Studies in Sacred Texts (Depending on the Topic)

Religion 350: Comparative Studies in Religion (Depending on the Topic)

Language and Literature

Classics 102: Reading Antiquity

Classics 202: Myth

Classics 214: Male and Female in Greek and Roman Literature and Myth

Classics 287: Ancient Warfare

Latin 105-106: Elementary Latin

Latin 215: Republican Literature

Latin 220: Literature of the Empire

Latin 301: Topics in Latin Literature

Latin 302: Virgil

Latin 303: Tacitus

Latin 304: Roman Lyric and Elegy

**Greek courses may also count for MRST credit in consultation with the program director

English 215: Pre-modern Drama (Depending on Topic)

English 222, 223: Founding of English Literature

English 235: Old English

English 236: Beowulf

English 237: Chaucer

English 238: Middle English Literature

English 240: Shakespeare

English 241-242: Shakespeare

English 340: Studies in Medieval Literature

English 341: Studies in the Renaissance

English 342: Studies in Shakespeare

English 345: Milton

French 230: Medieval and Early Modern Times

French 332: Literature and Society in Pre-Revolutionary France

Hispanic Studies 226: Medieval and Early Modern Spain

Italian 175: Italian Renaissance in English Translation

Italian 220: Italian Civilization: Interpreting the Texts

Italian 237: Dante’s Divine Comedy in Translation

Italian 242: Boccaccio’s Decameron

Italian 330: The Italian Renaissance: Epic Tradition

Italian 331: The Italian Renaissance: Poetry, Theater, etc.

Italian 338: Dante’s Divine Comedy

Italian 342: Boccaccio’s Decameron

Italian 388: Petrarch’s Letters