Medieval and Renaissance Studies (MEDREN)
The program in Medieval and Renaissance Studies is designed to
provide the student with a well-rounded understanding of the historical,
cultural, and social forces that shaped the medieval and Renaissance periods.
Students take courses across disciplines in four areas of study (see below).
A major or minor is available in this program.
The major requires ten courses, at least eight of which must be at
the 100 level or above in the following four areas of study: fine arts (art
and music); history; language and literature (English, French, German,
Greek, Italian, Latin, and Spanish); and philosophy and religion.
Requirements. Students must either participate in the Medieval
and Renaissance FOCUS program in their first year or take MEDREN 114
(Aspects of Medieval Culture) and 115 (Aspects of Renaissance Culture).
(This new requirement does not pertain to students who declared a major
before fall 1998.) In addition to these two courses, students take the
remaining eight courses in one of the following distributions: (a) 3-3-2-0,
three courses in two of the four areas of study and two courses in a third
area; or (b) 3-3-1-1, three courses in two of the four areas of study and
one course in each of the other two areas.
Two courses may be at the introductory level approved by the
Director of Undergraduate Studies. Students presenting two courses in the
Medieval and Renaissance FOCUS program do not need approval.
Each program is tailored to the needs and interests of the student
under the supervision of a committee consisting of faculty members from
appropriate departments. After discussion with the Director of Undergraduate
Studies for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, the student submits a provisional
program of study outlining special interdisciplinary interests. Normally
the program is planned well before the end of the sophomore year to allow
time to acquire a working knowledge of languages pertinent to specific
Majors are encouraged to pursue honors study. Because many Medieval and
Renaissance majors also major in another department, these students are
especially encouraged to pursue a new dual-honors plan that was approved
by Trinity College, effective fall 2003, which rewards students for
conducting research based upon both fields of study. Double honors may
be awarded for a single thesis written for two separate
departments/programs at Duke. This plan supports in an innovative way
interdisciplinary study at Duke. See the requirements and
procedures for honors study.
Provision for DUAL HONORS
Students double-majoring in Medieval and Renaissance Studies and another
department or program may elect to work on an honors project in both
areas. The following additional guidelines apply.
The student must propose a double-thesis in advance to both
departments/programs and seek their approval together. A student may not
seek the approval of a second department or program after already
proposing a thesis to one department/program and beginning work on it.
To qualify as a legitimate double-thesis, the thesis must clearly draw on
advising from and work done for both departments/programs. Specifically,
the student must form two separate committees; only one member may be on
both committees (the thesis advisor). The student must also take at least
one thesis-related course from each department/program involved, as
determined by each area (e.g., thesis seminar or independent study). A
double-thesis, therefore, should benefit clearly from its basis in two
different departments/programs, exemplifying a strong cross-disciplinary
Evaluation of the double-thesis is to be done separately by the two
committees. This means in practice that the committees may evaluate
the thesis differently according to their own standards. It would be
possible for such a thesis to receive highest honors from one committee
and honors from the other; or honors from one, and no honors from the
other. This separate evaluation process would insure that the thesis
legitimately satisfies the requirements and standards of two separate
Requirements. Five courses, at least three of which must be
at the 100 level or above. Two of these must be FOCUS or MEDREN 114 and
115. The three remaining courses may be taken in any distribution suiting
the student's interests in consultation with the Director of Undergraduate
THE FOUR COURSE STUDY AREAS
Courses in the Medieval and Renaissance Studies program are taken
in distributions across four areas of study. Some of these courses are
available in more than one study area. Students who have participated in the
FOCUS Program in Medieval and Renaissance Studies may take MEDREN
114 and 115 to fulfill distribution requirements.
Area 1: Fine Arts
112A, 112B, 113, 129, 130, 131B, 131C, 136, 140C, 141, 142, 143,
144B, 145B, 146, 148A, 150, 151C, 152A, 152B, 154A, 154B, 154C,
155S, 158-159, 211, 212, 223A, 223B, 224, 233S, 237S, 241-242,
243S, 248S, 261S.
Area 2: History
107A, 118, 133A, 133B, 134A, 134B, 138, 144C, 146A, 147A, 147B,
148B, 151A, 156A, 166, 167, 172, 202A, 202B, 202C, 205, 206, 221A,
222A, 222B, 222CS, 235, 236A, 236B, 238S, 250, 251B, 260A, 267S,
268S, 272, 273.
Area 3: Language and Literature
108S, 109S, 111A, 111B, 111C, 116S, 117A, 121A, 121B, 123A, 132AS,
139AS, 140A, 140BS, 141B, 144A, 145A, 147C, 151B, 153B, 160S, 161S,
162S, 164S, 165S, 166, 167, 171, 182, 183, 198S, 201S, 203S, 208,
209, 210A, 210B, 213, 214, 215S, 220, 221B, 221C, 240, 260B, 285.
Area 4: Philosophy and Religion
119, 120, 130, 133A, 134C, 135, 144C, 146A, 147A, 153A, 156A, 202A,
202B, 202C, 204, 205, 206, 207, 216, 218S, 219S, 233S, 234A, 234B,
235, 236A, 244, 245, 246, 247A, 247B, 250, 254, 272, 273, 276.
Additional Topics and Seminar Courses
The following topics courses are taught in various disciplines and vary
from semester to semester. They may be taken in any of the above four study
areas depending on the nature of their subjects. Students need to consult with
the Director of Undergraduate Studies to determine how any one of these
courses may be distributed.
21S, 22S, 49S, 50, 100, 100S, 110, 114, 115, 195, 196, 200, 200S.
MEDIEVAL AND RENAISSANCE CORE COURSES
FOCUS Program in Medieval and Renaissance Studies. Two courses taken in
the FOCUS Program in Medieval and Renaissance Studies. Open only to first-
year students. Information on course offerings and descriptions available
from the FOCUS program.
21S. First-Year Seminar: Topics in Medieval Studies. Topics vary according to
instructor: perspectives from history, literature, religion, philosophy, and
the arts. One course. Staff
22S. First-Year Seminar: Topics in Renaissance Studies. Topics vary according
to instructor: perspectives from history, literature, religion, philosophy, and
the arts. One course. Staff
49S. First-Year Seminar. Topics vary each semester offered. One course. Staff
114. Aspects of Medieval Culture. (AL, CZ) A study of historical, literary,
philosophical, and art historical materials introducing medieval culture and
the methods developed for its study. C-L: Art History 139, Classical Studies 139,
and History 116. One course. Rasmussen, Solterer, or Witt
115. Aspects of Renaissance Culture. (AL, CZ) A study of historical, literary,
philosophical, and art historical materials introducing Renaissance culture and
the methods developed for its study. C-L: Art History 149, History 148A, and
Italian 125. One course. Finucci, Rasmussen, Rice, Van Miegroet, or Witt
195, 196. Independent Study. Individual research and reading in a field of
special interest, under the supervision of a faculty member, resulting in a
substantive paper or written report containing significant analysis and
interpretation of a previously approved topic. Usually undertaken by a student
working on an Honors project in consultation with the student's project advisor.
Consent of instructor required. One course each. Staff
OTHER MEDIEVAL AND RENAISSANCE COURSES
Click here for a list of other courses that count toward the
Medieval and Renaissance Studies major or minor.