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BA Medieval and Renaissance Studies

 Course Level
Bachelors / UG
 Type
Full Time

 Duration
4 Years
 Start month
August

 Tuition fee

International
49498 USD
National
49498 USD

Application fee

International 85 USD
National 85 USD
Department
Medieval and Renaissance Studies
Scores accepted
IELTS (min)7.5
TOEFL-IBT (min)100
TOEFL-PBT (min)600
SAT (avg)1540
ACT (avg)34
20

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About this course

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.

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Eligibility Criteria

The two requirements may be fulfilled in one of two ways: (1) by taking the Medieval and Renaissance Studies Focus program; or (2) by taking two courses that satisfy a Medieval Cultures and Renaissance Cultures requirement. Students following the second option need to consult with the program coordinator to select courses that may count toward this requirement.

In addition to these two courses, students must take the remaining eight elective 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.

Each program is tailored to the needs and interests of the student. After discussion with the director of undergraduate studies or another advisor for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, the student submits a provisional program of study outlining special interdisciplinary interests. Normally the program is planned before the end of the sophomore year to allow time to acquire a working knowledge of languages pertinent to specific interests.

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Course Modules

105.01 Old Worlds/New Histories, 500-1500 CE. (Also History 105.01, African and American Studies 134.01)
Kaiwar
WF 11:45 - 1:00
Course study area: History

Synopsis:
Examines the world before European hegemony. Topics may include nature of autonomous centers of production around the globe; characteristics of trade, empire, science, technology, and high culture across Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and the Americas; diffusion of inventions, ideas, cultures and religions through travel, trade, state and empire building. Readings and films explore diverse cosmopolitan worlds before the coming of modernity.

125.01 Early Modern Europe (Also History 117.01)
Martin
WF 10:05 - 11:20
CCI, CZ, SS, STS
Course study area: History

Synopsis:
A survey of Europe between approx. 1440-1750 that highlights changes in European society including the end of the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Scientific Revolution and the European encounter with other regions of the world. 

190FS.01 Venice in the Renaissance: Commercial Base, Cultural Center, Artistic Hub (Also Italian 190FS.01)
Finucci
MW 1:25 - 2:40
ALP, CZ, CCI
Course study area: Focus Program

Synopsis:
From Marco Polo, who traveled all the way to China, to the Zen brothers, who explored parts of the New World a century before Columbus in their quest for rewarding commercial routes, Venetians have passed to history as business men and brave adventurers. This course aims at uncovering how Venice constructed a self-glorifying myth as the "in" trading and luxury place of the early modern times by fostering trade, encouraging art, embracing technological innovations, educating its citizens, and governing justly. Noblemen and merchants from all over Europe and the Near East flocked to Venice to admire its natural beauty and its citizens' flamboyant habits, to bask in its culture, to check its reputation of openness (also in regard to gender relations), and to visit the artists' shops. In short, Venice had created the myth of a city born on barren land and isolated by water, but unified for five centuries by a trusting populace, benevolent institutions, commercial self-assurance, and skillful diplomacy. To recreate these various facets of Venetian life in the early modern period we will concentrate on official transcripts, contemporary accounts, corporation notes, trial documents, travel literature, plays (such as Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice and Othello), novellas, letters, and films.

190FS.02 Cross-Cultural Encounters (Also Religion 190FS)
Hassan
MW 3:05 - 4:20
CCI, CZ
Course study area: Focus Program

Synopsis:
The dynamics of cross-cultural interaction actively shape the world in which we live, from global financial transactions to diverse forms of entertainment. Yet long before the current period of globalization, peoples from different cultural regions and religious traditions were engaged in a vibrant exchange of ideas, ways, and commodities. In this class, we explore some of the religious, military, and commercial forces that fostered the increasingly global contacts of the premodern era. Among the topics we will examine are the spread of some of the world's major religious traditions, the contours of cultural and material exchange during the Era of the Crusades, and the world travels of Arab, European, and Chinese explorers. How did religious networks, processes, and events foster the historic exchange of ideas, practices, and commodities across Afro-Eurasia? How did these interactions shape and reshape the Old World? We will investigate these questions by considering a diverse array of sources, including historical chronicles, architectural sites, travel accounts, cultural artifacts, and films. 

