2024-2025 Courses

Please find below a selection of courses eligible for the Undergraduate Certificate in Medieval Studies that will be taught in Fall 2024. Note that the list is incomplete, and there are many other courses that are eligible.
* indicates that the course is open to graduate and undergraduate students

Fall 2024


*Professor Thomas Dale, Art History 715: Icons, Religion, and Empire (TR 1:00 PM-3:15 PM, Elvehjem Building L140)

Various themes of current interest in the art, architecture, and visual culture of medieval Europe and the Mediterranean (including the Byzantine Empire and Islamic states of the Mediterranean rim).


Professor Martin Foys, English 177: Beowulf, Tolkien, and the Birth of Modern Fantasy (TR 8:50 AM-9:40 AM + section, Mosse Humanities Building 3650) 

J.R.R. Tolkien wrote The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings, books that helped launch modern fantasy, but was also an important scholar of the Old English epic poem Beowulf. This course first explores Beowulf through its many versions: translations, films, comics, video games, rock operas, and more. Then it studies modern fantasy through Tolkien’s own Beowulf-fueled theories of fantasy and then some of the most popular examples today – Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, The Broken Earth Trilogy, and more.

English 241: Literature and Culture I: To the Eighteenth Century (Instructor TBD) (MW 9:55 AM – 10:45 AM, Science Hall 180)

What is a person, a home, a nation, a world? What we now call “English literature” begins with these questions, imagining a cosmos filled with gods and heroes, liars and thieves, angels and demons, dragons and dungeons, whores and witches, drunken stupor and religious ecstasy. Authors crafted answers to these questions using technologies of writing from parchment to the printing press, and genres old and new, from epic and romance to drama and the sonnet. Develops skills of critical reading and writing that are essential to majors and non-majors alike.


Jan Miernowski, French 321: Medieval and Early Modern French Literature (TR 11:00 AM – 12:15 PM, Van Hise Hall 383)

Introduction to important literary works from the medieval era to the French Revolution. Taught in French.

Professor Jelena Todorovic, Italian 321: Studies in Italian Literature and Culture I (TR 11:00 AM – 12:15 PM, Van Hise Hall 475) 

Focuses on masterworks of Italian literature in Medieval and Renaissance Italy, and on the ways in which this period laid a foundation of today’s Italian society and culture. Includes historical, social, and cultural contexts of the Medieval and Renaissance periods.


Professor Scott Mellor, Folklore/Medieval Studies/Religious Studies/Scandinavian Studies 342: Nordic Mythology (TR 2:30 PM – 3:45 PM, Van Hise Hall 594) 

Mythology, literature, ritual, traditions, medieval folklore, and religion from Nordic areas and Scandinavia. This course that will give you an introduction to Medieval Nordic Mythology and put it in a European context. Nordic Mythology will introduce you to the belief systems of early and medieval Nordic region in a European Context and take  a look at the literary works written by Christian Scandinavians about their former Religion. We will look at the Kalevala,  the mythological and heroic poetry of the Edda and the Icelandic legendary sagas, as well as a few early Christian texts, mythology, literature, ritual, traditions, medieval folklore, and religion from Nordic areas and Scandinavia.

Professor Scott Mellor, Scandinavian Studies/Medieval Studies/Literature in Translation 235: World of the Sagas (FIG COURSE, MW 2:30 PM – 3:45 PM, Van Hise Hall 144) 

The Icelandic sagas viewed in their social, cultural, and literary contexts. An introduction to one of the greatest bodies of vernacular literature of the early European Middle Ages.

Welcome to The World of the Sagas, a course that will give you an introduction to medieval Scandinavians and the Vikings and will help you explore Medieval and Scandinavian studies as fields as they relate to image and narrative. This course approaches medieval Scandinavia along historical lines, and its backbone is texts from medieval sources. However, most of us come to the topic of the medieval Norse, Scandinavians, or Vikings through gaming, movies, TV shows, or books which give us images and ideas of the people and era before we even reach the classroom.  This class will start with those images and investigate where they come from and how they mold our lay ideas. We will then explore what scholars know and do not know about: the legendary history of early Scandinavia, the consolidation of the Scandinavian kingdoms, developments both at home and abroad during the great period of Viking expansion, and finally the conversion of the medieval Scandinavians to Christianity, which wrote finis to the Viking adventure. Within this historical framework, attention is devoted to the pre-Christian religion, to the system of writing – the celebrated runes, and the literature including the Icelandic sagas and the mythological and heroic poetry of the Eddas.  As we learn about the medieval Scandinavians, we gain a greater understanding of ourselves and the human condition. This course is also the cornerstone course of the First-year Interest Group (FIG) The World of the Vikings.  It is paired with Folklore 100 and, I hope, a language. It will also be my goal to integrate these three classes so you see the intersection of several fields of study.

