Medieval and Renaissance Studies
The goal of the Medieval and Renaissance Studies Program is to encourage critical understanding of the multicultural histories, literatures, and artistic traditions of the European and Arab-Islamic worlds--and the various forms of exchange, conflict, and contact between them.
About the Minor
In this interdisciplinary program, students delve into the complex histories and cultures of medieval and early modern worlds from a variety of perspectives, taking courses in art, literature, languages, history, and music from Byzantium to Shakespeare’s England. Working closely with faculty in small classes, students find one-on-one encouragement, personal direction, and research opportunities.
A Sampling of Courses
Visual Culture of the Medieval World
This course surveys the art and architecture of Europe during the Middle Ages from ca. 500-1400. We will focus on key artworks and monuments made and built in Europe from the Visigoths and Vikings to the Valois court, as well as examine cross-cultural interactions across religious and political boundaries in medieval Africa, the Arctic, and the Mediterranean. Students will develop an awareness of the production, function, and social context of medieval visual culture through the close study of architecture, manuscript, metalwork, mosaic, painting, sculpture, and textile. Despite our historical distance from the Middle Ages, we will also consider how medieval imagery remains relevant to our current visual world.
Explore these select courses:
Thinkers in antiquity disagreed about what acts or dispositions ought to be included in the category of wrongdoing, what the nature of sin was, and what, if anything, could be done about it. In this course we examine these conversations from antiquity. Most of our time will be spent on Greco-Roman sources from the first four centuries CE: the New Testament, early Christian apologists, martyr texts, sophists, legal historians, and philosophers. But part of our work will be understanding the legacy of thinking around sin that people in these centuries inherited. To that end, we will read about sin in the Hebrew Bible, a Greek tragedy, Aristotle, and Hellenistic Jewish writings.
"Amor condusse noi ad una morte" (“Love led us to one death”). As Dante portrayed in the Inferno, the experience love is inseparable from death. Our journey begins with Dante’s memory of Beatrice retold and reimagined in The New Life—a work inspired as much by love as by death. When Dante reunites with Beatrice in The Divine Comedy, his understanding of love also evolved. How did this shift prompt him to twist the stories of great lovers as a near-death encounter? We will explore an array of literary variations on the theme of love and death from the Middle Ages to the contemporary world. In addition to investigating the rich literary tradition, we will also turn to works in music and the visual arts.
Meet Our Faculty
Jane Watson Irwin Professor of Literature, Director of Medieval and Renaissance Studies
literature in 17th-century England and Colonial America, particularly by women and by people writing on religious subjects
Associate Professor of Asian Studies
archaeological history of South Asian religions, especially Buddhist and Hindu traditions; research in themes of inter-religious dynamics, syncretism and religious transformation; colonialism and reconfigurations of sacred centers; and religion and water management in the Buddhist and Hindu traditions
Assistant Professor of History
history of science; early modern world; Colonial Latin America; environmental history; intellectual history; digital humanities; history of gender and sexuality; animal studies; genetics and history
Assistant Professor of Hispanic Studies
Medieval Iberian literatures and cultures; cross-cultural exchanges; medieval travel writing; Alfonso X of Castile; early modern Spanish travel; autobiography
Professor of History, Chair of the Department of German, Russian, Italian, and Arabic
social and economic history of the early Middle Ages; history of law and mechanisms of conflict resolution; the perceptions of non-Christian peoples and lands in medieval manuscript culture
Visiting Assistant Professor of Religious Studies
history of early Christianity; New Testament; early Christian martyrdom; ancient Christianity in a Jewish and Greco-Roman context; ancient reception of the classics
Assistant Professor of Art History
Medieval and early modern art in Northern Europe; Scandinavian studies; economics and trade; religious iconography; history and methods of art history
Explore Hamilton Stories
Careers After Hamilton
Hamilton graduates who concentrated in Medieval and Renaissance studies are pursuing careers in a variety of fields, including:
- Assistant Professor of English, Wittenberg University
- Arts Editor, Bennington Banner