Graduate Program

Concentration in Medieval and Renaissance Studies

The Concentration in Medieval and Renaissance Studies is an interdisciplinary program that creates a framework and community for diverse approaches to the study of the Middle Ages and Renaissance. The program complements doctoral or master’s students’ work in their home departments with interdisciplinary study of the broad range of culture in the medieval and early modern periods, as well as of the theories and methods that attend them. The Concentration is designed to train specialists who are firmly based in a traditional discipline but who can work across disciplinary boundaries, making use of varied theoretical approaches and methodological practices. 


The Concentration consists of twenty credits, all of which will also count towards a student’s graduate degree, distributed under the following rubrics: Proseminar in Medieval and Renaissance Studies (4 points); Medieval and Renaissance Media: Visual and Material Cultures (4 points); Late Latin and Early Vernaculars (4 points); and Medieval and Renaissance Studies Workshop (2 points per semester taken twice in an academic year). At least one course must be taken outside a student’s home department. In addition, students pursuing the Concentration will present a paper at least once either in the Workshop or in a conference offered by the Medieval and Renaissance Center. 

Core Course Descriptions

Proseminar – MEDI-GA 1100
An introduction to the primary materials, reference works, journals, and research methodologies that pertain to the field of Medieval and Renaissance Studies together with an introduction to its sub-disciplines, including religion, psychology and philosophy, secular art and literature, architecture, historiography, economics and trade, science, translation studies, and the history of the book. The course is team taught.

Medieval & Renaissance Studies Workshop – MEDI-GA 2000
A forum for cultivating the interdisciplinary work of students working in the medieval and early modern periods and for preparing students to meet the demands of the professional world of Medieval and Renaissance Studies. Workshop activities will include discussing and critiquing per-circulated papers or works-in-progress presented by NYU faculty, visiting scholars, and members of the Workshop; learning and practicing the protocols for submitting papers for conferences and various forms of publication, and for writing grant proposals; designing teaching strategies; and discovering and experimenting with new research tools. In all of these activities Workshop participants will also engage with overarching issues of concern to the field such as the benefits and limitations of periodization and the role of Medieval and Renaissance Studies in the academy and in society at large.

Medieval Latin and Early Vernaculars – MEDI-GA 2100
This course has two aims: to improve students' ability to read and translate medieval Latin, and to increase students' understanding and appreciation of medieval Latin literature.  Students will read selections from a variety of Latin texts, of which the earliest author is Boethius and the latest author is Dante.  The study of poetic selections will include attention to meter.

Topics in Medieval and Renaissance Media – MEDI-GA 2200
Varying from year to year, topics investigated in this course will pertain to the visual and material cultures of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, from matters associated with the History of the Book, such as paleography and codicology, the art of the Psalter, and the Qur’an as object and text; to matters associated with built environments, such as the gothic cathedral and early modern graffiti; to studies of individual artists, from Giotto to El Greco to Leonardo da Vinci.  In all cases, these courses focus on the connections among materials and their acquisition, artists, artisans and craftspeople, owners and patrons, and the production of cultural meaning.”  This course will satisfy the “Medieval and Renaissance Media” requirement for the Concentration in Medieval and Renaissance Studies.  It will also be open to all humanities graduate students.  This course will be designed in such a way that it will be of interest to graduate students belonging especially to the Departments of English, French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese, and History, as well as to the Institute of Fine Arts.

Topics in Interdisciplinary Study of the Middle Ages and Renaissance – MEDI-GA 2300
Varying from year to year, topics investigated in this course will be characterized by an interdisciplinary scope that does not fit comfortably within the remit of any single department among those representing the constituent fields of Medieval and Renaissance Studies.  Example topics would include a religious figure such as the Virgin Mary, which would draw from the disciplines of Art History, Religious Studies, Literary Study, and Musicology; a pseudohistorical figure such as King Arthur, whose study would draw from the disciplines of History, Archeology, Literary Study, and Art History; and a political event such as the English poll-taxes of 1379, 1380, and 1381, whose study would draw from History, Economics, Literary Studies, and Art History. The course will build on MEDI-GA 1100, Proseminar in Medieval and Renaissance Studies, but is not a prerequisite.