Medieval Studies is an interdisciplinary field that ranges widely across periods and geographies. We usually imagine the Middle Ages as the millennium between the end of classical antiquity and the start of the Renaissance. But concepts and institutions that we take as distinctively modern—the individual, companionate marriage, the state, vernacular languages as expressions of national identity—begin in the Middle Ages. And the Middle Ages return as a powerful source for imaginative expression in the art and literature of the the ninteenth and twentieth centuries and in digital culture in the twenty-first century.
To study such a rich and dynamic period requires a combination of approaches. At Penn State, students combine fields such as history, literature, languages, philosophy, religious studies, and art history. They work with distinguished faculty members who are dedicated to teaching and mentoring students. They study abroad and do internships in museums and cultural institutions. They grow as analytical thinkers with good writing skills, the ability to synthesize disparate materials, and a deep sense of context. In short, they become the educated, resourceful men and women that a globalized modern world requires.
Medieval studies majors can easily combine their programs with other majors at Penn State. Minors can add an important dimension to their studies. Our majors and minors successfully pursue graduate and professional degrees; they become archivists, lawyers, businessmen, historians, publishers, government workers, professors, librarians, teachers, and curators.