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Medieval and Early Modern Studies Curriculum

General Information

Medieval & Early Modern Studies offers a multidisciplinary approach to European cultures and civilizations from late antiquity (ca. 500) to the beginning of the Enlightenment (ca. 1750). The major incorporates materials and methodologies from the fields of English, history, art, 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.


11 courses
MEMS 200

Core courses: five courses including HIST 105 and 106, and three courses focused in the time frame or on MEMS theory, one each in Music, Art & Art History and literature in any language

Cluster courses: four courses on a topic decided in consultation with a MEMS advisor, in more than one department and including courses above the 100 level

Senior research: MEMS 490

Double Major:
Through careful planning students can complete a double major in MEMS and another field (Art History, History, Music, Religion, various languages) within a standard four-year program.


Medieval option:

  • MEMS 200
  • 4-course cluster: four courses on a topic decided in consultation with a MEMS advisor and approved by the MEMS coordinator, in more than one department and including courses above the 100-level. Three of the courses should provide a significant component of material relevant to the medieval era, while the fourth course must be concerned primarily with the early modern era
  • HIST 105 (Medieval Europe)

Early Modern Option:

  • MEMS 200
  • 4-course cluster: four courses on a topic decided in consultation with a MEMS advisor and approved by the MEMS coordinator, in more than one department and including courses above the 100 level. Three of the courses should provide a significant component of material relevant to the early modern era, while the fourth course must be concerned with the medieval era.
  • HIST 106 (Early Modern Europe to 1799)


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).

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.  Please contact the Medieval & Early Modern Studies Chair for guidance.


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 their 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.

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

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.


200 Discourse and Methods in Medieval & Early Modern Studies
Sophomore methods course for the major in Medieval & Early Modern Studies. This is a team-taught, interdisciplinary course, with topics and faculty rotating among the participating departments. Each course will be offered under the umbrella of a single topic, such as a city, a subject, an idea. An introduction to critical and historical methods and discourses within the discipline of Medieval and Early Modern Studies, including reading, critique, research, and interpretation.

490 The Senior Experience
Senior Projects and Research in Medieval & Early Modern Studies. Seniors in the major will work independently with a director and a second faculty reader (representing another discipline in the major) to produce a lengthy paper or special project which focuses on an issue relevant to the cluster of courses taken previously. Under the direction of the program coordinator, students will meet collectively 2 or 3 times during the semester with the directors (and, if possible, other MEMS faculty) to share bibliographies, research data, early drafts, and the like. This group will also meet at the end of the semester to discuss and evaluate final papers and projects.
Prerequisite. 200; four-course "cluster."

Core and Cluster Courses

ARTH 101: Introduction to the History of Art
ARTH 102: Introduction to the History of Art
ARTH 205:Topics in Art History
ARTH 212: Michelangelo: Man and Myth
ARTH 213: Gothic Pilgrimage
ARTH 215: Seventeenth-Century Dutch and Flemish Art
ARTH 300: Italian Renaissance Art 1250-1450
ARTH 301: Italian Renaissance Art 1450-1563
ARTH 391: The Arts in Late Gothic Europe
CLST 100: Greek and Roman Myth
CLST 253: Roman History
ENGL 101: Topics [Shakespeare's Comedies; Shakespeare's Tragedies; Medievalism from J.R.R. Tolkien to Game of Thrones]
HIST 105: Medieval Europe
HIST 106: Modern Europe to 1815
HIST 121: Middle East to 1750
HIST 130: Latin American History I 
HIST 213: Topics in European History [The Crusades]
HIST 222: Feudal Europe
HIST 223: Renaissance Europe
HIST 228: Italian History from the Middle Ages to the Enlightenment [offered only in Bologna]
HIST 243: English/British History I [55BC to 1688]
HIST 247: Early American History
HIST 253: History of Russia I 
HIST 259: Islam
HIST 272:The Atlantic Slave Trade and Africans in the Making of the Atlantic World, 1450-1850
HIST 280: Medieval and Renaissance Women
HIST 311: Studies in American History [Violence and Colonialism]
HIST 313: Studies in European History [Scientific Revolutions]
ITAL 321: Food and Culture in Medieval and Renaissance Italy
ITAL 322: Dante's Divine Comedy (in English)
ITAL 400: Senior Tutorial in Italian Studies [Boccaccio's Decameron]
JDST 216: Kabbalah [crosslisted as RELG 260] 
LATN 234: Ovid
LATN 241: Early Christian Latin
LATN 242: Virgil, Aeneid
LATN 243: Lucretius
LATN 343: Lyric and Elegy
LATN 352: Satire
MEST 200: Art and Architecture of the Islamic World
MUAC 101: History of Music to 1750
MUAC 352: Seminar in Early Music
PHIL 202: Philosophy in the 17th and 18th Centuries
RELG 203: Hebrew Scriptures/Old Testament in Context
RELG 207: New Testament in Context
RELG 212: History of Christianity from Margin to Center
RELG 259: Islam
RELG 312: Topics in the History of Christianity [Eastern Orthodox Christianity]
SPAN 373: Spanish and Hispanoarab Art [offered in Malaga]
SPAN 380: Topics in Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian Studies [History of the Spanish Language]