Graduate Specialization

Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Emphasis in Medieval Studies

The interdisciplinary Ph.D. emphasis in Medieval Studies is designed primarily for Ph.D. candidates specializing in European and Mediterranean cultures (roughly 500-1500), although students focusing on other medieval cultures may also participate if they fulfill the requirements. The program includes faculty and graduate students from at least five departments in the Division of the Humanities.

History and Justification

This emphasis gives institutional recognition to the intrinsically interdisciplinary nature of medieval studies, and the intellectual cross-fertilization and cooperation that has long existed among faculty and graduate students in western medieval and Middle Eastern disciplines at UCSB. A number of our faculty in differing departments have co-taught courses and co-edited books, a number of us have served on Ph.D. committees for medieval graduate students in departments other than our own, we have a long standing tradition of sponsored talks and colloquia that have drawn faculty and students from our various departments, and the chairship of the Medieval Studies Program has rotated among faculty in several of our departments.

Three UCSB medieval faculty have won Guggenheim Fellowships in the past few years, two have been awarded memberships at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, two have been awarded the Modern Language Association’s Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Award for the best book in French and Francophone Studies and Professors Enders and Fradenburg were both recognized in the Santa Barbara Independent (2001) for offering “life-changing” courses. Edward English and Carol Lansing were visiting professors at Harvard’s Villa I Tatti in 2008.

The Ph.D. Emphasis in European Medieval Studies has been developed primarily for Ph.D. candidates whose dissertations focus to a substantial degree on some aspect of medieval European or Mediterranean culture. The faculty in the Medieval Studies Program firmly believe that while our graduate students should continue to pursue degrees within traditional disciplines, the emphasis will enhance their prospects for academic positions by affirming that they have analyzed medieval society from a multidisciplinary perspective, that they have approached its society and culture through original sources in more than one language, and that they have received formal training in technical skills that are necessary for research with archival or manuscript materials.

The colloquium series/2-unit graduate course (Medieval Studies 200A-B-C), which is now offered every other year, constitutes one of the requirements for the emphasis will enhance the students’ abilities to speak across disciplines. It also serves the purpose of increasing the graduate students’ sense of intellectual community across the disciplines. Because the emphasis program will enhance the students’ research skills and attractiveness on the job market, it will strengthen our ability to attract strong graduate students to work with our participating faculty.

Relationship to Existing Majors

The Graduate Emphasis in European Medieval Studies is an enhancement to normal degree requirements. Students fulfilling the requirements for the emphasis must also fulfill all requirements for the Ph.D. in their home departments. Some may choose to fulfill normal department requirements and emphasis requirements simultaneously. For instance, Ph.D. candidates in history are allowed to prepare a field outside of history for the fourth field on their Ph.D. qualifying exams. Some of those who are preparing for the Graduate Emphasis in European Medieval Studies may choose to take courses, for instance, in Medieval French, Spanish or English Literature in order to fulfill the vernacular language requirement for the Graduate Emphasis in Medieval Studies while also preparing for the fourth field. Students may continue to take courses in preparation for the graduate emphasis even after they have taken qualifying exams in their home departments.

Course Requirements, Present and Proposed Courses

Students pursuing the Graduate Emphasis in Medieval Studies must receive at least a B in the following courses (or in equivalent courses taken at other institutions). Required courses add up to a total of 22 units:

  • Medieval Latin (Latin 103, 4 units)
  • One course (4 units) in vernacular, western European or Middle Eastern medieval language (English 205A, English 205B, English 205C, English 230, French 227AA-ZZ, Spanish 222A, Spanish 222B, Portuguese 205A, Religious Studies148A, Religious Studies 148B, Religious Studies 148C, Religious Studies 210)
  • One of the following 4-unit courses, or an appropriate equivalent from another institutions, in medieval Paleography and/or Diplomatics (Medieval Studies 201, proposed course; History 215S, 215T [these two courses have been taught in the past but are not currently offered by the history department])
  • Medieval Studies 200A-B-C (this is a year long, 2-unit course; students must enroll for all three quarters). Students must enroll in 3 consecutive quarters. They may enroll in the course more than once
  • 8 additional units in graduate courses on medieval topics.

Dissertation Requirements

Students petitioning to participate in the emphasis must be writing dissertations which focus on topics considered appropriate to the European Medieval Studies Emphasis. Students may choose to write on contiguous or comparative topics as well (for instance, on themes relating to late antiquity and the European middle ages; or to medieval and early modern Europe), but at least one half of the dissertation should treat some aspect of medieval European and Mediterranean society.

For more information, visit or email Professor Ed English at