At Carleton, the Medieval and Renaissance Studies program supports students and faculty interested in the peoples and cultures that thrived between ca. 250 CE and ca. 1700 in Europe, the Atlantic World, Africa, the Islamic world, and South and East Asia with both curricular offerings and and extracurricular activities.

To begin their study of this period, interested students may enroll in introductory courses in several different departments, depending on the nature of their interests.

Introductory Courses

  • Arabic 185:¬† The Creation of Classical Arabic Literature
  • Art History 100: Renaissance, Revolution, and Reformation: The Life and Art of Albrecht Durer
  • Art History 101 & 102: Introduction to Art History
  • Art History 165: Japanese Art & Culture
  • Art History 166: Chinese Art & Culture
  • Classics 124: Roman Archaeology and Art
  • English 114: Introduction to Medieval Narrative
  • English 144: Shakespeare I
  • English 210: Medieval and Renaissance Literature
  • European Studies 111: Age of Cathedrals
  • History 100: The Black Death: Disease and Its Consequences in the Middle Ages
  • History 100: Confucius and his Critics
  • History 100: Migration and Mobility in the¬†Medieval North
  • History 131: Saints and Society in Late Antiquity
  • History 136: The Global Middle Ages
  • History 137: Early Medieval Worlds in Transformation
  • History 139: Foundations of Early Modern Europe
  • History 150: Politics of Art in Early Imperial China
  • History 181: West Africa in the Era of the Slave Trade
  • History 183: History of Early West Africa
  • Religion 100: Illness, Medicine and Magic
  • Religion 121: Introduction to Christianity
  • Religion 122: Introduction to Islam
  • Religion 152: Religions in Japanese Culture
  • Religion 153: Introduction to Buddhism
  • Religion 155: Introduction to Hinduism

Note: If you wish to take an upper-level course in your first year, speak with the professor about your interest and preparation. You may be ready to take the course.

Language Study

Foreign languages can be a vital part of your study of the period. Languages open doors. Students should use their language skills as often as possible, whether in modern languages (German, French, Spanish, Russian, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese and others) or languages of the period (Latin, Greek, Arabic, and others). The MARS coordinators and your professors are happy to help find suitable materials. Knowledge of another language is a treasure and an achievement. We encourage all students to use their languages as much as possible. In medieval and Renaissance studies focusing on northern Europe, the Atlantic World, the Mediterranean, North and West Africa, and the Middle East, Latin, Greek, and Arabic (along with medieval versions of modern languages) are particularly important source languages and students considering graduate study are encouraged to begin these languages as soon as possible; for students interested in Central, South, and East Asia during these periods, Sanskrit, Classical Chinese, and Old and Middle Japanese, and other regional languages will be important. Likewise, instructors are happy to work with you to find scholarly literature in modern European languages that will allow you to put your linguistic skills to work across the curriculum.

Other Courses

Hugh of St. Victor, a regular canon active as a teacher outside Paris in the early twelfth century, once said: “Learn everything, and you will find that nothing is irrelevant.” We agree. Scholars of the medieval and Renaissance periods around the globe draw on a wide of disciplines for insights and approaches. Students are therefore encouraged to remember that all their course work in the social sciences, arts, and humanities can enhance their understanding of the medieval and Renaissance worlds. For example, in Introduction to Anthropology, the student might read Marcel Mauss’s The Gift, a book that has come to play an important role in how medievalists think about all kinds of exchange in the premodern world.

Departments with particularly strong connections to Medieval and Renaissance Studies are Anthropology, Archaeology, Art History, Classics, English, History, Middle Eastern Studies, Philosophy, Religion, Sociology, and many foreign language and literature departments. But really every course you take will make you a better scholar of these periods (and every interest can find a happy home in these worlds).