190FS.03 Work and Worship in Europe, 800-1500 (Also History 190FS)
Morrow
MW 11:45 - 1:00
CZ, CCI, EI, W 
Course study area: Focus Program

Synopsis:
No matter the task—plowing a field, reciting prayers, weaving cloth, pledging arms, singing Psalms, brewing beer—daily rituals defined peoples' lives in the premodern world. Work and worship varied greatly across Europe from the early Middle Ages to the Renaissance, and we will study how different kinds of work and religious practices shaped families and communities, social and political relationships, and the perceptions of others outside of one's social/religious group. Underlying our investigation is the tension between ideology (beliefs and ethics—what was taught and preached) and pragmatic behavior (actuality—how beliefs and ideals got worked out in specific historical contexts). We will structure this study by comparing differing regional cultures: communal Italy, Muslim and Christian Spain, insular Britain, rural and urban France and Germany. Of keen interest will be how men's and women's experiences compared and contrasted, and our interpretations will be grounded on a variety of primary sources, such as letters, literature, treaties, manuscript illuminations, and maps. The class is designated as writing intensive: students will deepen their knowledge of the course material by engaging in the writing process through a series of shorter essays, reflecting on how the writing process (of historical sources and of class assignments) shapes the knowledge produced in written texts.

190S.01 Medieval Castles of Europe: Design, Construction, and Defense (Also Art History 190S)
Triplett
TUTH 1:25 - 2:40
ALP, CZ, STS
Course study area: Fine Arts

Synopsis:
This course will examine the transition of Western Europe into a fortified landscape from the mid-11th century until the advent of large-scale artillery in the mid-15th century. The castles of Spain will be discussed in greatest detail, but these will be supplemented by influential examples from other parts of Europe and the Near East. In addition to tracking technological and stylistic changes over time, this course will identify the discrete elements of fortification that were combined into a variety of castle plans. Natural resources and physical topography will emerge as central factors in the choice of site and design for medieval castles. As a way of investigating these topics, students will digitally reconstruct a historical or imagined castle in 3D graphics at a specific place and time covered in the course.

190S.02 Reading Historically: Memory in Early Modern Literature (Also English 182S.01)
Giugni
TUTH 3:05 - 4:20
W, ALP
Course study are: Language & Literature

Synopsis:
"That one moment brings more forgetfulness to me than twenty-five centuries have brought to the endeavor that startled Neptune with the Argo's shadow!" (Dante, Paradiso, Canto 33) Words and memory fail Dante as he attempts to narrate the culminating vision of his journey through hell, purgatory, and heaven. As he writes the last canto of the Divine Comedy, this crucial spiritual experience seems centuries away. But for Dante, as well as for the other authors we will study in this course, memory, with its failures and distortions, shapes the stories we piece together from the past and prepares us to make sense of the future. The Ghost from Hamlet demands to be remembered and avenged; in Book 1 of the Faerie Queene, the Redcrosse Knight must recall and acknowledge his past sins before he can slay the dragon. In these texts, memory weaves dead voices and past actions into the present lives of their characters.

This course will explore the relationship between memory and narrative. What are the stakes of forgetfulness and remembrance in late medieval and early modern literature? We will trace how plays, allegories, collections of poems, and confessional narratives reflect on the importance of memory in helping us create a sense of self—by remembering our past actions, we create our present identity.

