Medieval and Early Modern Studies

The minor in Medieval and Early Modern Studies (MEMS) offers students the opportunity to explore the richness and diversity of the medieval and Early Modern world by combining studies in history, literature, languages, the arts, philosophy, politics, and religion to deepen and broaden their understanding of medieval and Early Modern civilizations.

The Renaissance gave us the “Uomo Universale,” the idealized “Renaissance Men or Women” who mastered many fields of human expression to serve the needs of their community and to lead a more fulfilled life.

Today, Assumption, with its roots in the Liberal Arts and Catholic intellectual tradition takes inspiration from that idea. The minor in Medieval and Early Modern Studies (MEMS) offers you the opportunity to explore the richness and diversity of the Medieval and Early Modern world by combining studies in history, literature, languages, the arts, music, philosophy, politics, and religion to deepen and broaden your understanding of Medieval and Early Modern civilizations.

Knowledge of our pre-Modern heritage is what makes a Liberal Arts education distinctive. By exploring the period from Constantine through Napoleon, or about 1500 years and the whole world of geographical diversity, MEMS deepens our appreciation of our cultural richness and complex inheritance from the distant past.

The MEMS minor should be taken in conjunction with the student’s primary discipline and is especially recommended to complement participation in a study abroad program in Europe or Latin America. Students studying in Rome gain the advantage of Rome itself as their classroom. Students considering pursuing Medieval or Early Modern Studies as a specialty in graduate school or as a career are also strongly encouraged to obtain proficiency in one or more foreign languages, especially Latin.

MEMS Lectures

Scholars from all over the world and across America come to Assumption University to deliver lectures every fall and spring semester as part of the MEMS Lecture Series. The disciplines represented include art and architectural history, literature, politics, music, theology, philosophy, archaeology, and history, representing the characteristic breadth of MEMS scholarship. In the fall of 2018, Assumption University hosted the New England Renaissance Conference with the theme of “Resistance and Refashioning in the Early Modern World,” joining institutions like Harvard, Yale, Brown, Boston University and others in sponsoring this oldest of scholarly conferences dedicated to the Renaissance. Because of Assumption’s ongoing collaboration with the Archaeological Institute of America, the MEMS lecture series is further enriched. Recent lecture titles include “Grave Bj 581: the Viking Warrior that was a Woman,” “Suffering, Art, and Meaning: Friedrich Schiller on Tragedy,” “The Castles of Ireland,” “Whim Rules the Child: The Archaeology of Childhood in Scandinavian Scotland,” and “Catholic Miracles in the Age of Reformations: a History of the Impossible?” given in Fall 2017 by Carlos Eire from Yale in Commemoration of the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation 1517-2017. Please click on the following links for more information about lectures hosted at Assumption:

Program Contact

Lance G. Lazar, Ph.D

Associate Professor of History, Director, Medieval & Early Modern Studies
508-767-7054 Founders Hall - Room 105

An Ideal Place to Learn

All classes taught by professors, none by teaching assistants
Students from 29 states and 21 countries
Student/Faculty ratio

Program Curriculum

  • To obtain the minor, students complete a total of six courses, including an upper-level history course from the following options.

    Gateway Courses (at least one of the following)
    HIS 208 Early Medieval Europe
    HIS 209 Late Medieval Europe
    HIS 230 Renaissance Europe
    HIS 231 European Reformations
    HIS 232 Baroque Europe

    The remaining five courses must come from at least two separate disciplines chosen from the following list. No more than three courses from any one discipline can count towards the MEMS minor:

    • Art and Architectural History
    • English
    • Foundations Program
    • History
    • Latin American Studies
    • Modern and Classical Languages
    • Music History
    • Philosophy
    • Political Science
    • Sociology and Anthropology
    • Theology
    Art and Architectural History
    ART 222 Medieval Art and Architecture
    ART 223 Renaissance Art and Architecture
    ART 224 Baroque Art
    ART 350 Special Topics in Art History (when appropriate)
    ENG 218 Film and Literature (when appropriate)
    ENG 221 British Literature Survey (beginnings to 1800)
    ENG 253 Arthurian Literature
    ENG 320 Medieval Literature
    ENG 325 Chaucer
    ENG 327 English Drama 900-1642
    ENG 328 Medieval and Renaissance Tales
    ENG 329 Special Topics in Medieval Literature
    ENG 330 Renaissance Literature
    ENG 331 Shakespeare’s Comedies
    ENG 332 Shakespeare’s Tragedies
    ENG 333 Shakespeare’s History Plays
    ENG 339 Special Topics in Renaissance Literature
    ENG 342 Donne and his Contemporaries
    ENG 343 Milton
    ENG 349 Special Topics in Seventeenth-Century Literature
    ENG 350 18th Century English Literature
    ENG 351 Restoration and 18th Century Comic Drama
    ENG 352 18th Century English Novel
    ENG 359 Special Topics in 18th Century Literature
    ENG 411 Seminar (when appropriate)
    HIS 203 Byzantine Empire
    HIS 208 Early Medieval Europe
    HIS 209 Late Medieval Europe
    HIS 230 Renaissance Europe
    HIS 231 European Reformations
    HIS 232 Baroque Europe
    HIS 237 Women and Mysticism
    HIS 241 Russia: Pre-Revolutionary Period
    HIS 250 Colonial Latin American History
    HIS 258 Colonial America
    HIS 280 Asia to 1800
    HIS 290 The Islamic Middle East I (to 1800)
    HIS 293 From Jesus to Muhammad: The Near East in Transition
    HIS 389 Special Topics (when appropriate)
    HIS 391 Pro-Seminar (when appropriate)
    HIS 393 W Seminar (when appropriate)
    AAS 350 American Studies Seminar at the American Antiquarian Society (when appropriate)
    Latin American Studies
    LAS 395 Special Topics (when appropriate)
    LAS 400 Latin American Studies Seminar (when appropriate)
    Modern and Classical Languages
    CLT 225 Dante’s Comedy
    CLT 234 Cervantes’ Don Quixote
    CLT 296 Special Topics (when appropriate)
    FRE 251 Main Currents in French Literature I
    FRE 332 Molière, Racine, and Corneille: Masterpieces of French Theatre
    SPA 251 Main Currents in Spanish Literature I
    SPA 253 Main Currents in Spanish American Literature I
    SPA 310 Spanish Culture and Civilization I
    SPA 312 Spanish American Culture and Civilization I
    SPA 320 Medieval Spanish Literature
    SPA 331 Spanish Drama of the Golden Age
    SPA 333 Spanish Mysticism
    SPA 334 Cervantes: El Quijote
    SPA 336 Spanish Picaresque

    Also Special Topics Courses in Languages (when appropriate)

    Music History
    MUS 122 History of Music I [Medieval and Renaissance Music]
    MUS 221 Music of the Middle Ages and Renaissance
    MUS 223 Bach to Beethoven
    MUS 229 Music and Worship
    MUS 231 History of Opera
    MUS 234 Music of France (when appropriate)
    MUS 400 Special Topics in Music (when appropriate)
    PHI 355 Augustine and Aquinas
    PHI 357 Crossroads: Islamic, Jewish, and Christian Philosophy
    PHI 359 Special Topics (when appropriate)
    PHI 360 Early Modern Philosophy
    PHI 390 Special Topics in the History of Philosophy (when appropriate)
    Political Science
    POL 352 Early Modern Political Philosophy
    POL 354 Classical Utopias (when appropriate)
    POL 359 Medieval Political Philosophy
    POL 377 The Politics of Just Wars (when appropriate)
    POL 381 Shakespeare’s Politics
    POL 399 Special Topics (when appropriate)
    Sociology and Anthropology
    ANT 132 Intro to Archaeology (when appropriate)
    ANT 232 Historical Archaeology (when appropriate)
    THE 352 Medieval Christian Writers
    THE 391 Special Topics (when appropriate)

    Course Descriptions


Lance G. Lazar, Ph.D
Director, Medieval and Early Modern Studies Associate Professor of History Director, Medieval & Early Modern Studies
Stuart J. Borsch, Ph.D
Associate Professor of History
Matthew C. Briel, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Kristen Carella, Ph.D.
Professor of English
Leslie P. Choquette, Ph.D
Professor of History Côté Professor of French Studies Director of the French Institute
Jeremy Geddert, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Political Science LEX Director
Christian H. Gobel, Ph.D
Professor of Philosophy D’Alzon Chair Director, Ecumenical Institute
Irina Mukhina, Ph.D
Associate Professor of History
Toby Norris, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Art History
Rachel D. Ramsey, Ph.D
Associate Professor of English
Carl Robert Keyes, Ph.D
Professor of History Department Chair, History Department Chair, Human Services and Rehabilitation Studies Pre-Law Advisor
Samuel A. Stoner, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Philosophy
Anthony S. Zielonka, Ph.D
Associate Professor of French

