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 begin with Medieval Studies 101, Medieval Culture and Society. 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.
Current students can look for courses on ISIS as well as the Five Colleges Course Guide.
ARTH 222 Age of the Cathedrals
A historical survey of medieval architecture, monumental sculpture, and painting of France, England, Germany, and Italy. The course concentrates on the great church as a multimedia environment and on the religious, political and social roles of art in society. (M. Davis)
ENGL 213 Literature of the Later Middle Ages
This course will examine a variety of English works and genres written in the thirteenth through fifteenth centuries. Our concentration will be principally on the Gawain-poet, Chaucer, Langland, Margery Kempe, and Lydgate. Most of our readings are in Middle English. (W. Yu)
ENGL 214 Love and Reason in Medieval Romance
Arthurian legend conjures enduring stereotypes of chivalry and romantic love, but how do we go about situating medieval romance in literary history? Where does it come from, why was it written, who read it, and how did it change over time? In this course, students will learn about romance's historical and social contexts, its form, tropes, and imagery. We will think about romance's contemplation of justice, loyalty, subjectivity, love, and shame, especially as this body of literature grapples with the conflicts that arise between the mortal and divine. Course readings will include works by Marie de France, Chrétien de Troyes, and Chaucer. We will read in Middle English where possible. (W. Yu)
MUSIC 147 Early Music: Instrumental Ensemble
Study and perform music for early strings, recorder, shawm, and other early music instruments from the medieval, renaissance and Baroque periods. (R. Eisenstein)
RELIG 256 What Didn't Make the Bible
Hundreds of ancient religious texts did not make it into the Hebrew Scripture (aka the Old Testament). This course examines some of these excluded writings. In particular, we will focus on works found among the Apocrypha, the Pseudepigrapha, and the Dead Sea Scrolls, We will read an ancient Harlequin romance, tour heaven and hell, hear of the adventures of fallen angels who sired giants (and taught humans about cosmetics), and learn how the world will end. In critically examining such texts, we will better appreciate the diversity of Judaism, better understand the historical context of early Christianity, and explore the politics behind what did and did not make it into the bible. (M. Penn)
OTHER RELATED COURSES*
FREN 230 Intermediate Courses in Culture and Literature - Introduction to the Civilization of France
Images et Patrimoine: In this multimedia course students learn to decode images and study the social and historical context of French art and architecture: Medieval tapestries, Romanesque and Gothic cathedrals, Renaissance castles, Classic and Rococo art, and nineteenth century schools of painting. Students give in-class presentations and write essays about notable French landmarks. The purpose of such inquiry is to revisit the past and see how it has affected contemporary French society. All course material is online. (N. Vaget)
GNDST 333 Witches in the Modern Imagination
From the middle ages to the present day, witches have evoked both fear and fascination. Their fellowships (real or fantastic) challenged the prevailing power structures of church and state patriarchies and upset the ordered precepts of the modern world. This seminar offers an overview of the history of witchcraft in Atlantic cultures, with special attention to the early modern British and American colonial eras. We will examine figures of the witch in European art; religious and legal texts that document the persecution of sorcerers; and dramatic, literary, and cinematic representations of witches that have helped to shape our understanding of gender, nature, theatricality, and power. (E. Rundle)
MUSIC 281 History of Western Music I
The first half of a two-semester survey of Western music history, Music 281 examines the musical culture of Europe from the Middle Ages through the mid-eighteenth century, focusing on evolution of style and the changing roles of composers, performers, patrons, and audience. (A. Mueller)
RELIG 252 Magic, Prayer, and Sacrifice - Rituals and Why We Do Them
From live sacrifice to sacred dances, from pilgrimage to bodily purification, rituals have long been considered a hallmark of religion. Yet, ritual activities are also important to apparently non-religious spheres of life, such as sporting events and political mobilization. This course will examine examples of ritual activity from a range of cultural contexts through the lens of anthropological, sociological, psychological, and religious studies theories of ritual. We will explore the structure of ritual activities, the question of whether rituals have meaning and function for individuals and for societies, and, if so, what those meanings and functions might be. (A. Steinfels)
SPAN 330 Advanced Studies in Identities and Intersections - Spain and Islam
This course will explore a variety of questions and concerns about the 'Islamic constant presence' in Spanish history in order to understand critically the emphatic interest of ISIS in reconquering Spain. From an interdisciplinary perspective employing historical and literary texts, media, legal documents, art, and movies, we will study the Spanish-Islam connection, starting at the period of the supposed coexistence between Muslims and Christians in the Middle Ages. Issues of assimilation and integration in relation to the use of veils, the creation of mosques, immigration, terrorism, and so on, will be analyzed by following a comparative model to examine the past and present. (N. Romero-Diaz)
*These courses would not count toward the Medieval Studies major/minor but because of our program’s interdisciplinary nature are worth looking into.
Please consult the Registrar's Course Information Resources page for information.