Why Medieval Studies
What we think of as modern culture and modern institutions were founded in the Middle Ages. The study of the Middle Ages offers us the opportunity to examine the formation of western civilization and literature. Among areas of study in the humanities, medieval culture is perhaps most naturally cross-disciplinary. From the perspective of literature, we have the appearance of elegiac and heroic verse, the flowering of lyric poetry and romance, the evolution of pageantry, and the art of majestic and detailed manuscript illumination. Universities and medical schools came about during the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church was founded, developed, and expanded, common law was codified and the romance languages as well as modern English, Dutch and German — the vernacular languages of the western world — emerged and evolved. What we are studying, when we explore the Middle Ages, is, in fact, the birth of the modern.
“I cannot think of any other academic discipline, save perhaps philosophy, that brings Catholic monks and confirmed skeptics together to the study of the same material. I think this more than anything helped to confirm my interest in the field.”
What will the special emphasis on Medieval Studies do for me and my future goals?
Being a Medieval Studies Minor, you will meet students like yourself: smart, thoughtful and creative. Our students tend to bond together through their similar interests and classes, and through putting on their own, student-run medieval conference, as well as attending an International Medieval Congress in May.
In addition to your self appointment into an automatic “interest” group, the study of the Middle Ages provide you with an in-depth interdisciplinary understanding, while simultaneously developing your critical skills and enhancing your aesthetic sensibilities. Studying the origins and evolution of English (in taking courses such as Old English, History of the English Language and Chaucer) increases your understanding of English as a language but also about how English emerges as an artistic vehicle. Your research and writing skills will be more finely tuned, and your ability to think and analyze critically will likewise be honed. These skills, along with the specialized knowledge of specific fields, shape into a great advantage for future careers, whether you aim to continue in post-graduate studies or to enter publishing, or legal or business professions (the skills you acquired are the same ones desired for high-level workplace careers).
Alumni/ae who have graduated with a Medieval Studies minor have succeeded in going on to top graduate schools, later to become professors and administrators; others have gone on to success in widely varying careers in the furniture business, in grant-writing, in publishing, in advertising and in non-profit organizations.