About the Minor
The Medieval Studies minor seeks to foster an understanding of the cultural monuments of the European Middle Ages both as accomplishments worthy of study in their own right and as the source of countless institutions of, and questions about, modernity in the West. The faculty pursue a multidisciplinary approach to teaching and research that emphasizes the interrelatedness of the many fields of human knowledge.
Why study medieval history and culture?
The thousand-year period known as the Middle Ages produced countless monuments of culture worthy of study in their own right: the incomparably massive body of literature about King Arthur and his knights; the Icelandic Althing, the first European parliamentary system of government; the Gothic cathedrals of France, marvels of engineering and faith that reached toward God and Heaven itself. An equally impressive number of modern institutions have their roots in the Middle Ages. Dating etiquette, popular love songs, the American jury system, the standards by which we measure the justness of war, and the cap and gown worn at Commencement all originated in medieval ideas and practices.
Answering questions about the Middle Ages and our own time
Medieval studies offers the opportunity to address a variety of questions about the Middle Ages as well as about our own time: Why did thousands of Christian soldiers march off to uncertain wars against the "infidels" in the Crusades? How does an understanding of these holy wars enable us to think about conflicts fought over competing religious ideologies today?
What were women's lives like during the Middle Ages? How does an understanding of medieval antifeminism assist our analysis of modern sexual inequality and discrimination?
What conditions paved the way for the rise of voluntary poverty as a means of imitating Christ in the urban centers of thirteenth-century Europe? How does the language used to describe the impoverished of New Orleans nowadays contribute to the creation of a major social dilemma as well as to its possible resolution?
Whether you study the past for the sake of its own triumphs and failures, or as a distant mirror reflecting our own, the academic pursuit of medieval culture opens up innumerable opportunities to explore the human condition in its many varied forms.