Medieval and Early Modern Studies
The program in Medieval and Early Modern Studies is designed to encourage broad understanding of the history of one or more of the major Eurasian religious traditions from their formative periods (in the first millennium C.E.) through the nineteenth century and mastery of a specific area of specialization within that range. The field’s scholarly focus is the relationship between religious traditions and their cultural settings, the study of which is multidisciplinary and can only be undertaken responsibly in concert with colleagues and students from other University departments (including Art and Architectural History, Anthropology, Asian Studies, English, Classics, History, Philosophy, Romance Languages, German, and Comparative Literature).
Students are required to complete the gateway course in the field (a seminar in methods and topics in medieval and early modern religions) early in their time in the program.
Competence in two modern research languages and one classical language (e.g., Latin, Hebrew or literary Chinese) is required of all doctoral students in the field. The modern research languages are commonly French and German, though other research languages may be substituted with the approval of the faculty in the field and the student’s advisor if appropriate for the student’s specific area of research. Candidates for the degree may be required to acquire reading knowledge of other languages relevant to their doctoral research.
Doctoral candidates will be required to pass four written examinations subsequent to the completion of course work.
The first two exams cover intellectual and institutional developments in one of three periods: (1) the formative through the early medieval period; (2) the medieval period; or (3) the early modern period. Candidates will be tested for comprehensive knowledge of the period most directly related to their areas of special interest and for their familiarity with primary sources and interpretive studies.
The third exam permits students to track their area, theme, or topic of special interest through other periods in the history of the religion(s) of primary research interest.
The fourth exam may supplement the third exam or enable the students to track their area, theme, or topic of special interest in the history of other Eurasian religions. The special interests of recent students include such topics as rituals of dedication, penance, ascetic discipline, authority and polity, religion and drama, and hagiography.
Upon completing the written examinations, candidates will be given a final oral examination on the results of their work and plans for dissertation research.