Medieval and Renaissance Studies - Course Catalogue Skip Navigation

Medieval and Renaissance Studies

(For 2016–2017 academic year)

Professors Cerasano, Davies (Director), Staley
Advisory Committee Cerasano, Cooper, Davies (Director), Godwin, Luciani, Staley, Stevens 

The Medieval and Renaissance studies (MARS) minor enables students to explore the richness and variety of civilization from the late Roman era through the Renaissance and Reformation. Broadly interdisciplinary, it is intended as a supplement to traditional majors. Spanning the arts and humanities and social sciences, MARS covers history, art, literature, music, philosophy, science, and religion from the 4th to the 17th centuries.

Chronological parameters define the Middle Ages as beginning with the rise of Christianity in the 4th-century Roman Empire. The Renaissance encompasses the humanism of 15th-century Italy, the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century, and its aftermath in the 17th-century Counter-Reformation. Because of the difficulty of assigning absolute chronological limits to these diverse periods, some courses necessarily include material that crosses these boundaries; moreover, the emphasis in MARS is on creating interdisciplinary bridges across the curriculum, and the program is structured in a way that encourages students to explore a cross section of traditional fields. To this end, MARS courses can center on a topic area proposed by the student and agreed upon in consultation with a faculty adviser. However, courses in the minor should complement each other.

Students may elect to minor in either the medieval or Renaissance period or in a combination of both. In order to declare a minor, prospective students must write a statement of purpose (at least one page), explaining how the choice of courses in their minor will coalesce. This should normally be submitted to the program director by the spring term of the junior year. In order to take full advantage of course offerings and advising, students are urged to enroll in the program as early as possible in their undergraduate career.

Minor Program

The minor consists of at least five courses selected with the approval of an adviser belonging to the MARS faculty. Courses should be selected from the list below and must include a course in history. At least three different disciplines should be represented. French, Italian, and Spanish are considered to be separate areas of study. Additional courses (notably topical seminars) may be accepted upon petition. It is the responsibility of the student to recognize that certain courses might require departmental prerequisites for which he or she would not necessarily receive credit toward the MARS minor. Only one independent study course and only one non-Colgate course will be counted toward the minor. Courses that are appropriate for the MARS minor are sometimes offered as part of the university’s Venice study group program. 

At least three courses should be at the intermediate level and at least one should be at the 400 (seminar) level — either an existing seminar or an independent research paper. Senior seminars and honors thesis courses in any department could provide a place for the student’s capstone experience. 

One year’s study of Latin at Colgate is recognized as one course toward the minor. While there is no mandated language requirement, it is strongly recommended that students considering graduate school in a medieval or Renaissance field should study Latin at least through the intermediate level. Students are encouraged to explore early literature in Old and Middle English, as well as early period courses in the foreign language departments.

Courses from the following list are appropriate for the MARS minor:

ARTS 207, Roman Art
ARTS 208, Barbarians and Empires
ARTS 216, Nature’s Mirror: Renassance Arts 1400–1550
ARTS 220, Early Modern European Architecture
ARTS 225, Renaissance and Reformation in Northern Europe
ARTS 226, Nature’s Order: Baroque Arts 1550–1750
ARTS/MUSI 311, The Arts in Venice during the Golden Age (Venice Study Group course)
ARTS 333, Origins of the Renaissance
ARTS 481, Seminar in Art Prior to 1300
ARTS 482, Seminar in Art 1300–1800
ENGL 200, Major British Writers
ENGL 203, Arthurian Tradition
ENGL 301, History of the English Language
ENGL 302, Literature of the Early Middle Ages
ENGL 303, Medieval Merchants, Knights, and Pilgrims
ENGL 304, Introduction to Early Medieval Languages of Britain and Ireland
ENGL 321/322, Shakespeare
ENGL 325, Milton
ENGL 361, The Canterbury Tales
ENGL 385, Drama, Fiction, and Poetry of Tudor England
ENGL 386, Literature in the 17th Century
ENGL 402, Medieval Celtic Literature
ENGL 408, Literature of Medieval Women
ENGL 445, Life Writing: The Renaissance
ENGL 458, Shakespeare’s Contemporaries
ENGL 460, Studies in the Middle Ages
ENGL 461, Studies in the Renaissance
FREN 351, Introduction to French Literature I: From Chivalry to Versailles
FREN 431, Molière and La Fontaine
FREN 433, The Court of Louis XIV
HIST 202, Medieval Europe, c. 300–1500
HIST 232, The Crusades
HIST 238, Europe in the Age of the Renaissance and Reformation
HIST 241, Tudor-Stuart Britain
HIST 263, The Silk Road
HIST 331, Medieval Italy, c. 1000–1500
HIST 332, Medieval England
HIST 333, The Medieval Church
HIST 335, Spain and Portugal in the Age of Empires
HIST 336, The History of Bodies, Planets, and Plants in the Early Modern Period
HIST 338, The Age of Absolutism in Europe
HIST/REST 343, The Formation of the Russian Empire
HIST 385, Conquest and Colony: Cultural Encounters in the New World
HIST 370, The Mongol Empire
LATN 121, 122, Elementary Latin I and II
LATN 123, Intensive Elementary Latin
MUSI 215, Music History I
PHIL 303, Medieval Philosophy
POSC 380, Reason, Faith, and Politics
RELG 282, Experiencing Islam
RELG 287, Protestant Traditions: Revolutions and Reformations
RELG 306, Dying for God: Martyrdom and Noble Death in Judaism and Christianity
RELG/MIST 337, Islamic Mysticism
RELG 405, Sacred Texts
SPAN 351, Spanish Literature: Knights and Troubadours in Medieval Spain
SPAN 352, Spanish Literature: Love and Honor in the Golden Age
SPAN 460, The Spanish Renaissance
SPAN 461, Theater of the Golden Age
SPAN 462, Cervantes’ Don Quijote
SPAN 466, Colonial Latin American Literature

Course Offerings

Courses unique to Medieval and Renaissance Studies Program are described below. Descriptions of other courses noted above may be found under appropriate departments.

MARS 291, 391, 491  Independent Study