Founded in 2010, the medieval studies minor at UM is the only one in Mississippi, but one of dozens in the country. At many institutions, it is a signature program, comprising an undergraduate major. On this webpage, you can find out about the requirements for the undergraduate minor and graduate minor, UM’s medieval studies courses, our affiliated faculty, and our campus events.

What is Medieval Studies?

Medieval Studies is an interdisciplinary minor, which encompasses history, art, music, archeology, politics, and literature from the fifth to the sixteenth century.  Although its focus is the distant past, medieval studies is timely in the twenty-first-academy, which embraced “interdisciplinarity” as a novel means of promoting intellectual flexibility, creativity, and empathy.  However, as scholars of the Middle Ages will point out, medieval universities had based their curricula based in interdisciplinary approaches. Academic fields—scientific and humanistic –  were interconnected. Medieval theologians were also “scientists.” Thus, the medieval studies minor is well-suited to unconventional thinkers, students whose various interests are dispersed across several academic disciplines.

Why minor in Medieval Studies?

The academic minor – an important piece of a liberal arts degree – allows a student to show off additional skills and personal interests. A minor in medieval studies on a college transcript suggests a motivated student, one who likes a challenge. It indicates their knowledge of vast periods of time and diverse cultures. For its expansive scope, medieval studies relies on synoptic thinking: the capacity to see everything, all together, all at once. In the modern “global village,” the ability to “the big picture” is a desirable skill for college graduates, yet it is not prioritized in academic specialization.

A medieval studies minor excels at academic detective work. They do so through modern technology that preserves and publishes one-of-a-kind manuscripts and artefacts once available only to a rare few, scholars with access to a premium archive. However, meticulous research cannot always locate the missing pieces needed to solve a scholarly question. A minor in Medieval Studies has learned how to work with limited information, and to speculate about potential answers and prospective approaches.   

Seeing how popular the Middle Ages is with modern audiences, a prospective employer may well have a favorite medieval fantasy book, television series, or video game. This desire to revisit “medieval times” stands to reason given that the modern West – in terms of its art, literature, religion, legal system, political offices, and universities – originated in the Middle Ages.

Medieval Studies minors at UM

Our students have paired the medieval studies minor with majors in Archaeology, Business, Classics, English, History, Philosophy, and Religious Studies, and minors in Italian, French, Intelligence and Security Studies, International Studies, and Creative Writing. After graduating, they have gone to divinity school, master’s and doctoral programs, and law school, and have gotten jobs in academia, primary and secondary education, religious ministry, investment management, game development, customs, and business administration.   

If you have questions about the Medieval Studies minor at UM, contact Dr. Mary Hayes (hayes at olemiss.edu), director of the minor.