Medieval & Early Modern Studies offers a multidisciplinary approach to European cultures and civilizations from late Antiquity (c. 500) to the beginnings of the Enlightenment (c. 1750). The major incorporates materials and methodologies from the fields of English, History, Art History, Music, Philosophy, Religion, Classical Studies and Foreign Language. Students in the program have considerable flexibility in the design and focus of their courses of study, which they plan together with their academic advisor.

Courses appropriate for prospective majors

ARTH 101, Introduction to Art History (Ancient through Medieval)
ARTH 102, Introduction to Art History (Renaissance through Contemporary)
ARTH 205, (Topics in Art History as appropriate)
ARTH 205-01, Michelangelo: Man and Myth
ARTH 300, Italian Renaissance Art 1250-1450
ARTH 301, Italian Renaissance Art 1450-1563
ENGL 101, Texts and Contexts (Only sections with a Medieval, Renaissance, or Early Modern focus)
HIST 105, Medieval Europe
HIST 106, Modern Europe to 1815
HIST 121, Middle East to 1750
HIST 222, Feudal Europe
HIST 223, Renaissance Europe
HIST 243, English/British History I [55 BC to 1688]
MUSC 101, History of Music (Medieval through 1750)
RELG 212, History of Christianity: From Margin to Center
RELG 259, Islam
JDST/RELG 219, History of the Jews

Topics courses in all participating MEMS departments, as appropriate.

Note: In certain cases MEMS faculty frequently waive distribution requirements of a 200- or 300-level MEMS course for a MEMS major or prospective major. Inquire directly of the relevant faculty member.

For course descriptions and requirements for the major and our recently created minors (one medieval, the other early modern), refer to the Academic Bulletin: Medieval & Early Modern Stuides.

Suggested curricular flow through the major

There is no standard “path” through the Medieval & Early Modern Studies major.  MEMS 200, Discourse and Methods in Medieval & Early Modern Studies, is the introductory methods course, but, from there forward, students find their own directions.  For this reason, it is especially important that interested students contact professors in the program to discuss their interests and seek advice.  In the 2015-2016 Academic Year, Professor Carol Ann Johnston, Department of English, will be serving as Chair.


Honors in MEMS is a semester-long independent study (MEMS 490) undertaken by a senior MEMS Major on a focused research topic. Students who plan to pursue MEMS in graduate school are particularly encouraged to apply. An honors project can help a student develop valuable research skills for graduate work, as well as demonstrate to prospective graduate programs an ability to pursue in-depth research.

Junior Majors in the MEMS program may apply to attempt to earn Honors. Departmental (or Program) Honors is the highest award a department/program at Dickinson can bestow. The receipt of honors is recorded on the graduate's diploma. It is achieved only under the following conditions:

1. A minimum GPA of 3.4 in MEMS coursework at the time of application (this is a college-wide standard for "departmental" honors). Consideration of a lower GPA must have the support of the MEMS faculty, and approval from the College Committee on Academic Standards (APSC).

2. During the spring of the Junior Year, by the Friday a week after the last day of classes, each applicant submits a 2-3 page proposal (double spaced) accompanied by a 1-2 page preliminary bibliography. The proposal outlines an independent research project that shows exceptional promise and sophistication. The student electing to pursue MEMS honors must do so as a MEMS 490 Senior Project, which will be graded and counted towards graduation regardless of whether Honors is awarded or not. The proposal should be submitted to the MEMS coordinator/chair, and should include the name(s) of the advisor(s). The MEMS coordinator/chair then circulates the proposal among the MEMS faculty for approval prior to the end of spring exams.

3. If the student's proposal is accepted by the MEMS faculty, the student is identified as a Candidate for Honors. Each Candidate will work with a Departmental advisor (and at least one other MEMS faculty, as appropriate) during the fall or spring semester of Senior year, and will produce a research paper.

4. At a designated time during the end of the semester in which the student is enrolled in MEMS 490 (and no later than the last day of classes), each candidate will submit a final paper, at least 30 pages in length (and no more than 50), which is bound and kept on file in the College Archives. Following submission of the revised paper, at the latest, three (3) additional and appropriate MEMS faculty are asked by the thesis advisor to serve as readers, and given sufficient notice and time to read and critique the paper. The student and readers then meet, and the student is expected to present, discuss, and defend his/her work.

N.B.: it is the responsibility of the student's principal advisor to enlist the readers, and to organize the oral defense, both in a timely manner; however, the readers alone will decide whether to grant honors or not.

5. Immediately following the oral defense, the three readers confer and decide whether or not to award Honors. Honors are not awarded automatically, and are awarded only when there is a consensus or majority vote among the three (3) MEMS readers.

Co-curricular activities/programs

There are many programs, lectures, residencies, and activities co-sponsored by MEMS and participating academic departments.  Students should consult the College Calendar for these events throughout the academic year, as well as the website for MEMS and participating departments.

Opportunities for off-campus study

Dickinson Study Abroad programs provide MEMS students with the opportunity for intensive academic experience in several Dickinson-sponsored sites:

  • Bologna, Italy
  • Bremen, Germany
  • Mendoza, Argentina
  • Norwich, England
  • Toulouse, France
  • Málaga, Spain

Additional Remarks

Advising: Students choose an advisor from participating faculty. The advisor’s responsibility will be to ensure that the student’s “cluster courses” have an appropriate depth and academic level; i.e., a cluster cannot be composed of four courses at the 100-level, or four courses from one department. The advisor will also guide the student in developing the cluster with an eye toward The Senior Experience (MEMS 490, see below).

Getting Involved: Students may discover their interest in medieval and early modern cultures prior to their arrival at Dickinson, or their interest may be kindled in one of the many first-year seminars that each year engage MEMS-related material. These seminars are often taught by one of the 18 fulltime faculty who currently participate in the MEMS program, and they are easily contacted through the faculty listing on the program web site.

Students considering the major should know that they enjoy considerable flexibility in shaping this multidisciplinary major (see “Curriculum and Courses”), and past MEMS majors have discovered MEMS to be especially compatible with undertaking a second major (the majority have been double majors), and with the ready fulfillment of distribution requirements.