Our readings will focus on the early modern period (1500-1700). The course will begin with Bunyan's fascinating allegory of conversion, The Pilgrim's Progress. If conversion involves the forming of a new (better) identity, how is the relationship between the past and present life understood and narrated? What role does memory play in keeping the converted individual from slipping back into sin? We will explore how religious writers such as Donne, Herbert, and Foxe; playwrights such Shakespeare and Marlowe; and the poet-courtiers Spenser and Sidney approach these and similar questions. To better understand these early modern authors, we will move back in time and trace some of the literary and philosophical roots of their view of memory and recollection.

Readings may include: Plato, Meno; selections from Cicero; Augustine, Confessions; Dante, Inferno; anonymous, Pearl; Spenser, The Faerie Queene (Book 1); Sidney, Arcadia; Marlowe, Dr. Faustus; Donne, Devotions and poetry selections; selections from Herbert, The Temple; selections from Foxe,Acts and Monuments; Shakespeare, Hamlet; and Bunyan, Pilgrim's Progress. Course assignments will include short weekly reading responses, a close reading exercise (2-3 pages), and two medium length papers (6-8 pages). In addition to practicing and developing your skills in reading and writing about literary texts, you will be asked to actively participate in class and to lead discussion on an assigned text. 

190S.03 Gateway Seminar: Premodern Disease (Also History 185S.01)
Malegam
MW 10:05 - 11:20
CCI, CZ
Course study area: History

Synopsis:
Using primary sources students will explore the impact, management and changing definitions of disease in various premodern societies. We look at disease in the context of encounters, environmental change and state formation between 100 and 1700 CE. Not just understood as a biological phenomenon, disease can also work as signifying system, creating status hierarchies and highlighting particular social and political anxieties. Through the study of five or six historical epidemics, students will learn how to create historical resources out of medical sources. 

201S.01 Music History I: Antiquity through the Renaissance (Also Music 255S)
Brothers
MWF 1:40 - 2:30
ALP, CCI, CZ
Course study area: Fine Arts

Synopsis:
Prerequisite: Music 261 or consent of instructor. A survey of European music from the early Middle Ages through the early seventeenth century. The learning goals of this class are: 1) to advance musical skills of score reading, analysis and listening; 2) to gain general knowledge about an unfamiliar period of European music history; 3) to develop writing and research skills. The course is divided into these three modules:
1. The Golden Age of Monophonic Music. Medieval monophony, sacred and secular
2. Polyphony from the Early Period through the 15th Century Music Theory and the "quadrivium"; inventions in notation and rhythmic organization; harmony; the motet, Josquin Desprez and the cantus-firmus mass cycle. 
3. The Rhetorical Model of the High Renaissance and the Birth of Opera: Madrigal, Motet and Instrumental Music; The Birth of Opera, ca. 1600; modern trends in the early 17th century. 

215.01 Gothic Cathedrals (Also History 225.01)
Bruzelius
MWF 11:45 - 12:35
ALP, CCI, CZ, R
Course study area: Fine Arts

Synopsis:
Great cathedrals of Europe in England, Germany, and Italy, with a special focus on France, from roughly 1140 to 1270, and their construction, financing, and role in the fabric of medieval city life. The urban context of each city, the history of the site and its relics, and the artistic and technological developments that made the construction of these complex and large-scale structures possible. A consideration of Romanesque precedents and the origins of the various structural elements of Gothic architecture. 

255.01 The Caribbean, 1492-1700 (Also History 318.01, African and American Studies 218.01) 
Gaspar
MWF 1:40 - 2:30
CCI, CZ
Course study area: History

Synopsis:
The Caribbean region from the arrival of Columbus (1492) to the emergence of sugar and slavery as powerful shapers of society and culture, by 1700. 

246.01 Italian Baroque Art (Also Art History 256.01)
Lanzoni
MW 3:05 - 4:20
CCI, ALP, CZ
Course study area: Fine Arts

Synopsis:
This course will trace the development of the Italian baroque in architecture, sculpture and painting. It will consider a variety of themes relevant to Baroque artistic production, including religious influences on the art of the period, namely the Reformation and the Catholic Counter Reformation; economic influences; central versus peripheral locations; issues of gender and sexuality; patronage; architectural site and meaning; urban planning and transformation; the artist, his workshop and rivalries; decoding the myths of artistic genius; and seventeenth-century primary sources. 

