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Girl with a Pearl Earring, Johannes Vermeer, 1665

The minor in Medieval and Early Modern Studies is designed to provide a basic, interdisciplinary familiarity with the pre-modern world. The minor fosters geographic and cross-cultural breadth, but also allows students to integrate their interdisciplinary studies with a defined historical, geographical, or topical focus planned with their major advisor.  Possibilities include pre-modern cultural areas (Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, the Middle East) or focused thematic subjects (e.g., material culture; women and gender; science, technology, and medicine; Jewish studies; religion and philosophy; music, theatre and performance; colonialism). The MEMS minor will enable more undergraduate students to take advantage of the extraordinary richness of our pre-modern faculty, which is dispersed across many disciplines of the college and other schools, such as Art and Architecture, Law, and Music.

The MEMS minor program makes guided and coherent interdisciplinary study of pre-modern cultures possible for majors in our contributing disciplines: History, History of Art, literatures, and Philosophy, as well as the social sciences and geographically delimited fields like Near Eastern Studies and Asian Studies. The MEMS minor will enable students in these disciplines to complement the pre-modern offerings in their major field with an interdisciplinary context or line of inquiry, or to complement a modern area studies major with historical depth.

Pre-requisite to the Academic Minor:  none

Academic Minor Program: 15 credit hours (five courses), including at least two upper-division courses, in the medieval and early modern periods, chosen in consultation with the MEMS minor advisor. These courses must include:

A.    One course from two of these five areas:

        African cultures
        American cultures
        Asian cultures
        European cultures
        Middle Eastern cultures

B.    One course from three of these four disciplines:

        Historical studies
        Art historical or archaeological studies
        Language or literary studies
        Musicological studies

A single course may count toward both geographic and disciplinary distribution requirements. With the approval of the minor advisor, students whose major includes a medieval or early modern course in one of these disciplinary categories may substitute one course from a discipline different from their major.

Angkor Wat, 13th C, Khmer Empire

The minor requires three components: the geographic distribution, the disciplinary distribution, and the electives.The distribution requirements insure that students reach beyond a single discipline and geographic zone in their study of pre-modern cultures. The disciplinary requirement fosters a deeper familiarity with pre-modern cultures in the core disciplines of history, art, literature, and music.  This disciplinary depth enables students to develop a coherent understanding of past cultures as wholes, rather than the fragmentary vision which ensues from studying single aspects in isolation (only art, or only literature, for example). The geographical requirement fosters awareness of cultural connections (and differences) among the diverse cultural zones of the pre-modern world; cross-cultural comparison not only contributes to the breadth necessary to advance students in the humanities and social sciences, but also deepens students’ understanding of their primary cultural focus. 

The distributions include two geographic areas and three disciplines, and should contribute to the cultural, historical, or thematic focus students work out in consultation with the minor advisor.  The electives enable students to pursue this focus further in a variety of ways, either within or across temporal, geographical, or disciplinary lines, in plans designed in consultation with the MEMS minor advisor. The distribution requirements and electives, taken together, comprise a flexible but guided exploration of the pre-modern past.

Constraints:  none.

MEMS minors will have academic advising by program faculty to help them plan a coherent program of study. The MEMS Program Associate (currently Terre Fisher) serves as the primary point of contact for MEMS minors.