Benjamin Isaacs (BA'22) majored in Scandinavian Studies, Cartography & Geographic Information Systems, and Geography and obtained a certificate in Medieval Studies. Benjamin writes: "I was always attracted to the mysterious oblivion of the so-called Dark Ages, and through my Scandinavian Studies major was able to take several classes that revealed the nature of the era. These classes looked at the Middle Ages through many lenses and mediums, including literature (like The Sagas of Icelanders, which I have come to devote much time to analyzing through my studies of the Icelandic hot springs), film (including what is now one of my favorites, Ingmar Bergman’s “The Seventh Seal”), and archaeology (learning both history and a new alphabet with runestones!). I was also able to hone in on my individual interests by conducting a directed study with Professor Kirsten Wolf, in which I analyzed the intersection of landscape and culture in medieval Iceland in my essay, “The Hot Springs of the Icelandic Sagas: A History and Analysis”, which won the Schulenburg Prize for best undergraduate paper on a medieval topic in 2021. I presented this paper at the Ninth Annual GAMS Medieval Studies Colloquium and hope to have it published in an academic journal in the near future. I am planning on continuing my interests in Medieval Studies after graduation by applying to the University of Iceland’s Viking & Medieval Norse Studies graduate program, where I will spend two years earning a master’s degree at several institutions across Scandinavia."
Thomas Yan (BA'22) majored in in History, Anthropology, Math and Physics and obtained a certificate in Medieval Studies. Thoman Yan writes: "I ventured into the art and history of the Middle Age through a class about the Byzantine, and since then I have come to know a Medieval world that is colorful, vibrant, and never fails to capture my imagination. We studied manuscripts, sagas, letters, and many more! One of the most special parts of my experience is learning about the history of Black Death in a time of global pandemic. It really convinces me that history often repeats itself. I might not have a chance to work in a related field, but the program has provided me the tool to better understand our past and present."
Genevieve Lundberg (BA ’20) majored in English and obtained certificates in Digital Studies and Medieval Studies. This fall, Genevieve will be starting a Masters program in Library and Information Studies at UW Madison. Genevieve writes: “The Medieval Studies certificate program was immensely helpful to me because it tied perfectly into my interest in manuscript studies and books as historical artifacts. A particular highlight was learning to read and translate Old English. I know that I’ll carry my experiences in this program with me as I go on to pursue a career in historically-focused librarianship.”
Tristan Krause (BA '18) majored in History and obtained a certificate in Medieval Studies. After graduation, Tristan worked as a Legislative Assistant in the Wisconsin State Assembly. He also worked with the UW MIA Recovery and Identification Project, serving as a team field technician during the summer expeditions in Europe and as a historical researcher stateside. Tristan is now starting his first year as a PhD student in History at Texas A&M University. Working with Prof. Adam Seipp, he will be examining the societal and cultural context of early American recovery efforts of unaccounted military personnel in the European Theater of Operation of WWII. Tristan has grown in northern Wisconsin, so the Texas summer has been "something else." Tristan writes: "I often miss studying the medieval world. However, I've found that having a medieval studies background provides an excellent framework for nuancing and understanding both my area of study and the modern world. Equally important, as a new Graduate Assistant teaching European history survey courses, the Medieval Studies Certificate has certainly come in handy!"
Holly Wilinski (BA '16) majored in Theater with certificates in Business and Medieval Studies. Since graduating, she has been working in professional theatre in Chicago. She is currently a Production Manager for Broadway in Chicago, organizing and supervising touring productions. When she is not hopping between venues in the Downtown Theatre District, Holly revels in books on medieval history and plays musicals on the piano.
Andrew J. O’Connor
Andrew J. O’Connor (BA '10) majored in History and obtained certificates in Religious Studies, Middle Eastern Studies, and Medieval Studies. At the UW-Madison he was also awarded the 2010 Mensink Honors Research Grant, which allowed him to conduct research in Egypt for his Senior Honors Thesis about Medieval Egypt. In 2013 Andrew finished his M.A. in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Chicago and completed his Ph.D. in Theology (World Religions & World Church) in 2019 at the University of Notre Dame. His doctoral dissertation analyzed the Qur’an’s different models of prophethood, and his general research interests center around the Qur’an’s engagement with the cultural and religious environment of Late Antiquity. He was the recipient of a Fulbright Research Grant to study in Amman, Jordan, for 2017–18, and has presented his research at various conferences, including in Morocco, Tunisia, and the UK. In 2019, Andrew was thrilled to move to back Wisconsin as he joined the faculty of St. Norbert College as a tenure-track Assistant Professor in Theology & Religious Studies. Andrew teaches courses on world religions, world scriptures, interfaith relations, and Muslim-Christian dialogue. His primary area of interest is Islamic Studies, and in particular Qur'anic Studies. He is currently working on converting his dissertation into a book about the Qur'an's conceptions of prophethood.
Sarah Iverson née Kirkland (BA '01) graduated with majors in History and Classical Humanities and certificates in Medieval Studies and ILS. After graduation, she taught ESL in a Budapest high school for two years and traveled Europe extensively. She explored many medieval sites, including her ancestral lands in Scotland, Cluny Abbey, and even Vlad Tepes’ birthplace.
Afterwards, she accepted a job teaching at Zheijiang Gongshang University in China for three years. Her favorite course to teach? The Cultures of America and England! The course traced the development of the kingship and Parliament and covered many other medieval topics. All told, Sarah visited 40 countries. Currently, Sarah lives in Austin, Texas with her family. When she’s not busy helping her 6-year-old with online school, she’s working on her first book. The humorous history -- with just a hint of sci-fi -- is tentatively called The Time Travelers Guide to Thebes and the Female Pharaoh.
Julia Talbot (BA’89) graduated with History major, a certificate in Medieval Studies and a concentration in Creative Writing. After graduation, she taught at an alternative high school in Chicago followed by graduate school in Public Administration at the University of Maine. She graduated with concentrations in community and economic development and research methodology. Her thesis topic examined the role of entrepreneurship as a poverty alleviation measure. She currently works for the City of Chicago in social service procurement. Here is how the program shaped her:
"I totally fell into the certificate. I happened upon a trifold brochure about the certificate while in my last year at UW and realized that I had completed all or almost all of the requirements. At the time, no one had completed a certificate in many years. My professors, while supportive, had clearly forgotten about the certificate as an option. I am so happy to see that this program has continued and grown at UW. While I have not used my medieval studies certificate or knowledge professionally, rarely a week goes by that I do not reflect on what I learned through the coursework (mostly that human nature has not changed much), or actively employ the research and analytical skills I learned on my way to the certificate/degree. Other than those rather large gifts, my other main takeaways are that I am really annoyed by the gross historical inaccuracy of Renaissance fairs, and am occasionally good for trivia and crossword puzzle answers. I have also been known to brag about graduating with seven (different!) copies of Beowulf."
Dylan Lippold (BA '22) writes: "I think what I most enjoyed about this certificate were the various classes I was able to take, as they all dived deep into one niche topic on the Middle Ages. Whether that be Anglo-Saxon literature, Dante Alighieri's Comedy, or the crusades, I found every class's topics to be interesting and fun to learn about, as they are all surprisingly relevant to our modern lives and society."
Since finishing coursework, Dylan has been working at an elementary/middle school in various substitute roles. Dylan is applying to UW-Madison's Secondary Education Master's program with hopes of a career as a high school English teacher.