259.01 Europe before the Crusades (Also History 245.01)
Malegam
MW 1:25 - 2:40
CCI, CZ
Course study area: History

Synopsis:
Foundations of European politics and society from 450 to 1000, when imperial Roman religion melded with the world of Goths, Celts and Franks, and custom and conflict sustained law and order. Ideas of Christian empire developed during Charlemagne's reign and manifested in the violence of the First Crusade. 

281.01 Reformation Europe (Also History 257.001)
Robisheaux
MWF 3:20 - 4:10
CCI, CZ
Course study area: History

Synopsis:
The interplay of social, economic, and political developments in Central Europe from the eve of the Reformation to the end of the Thirty Years' War, with particular attention to the links between religion, gender, and the social order.

290S.01 Introduction to Shakespeare (Also English 290S.04)
Also English 290S.04)
MW 1:25 - 2:40
Course study area: Language & Literature

Synopsis:
We will look closely at a representative selection of Shakespeare's best-known plays, including comedies, histories, tragedies, romances, and problem comedies, including such works as Taming of the Shrew, Midsummer Night's Dream, Twelfth Night, I Henry IV, Measure for Measure, Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Antony and Cleopatra. In class I will provide a sense of the historical situation and how the theater participated in the burning political, sexual, and aesthetic debates of its day. 

290S.02 Medieval and Early Modern Literature: Law and Literature (Also English 290S.05)
Werlin
WF 1:25 - 2:40
EI, R, W, ALP, CZ
Course study area: Language & Literature

Synopsis:
HCrime, guilt, punishment, and the search for justice drive countless literary plots, from Greek tragedy and Norse sagas to contemporary detective fiction. They are also all central to legal history. In this class, we will examine the intersection of law and literature to consider how both discourses rely on and create narratives of justice. By considering trial reports, expert testimony, Supreme Court decisions, and classic reflections on crime, property, rights, proof, and evidence, we will think about how legal structures shape the stories we tell. At the same time, we will use literary texts to examine the ways in which legal categories, including theft, murder, and marriage reflect complex social realities. We will also ask what techniques of literary interpretation can teach us about legal interpretation, and vice versa. How can theories of characterization help us analyze the use of character witnesses? Can changes in legal standards of evidence help to explain the rise of detective fiction? Are court trials a literary genre?

Primary readings will include Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, Austen's Pride and Prejudice, Kafka's Before the Law, and stories by Arthur Conan Doyle and Flannery O'Connor, as well as crime reporting and court decisions. Secondary readings will be drawn from philosophers of law including Aristotle, Locke, Mill and Hart; historians; and literary scholars. Assignments will include short responses, two papers, and a research project that examines a legal issue in light of its literary representation

331.01 Shakespeare before 1600 (Also English 336.01, Theater Studies 336.01)
Porter
TUTH 1:25 - 2:40
EI, R, ALP
Course study area: Language & Literature

Synopsis:
This course immerses us in the first half of the career of the world's peerless writer. The class will watch the playwright take his early steps with the lurid self-indulgence of Titus Andronicus, before outdistancing his rival Marlowe and finding his stride in the lyric plays Romeo and Juliet, Richard II, and his first complete masterpiece A Midsummer Night's Dream. Then in three history plays we will watch him engage questions of legitimacy of government, and of personal loyalty, in the friendship and rivalry between Prince Hal, and the great bewitching personality of Falstaff. Then the class will follow Shakespeare as he stretches the genre of comedy-in The Merchant of Venice with its scrutiny of racism and nascent capitalism, in Much Ado about Nothing with Beatrice and Benedick's flirtation by insult, and in As You Like It where Shakespeare's protofeminism flowers in the beloved Rosalind when, disguised as the boy Ganymede, she pretends to be herself. Finally, with Shakespeare as the preeminent dramatist in London, we will see him take on a major turning point in the history of western culture, in Julius Caesar. The class will learn about major currents in contemporary Shakespeare study—"intertextual, feminist, queer, and cultural study"--and powerful new resources including machine-searchable archives of Shakespeare's own works and also of the texts he himself read and used. As time permits, we will watch and discuss clips of the plays in question. 

