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Medieval Studies Program Changes Name to Reflect Global Perspective

March 28, 2019 — Medieval studies is going global.

This semester, the Medieval Studies Program at Georgetown College is changing its name to the Global Medieval Studies Program in order to reflect a greater emphasis on the study of civilizations outside western Europe.

“The name change indicates a new direction for the program. We will be thinking more incisively about what the term ‘global’ means when applied to the Middle Ages,” said Professor Sarah McNamer, Director of the Medieval Studies Program. “What about interconnections, travel, cultural exchange? Given our interconnected modern world, it is all the more important and interesting to discover the layers of history and culture beneath the modern.”

For Michael Ginsberg (C’20), who is majoring in global medieval studies, the change also served as an effective reminder that “the Middle Ages” is not a Eurocentric term.

“Medievalists around the world wanted to stress the facts of global exchange and connection during this period, in addition to areas outside Europe, which is typically thought of during discussions about this time period,” Ginsberg said.

Students enrolled in the minor can expect to get an interdisciplinary experience, as its courses are taught by professors from a number of different fields, including but not limited to history, law, art history, archaeology, manuscript study, theology, philosophy and languages.

The material itself encompasses a vast period of time and space. The term “Middle Ages” encompasses the period of time between 500 to 1500 C.E., and the program has expanded the study past Europe into Asia and much of Africa. Students are exposed to numerous unique travel abroad opportunities and grants connected to the minor and the program, and many see the experience as a way to stand out in interviews.

“It’s an offbeat minor — and an excellent one to pair with some of the more ‘practical’ majors,” said McNamer.  “Our students report that recruiting season becomes more fun when the question turns to, ‘So, you minored in Global Medieval Studies? Tell us about that!’”

Yasaswini Dandu (B’19), a Global Medieval Studies minor, emphasizes how the major has been how it changes her perspective on history.

“The Medieval Period is a period where we really started to develop some of the critical institution, ideas, and belief systems that we even see or use today,” she said. “Most importantly, the program taught me that the past is not as barbaric or simple as we believe. Our history is a lot more complex, dynamic, and exciting, and it never really leaves us.”

— Darcy Palder

Humanities Initiative
Medieval Studies