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Girl with a Pearl Earring, Johannes Vermeer, 1665

The minor in Medieval and Early Modern Studies offers an interdisciplinary exploration of the premodern world through coursework chosen from among the many disciplines of LSA and from other schools, such as Art and ArchitectureLaw, and Music.

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 premodern cultural areas--Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, the Middle East--or focused thematic subjects such as material culture; women and gender; science, technology, and medicine; Jewish studies; religion and philosophy; music, theatre, and performance; or colonialism). 

The MEMS minor program makes guided and coherent interdisciplinary study of premodern cultures possible for majors in our contributing units: History, History of Art, English, Romance Languages and Literatures, and Middle East Studies, Asian Languages and Cultures, Comparative Literature, Classical Studies, and Judaic Studies as well as students in Philosophy, Musicology, the social sciences, and other geographically delimited fields. The MEMS minor enables students in these disciplines to supplement the premodern offerings in their major field with an interdisciplinary context, or to complement a modern area studies major with historical depth.

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. Approved electives may be used to reach the 5-course requirement.

Angkor Wat, 13th C, Khmer Empire

The MEMS 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 premodern cultures in the core disciplines of history, art, literature, and music. This enables students to develop a coherent understanding of past cultures as wholes, rather than the fragmentary vision that 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 premodern 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. 

Constraints:  none.

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