Program History


The Program in Medieval Studies was formally inaugurated in 2001, the result of an initiative of medievalists in the Colleges of Liberal Arts & Sciences and Fine and Applied Arts. Building on the success of a multi-year exchange with French medievalists from the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, UIUC medievalists representing departments or programs in Architectural History, Art History, Comparative Literature, English, French, Germanic Languages and Literatures, History, and Music drafted a proposal to create an interdisciplinary Program offering a PhD Certificate in Medieval Studies, complementing an existing undergraduate interdisciplinary concentration in Medieval Civilization.  With the support of Dean Kathleen Conlin of the College of Fine and Applied Arts and Dean Jesse G. Delia of the College of Liberal and Sciences, the proposal was submitted to the Graduate College in 1999 and was approved by Provost Richard Hermann. The administrative home of the Program is the School of Literatures, Cultures, and Linguistics.

Professor C. Stephen Jaeger (Germanic Languages and Literatures, emeritus) was recruited as the Program’s first Director, serving from 2000-01 through 2000-03.

The Program Directors since 2003 have been:

Anne D. Hedeman (Art History, emerita): 2003-04 through 2006-07

Charles D. Wright (English): Fall 2007

Karen Fresco (French): 2008

Richard Layton (Religion): Spring 2008 through Fall 2009

Charles D. Wright (English): Spring 2011 -- Summer 2015

Eleonora Stoppino (French & Italian): Fall 2015 --



In 2011 the Program underwent a major expansion and reconfiguration as a global Medieval Studies program, embracing the study of "medieval" cultures across the world, adding affiliated faculty specializing in East Asia, the Middle East, and Central and North Americas in the departments of Anthropology, East Asian Languages and Cultures, Religion, and the Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies. Our revised undergraduate Major and new Minor are globalized curricula requiring introductory coursework in the medieval cultures of East Asia; Central and South Asia and the Middle East; and Europe.

In April 2012 we hosted a major international conference, "The Medieval Globe: Communication, Connectivity, and Exchange," which explored modes of communication, media of exchange, and the myriad interconnections among medieval cultures. A new biannual academic journal, The Medieval Globe, edited by Prof. Carol Symes of the History Department with an international editorial board, will publish its inaugural issue in 2014.Published by Arc-Humanities Press, and affiliated with the CARMEN Worldwide Medieval Network, The Medieval Globe explores the modes of communication, materials of exchange, and myriad interconnections among regions, communities, and individuals in an era central to human history.

Our Masthead

Medieval Studies Masthead

The Program masthead includes three elements drawn from holdings in the University's Rare Book & Manuscript Library: the illuminated letter "M" (as well as the decorative borders) are from the Lyte Book of Hours (ca. 1390); the background is from an 8th-century Japanese block-printed scroll (containing the Buddhist prayer Hyakumantō Darani), overlaid with compass and maplines from a portolan chart of the Mediterranean (ca. 1552) by Bartolomé Olives. The ensemble is intended to evoke at a glance our new global configuration.