Please note: This is NOT the most current catalog.

Medieval Studies

Director, 2010-11: Anne H. Groton (Classics), Greek and Roman drama

Founded by the Department of Classics in 1971, the medieval studies program is one of St. Olaf’s oldest interdisciplinary programs. In scope it spans the more than ten centuries between the fall of the Roman Empire and the flowering of the Renaissance. Combining art, history, language, literature, philosophy, and religion, it encourages students to take a broad look at medieval European culture, examining it from multiple perspectives.

The Medieval Studies Program has no courses of its own; instead it relies on courses offered by individual departments. Students who major in medieval studies choose electives from among the various departmental courses that deal primarily or entirely with the Middle Ages. Many of these courses also satisfy general education requirements. The required courses in Latin can simultaneously fulfill the college's foreign language requirement.

It is common for St. Olaf students to combine a medieval studies major with a B.A. major like art history, English, history, music, philosophy, or religion. Even mathematics or natural science majors often complete a second major in medieval studies. The major provides a useful background in the humanities for students interested in virtually any career.


The objectives of the major are competence in Latin at the intermediate level, familiarity with medieval European civilizations, and in-depth knowledge of one subject area within the major.

Any student interested in a medieval studies major should draw up a contract with the program’s director. The contract may be changed at any time up to second semester of the senior year.



Every student majoring in medieval studies completes the fourth semester (or higher) of Latin, a medieval history course, a medieval literature course, four electives chosen from various departments, and an independent research. The required courses are Latin 235: Medieval Latin (or higher); History 211: The Early Middle Ages or 212: The High and Late Middle Ages or a comparable course in medieval history; English 221: Literatures in English to 1650 or a comparable course in medieval literature.

Students choose five electives, one of which must be an independent research, from the following (when the content of the course includes the medieval period):

Art 150: Introduction to Art History I
Art 263: Medieval Art
Art 275: Topics in Art History
English 241: King Arthur Through the Ages
English 246: Women's Literature
English 262: Topics: Literature and History
English 330: Advanced Studies in Literary Eras: British
English 391: Major British Authors
English 395: Chaucer from an Ethical Perspective
English 399: The Major Seminar
French 273: Period Studies
French 372: Topics in Francophone Studies
French 373: Genre Studies
German 372: Topics in German Studies
Great Conversation 116: The Tradition Redefined: The Medieval Synthesis
History 111: Viking and Medieval Scandinavia
History 115: Courtly Love in the Middle Ages
History 188: Topical Seminar
History 190: Europe from the Ancients to the Renaissance
History 210: Major Seminar: European History
History 310: Seminar: Medieval Europe
Music 345: Advanced Study in Music History
Norwegian 399: Seminar
Philosophy 374: Seminar in the History of Philosophy
Religion 234: Luther and Aquinas: Protestant and Catholic Theology in Dialogue
Religion 246: Islam -- Religion and Community
Religion 302: History of Christian Thought I
Religion 303: History of Christian Thought II
Religion 392: Studies in Religion Seminar
Religion 399: Thematic Seminar
Theatre 270: History of Theater up to 1700

298: Independent Study
398: Independent Research

Interim courses such as
Art 255: Italian Art in Context (abroad)
Art 271: Gothic Art
Classics 128: The Fall of the Roman Empire and the Rise of Christianity
History 237: Women in Medieval Europe
Norwegian 240: Vikings in Literature: Medieval to Modern
Religion 259: Religion and Culture in Rome (abroad)
Religion 262: Catholic Rome, Lutheran Wittenberg (abroad)

Religion 272: Sacred Place in Greece and Turkey (abroad)

and other courses offered occasionally or only once (including courses at Carleton College) may also be used as electives.

See the director for information on courses offered in a particular year.


To attain distinction in medieval studies, a student must demonstrate talent with Latin, skill in conducting research on a medieval topic, and broad knowledge of medieval European civilization. Specific guidelines are available from the director of medieval studies. Medieval studies majors who wish to pursue distinction should notify the director of the program no later than January 1 of their senior year.