The Medieval and Renaissance Studies minor offers students interested in these periods the opportunity to pursue a multidisciplinary course of study through the three core perspectives of history, literature, and philosophy. Required courses may also be counted, with some important limitations, toward major and general education requirements. Qualified students from all academic disciplines are welcome to explore the minor program. Successful completion of the minor will enhance awareness of disciplinary perspectives and the skills to integrate them in meaningful interdisciplinary ways.
- The minor promotes multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary studies of the period from later Antiquity to the middle of the seventeenth century.
- The minor seeks to advance the study of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance by offering an environment for academic exchange.
- The minor organizes, sponsors, and co-sponsors seminars to assist students, faculty, and the larger community in acquiring a deeper understanding of issues rooted in the past that continue to resonate in our contemporary world. These seminars consist of presentations, colloquia, and conferences open to all.
(From the 2011-13 Catalog)
A. Both of the following philosophy courses:
This course, the first of four sequential courses in the history of philosophy, is a survey of Greek philosophy from its origins in the thought of Presocratic poets and philosophers to its later development in the dialogues of Plato and writings of Aristotle. Through the close reading of primary sources in their historical context and through a wide variety of other exercises, students gain an appreciation for the major texts, themes and problems that have shaped the Western philosophical tradition. Students also begin to develop a facility with the various tools and terms with which philosophers in the Western tradition have worked.
In this course, the second of four history of philosophy courses, students study the development of philosophy in the Middle Ages through its contact with Christianity. The goals of this course are to examine the following themes and philosophical problems: the relation of faith and reason, spirituality and philosophy; human knowledge and human freedom; and philosophy as a principle of integration within Medieval culture.
B. Two of the following literature courses:
In this course, students explore the advent and establishment of Christianity as the dominant mode of discourse in the Medieval and Early Modern periods of British Literature. This investigation hinges upon exposure to countercurrents which Christianity operated against as it established its primacy (such as paganism, Judaism, Islam), as well as to tensions within Christianity itself (heresies, humanism, patriarchy v. feminism, and the division between Catholicism and Protestantism). While the course thus is historical and cultural in its overall theme, the emphasis is on close reading and discussion of literary texts.
Offered in alternate fall semesters. Prerequisite: E250.
In this course students explore the development of medieval British Romance especially from its Celtic and French origins, then proceed to examine Spenserﾒs fusion of romance with epic in the context of the rising vogue of the epic in the Early Modern period, and conclude in a sustained engagement with Miltonﾒs Paradise Lost. The course focuses on the development of these two genres, but with attention to the cultural context in which the texts to be explored were produced.
Offered in alternate fall semesters. Prerequisite: E250.
This course focuses on a representative group of Shakespeareﾒs sonnets, comedies, histories, and tragedies. Emphasis is placed on close reading of the plays, with the intention of exploring some of Shakespeareﾒs most pressing issues, including love, nature, death, dreams, relationships between parents and children, gender roles, freedom of the will, and reality itself. The course also address the cultural milieu out of which the texts were generated; the meaning of the terms ﾓcomedyﾔ, ﾓhistoryﾔ, and ﾓtragedyﾔ; and the relationship of the written plays to modern film adaptations.
Offered spring semester.
This course is an introduction to major authors and literary works of Spain from the medieval period through the end of the 17th century. Literary movements, history, culture, and other artistic works are examined in their relation to the literary output of these periods.
C. Two of the following history courses:
The first half of a two-semester course that covers the period of history from approximately 100 to approximately 1400, the time of the Middle Ages. This course examines the period from approximately 100 to approximately 800. The purpose of the course is to identify and explore the concept of the Middle Ages by means of both primary and secondary sources. It is a fundamental presupposition that ﾓWestern civilizationﾔ came into being during the early Middle Ages out of a unique combination of Greco-Roman, Judeo-Christian, and Germanic elements. In this sense, then, the Middle Ages represent not a ﾓmiddle,ﾔ but the beginning of a new civilization. The essentials of this civilization will be explored. These include the decline of the Roman Empire, the rise of Christianity and monasticism, the Barbarian Invasions, Charlemagne, the Vikings, and the development of a feudal society.
The second half of a two-semester course that covers the period of history from approximately 100 to approximately 1400, the time of the Middle Ages. This course examines the period from approximately 1000 to approximately 1400. The purpose of the course is to identify and explore the concept of the Middle Ages by means of both primary and secondary sources. Out of the chaos of the tenth century emerged a mature medieval civilization that is the focus of this course. It reached its apogee in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries with the great conflict between church and state, the Crusades, the revival of learning, feudal monarchy, chivalry, and high medieval Christianity, before experiencing the disasters of the fourteenth century and the breakdown of the medieval synthesis.
This course proceeds from the assumption that the Renaissance refers to a particular and creative cultural movement in Western history from the middle of the fourteenth through the sixteenth centuries. Students explore traditional notions of the Renaissance such as: the revival of antiquity, humanism, innovations in art, and the Church. Non-traditional approaches such as the role of women in the Renaissance are also discussed. The reading of primary texts by Petrarch, Castiglione, Machiavelli, Erasmus, and Thomas More is emphasized. Italian history is stressed but the Northern Renaissance is studied as well.
D. The following course:
Students research and write an integrative paper based on some common feature(s) of Medieval and/or Renaissance culture encountered in their coursework. Students make presentations to faculty and peers based on their paper. Students must complete at least 13 credits
of the minor and at least one course in each of areas A, B and C before taking this course. Note: Students are allowed to count two courses toward both their major and the Medieval and Renaissance studies minor regardless whether the course is specifically required for both, an exemption from university policy.
Required attendance at three Medieval and Renaissance faculty seminar presentations and completion of a seminar essay.
John Kerr, Ph.D., Supervisor
Saint Mary's University of Minnesota
700 Terrace Heights #1463
Winona, MN 55987-1399
(800) 635-5987, Ext. 1673