Professor Scott Mellor, Scandinavian Studies/History 431: History of Scandinavia to 1815 (TR 11:00 AM – 12:15 PM, Van Hise Hall 594) 

Political, social, economic, and cultural developments of Scandinavia through the “Viking Age” to the break-up of Sweden-Finland and Denmark-Norway; emphasis on the interplay between social and political forces and institutions and the area’s relationship with the rest of Europe. Myths and images of Vikings are everywhere, but what was really going on in Scandinavia during the Viking Age (793-1066)? And what happened in the Nordic countries between the Viking Age and the nineteenth century? This course surveys Scandinavian history all the way up to 1815. You will learn not only about medieval Scandinavia and the founding of the Scandinavian Kingdoms, but also about the fascinating changes in Northern Europe during the Reformation, the Age of the Scandinavian Empires, the Enlightenment and the beginning of the move from Kingdoms to Empire to Nations. Important issues and concepts will include: Scandinavian society in the Viking Age, Viking raids and settlements, Political structures that changed from kinship clans to chieftainships to kingdoms, Religious change from Pre-Christian polytheism to the conversion to Catholicism, The effects of the Reformation in Scandinavia, Early Modern Scandinavian power struggles and the Age of Empires and Colonies, The Age of Enlightenment in Northern Europe, The loss of Empires and the move towards Nation States.

*Professor Kristen Wolf, Medieval Studies/Scandinavian Studies 407: Introductory Old Norse (TR 9:30 AM – 10:45 AM,  Helen C. White Hall 7115)

Objectives: The course has a linguistic purpose and is designed to give students a reading knowledge of Old Norse through the study of Old Icelandic grammar and selections of Old Norse-Icelandic texts. By the end of the course, students will have a basic understanding of Icelandic phonology and grammar with a focus on nominal and verbal inflection. (For a more in-depth understanding of verbal inflection and also syntax, it is recommended that students move on to 408 Old Norse II). Students will have sufficient vocabulary to be able to read and understand basic texts in normalized editions and access more challenging texts with the help of a dictionary.


Professor Elizabeth Lapina, History 115: Medieval Europe, 410-1500 (TR 8:00 AM – 9:15 AM, Mosse Humanities Building 1121) 

From the later Roman Empire to the end of the Middle Ages.


Professor Nicholas Jacobson, History of Science 211: Imagining the Medieval World (M 11:00 AM – 12:55 PM, Mosse Humanities Building 5257) 

Conduct original historical research in the fields of history of science, medicine, or technology and convey the results to others. Become historical detectives through engagement with archival materials and disciplinary methodologies in the histories of science, medicine and technology; practice defining important historical questions, collecting and analyzing evidence, presenting original conclusions, and contributing to ongoing discussions. Confer individually with and receive feedback from instructors to improve skills of historical analysis and communication in written and other formats. May not be repeated for credit.


Professor Jelena Todorovic, Literature in Translation/Medieval Studies 255: Black Death and Medieval Life Through Boccaccio’s Decameron (TR 1:00 PM-2:15 PM, Mechanical Engineering Building 1153) 

Have you ever wondered what it was like to live during the Black Death? Were our medieval and early-modern ancestors different from us, or are we challenged with similar problems? What can we learn from their lives? And, if we could, what could we teach each other? Discuss these topics while reading one of the world’s greatest literary classics, Giovanni Boccaccio’s Decameron, a text that will make us both laugh and cry. Through reading the Decameron, investigate medicine, art, culture, music, politics, religion, interpersonal and transcultural relations, warfare, fashion, gender and gender roles, as well as everyday life in the Middle Ages and early modernity. Also examines medieval written documents, twentieth-century feminist responses to the Decameron and filmic renditions of it, medieval frescoes, historical descriptions of the plague, and modern descriptions of, and reactions to, the COVID-19 pandemic.