Medieval Studies

Program Offerings

Offering type
Minor

The Program in Medieval Studies encourages the interdisciplinary study of the Middle Ages: its art, literature (Latin and vernacular), music, religion, science, philosophy, politics, and economic and social structures. Supported by the vast resources for medieval studies at Princeton (including an outstanding medieval manuscript collection and the photographic archive known as the Index of Medieval Art), the program sponsors one course: an introductory seminar, and a (noncredit) thesis writers' colloquium for seniors. Other courses directly relevant to medieval studies are listed under the courses section.  

Through a flexible model wherein independent work may take various forms and coursework may intersect students' plans of study in various ways, the minor is designed to welcome students with any degree concentration.

Goals for Student Learning

The Program in Medieval Studies provides a platform for the study of histories and cultures from roughly the 3rd to the 16th centuries C.E. The program brings together faculty, graduates and undergraduates from various departments and units across the humanities and social sciences, as well as computer sciences and engineering. We offer a capacious minor degree, in which students explore the past through the cutting-edge methods and questions of various contemporary disciplines, including archaeology, biology, art history, computer science, anthropology, literatures and languages, manuscript studies, archival studies, history, religious studies, environmental history, and biology and chemistry. Guided by members of our faculty, students develop individual approaches and techniques to studying cultures of the past and their continued importance today. Courses and independent work prioritize students' direct engagement with primary sources, often working out of Princeton's extraordinary collections. The program prizes scholarly community: undergraduates study in formal collaboration through their senior colloquium and enjoy many opportunities to engage with faculty, graduate students and one another through regular program activities.

The minor's multidisciplinary training in the study of history, culture and society fosters students' future work in fields such as media, heritage management, archives and museums, publishing industries, legal studies, public scholarship and academic research.

Admission to the Program

During the first or sophomore year, each student who wishes to enroll in the program should take MED 227 The Worlds of the Middle Ages or discuss with the director what other kinds of preparation might be acceptable. At the time of the selection of a major in a department, a student wishing to obtain a minor in medieval studies at graduation should also seek admission to the program from the director. At this time, an online application to the program (accessible from the Medieval Studies website) should be filled out and submitted.

Program of Study

We offer students two pathways to the minor degree.

Model 1: Five courses including the introductory course (MED 227 or equivalent) and a 400-level course in which students write a substantive final paper.

Model 2: Four courses including the introductory course (MED 227 or equivalent) and substantial independent work (see below).

Coursework:

  • 200-level Introductory Class. MED/HUM/HIS/HLS 227 (Worlds of the Middle Ages), offered in alternate falls, is the designated introductory course for the minor. Students may consult the director for comparably broad introductory course offerings that may be taken instead (e.g., HUM216–217, HIS210, ART228). Students are encouraged to complete their introductory class as early as possible in their course of study. 
  • At least three additional courses on a medieval topic, taught by faculty in different departments. Students’ coursework should cultivate geographic and cultural range. For courses on medieval topics from East Asia to Iceland, please see the current list of courses at on our website.
  • Students may complete a fifth course at the 400 level (or 500 level with the permission of the instructor) in lieu of independent work, but are also required to present and discuss these projects in the senior thesis colloquium.

Normally, students may count at most two courses taken for the minor toward their major. Students with unusual circumstances should speak with the program director about how best to fulfill their minor requirements.

Language Requirements

Students are encouraged to study an appropriate source language in the department of their choice. Two semesters of a relevant medieval source language at the 100 level, or one medieval source language course at the 200 level or above, will count as one course toward the minor. Relevant languages include Latin, Classical Greek, Hebrew, Arabic, Classical Chinese, Classical Japanese and Persian; for other relevant languages, including possible graduate courses, students should consult with the program director.

Independent Work

One larger final project on a relevant topic completed in the senior year, amounting to the equivalent of one thesis chapter or more. Project forms include: a departmental senior thesis, a substantive data-based project on primary sources and materials, internships that require intensive work with primary sources. Please discuss the range of possibilities (and Princeton’s own opportunities) with the director. In the senior thesis colloquium, taught by the director of the program, these projects, activities, experiences and expertise will be regularly presented and discussed during senior year.

Additional Requirements

Senior Thesis Colloquium

Separate from any other departmental requirements, this noncredit colloquium will regularly bring together all seniors in the program in order to discuss issues and strategies related to conducting independent research and writing, such as problems of data collection, organization of ideas and the process of writing. Meetings will take place every other week during the fall semester, and weekly during the spring semester. In addition to discussing research strategies, students will have the opportunity to workshop drafts of their work in progress throughout the year. At the end of the spring semester, students present the results of their research projects to the community in an afternoon mini-conference.

Additional Information

Students in the Class of 2025 will be the first to be eligible to earn a minor. The Class of 2024 will earn certificates.

