JAMES BLASINA (Music), Coordinator
Cheryl Sharp, Administrative Coordinator
Deborah B Sloman, Administrative Assistant
Tariq al-Jamil (Religion)
James Blasina (Music)
Steven Hopkins (Religion)
Rosaria V. Munson (Classics)
Benjamin Ridgway (Modern Languages & Literatures: Chinese)3
Ellen M. Ross (Religion)2
William Turpin (Classics)
Craig Williamson (English)
2 Absent on leave, Spring 2024.
3 Absent on leave, 2023-2024.
Swarthmore’s Medieval Studies Program offers students the opportunity to study in an interdisciplinary and cross-cultural fashion a variety of often interrelated medieval civilizations-European, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Islamic, South and West Asian-from the 4th to the 15th centuries. The program draws upon a variety of critical and cross-disciplinary approaches to explore medieval cultures, their distinctive qualities and historical connections, their material and spiritual productions, their artistic creations, and their relation to earlier and later cultures.
The heart of the Medieval Studies Program is its interdisciplinary approach. The faculty and students in this program believe that the medieval period, its history, languages and literatures, art and architecture, religion and philosophy, music and meaning, are best studied from a variety of critical perspectives in which discipline and dialogue go hand in hand, where each person’s knowledge is tested and expanded by another’s approach, and where we come together in the words of Chaucer’s Clerk to “gladly lerne and gladly teche.”
The Academic Program
Students may major or minor in medieval studies in either the Course or Honors Program. Students must take work in a variety of medieval subjects to be drawn from art history, history, literature, music, religion, and philosophy. Majors often do research abroad on college-sponsored fellowships during the summer of their junior year and then write a thesis, which they present as seniors to an interdisciplinary Medieval Studies Committee or a panel of honors examiners.
All students who major or minor in medieval studies, either in honors or course, must fulfill the program’s distribution requirements by taking medieval courses from the following distribution areas: 1. art history 2. history 3. literature (English, classics, etc.) 4. music 5. religion or philosophy. The list of Swarthmore medieval studies courses as well as medieval courses at Bryn Mawr and Haverford is regularly updated on the program website.
Course majors must take at least 8 credits in medieval subjects, including at least one medieval course in three of the five distribution areas, and pass a senior comprehensive which includes a written and oral exam given by the student’s instructors in her or his medieval courses. These examinations are intended to be a culminating exercise to facilitate the review and integration of the various subjects and methods involved in the interdisciplinary field of medieval studies.
Honors majors must take at least one medieval course in three of the five distribution areas. The Honors Program itself will include four double-credit preparations in medieval subjects which reflect the interdisciplinary nature of the major and must include work in at least three of the distribution areas. The preparations may be constituted by some combination of the following: seminars, preapproved two-course combinations, courses with attachments, or a thesis. Senior Honors Study for honors majors in medieval studies will follow the policies of the individual departmental preparations used in the program. Honors majors will have a 90- to 120-minute oral panel examination with all four examiners present. These examinations are intended to be a culminating exercise to facilitate the review and integration of the various subjects and methods involved in the interdisciplinary field of medieval studies. Honors major normally do not have a separate minor as part of their Medieval Studies Honors Program, but they may apply one of their four honors preparations toward an honors minor. In such a case, a student must fulfill all the requirements set by the relevant department or program of that honors minor.
Course minors must take 5 credits in medieval subjects in at least two distribution areas. Only one of these credits can also be in the department of the student’s major.
Honors minors must take 5 credits in medieval subjects in at least two distribution areas. The honors preparation in a medieval subject should reflect the interdisciplinary nature of the minor and may be satisfied by one of the following: a seminar, a preapproved two-course combination, a course with an attachment, or in special cases a thesis. The minor preparation must be in a department distinct from the student’s major. Senior Honors Study and written and oral honors exams will follow the pattern of the department in which the preparation is offered.
Courses and seminars in the various departments which are counted as medieval studies courses are listed in the College Catalog and online. Students may also take medieval courses at Bryn Mawr or Haverford as part of their program.
Medieval Studies Courses
The following medieval studies courses are may be offered at Swarthmore. Other courses may be considered on petition to the Medieval Studies committee. Courses marked with an asterisk may count as a Medieval Studies course if the student chooses to focus on medieval materials; see the instructor for details. Majors and minors are also allowed to include medieval courses from Bryn Mawr, Haverford, and the University of Pennsylvania in their curriculum.
- MDST 096. Thesis
- MDST 180. Senior Honors Thesis
- ARTH 002. Cave Painting to the Sistine Ceiling *
- ARTH 052. Global Renaissance
- ARTH 072. Global History of Architecture: Prehistory to 1750 CE
- CHIN 027. Nature and the Non-Human in Classical Chinese Tales of the Strange *
- CHIN 033. Introduction to Classical Chinese
- CHIN 037. Text and Image: Classical Chinese Poetry and Painting
- CLST 060. Dante and the Classical Tradition
- CLST 106. Classical Studies Capstone: Dante: Christianity and the Classical Tradition
- ENGL 010. Monsters, Marvels, and Mysteries: Beowulf to Paradise Lost *
- ENGL 014. Old English/History of the Language
- ENGL 016. Chaucer
- ENGL 046. Tolkien and Pullman and Their Literary Roots *
- HIST 001A. First-Year Seminar: History, Slavery, and the Digital Turn
- LATN 014. Medieval Latin
- LING 014. Old English/History of the Language
- LING 033. Introduction to Classical Chinese
- LITR 037CH. Text and Image: Classical Chinese Poetry and Painting
- MUSI 008C. Medievalism in Music and Media
- MUSI 020. Medieval and Renaissance Music
- MUSI 028. Sound, Sinners, and Saints in Medieval England
- MUSI 106. Winds of Pleasure: The Music and Writing of Hildegard of Bingen in Context and Revival
- MUSI 107. Sound, Salvation, and Statecraft under the Tudors
- RELG 008B. The Qur’an and Its Interpreters
- RELG 011B. The Religion of Islam: The Islamic Humanities
- RELG 014. Race, Gender, and Sex in the Bible
- RELG 020. Christian Mysticism
- RELG 030. The Power of Images: Icons and Iconoclasts
- RELG 037. Sex, Gender, and the Bible
- RELG 053. Gender, Sexuality, and the Body in Islamic Discourses
- RELG 098. Islamic Law & Society
- RUSS 047. Russian Fairy Tales *