Medieval and Renaissance Studies Program

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.



Correlate Sequence in Medieval and Renaissance Studies

Approved Courses


Medieval/Renaissance Studies: I. Introductory

106b. The Confessions of St. Augustine (0.5)

(Same as GRST 106    and RELI 106   ) Augustine of Hippo (354-430 CE) was born and raised in Roman Africa, converted to Christianity at the age of 32, entered the priesthood, and composed works of theology that greatly influenced the development of Western Christianity. The Confessions, his most famous work and an enduring masterpiece of late Latin literature, is an autobiographical account of a young man's search for happiness and truth, from the sins and errors (as he later viewed them) of his youth---his sexual affairs, friendships, and intellectual enthusiasms---to the mystical experience of his conversion. Augustine captures his journey from confusion to enlightenment in an emotional and innovative style, blending personal recollection, intense soul-searching, biblical quotation, prayer, and philosophical reflection on the meaning of memory and time. The course sets the Confessions in the cultural context of late imperial Rome and examines its unique ideas and literary qualities. Mr. Brown.

All readings are in English translation.

Six-week course.

Not offered in 2015/16.

Two 75-minute periods.

116b. The Dark Ages (1)

(Same as HIST 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 periods.

Medieval/Renaissance Studies: II. Intermediate

202a. Thesis Preparation (0.5)

220b. Medieval and Renaissance Culture (1)

Topic for 2015/16b: 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. Epstein and Mr. Patkus.

Two 75-minute periods.

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

(Same as MUSI 246) This course introduces major historical and intellectual ideas of music from the Ancient world through 1660. The focus is on essential repertoire as well as the cultures that fostered principal genres of sacred and secular music during the Middle Ages, Renaissance, and early Baroque. Ms. Ahn.

Includes an additional listening/discussion section.

Prerequisite: MUSI 105/MUSI 106 or permission of the instructor.

290a. Field Work (0.5to1)

298a. Independent Work (0.5to1)

Medieval/Renaissance Studies: III. Advanced

300a. Senior Thesis (0.5)

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

Yearlong course 300-MRST 301.

301b. Senior Thesis (0.5)

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

Yearlong course MRST 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.

339a or b. Shakespeare in Production (1)

(Same as DRAM 339) Students in the course study the physical circumstances of Elizabethan public and private theaters at the beginning of the semester. The remainder of the semester is spent in critical examination of the plays of Shakespeare and several of his contemporaries using original staging practices of the early modern theater. The course emphasizes the conditions under which the plays were written and performed and uses practice as an experiential tool to critically analyze the texts as performance scripts. Ms. Walen.

Enrollment limited to Juniors and Seniors.

One 3-hour period.

380a or b. English Seminar (1)

399a or b. Senior Independent Work (0.5to1)