Rebecca Rush

Current Program Director




is designed for English majors who are intrigued by the cultural forms of the past and the varied perspectives they offer on the cultural forms of the present. Concentrators pursue their own interests in literature from the centuries between the writing of Beowulf and the publication of Paradise Lost and dive into the social, historical, and intellectual currents of English writing in a time when it was deeply entangled with mixed, migrant, and pan-European languages and cultures. The Concentration is an opportunity to work especially closely with scholars in the field while exploring English in the world before modernity. Recent work by students has investigated the histories of race and color, divinity, sexualities, genre, monstrosity, heroism, prayer books, the stage, lyric subjectivity, women writers, and more. Students from the Concentration have gone on to graduate work in English at the University of Chicago, Harvard, and UVa, to professional degrees at Darden and UVa Law, and to interesting employment at places like IBM, Teach for America, and top private schools and consulting firms.

(Please note: this concentration should not be confused with the interdisciplinary Medieval Studies undergraduate major but is often combined with it through a double major or minor.)


A life-sized painting of author and musician Mary Wroth.

Program Requirements:

Students in the Medieval and Renaissance Studies Concentration in English take at least 30 credits for the major.  These must include:

  1. ENGL 3002 History of Literatures in English II (3 credits).  ENGL 3001 is encouraged, but not required.  Beyond ENGL 3002, further courses in 18th and 19th century English are encouraged, but not required.

  2. At least four other courses (12 credits) in English literature written before 1700, excluding ENGL 3001.  At least two of these courses should be at the 4000 or 5000 level.

Outside English: we warmly support Concentrators taking Medieval and Renaissance studies courses in other departments, for example, in Art History, History, Religious Studies, Philosophy, and in literatures in other languages. Consequently, in consultation with the Director of the Concentration, 3 such courses (9 credits) may be counted toward the 30 credits required of the Concentrator. We strongly encourage language acquisition, especially the study of Latin. Thus, language courses taken in excess of the UVa Foreign/World Language Requirement ( may also be included in the up-to-9 credits students may present towards the major from outside the English Department. Here follows a partial list of courses that qualify for presentation as part of the 9-credit allowance; students should consult the Director of the Concentration about approving others that might enhance their particular plans of study. Courses in the medieval and early modern cultures of Asia, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and Africa change topics too often to be included here but are highly recommended.

ARTH 2154 – Early Medieval Art

ARTH 2154 – Early Christian and Byzantine Art

ARTH 2252 – High Renaissance and Mannerist Art

ARTH 3591 – Medieval Manuscript Illumination

ARTH 2282 – The Age of Rubens and Rembrandt

ARTH 4591 – Castles and Cathedrals of the High Middle Ages

ARTH 4591 – New Towns of the Middle Ages

FRTR 3814 – Gender, Sexuality, Identity in Premodern France

FREN 4110 – Medieval Saint’s Lives

GETR 3590 – Medieval Stories of Love and Adventure

HIEU 2061 – The Birth of Europe

HIEU 2111 – The History of England to 1688

HIEU 3131 – The World of Charlemagne

HIEU 3231 – Reformation Europe

HIEU 3321 – The Scientific Revolution, 1450-1700

HIEU 3471 – English Legal History to 1776

ITTR 2260 – Dante

LATI 3090 – Introduction to Mediaeval Latin

MSP 3501 – Exploring the Middle Ages

PHIL 2110 – History of Philosophy: Ancient and Medieval

PHIL 3140 – History of Medieval Philosophy

PLPT 3010 – Ancient and Medieval Political Theory

RELC 3559 – Medieval Theology

SPAN 3400 – Survey of Spanish Literature I, Middle Ages to 1700

SPAN 4711 – 1492 and the Aftermath

SPTR 3402 – Don Quixote in English



George Herbert’s “Easter Wings” in UVa’s Special Collections Library.



We encourage students in the Medieval and Renaissance Concentration to apply for summer research funds ( to study archival materials or visit relevant sites, to consider an independent study project with relevant faculty in order to development specialized research ambitions, and, if they are qualified, to consolidate their work by writing a thesis in the English Department’s undergraduate Distinguished Majors Program ( Concentrators are good candidates for the Fulbright and other international programs of support for advanced scholars ( Students are welcomed at lectures by visiting scholars throughout the year. Consider the BA/MA program in English if you are interested in an extra year of achievement at an advanced level ( Faculty are eager to consult with students on these ambitions and on any aspect of their education.


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The medieval author Christine de Pizan at her desk in an illuminated manuscript.



Students may declare the Concentration at any point in the undergraduate career by consulting the Director of Undergraduate Studies, who will wrestle with SIS for you. The DUS will connect you with the Director of the Concentration, who advises all students in the Concentration. Transfers are welcome.


A painted miniature of Walter Ralegh, author, diplomat, colonizer.



The information contained on this website is for informational purposes only.  The Undergraduate Record and Graduate Record represent the official repository for academic program requirements. These publications may be found at