337.01 Milton (Also English 338S.01)
Aers
TUTH 10:05-11:20
R, ALP
Course study area: Language & Literature; Religion & Philosophy

Synopsis:
Why would anyone want to spend a whole semester studying John Milton's writings and their seventeenth-century contexts? The answer is the extraordinary scope and utterly brilliant quality of the writing in often very demanding but exquisite poetry as well as in passionate prose. This scope includes explorations in ethics, politics and theology on topics that should still be of central concern to us.

John Milton left Cambridge as an orthodox member of the Church of England. He died (in 1674) as one who had rejected this church, defended the execution of its governor (Charles I) and generated a theological system which included a dense cluster of positions which where startlingly "heretical" in terms not only of the magisterial Reformation but also of Catholic traditions. His unfinished treatiseChristian Doctrine begins with a statement which sets up the inquiry pursued in this seminar: "If I were to say that I had focused my studies principally upon Christian doctrine because nothing else can so effectually wipe away those two repulsive afflictions, tyranny and superstition, from human life and the human mind, I should show that I had been concerned not for religion but for life's well being." As both this statement and the title of this class suggest, poetry, politics and theology are inextricably bound together in Milton's work. We aim to read much of the poetry and areas of the prose that will provide a rich sense of his theological and political reflections and enable us to have well-informed discussions about the complex relations between the great poems and his evolving theology. For Milton's approaches to theology, ecclesiology and politics belong to a revolutionary moment in which unprecedented thoughts and practices emerged in England. How did Milton and his writing respond to the defeat of the revolution and the restoration of Crown, Church of England, episcopacy and the attempt to suppress nonconforming groups? There has been a strong tendency in recent Milton scholarship to revise the Whig version of Milton into one that fits the narratives of secular postmodernity and some people taking this class may find it offers opportunities to interrogate some of these grand stories.

It will be helpful to read a competent biography on Milton before this class: I suggest Gordon Campbell and Thomas Corns, John Milton: Life, Work, and Thought. Because we will be reading substantial, complex works, the more Milton you read before class the better. The set text (required) isThe Complete Prose and Essential Poetry of John Milton edited by John Kerrigan and others (Random House). Before the first class, make sure that you have AT LEAST read (1) "On the Morning of Christ's Nativity"; (2) "The Passion"; (3) "Ad Patrem"; and (4) A Masque presented at Ludlow, also known as, Comus.

Note on grades, class format, and expectations

This is a seminar and attendance/participation is mandatory. Unwarranted absences will result in failing the course. The grade comes from two essays (8-10 pages), which must be submitted by the given deadline to count. There will be no exams.

Please also note well: laptops and other electronic devices are not to be used in class. A seminar is a dialogic form of learning, very different to a lecture class. In my experience, laptops act as an impediment to the kinds of attention and communication I consider essential to a flourishing seminar. Also, since we will have more than enough to chew on already, please refrain from eating during class. 

