School of Interdisciplinary Studies Medieval & Renaissance StudiesCollege of Liberal Arts

Medieval and Renaissance Studies

Thank you for your interest in Medieval and Renaissance Studies; however, we are no longer accepting new students to the major or minor.  Current Purdue students will be able to declare a major or minor in MARS until end of business on Friday, December 7, 2018.  Existing majors and minors will be able to continue their studies without disruption.  The courses for the major and minor remain available and students interested in this topic are encouraged to consider a major or double major in English and/or History.  Another option is to major in one and minor in the other.  Courses in these fields can be supplemented with electives in Philosophy and Art History, which focus on Medieval and Renaissance periods.

Medieval and Renaissance Studies (MARS) is an interdisciplinary major in which students take courses in both the Middle Ages or the Renaissance but concentrate in one area, and take at least one background course in the classics. MARS students read the works of a major Medieval or Renaissance author in the original language and take courses in literature, history, medieval philosophy, and art history. Many MARS students combine a MARS major or minor with a major in another field. Furthermore, the program offers access to over 1,400 images from medieval illuminated manuscripts.

The concept of Medieval and Renaissance Studies (or MARS) is an integral part of the tradition of the university. The interdisciplinary major and minor are designed to appeal to students who desire to cultivate a broadly integrated understanding of Western civilization. Unlike the vertical orientations of departmental disciplines, which follow one field of study from its beginnings to the present, MARS cuts horizontally across fifteen subject areas such as art, architecture, drama, history, music, vernacular and Latin literature, philosophy, and political science. The program presents a variety of ways to acquire perspectives concerning the nature and origins of the world in which we live. 

Founded in 1970, the interdepartmental program coordinates things medieval and renaissance at Purdue. These include an undergraduate major and minor and two interdisciplinary courses. MARS hosts the Fall Symposium, in which two distinguished scholars are invited to speak, and it organizes two graduate conferences: the Comitatus Conference for Medieval Studies (usually in February), and the Renaissance Prose Conference (usually in November). Now in its second decade, "MARS Mondays" is a lunch-time lecture series featuring talks by faculty and students that meets typically four times in the Fall and Winter semesters. MARS also cooperates with other IDIS programs such as Comparative Literature and Literature and Film and it is active in Medieval Academy's CARA (Committee on Centers and Regional Associates). It also sponsors two awards for the best papers on medieval and renaissance topics at the annual Literary Awards contest. 

The program is administered by an interdepartmental committee, composed of members from the participating departments. There is an appointed chair and secretary. The program receives an annual budget from the Director of Interdisciplinary Studies.

MARS Mondays

Spring 2017 (All sessions 12:30-1:20 in BRNG 1284.)

  • Monday, January 23: J. Case Tompkins (College of Engineering) will present "Language and Perspective in the Chester Gouldsmythes Playe"
  • Monday, February 13: David O'Neill (English) will present "Prosodic Change in Old English Meter"
  • Monday, March 27: Silvia Mitchell (History) will present "Women and Children First: Rituals and Ceremonies of Kingship during Carlos II's Minority 1665-1675"

Spring 2016 (All sessions 12:30-1:20 in BRNG 1284.)

  • Monday, January 11: Joel Johnson (Philosophy) will present "Aquinas on What Teleology Is Not"
  • Monday, February 15: Paula Leverage (French, School of Languages and Cultures) will present "Conceptual Metaphor in the Romances of Chretien de Troyes"
  • Monday, March 28: Silvia Mitchell (History) will present "The Familial and Political Networks of Mariana of Austria: Three Models of Letter Exchange (1665-1679)"

Fall 2015 (All sessions 12:30-1:20 in BRNG 1284, unless otherwise noted.)

  • Monday, September 21: Charles Ross (Comparative Literature, English) will present "Morality & Mortality in World Literature"
  • Monday, October 26: Daniel Frank (Jewish Studies, Philosophy) will present "Meaning, Truth, & History: Maimonides & Spinoza on the Interpretation of Scripture"
  • Monday, December 7: Justin Barker (English) will present "Form & Matter in Chaucer's 'Squire's Tale'" (Talk will be held in HAAS 111.)


In addition to library holdings and a large video collection, the program is supported by a large slide collection. Founded in 1970, the Medieval Slide Collection houses over 1,400 slide sets of medieval art and architecture. A special focus of the collection is manuscript illumination. Some 1,000 slide sets reproduce the illuminations and partial texts from hundreds of manuscripts and early printed books in the Bodleian Library and several college libraries in Oxford, England. In addition, the collection also houses over 200 slide sets of Insular, Anglo-Saxon, and early Anglo-Norman manuscript art. This material does not circulate, but scholars, teachers, and advanced students are welcome to use the collection on site. For information, contact Thomas H. Ohlgren (Email:

Constituent Memberships

Purdue University is a member of the Newberry Library Consortium and the Medieval Academy of America's Committee on Centers and Regional Associations. In addition, faculty and graduate students regularly participate in the nearby conferences at Ball State University, Western Michigan University, and the Illinois Medieval Association.

Graduate Students

MARS is very active in the graduate program in the College of Liberal Arts. It sponsors two graduate student organizations: Comitatus (medieval) and the Renaissance Student Society; and it supports the annual graduate student conferences affiliated with these Comitatus and RSS: the Comitatus Conference for Medieval Studies (meeting typically in February) and the Renaissance Prose Conference (meeting typically in November). The MARS Mondays lunchtime series, which gathers about four times each semester, fosters a sense of community among graduate students and faculty, and it promotes scholarship by MARS members. Beyond the university, MARS supports and is active in CARA (Committee on Centers and Regional Associates).

Although MARS does not offer a program in graduate studies, students can concentrate on medieval topics on both the M.A. and Ph.D. levels in their departments or programs of choice.

MARS offers medieval students and renaissance students opportunities to engage with like-minded colleagues in Comitatus.

Course Information

Purdue Admissions Website

Medieval Studies Major

Medieval Studies Minor

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