Renaissance Studies is an interdisciplinary undergraduate major that offers students an opportunity to study one of the most exciting periods of Western European history, that time when the structures of art, literature, music, religion, and political life underwent profound change. The boundaries of the Renaissance are difficult to fix, and modern scholarship hesitates to construct a sharp boundary from the late-medieval world, but from some time in the late fifteenth-century to the mid-seventeenth century Europe saw mind-altering changes in the ways people understood their world. The names associated with the Renaissance alone proclaim the significance of the period: Shakespeare, Cervantes, Ariosto, Machiavelli, Montaigne, Michelangelo, Raphael, Durer, Bruegel, Caravaggio, Luther, Erasmus, Loyola, the Medici, Francis I, Elizabeth I, Columbus, Magellan, Drake. It was also the age of discovery, and the European encounter with the “New World” would change decisively, for better or worse, the face of four continents.
Students can do course work in the appropriate courses in English, the European literatures, history, art, art history, and music. They can construct a major that emphasizes some particular field of endeavor (for example, literature, art, history, music) or they can choose an eclectic mix of courses in the period. Renaissance Studies can also be paired with a departmental major to create a double major that combines intense study of the period with a more traditional focus; eight units may count to ward credit in both majors.
With the assistance of members of the advisory committee and in consultation with the chair of the program, students will set up individual programs of study from the beginning of their junior year. Students are also encouraged to consider spending a year of their undergraduate study in a European university through the Education Abroad Program.