Why Medieval Studies?

What is Medieval Studies and how does it “fit in” at SMU?

Ranging from the fourth century ad to 1485, from Celtic Britain to Visigothic and Islamic Spain, Byzantium to Persia and the Caliphate, from script to print, from feast to fast, from fine arts to liberal arts, from Augustine to Abelard and beyond, this program offers an intense and condensed liberal education. Studies reveal how the historical shapes, institutional structures, literary visions, and artistic forms that emerged from the Middle Ages have colored our concepts of God, society, self, love, individualism, creativity, and success.

This interdisciplinary program in Medieval Studies at SMU comprises a concentration (a B.A. major, a B.A. minor, and an M.A.) in both the Liberal and the Fine Arts which relies on courses offered in all of the above departments. The Medieval Studies Program affords the student an opportunity for a ‘classically’ liberal education, exploring the literature, language, history, art, music, and belief of the Middle Ages within a broad subset of ‘Western’ (Celtic, Franconic, Italic, Germanic, Visigothic) and ‘non-Western’ (Byzantine, Islamic, Persian) contexts. The chief goal of most majors in the liberal and Fine Arts is to anchor a student’s work in a field that enhances her/his broader undergraduate intellectual experience. Medieval Studies, as an interdisciplinary endeavor, seeks to be a broader envelope for students’ explorations. It is, at once, wholly appropriate pre-professional training in multiple fields which embrace thinking of a broad and analytical sort (ranging from Business to Religious Studies, and from Biology to Music Theory and Foreign Languages/Literatures), and it is also an excellent grounding from which a student can pursue graduate work in Medieval Studies or in such disciplinary fields as Literature, History, Religious Studies, Philosophy, Art History and Music History.