Medieval studies minor added

By The Elm - Apr 11,2019@12:00 am

By Cassy Sottile

News Editor

Students have the option of choosing a new minor at Washington College. 

Starting this fall semester, a Medieval and Early Modern Studies interdisciplinary minor will be offered. A total of six classes will be required for the minor. 

“This is an interdisciplinary effort among the English, Art History, French Studies, Hispanic Studies, History, Philosophy, Theatre, Music and Math departments,” Assistant Professor of English Dr. Courtney Rydel said. 

As part of the minor requirements, students must take courses from three different departments. Students must also take one course from the 100 or 200 level, and one course from both the medieval period and early modern period. There are no restrictions on double-counting courses. 

According to Rydel, the minor will be covering material from as recent as the early 18th century.

“Compared to programs at our peer institutions, we have a much wider range of disciplines included, with a lot more geographic coverage,” Rydel said. 

Associate Professor of Spanish Dr. Elena Deanda-Camacho will be teaching classes discussing Latin America during the early modern time period.    

“We chose the early modern period over the Renaissance period because what counts as the Renaissance is variable, whereas early modern enables you to study developments more holistically,” Rydel said. 

According to Professor of French Dr. Katherine Maynard, the medieval and early modern studies minor is intended to help students gain insight into these time periods through an interdisciplinary perspective. 

“This is important since we tend to study different disciplines in isolation — someone might study medieval music, for instance, but not medieval history or philosophy, and yet, in order to think critically about one discipline, students need to be informed by a larger perspective. This is true in all areas of study, but especially so when you’re delving into the past,” Maynard said. 

The minor will help students make connections about the middle ages and early modern period. It will also make use of course and methodology from multiple disciplines. 

“This really makes sense for students, especially given the way research is done in the time period and the way we are trained. It is an intensively interdisciplinary effort across time periods,” Rydel said. 

According to Rydel, the departments have been talking about establishing this minor for years. In the fall of 2017, the provost got a working group of faculty together to create the program. 

“This [minor] harmonizes with all the majors as a cohesive course of study,” Rydel said. “It’s easier to talk together. We can coordinate classes so upper level courses don’t conflict and can plan travel and speaker opportunities together.” 

According to Rydel, the minor is great for graduate school and professional school applications, especially for students looking to go into museum studies or library work. 

“When you get a bunch of us together, the amount of passion and enthusiasm for material is infectious,” Rydel said. 

Students interested in learning if any of the courses they’ve taken count for the minor should email Rydel at 

“Ultimately, our goal is to spark students’ curiosity–and not just about the Middle Ages or the Renaissance. We encourage students to ask questions to expand their understanding not just of these time periods, but of our present,” Maynard said.

The Elm

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