Experiential Learning

Assumption's Rome Campus

At Assumption's campus in Rome, Italy, the city and the country become your classroom through daily and weekend-long excursions throughout "the eternal city" and the Italian countryside. Taking courses in the MEMS Minor is among the best cultural preparations for gaining the most from Rome. This unique study abroad experience will enrich your academic and cultural pursuits as you walk in the footsteps of emperors, gladiators, popes, and artists then enjoy delectable Italian cuisine or perhaps a cappuccino after class in a local cafe. (Did you know that your financial aid follows you to Rome?)

Explore the Rome Campus

Faculty/Student Research

The Assumption curriculum encourages scholarly exploration and independence. With hands-on research conducted alongside faculty mentors, students gain a depth of knowledge and skills that lead to professional success and personal fulfillment. MEMS students can pursue their independent research projects in the major discipline while gaining credit for a MEMS-related topic.

Study Abroad

At Assumption University, the world is your classroom. Students can study and explore abroad in over 50 places from Vienna to England, South Africa, and even our own campus in historic, yet modern, Rome, Italy. The MEMS minor is a perfect complement to study abroad, both in preparing students for the grandeur of cultural sites they will visit, and many courses taken abroad can count for the MEMS Minor.


Assumption starts planning for your future the day you arrive on campus. Our Career Development and Internship Center helps students secure exciting and fulfilling internships where you’ll apply knowledge obtained in the classroom in a professional setting, preparing for a future career or additional study. Past MEMS students have obtained internships at the Worcester Art Museum and the American Antiquarian Society, for instance.

MEMS Resources

Websites and Organizations

McNeil Center for Early American Studies

First-rate Academics in a Catholic University Setting

Assumption University awakens in students a sense of wonder, discovery, and purpose, forming graduates known for their intellectual seriousness, thoughtful citizenship, and devotion to the common good. Students are provided an education that shapes their souls, forms them intellectually, and prepares them for meaningful careers. Enlivened by the harmony of faith and reason, here, students’ minds and hearts are transformed.

Assumption is dedicated to providing a clear understanding of what your education will cost

We’ll help cut through the complexity of financing your education, ensuring you understand what you need, how to apply for aid, and what’s expected of you. You will be assigned a personal financial aid advisor who will guide you through the process and answer all of your financial aid-related questions.

Student Opportunities

American Studies Seminar at the American Antiquarian Society

Each fall, the American Antiquarian Society and five Worcester Colleges sponsor an American Studies research seminar at the Antiquarian Society. The seminar is conducted utilizing the Society’s world-renowned holdings in early American history and culture. The seminar topic and research methods combine several disciplines, and students from a wide variety of majors can participate. Selection is highly competitive.

Assumption University Honors Convocation

Each year the program awards a prize at Honors Convocation in the Spring Term for the graduating MEMS minor with the highest GPA and record of achievement.

Assumption University Undergraduate Research Symposium

Each year in the spring term, MEMS students take part in presenting their research at a public conference. Students are especially encouraged to present their research projects from their major discipline and the American Studies Seminar at the American Antiquarian Society, as well as projects they develop while working as research assistants with faculty.

Undergraduate Medieval and Early Modern Studies Conference

Students who combine their interest in MEMS with their primary discipline will be able to take part in the annual national undergraduate conference in Medieval and Early Modern Studies at Moravian College in Bethlehem, PA.

Worcester Art Museum Internships

The Worcester Art Museum’s internship program includes most departments such as visitor services, curatorial, education, and marketing. Internships are often project-based and become available as opportunities arise. Generally, a commitment of 6 hours a week is required, though particular projects may differ. All of WAM’s internships are unpaid.

Annual Medieval and Early Modern Studies Lecture

Every spring, faculty members from different disciplines present their on-going research in medieval and Early Modern topics. In fall 2017, in commemoration of the 500th Anniversary of the start of the Protestant Reformation, Dr. Carlos Eire, the T. L. Riggs Professor of History and Religious Studies at Yale University, lectured on “Catholic Miracles in the Age of Reformations: a History of the Impossible?” in the new Jeanne Y. Curtis Performance Hall of the Tsotsis Family Academic Center. Recent Lectures:

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