Medieval Studies (minor only)

Medieval Studies encompasses history, religion, philosophy, literature and art from the fourth through 15th centuries. Examining this formative era helps us better analyze and solve the issues of today. In particular, it provides a strong foundation for understanding the humanities and the social sciences.

Why Choose Medieval Studies?

The Big Picture

The Middle Ages was a formative time for our modern world. During this era, we saw the beginnings of:

  • The Church
  • Constitutional law
  • The university
  • Banking and international corporations
  • Intellectual and cultural movements
  • Individual sense-of-self

These institutions and ideas continue to shape our modern world. Understanding the past prepares you to think long term and to see the big picture, which is a desirable skill in all professions.

Research Opportunities with Faculty

As a medieval studies minor, you will be able to do research that is closely tied to your coursework. You’ll also be working one-on-one with faculty experts. Past student research topics include:

  • The theory of just war with Dr. Jennifer Edwards
  • Medieval women with Dr. Jennifer Edwards
  • Chaucer with Br. Patrick Horner
  • Monasticism with Dr. Richard Emmerson
  • Latin with Dr. Thomas Ferguson

Special Events

We think history should be experienced, not just read about it in a textbook. That is why many of the departments affiliated with the program host:

  • Field trips to New York City landmarks like the Cloisters and The Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Reading groups to discuss medieval topics
  • Film nights focused on medieval movies such as Monty Python and the Holy Grail or Agora
  • Poster campaigns to mark historical events such as the 800th anniversaries of the Magna Carta and the Fourth Lateran Council
  • Meet a Medieval Studies Minor: John Evans
    Medieval Studies Student

    “I chose Manhattan College because it served two purposes in my academic journey. Being a blind student, I wanted a campus small enough to conduct my education, one which could provide for my needs. At the same time, it needed to be a campus where my thoughts, philosophies, and academic yearnings could be expressed, fine-tuned, and harnessed for success. As a Medievalist at heart and mind, the College’s Catholic roots were more than beneficial in this context. As an Irish Catholic, the history of the Western Church is a deep and prominent interest of mine. It was a win-win in all ways.

    "One of the last films I saw before losing my sight was Peter Jackson’s adaptation of The Fellowship of the Ring around 2001, and the experience had an incalculable effect on me throughout my childhood. I became something of a Tolkien devotee, and made contacts with other enthusiasts, among whom was Doctor Cory Olsen, now chair of the Mythgard Institute. In my late teens, I became the youngest member of the Silmarillion Seminar, a group of Tolkien fans who often compared the fictional epics of Arda to real chronicles dating back to the High Middle Ages and the Anglo-Saxon period. This opened my intellectual and creative spirit to a greater understanding of works like Beowulf, the Norse Sagas and even Arthurian literature.

    "The Medieval Studies program at the College fosters learning and excellence. I consider today’s Medievalists here at Manhattan a new Round Table of excellence whose main objective is to nurture and guide those who love the Middle Ages on their path toward research.

    "A creative role model of mine is John Milton who wrote, or rather dictated, Paradise Lost. He too had lost his eyesight but carried on the tradition of the bards. I thought, if he could be an heir to the greats like Homer, Dante and Virgil, so could I. This led me to begin work on my own magnum opus, a grand realm of sword and sorcery which ended up in book form as volumes of poetry as well as prose. I’m so thankful I’ve been able to share these creative dreams with the world. It is a true passion.

    "I’ve found role models here at the College, as well. Professor Jen Edwards of the History department and Brother Patrick Horner of the English department have been incredibly supportive in making materials accessible and sending them to me on time. Their dedication, kindness and love for their subjects brings me greater inspiration in my road to eventually becoming a professor.”

What Will You Learn?

As a medieval studies minor, you will conduct cross-cultural studies of the world between the ancient period and the Reformation. You will examine topics such as:

  • Monasticism
  • The Papacy
  • The Crusades
  • Theology
  • Chivalry
  • Gothic style
  • Saints
  • The Plague
  • Romance from the perspective of multiple disciplines
  • History in the context of literary study and art

See requirements

What Will You Do?

Being able to analyze the past in a constructive way and plan for the future is a skill that many industries seek. Studying history also develops your critical reading and writing skills, and prepares you for careers ranging from education to business.