Courses of Study 2021-2022 
    Feb 24, 2024  
Courses of Study 2021-2022 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Medieval Studies

In the College of Arts and Sciences .

Course Offerings  


A. Hicks, director; F.M. Ahl, B. Anderson, E. Born, R. Brann, C. Brittain, O. Falk, L. Ferri, A. Galloway, K. Haines-Eitzen, A. Hicks, T.D. Hill, T.J. Hinrichs, C. Howie, S. MacDonald, S. Manning, M. Migiel, J.S. Mokhtarian, J.A. Peraino, S. Pinet, M. Raskolnikov, E. Rebillard, C. Robinson, C. Roby, D.X. Warner, M.L. Weiss, S. Zacher. Emeriti: E.W. Browne, A.M. Colby-Hall, A.B. Groos, W.E. Harbert, P.R. Hyams, J.J. John, C.V. Kaske, W.J. Kennedy, P.I. Kuniholm, J.M. Najemy, S. Senderovich, W. Wetherbee

Undergraduate Study in Medieval Studies:

Students derive many benefits from pursuing such a minor, as they do from taking courses in medieval cultures, languages, and literature generally. The Medieval Studies Program houses a lively undergraduate association, Quodlibet, which arranges frequent lectures on medieval topics and an annual celebratory reading of prose and poetry in many medieval languages. Cornell’s students and scholars pursuing varied interests in these many realms constitute a strong and supportive community. This community hosts, on average, two to three annual conferences on various medieval topics, including one devoted to student research in the spring and one on Old Norse in the summer. Course work in medieval studies enhances the student’s enjoyment and understanding of the artistic and material relics of the Middle Ages: Gregorian chant, illuminated manuscripts and stained glass windows, Gothic cathedrals, Crusader castles, and picturesque towns cramped within ancient walls. The student will discover the serious realities involved in, and shaped by, Arthurian tales of knights and ladies, dungeons, dragons, and other marvels. Students can analyze and appreciate the horrors of the Black Death, triumphs in courtly love and pitched battle, swords and scimitars, caliphs and popes, fear of demons and djinns, and angels. The period saw many of the foundational choices that have, for good and ill, made the world what it is today. Many of our current challenges in the fields of law, human rights, attitudes toward power, authority, gender relations, and sexual mores derive from the ways in which these and other questions were formulated a millennium ago. Many of the courses listed by the Medieval Studies Program pertain specifically to these fields, as well as to the interdisciplinary combinations for which the program is noted.

Medieval Studies Minor:

Undergraduate students may pursue an undergraduate minor in medieval studies, for which they must complete five courses (of which up to two may also count toward their major) at the 2000-level or above in at least two different disciplines. Interested students should begin the study of a medieval language as early as possible so that they may be able to study texts in the original before they graduate. Students should seek out an advisor, and may wish to consult with the director. Those completing a minor will receive a notification on their transcripts and a certificate signed by the director; students who are completing undergraduate minors are eligible for the Miller Scholarship offered by the Telluride Association, funding a year at the Central European University in Budapest, Hungary.

Viking Studies Minor:

Students may also pursue an undergraduate major in Viking Studies, for which they must complete 16 course credits distributed as follows: 12 credits selected from a wide variety of courses on the literature, history, archaeology, and languages of the Viking Age and the Viking Diaspora (including courses abroad), and 4-credit capstone course ( ENGL 3080 - Icelandic Family Sagas  and/or HIST 3200 - The Viking Age .

Medieval Languages:

Medieval texts (like all others) become most lively and informative when read in the original, and Cornell fortunately offers many courses for students interested in acquiring the relevant skills: Medieval Latin, Old English, Middle English, Gothic, Old Saxon, Old High German, Middle High German, Old Norse-Icelandic, Old Irish, Middle Welsh, Old Occitan (Provençal), Old French, Medieval Spanish, Medieval Italian, Old Russian, Old Church Slavonic, Classical Arabic, Medieval Hebrew, Classical Chinese, and Classical Japanese.

Some medieval languages require study of a modern language (e.g., French for Old Occitan and Old French) or a classical language (Classical Latin for Medieval Latin) as background. Students are advised to consult the sponsoring departments for information about the prerequisites for various medieval languages.

Graduate Study:

The Medieval Studies Program offers both an interdisciplinary and a literary comparative Ph.D. in medieval studies. Disciplinary fields of concentration offered within the field of medieval studies are medieval archaeology, medieval history, medieval history of art, medieval literature, medieval music, medieval philology and linguistics, and medieval philosophy. Information about the graduate Program in Medieval Studies is available from the field coordinator (, and at Cornucopia, the program’s website (