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Medieval and Renaissance Studies Major Guide for 2016-2017

What is Medieval and Renaissance Studies?

Medieval and Renaissance Studies at UT is the examination of the rich period between 200 C.E. to 1700 C.E. from the perspectives of several academic disciplines: history, literature, languages, art history, religious studies, music, archaeology, political science, and philosophy. The objective of the program is to allow a student to explore the cultural, political, and economic dynamism of the pre-modern world.

The Medieval Studies program, which centered on the Middle Ages (500 C.E. – 1500 C.E.), was one of the first interdisciplinary programs established at UT. Because of its success and appeal, faculty in the program recently chose to broaden its scope into the Renaissance (1400 – 1700). Our excellent faculty resources make it possible to offer many concentrations within the program. Some popular ones are the late Classical/early medieval Mediterranean world; religious and cultural contact in the Middle Ages; and the insular culture of medieval England. New areas include the European epic tradition; art and music of the European Renaissance; history of the book; and the theatrical cultures of Shakespeare and his contemporaries.

The Medieval and Renaissance Studies Program is now housed in and administered by UT’s Marco Institute for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, an interdisciplinary organization of faculty and graduate students to promote scholarship and teaching in the early periods.

Career Opportunities in Medieval and Renaissance Studies

Because Medieval and Renaissance Studies is an inter­disciplinary program, students who major or minor in the program have a good chance to develop a highly valued skill set that includes

  • critical evaluation
  • textual analysis and creative interpretation
  • historical understanding
  • communication skills
  • synthesizing information from several disciplines

These skills are marketable to virtually any employer.  Some of our majors have gone on to careers in law, business, government, and advertising.

Students who want to pursue an even deeper understanding of the Middle Ages and Renaissance usually choose to go to graduate school to prepare for a career in teaching and research. They generally find that their interdisciplinary preparation serves them well in their graduate studies. Others who want to apply their knowledge and skills immediately often go to work for institutions with a historical or educational mission, such as museums and libraries.

Salary Trends in Medieval and Renaissance Studies

A degree in arts and sciences prepares students for many types of careers. Your college major is not necessarily the deciding factor in your career choice. As with any degree, pre-professional experience (for example, volunteering, work experience, and internships) increases your chances of obtaining the job you want and affects your potential salary.

High School Preparation

The best high school preparation for medieval and Renaissance studies is to indulge your interest in the history and culture of the early periods at every opportunity.

If your school offers it, take Latin. Mastery of Latin is essential to in depth study of pre-modern Europe, because most of the documentation of that period was written in Latin, the language of European scholars of the time.

Supplement your history courses with independent reading about the Middle Ages and Renaissance — your history teachers can get you started with some good choices. Go to films set in the period and compare their presentation of the times with what you have read.

If these opportunities are not available where you live, don’t worry — you can still thrive in the Medieval and Renaissance Studies Program. Many students in the program have been drawn to the early periods only after starting at UT. They then choose Latin to fulfill their language requirement in the College of Arts and Sciences and catch up quickly with those who studied it in high school.

How to Major in Medieval and Renaissance Studies

Meet with the chair of the Medieval and Renaissance Studies Program as soon as you begin to think seriously about a major in Medieval and Renaissance Studies. He or she will help you plan an individualized curriculum that best suits your range of interests and particular strengths. We recommend that you begin or continue to study Latin, and if you plan graduate study in the field, take at least one additional language.

Requirements for Medieval and Renaissance Studies

  1. Medieval and Renaissance Studies 201, “Medieval Civilization I” OR Medieval and Renaissance Studies 202, “Medieval Civilization II”
  2. History 314, “Renaissance Europe”
  3. Medieval and Renaissance Studies 403, “Seminar in Medieval and Renaissance Studies”
  4. 6 hours of 200-level foundational courses
  5. 15 hours of upper-division courses focusing on the Medieval and Renaissance experience from at least two different departments.

These courses must be chosen in consultation with the chair of the Medieval and Renaissance Studies Interdisciplinary Program.

Special Programs, Co-ops, and Internships

Students with a special interest in the Middle Ages and Renaissance are encouraged to participate in the many activities and public lectures sponsored by the Medieval and Renaissance Studies Program and the Marco Institute for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, and to participate in the annual Marco Undergraduate Conference. Students are also encouraged to submit appropriate papers to the annual Keith Taylor Undergraduate Essay Prize.

Highlights of Medieval and Renaissance Studies

Each year the Marco Institute sponsors at least one symposium on a topic of medieval or Renaissance interest, one Manuscript Workshop for scholars of manuscript studies, several public lectures, and a weekly medieval Latin sight-reading group, among others.  In 2013 Marco hosted its third annual Undergraduate Conference. All of these events are free and open to the public.  If you’d like to receive informational emails about these events, please inquire at

Ready for the World logo

Medieval and Renaissance Studies is global in its scope and concerns. We advise, encourage and direct students to pursue their work by spending time abroad in classes or research projects.

“Ready for the World” is part of a long-range plan to transform the UTK campus into a culture of diversity that best prepares students for working and competing in the 21st century.  Thus students are encouraged to actively participate in the diverse cultural programs offered on campus.  Some of these events include the guest lecture series, cultural nights at the International House, and international film screenings.  Learn more about UT’s Ready for the World initiative to help students gain the international and intercultural knowledge they need to succeed in today’s world.

Students are also encouraged to develop a global perspective within their academic program through study abroad.  The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, offers study abroad programs in Asia, Europe, Africa, Australia, South America, and North America. Program lengths vary from mini-term trips to the entire academic year, and students may choose to fulfill general education requirements, study a foreign language, or take courses within their majors. In addition, UTK offers students opportunities for international internships.

Students are highly encouraged to begin planning early in their academic career and to consult with an academic advisor about the best time to study abroad as well as what courses to take abroad. For more information about program options, the application process, and how to finance study abroad, please visit the Programs Abroad Office website.

Experience Learning

Experience Learning LogoExperience Learning is a bold new initiative with the goal of transforming the educational student experience at the University of Tennessee. Over a five-year period, UT will transform our culture to give students more opportunities to be involved in civic engagement, solve complex real-world problems, and contribute to the welfare of their communities as part of their regular course work.

The purpose of Experience Learning is to help students apply the knowledge, skills, and values learned in the classroom to real-world challenges. Experience Learning also seeks to engage student learning through direct experience and intense reflection to increase knowledge, acquire lifelong learning and problem-solving skills, and elucidate values.

Learn more about Experience Learning.

Academic Plan and Milestones

Following an academic plan will help students stay on track to graduate in four years. For first-time, first-year, full-time, degree-seeking students, UT has implemented Universal Tracking (uTrack), an academic monitoring system designed to help students stay on track for timely graduation. In order to remain on track, students must complete the minimum requirements for each tracking semester, known as milestones. Milestones may include successful completion of specified courses and/or attainment of a minimum GPA.

To see a sample academic plan and milestones for this major, please visit the undergraduate catalog.

For More Information

Dr. Thomas E. Burman, Riggsby Director and Chair of the Medieval and Renaissance Studies Program
Vera Pantanizopoulos-Broux, Program Coordinator
Dunford Hall, 6th Floor
915 Volunteer Blvd.
The University of Tennessee
Knoxville, Tn 37996
Phone: (865) 974-1859
Email: |


The information on this page should be considered general information only. For more specific information on this and other programs refer to the UT catalog or contact the department and/or college directly.

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