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Medieval and Renaissance Studies

Degree: BA

Campus: Columbus

College: Arts and Sciences

Medieval and Renaissance studies provides a wide-ranging introduction to the medieval and early modern eras, spanning late antiquity to the mid-seventeenth century and reaching from Europe to cultures around the globe. It is adaptable to individual student interests, emphasizing historical traditions but also promoting reflection on the presence of the past in a fast-moving twenty-first-century world. The major offers excellent preparation for humanities graduate programs, but also provides a useful and well-rounded education for any student who values history, culture and the arts in their broadest sense.

The Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, one of the oldest and most highly developed centers at Ohio State and one of the few that offers its own course of study, administers the major. The center promotes interdisciplinary scholarship that crosses traditional historical and geographical boundaries.

The medieval and Renaissance studies major opens doors onto the history, literature, arts, philosophies and religions of Europe, the Mediterranean world, the Near East and Asia. And it’s easy to get involved in the center’s intellectual life outside the classroom: the center annually runs a scholarly lecture series, an evening film series, a two-day Popular Culture and the Deep Past conference/festival, and competitions for essay prizes and travel funding.

Upon admission to the university, students can declare a major in medieval and Renaissance studies within the College of Arts and Sciences. Interested students should contact undergraduate advisors in both the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies and Arts and Sciences Advising.

Taught by professors from several different departments, the medieval and Renaissance studies curriculum is fundamentally interdisciplinary. Students learn about literary, artistic, musical and other historical traditions; develop foreign language abilities; and acquire analytical skills applicable to both ancient and modern artifacts, ranging from manuscripts to MP3s.

The major consists of 33 hours of course work offered by the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies and its affiliated departments, including six credit hours of foreign language above the General Education (GE) requirement. Contact the associate director (the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies undergraduate advisor) for specific information.

Specific course choices are worked out on an individual basis and will vary according to the student’s particular interests. A concentration in a primary field will be complemented by select courses in other disciplines which will provide a solid foundation in the culture of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance as well as the tools required to pursue more advanced study of these periods in a given area.

Medieval and Renaissance studies students may fulfill some major requirements through relevant study abroad programs offered by affiliated departments, including:

  • archaeological dig in Trim, Ireland (Department of History)
  • courses in the Literary Locations program with a focus on premodern sites and literature (Department of English)
  • Engineering the Castles of England and Wales (College of Engineering)

The Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies annually recognizes excellence in undergraduate research through the Stanley J. Kahrl Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Essay. Students may submit papers on any area of medieval or Renaissance studies written for any course.

The Mappa Mundi Club is a group of undergraduate students who are enthusiastic about medieval and Renaissance studies, both in the classroom and out. They run monthly meetings in which an invited faculty member informally discusses his or her research or answers members’ questions about preparing for graduate school. The Mappa Mundi Club also collaborates with other groups and events on campus, such as the Medieval and Renaissance Graduate Students Association. They have previously sponsored a session at the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies Popular Culture and the Deep Past conference and regularly attended their Film Series screenings. For more information, check out the Mappa Mundi Facebook page.

When you earn a degree in medieval and Renaissance studies, potential employers and graduate school admissions committees will know that you’ve engaged in research, academic writing and critical thinking across several disciplines.

Graduate of this interdisciplinary liberal arts education are attractive to many employers who seek to hire graduates with liberal arts backgrounds to teach languages, literature and history in private secondary schools; to work in staff and administrative roles in educational institutions at all levels; and to take up entry-level positions in publishing, media, state and local government, the nonprofit sector, and museums and other institutions that offer educational programming and outreach. The skills students develop also provide well-rounded intellectual preparation for law and business school.

Additionally, students may go on to pursue master's and doctoral degrees in affiliated disciplines, such as comparative studies, English, French, Italian, German, Greek, history, history of art, Islamic studies, Jewish studies, Latin, linguistics, music history, philosophy, Slavic languages and literatures, Spanish and Portuguese, theatre, and theology. Others may choose to pursue a Master of Library and Information Science or to receive further training in historical preservation and conservation, en route to exciting careers in museums, libraries and archives.

Students can explore career options through Career Connection and the Arts and Sciences Career Services Office. Providing complementary services, Career Connection focuses on helping students establish a career direction, while the Arts and Sciences Career Services Office assists students with finding internships—experiences that are essential to test out the suitability of career fields they are considering.