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Medieval and Renaissance Studies

You will cross disciplines – art, literature, history and music – to explore crucial periods in human development, working closely with faculty in small classes. Expect one-on-one encouragement, personal direction and research opportunities that suit your interests.

Matt Currier '17 meets with Assistant Professor of History John Eledvik to discuss his Emerson Foundation research project.
Matt Currier '17 meets with Assistant Professor of History John Eledvik to discuss his Emerson Foundation research project.

A student’s research: royal diplomas and history discerned

Torn between history and sociology, picking a major was tough for Matthew Currier ’16, but he went with history and found a niche in medieval/Renaissance coursework. Major declared, he wanted to find a way to spend a summer doing research. He turned to Assistant Professor of History John Eldevik, and they won an Emerson Summer Grant from the College. “We are looking into the ideology of kingship and how that develops from the early Anglo-Saxon period, up through the whole period when it ends with the Norman conquest in 1066,” Currier explains.

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He’ll be poring over royal diplomas, which are royal charters, for instance, grants of land or titles, to analyze what they reveal about kingship. Currier hopes to come away from the summer’s work with more than a 25-page paper. He wants the experience to develop his research skills. “I think I just want it to help me in my history studies down the line. I want he says.


Jack McManus '13 on the job.

A graduate’s progress: a curious mind, an editing job

Jack McManus ’13 became the arts editor at the Bennington Banner, in Vermont, not long after he graduated from Hamilton College. He majored in American studies and minored in medieval and Renaissance studies just for the love of it. “I never thought about medieval studies as a means to a tangible end, it was just something that I enjoyed for its own sake. Surprisingly enough, it did end up helping my post-grad job search – one interviewer saw the minor on my resume and asked me about it," he recalls.

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"I told her about some of the things I studied: Old English poetry, Viking battle tactics, forced drowning as a form of legal trial, things like that. She seemed intrigued,” says McManus, who worked at Hamilton’s student newspaper and radio station.

He isn’t surprised he was lured into the Middle Ages. He’s that kind of guy.

“I'm constantly finding new subjects that captivate me, from the history of 18th century piracy to Albert Hitchcock films, and my medieval studies classes helped me uncover a whole wealth of fascinating new things that I wouldn’t have found otherwise. Studying the Middle Ages both fed and sparked my curiosity in ways that I really enjoyed and valued,” he says.