Faculty

  • Director

    • William C. Jordan
  • Executive Committee

    • Charlie Barber, Art and Archaeology
    • Emmanuel C. Bourbouhakis, Classics
    • Marina S. Brownlee, Spanish & Portuguese
    • Daniel Heller-Roazen, Comparative Literature
    • Beatrice E. Kitzinger, Art and Archaeology
    • Daniela E. Mairhofer, Classics
    • Simone Marchesi, French & Italian
    • Sara S. Poor, German
    • Helmut Reimitz, History
    • Jamie L. Reuland, Music
    • Esther H. Schor, English, ex officio
    • Jack B. Tannous, History
  • Associated Faculty

    • Charlie Barber, Art and Archaeology
    • Wendy Laura Belcher, Comparative Literature
    • Emmanuel C. Bourbouhakis, Classics
    • Marina S. Brownlee, Spanish & Portuguese
    • Thomas D. Conlan, East Asian Studies
    • Michael A. Cook, Near Eastern Studies
    • Pietro Frassica, French & Italian
    • Anthony T. Grafton, History
    • Eric S. Gregory, Religion
    • Lara Harb, Near Eastern Studies
    • Thomas W. Hare, Comparative Literature
    • Daniel Heller-Roazen, Comparative Literature
    • William C. Jordan, History
    • Beatrice E. Kitzinger, Art and Archaeology
    • Eve Krakowski, Near Eastern Studies
    • Christina H. Lee, Spanish & Portuguese
    • Russ Leo, English
    • Hendrik Lorenz, Philosophy
    • Bryan D. Lowe, Religion
    • AnneMarie Luijendijk, Religion
    • Daniela E. Mairhofer, Classics
    • Simone Marchesi, French & Italian
    • Benjamin C. Morison, Philosophy
    • Sara S. Poor, German
    • Jennifer M. Rampling, History
    • Jamie L. Reuland, Music
    • Marina Rustow, Near Eastern Studies
    • Teresa Shawcross, History
    • Daniel J. Sheffield, Near Eastern Studies
    • Anna M. Shields, East Asian Studies
    • D. Vance Smith, English
    • Brian R. Steininger, East Asian Studies
    • Jack B. Tannous, History
    • Stephen F. Teiser, Religion
    • Moulie Vidas, Religion
    • Rob C. Wegman, Music
    • Xin Wen, East Asian Studies
    • Trenton W. Wilson, East Asian Studies
  • Sits with Committee

    • Sarah M. Anderson
    • William G. Noel
    • Pamela A. Patton
    • Alain St. Pierre
    • Alan M. Stahl

For a full list of faculty members and fellows please visit the department or program website.

Courses

MED 207 - History of East Asia to 1800 (also EAS 207/HIS 207) Fall HA

MED 209 - The Origins of Japanese Culture and Civilization: A History of Japan until 1600 (also EAS 218/HIS 209) Spring HA

MED 210 - The World of Late Antiquity (also CLA 202/HIS 210/HLS 210) Spring HA

MED 220 - Jews, Muslims, and Christians in the Middle Ages (also HIS 220/JDS 220/NES 220) Not offered this year HA

MED 227 - The Worlds of the Middle Ages (also HIS 227/HLS 227/HUM 227) Not offered this year LA

We will begin in 476 with the fall of Rome and will end in 1453, with the fall of New Rome (Constantinople). In between, we will trace the different trajectories that the area stretching from Iceland to Iran traveled along over the course of this fateful millennium. We will meet Northern barbarians, Arab armies, Vikings, Crusaders, Mongols, and the Ottomans; we will witness the birth of Islam and medieval Islamic civilization; Charlemagne's creation of the Western Roman empire; will see clashes between Popes and rulers and Caliphs and Muslim religious authorities. We will do all this and more, all the while asking: what were the Middle Ages? H. Reimitz, J. Tannous

MED 228 - Art and Power in the Middle Ages (also ART 228/HLS 228/HUM 228) HALA

MED 230 - Music in the Middle Ages (also MUS 230) LA

MED 240 - Introduction to Post-Classical Greek from the Late Antique to the Byzantine Era (also CLG 240/HLS 240) Not offered this year LA

MED 245 - The Islamic World from its Emergence to the Beginnings of Westernization (also HIS 245/NES 350) Not offered this year HA

MED 246 - Judaism, Christianity, and Islam: Their Emergence in Antiquity (also HLS 241/NES 244/REL 244) Fall EMHA

MED 251 - The New Testament and Christian Origins (also HLS 251/REL 251) HA

MED 270 - Medieval and Renaissance Music from Original Notation (also MUS 270) LA

MED 301 - Topics in Medieval and Early Modern Spanish Culture (also COM 368/SPA 301) LA

MED 303 - Dante's 'Inferno' (also ITA 303) Fall LA

MED 307 - The Icon (also ART 310/HLS 354) Spring LA

MED 308 - The Literature of Medieval Europe (also COM 310/HUM 312) Not offered this year LA

MED 309 - The Medieval Period (also ENG 311) Not offered this year LA

MED 310 - The Old English Period (also ENG 310) Not offered this year LA

MED 311 - Arts of the Medieval Book (also ART 311/HUM 311) HA

MED 312 - Chaucer (also ENG 312) Not offered this year LA

MED 320 - Topics in Medieval Greek Literature (also CLA 320/GSS 320/HLS 320) Not offered this year LA

MED 321 - Topics in German Medieval Literature (also GER 321/GSS 321) Spring CDLA

MED 343 - The Formation of the Christian West (also CLA 343/HIS 343/HLS 343) Fall HA

MED 344 - The Civilization of the High Middle Ages (also CLA 344/HIS 344) Spring HA

MED 345 - The Crusades (also HIS 345/HLS 345) Fall HA

MED 389 - Everyday Writing in Medieval Egypt, 600-1500 (also HIS 289/JDS 389/NES 389) CDHA

MED 401 - Forms of Literature (also ENG 402) HALA

MED 412 - Topics in Medieval Studies Not offered this year LA

An intensive seminar devoted to a particular aspect of European medieval life and culture. Topics change yearly. One three-hour seminar. Staff

MED 428 - Empire and Catastrophe (also HIS 428/HLS 428) Not offered this year HA

MED 430 - Seminar. Medieval Art (also ART 430/HLS 430) Not offered this year HALA