390S.01 Topics in Medieval and Renaissance Studies: Travel, Experience, and the Making of Knowledge in Spain and the Americas, 16th-17th Centuries (Also Spanish 490S.01)
Vilches
TUTH 1:25 - 2:40
CCI, FL, CZ
Taught in Spanish. There is a prerequisite of two years of Spanish.
Course study area: Renaissance Cultures; Language & Literature; History

Synopsis:
This course explores new cultural forms and the making of knowledge springing from imperial and commercial expansion throughout the Spanish territories during the long sixteenth century. This dynamism of motion, relocation, and mutation changed things across the Hispanic world extending from Spain to the Americas and to the Philippines, creating new understandings of personhood, space, place, nature, health, wealth, and objects of value. The interaction of these geographical areas through conquest, colonization, and trade resulted in travel writings illustrating the rise of practical knowledge in a variety of areas combining navigation, map-making, topography, natural history, and pharmacology. Thus the course studies how primary readings interact with non-western epistemologies, on one hand, and maps, on the other.

550.01 Early and Medieval Christianity (Also Church History 750)
Smith
MW 2:30 - 3:45
Note: Preceptorial required
CZ
Course study area: Religion & Philosophy

Synopsis:
A survey of the history of Christianity from its beginnings through the fifteenth century. Also offered as a Divinity School course. Open to juniors and seniors only. 

615S.01 Dante Studies. Dante's Friends: Brunetto Latini, Guido Cavalcanti, Cino da Pistoia, and Philosophia (AAlso Italian 583S.01 and Literature 583S.01)
Eisner
TU 3:05 - 5:35
ALP, CCI, CZ
Course study area: Language & Literature

Synopsis:
An examination of how Dante's complex and often contentious friendships shaped his intellectual and poetic development. Readings from Brunetto's Trésor and Dante's Commedia, Vita nuova, De vulgari eloquentia, and Convivio will be paired with recent critical interventions in medieval and Dante studies. The course is open to graduate students and advanced undergraduates. Taught in English. 

655.01 Early Christian Asceticism (Also Religion 634.01)
Andrew Crislip
TU 4:40 - 7:10
CCI, EI, ALP, CZ
Course study area: Religion & Philosophy

Synopsis:
The development of asceticism and monasticism in the first six centuries of Christianity. 

690S-2.01 Topics in Renaissance Studies: Body, Anatomy, and Gender (Also Italian 590S-1.01, Art History 590S.01, History 590S.02, Literature 590S.02)
Finucci
W 3:05 - 5:35
ALP, CZ, CCI
Course study area: Renaissance Cultures; Language & Literature; Fine Arts; History

Synopsis:
This course will focus on early modern conceptions of the human body and study the period's attitudes toward anatomy, sex, and gender. What kinds of discoveries and experimentations a newly authorized practice of dissection brought about? Concentrating (mostly but not exclusively) on Italy, where the first two medical schools of the Renaissance—in Padua and Bologna—were opened (Paris was the only other university offering a medical degree at the time), we will study the developments in medicine and anatomy in the early modern period through public and private documents, literary texts (such as novellas and poems), plays, even drawings and paintings, and concentrate on topics such as the beautiful body, the youthful body, the aging body, the virgin's body, the mother's body, the pathological body, the problematic body, and the hysterical body as well as on the meanings of paternity and maternity from both a socio-legal and anatomical point of view. 

 

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How to Apply

The application will ask you to provide biographical and academic information, to detail your extracurricular activities and to do a bit of personal essay writing. It also includes forms for school officials to complete on your behalf. It is acceptable if your school forms and/or teacher recommendations are submitted on paper, even though your portion of the application will be submitted online.

Both the Common Application and the Coalition Application include a one-page personal essay. In addition, both include two short essay questions that are specific to Duke and that offer you the opportunity to share your unique interests and perspective. One of the short essay questions is required, and the other is optional--and yes, it is truly optional! You can submit your short writing with or after the other student portions of the application, no later than the application deadline.

All candidates for admission must complete one of the following standardized testing options: the ACT, including writing, or the SAT, including the essay for students who choose to submit the new SAT. For students who submit the SAT, two SAT Subject Tests are strongly recommended. Students who have taken multiple tests may choose which scores to send to Duke. For students who elect to send multiple test scores Duke will use whichever score is highest.

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