Medieval and Early Modern Studies

Immerse yourself in time: from the Renaissance to the French Revolution.

Cornell students in discussionThe medieval and early modern studies (MEMS) program is designed to help you gain an awareness of the interconnectedness of historical, cultural, and artistic developments in Europe from the eighth through the seventeenth centuries.

Cornell College block plan

What is the block plan?

“Medieval and early modern studies is an exciting opportunity for self-starting students to build their own major around a passion for the Middle Ages and challenge themselves through reading and research.” -Michelle Herder, Associate Professor of History

MEMS courses range from the study of revolutions in religious belief to the impact of the printing press on literature and culture, from artistic representations of she-devils to the writings of political and moral philosophers, and from Charlemagne to Falstaff.

One Course At A Time allows an immersive study of the distant past, letting you really dig into the exciting and unfamiliar culture of the European Middle Ages and Renaissance. In a course on the Crusades, you will work with other students to develop a map-based website exploring its history. You might experience Renaissance politics through immersive simulations in which you play the roles of Florentine politicians or members of Parliament. Other students have adapted medieval French romances into digital games.

You’ll work directly with a faculty advisor to develop an individualized major plan in medieval and early modern studies, including work in languages, history, arts, and literature, culminating in a capstone research or creative project.

Ingenuity in action

Medieval and early modern studies is an interdisciplinary program that benefits from Cornell's Ingenuity curriculum, which enables you to delve deeper into your studies through research seminars led by Cornell faculty at Chicago's Newberry Library, research fellowships through the Cornell Fellows Program, and off-campus semesters in Florence or London-Florence.

Sara Renaud '18

Medieval and Modern Studies major and a French minor

"I was first looking for a school that had a Department of Medieval & Early Modern Studies as a major, since I knew from the beginning that is what I wanted to study. When I came across Cornell, and One Course At A Time, I was really intrigued. When I learned more about the small class sizes and visited campus, I could just see myself here."

Learn more about the block plan