The term "Middle Ages" prompts the question "the middle of what?" Periods after the thousand year range of 500-1500 gave it that name because they saw it as bridging the classical periods and themselves, considering themselves "modern" (to us, Early Modern) or "reborn" in the classical mode (Renaissance).But instead of being mistaken for a general interruption in cultural evolution, the Middle Ages is better seen as its very heart. Medieval Studies now engages critically with a historical period that ranges across cultures from east to west instead of being merely Eurocentric: from the Silk Road to the Norse explorations of North America, from the multicultural interactions of Iberia and Sicily to Byzantium, from the spread of religions and idealogies to specific studies of individual identities.
The Medieval Studies Program at Georgetown University offers an interdisciplinary undergraduate major and minor in the College as well as a Certificate in the School of Foreign Service. Senior majors and School of Foreign Serivce certificate students write a thesis, and minors also have this option. With the program director in the fall, they research chosen topics in a small seminar format that encourages a focus on methods, critical approaches, writing skills, and rhetorical options; in spring, they continue with close mentoring of the thesis writing and submission. For more information, please click on the following Program page link or on the Program tab at the top of the page.
An Honors option also exists, requiring three courses in Latin (Latin I and II and Medieval Latin) and a thesis which earns at least an A minus.
The Medieval Studies Program empowers students as culturally literate global citizens through interdisciplinary study of cultures removed in time and space. They develop strong skills in research, analysis, critical inquiry, rhetoric, and writing, elements shared by many other fields that make up our interdisciplinary range. Our program graduates have gone on to a variety of successful post-graduate experiences including law, medical, and graduate schools, as well as jobs in the corporate and data management worlds.
The program's faculty and courses draw from more than fifteen different disciplines within the University. Our faculty offer courses in history, law, art, archaeology, manuscript study, and theology as well as classical and vernacular languages and literatures. Students can expect to acquire expertise in how varied methodologies interact and intersect, creating a genuine interdisciplinary experience. Our flexibility and range are strong incentives, as is the centrality of medieval institutions to our modern world and its core issues in religion, warfare, class, gender, education, trade, and finance. This impressive interdisciplinary range and ready access to faculty make Medieval Studies a rich and rewarding experience for our community of students.
Off-campus, Washington's Dumbarton Oaks, Smithsonian Institution, Library of Congress, National Gallery of Art, and Folger Shakespeare Library, offer a wealth of teaching, research, and internship opportunities. Further afield, students may wish to advantage of Baltimore's Walters Art Gallery and library, and in New York, The Pierpont Morgan Library, The Cloisters, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
In addition to our academic program, our ally the Medieval Club is a student-run society which seeks to combine the historical elements of the Middle Ages with the recreational in order to raise student interest, awareness, and knowledge about this important period. Our biggest event is Medieval Day in April, with demonstrations of such arts as falconery, dance, and swordplay culminating in a medieval banquet, complete with a roasted pig.
Learning Goals and Outcomes
We share many of the learning goals which our contributing departments have articulated, in addition to some goals which are more specific to Medieval Studies.
1. Students will study and engage the fundamental building blocks of civilization and cultural developments found in the study of things medieval, such as studying in and examining the medieval institution of the university, questioning gender relations first constructed and contested in "courtly love" and romance, or studying the continuation of global trade, banking, and production after Rome's collapse.
2. Students will learn the practice of interdisciplinary approaches and how the nature of the evidence for Medieval Studies necessitates genuine interdisciplinarity, not just the accretion of separate disciplines.
3. Students will deepen their understanding of the roots of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity as well as other religions in all their diversity, conflict, and coexistence.
1) As culturally literate global citizens, students engage with the living influence of the Middle Ages in modern cultures through such institutions as the state, gender roles, law, banking, vernacular literatures, and the university itself. Students can serve a world beyond themselves equipped with a deepened awareness of how much of the medieval survives in current institutions and why it matters.
2) Students can develop the ability to observe, describe, analyze, and interpret medieval art, artifacts, documents, and literatures both as individual fields of study and as interrelated evidence of past thought, aesthetics, production, and attitudes.
3) Students can deepen their abilities to understand, question, and appreciate societies removed in space and time from the students' own cultures: the alterity of the Middle Ages equips us to better understand the long history of modern issues of tolerance and difference.
Above: 12th century T-O map. Isidore, Etymologiae.
Header images from left to right: Christine de Pizan instructing her son, Collected Works of Christine de Pizan, Master of Bedford Hours 1410 -1411; Letter A, Farnsworth Book of Hours, Georgetown University Library, Special Collections Research Center; Labyrinth, portico of cathedral of San Martino, Lucca, Italy; Annunciation, Farnsworth Book of Hours, Georgetown University Library, Special Collections Research Center; medieval scribe, possible portrait of Jean Mielot writing his compilation of the Miracles of Our Lady.
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