The Medieval Studies Program offers an unusually strong and innovative variety of courses at all levels of the curriculum. Major and minors are encouraged to take Medieval Studies 217: The Curious Middle Ages. Upper-level offerings include special topics courses addressing themes and historical periods in an interdisciplinary framework, as well as seminars on such topics as the Crusades, medieval monasticism, poet Christine de Pizan, and medieval curiosity.  Browse the archive of past course offerings.



ENGL 214  / MEDST 217 The Curious Middle Ages
While influenced by Augustine’s warning that worldly inquiry could endanger the pilgrimage of the soul, medieval literature contains many instances of curious looking.  Exploring the medieval desire to know, this course considers how the period’s tendencies toward spiritual and metaphysical thought are balanced against its fascinations with the observable world.  We will study the ways allegories, travel narratives, romances, and dream visions intersect with natural philosophy, historiography, cartography, and architecture.  Literary analysis is the basis for our investigative work to uncover the epistemological impulses that inform medieval art and literature.  Some critical concepts will preoccupy us as we examine this body of literature as literature—among them: lyric, history, romance, vernacular and secular poetry, courtly love, mysticism, and dream vision poetry.  (W. Yu)
RELIG 201 Reading the Qur'an
This course examines the history, structure, and themes of the Qur'an and analyzes the place of the Qur'an in Islamic religious thought. Students will read the entire text of the Qur'an in translation, as well as selections from medieval and modern commentaries.  (A. Steinfels)
RELIG 207 / GNDST 210 Women and Gender in Islam
This course will examine a range of ways in which Islam has constructed women--and women have constructed Islam. We will study concepts of gender as they are reflected in classical Islamic texts, as well as different aspects of the social, economic, political, and ritual lives of women in various Islamic societies.  (A. Steinfels)


LATIN 210/310 Ovid: Metamorphoses
Requires at least an intermediate level of reading knowledge of Latin.  The course offers different assignments based on levels of proficiency.  We read portions in Latin from Books 6-10.  Students should read the entirety of the work in English, particularly the first two books and the last three, “the little Aeneid.”  The course will give attention to the challenges Ovid's epic poses to traditional Roman values and to conventional Roman notions of art. In particular, consideration is given to the way Ovid's poem subversively responds to Vergil's Aeneid.  *For students with background in Latin: take our short diagnostic exam (on line) to find out whether you can enter the 200-level course (also taught at 300-level).  Get back into Latin for this and future courses by enrolling in Latin 102.  (B. Arnold)
PHIL 202 Philosophical Foundations of Western Thought: The Modern Period
This survey course studies the development of Western philosophy in the 17th and 18th centuries by examining, as possibilities, selected writings of Descartes, Hobbes, Elizabeth of Bohemia, Cavendish, Spinoza, Locke, Berkeley, Leibniz, Conway, Masham, Astell, Hume, and (barely) Kant. Topics include the emerging modern scientific background against which early modern Western philosophy developed; the nature, extent, and limits of human knowledge (early modern epistemology); and the nature of God, fundamental reality, and the mind (early modern metaphysics).  (J. Koo)
RELIG 347 What Didn't Make It in the New Testament
Hundreds of ancient Christian texts did not make it into the New Testament. "What Didn't Make It in the New Testament" examines some of these excluded writings. We will explore Gnostic gospels, hear of a five-year-old Jesus killing (and later resurrecting) his classmates, peruse ancient Christian romance novels, tour heaven and hell, read the garden of Eden story told from the perspective of the snake, and learn how the world will end. In critically examining these ancient narratives, we will better appreciate the diversity of formative Christianity, better understand the historical context of the early church, and explore the politics behind what did and did not make it into the bible.  (M. Penn)