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Medieval and Renaissance Studies is an interdisciplinary major that encompasses study in (but is certainly not limited to) history, art history, philosophy, literature, music, and languages. It’s a perfect major if you’re interested in gaining a broad base of knowledge of two periods of time that still profoundly affect the way we interpret society and culture.

The Middle Ages and Renaissance spans a period from about the 5th century to about the 16th century, and most of the action involved—oh, only the invention of the printing press, the building of the Duomo in Florence, the Protestant Reformation and a few others—took place in Europe. Interdependence of subjects and general knowledge—in contrast to the specialization of professions today—were the hallmarks of these times, so that poets might be priests, theologians might be scientists, and so forth. It’s not surprising then, that this major will expose you to so many different fields: it is their connection to each other that most characterized this time period.

Many colleges offer Medieval and Renaissance Studies as a major; many others offer it as a minor, certificate, or concentration. Whatever the case, if you’re interested in learning about the origins of our modern world, you’ll love Medieval and Renaissance Studies.


  • Art History

  • Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales

  • Court of Charlemagne

  • Early Christian and Byzantine Art

  • Elizabethan Shakespeare: Text and Performance

  • French Literature

  • Golden Age Drama

  • Gothic Paris

  • History of Medieval Europe

  • Literature from the Middle Ages

  • Manuscript Studies

  • Medieval and Renaissance Prose Fiction

  • Rome and the Papacy since the Schism

  • The Italian Renaissance and the Reformation


English, history, religion, and philosophy courses will give you a strong foundation for this multi-disciplinary major. Art and language courses—especially Latin—will be very valuable as well.