The program in Medieval and Early Modern Studies demonstrates our continuing commitment to enhancing our students’ intellectual life and to promStGeorgeoting the most intense, in-depth academic experience and the highest level of achievement and success for our budding scholars. The Program was establishedover twenty years ago with a concentration on Medieval studies, but is currently expanding to include Early Modern. We currently offer a Graduate Certificate in Medieval and Early Modern Studies, and minors in the program may count courses in Early Modern towards graduation by special permission.

Director: Herman Rapaport, Reynolds Professor of English. Academic Coordinator, Acacia Fike-Nelson.

Medieval and Early Modern studies involve faculty from various departments at Wake Forest University, among them English, history, art history, classics, romance languages, German, philosophy, music and religion. The program integrates practices of thinking across periods, cultures, territories, and disciplines, even as Medieval Studies at Wake Forest continues to emphasize the importance of intensive training in disciplinary knowledge and practice. One of the greatest values of our program is that it is one of the central places at Wake Forest University where students experience interdisciplinarity. In fact, this program has been an inspiration to and model for other developing programs.Among areas of study in the humanities, medieval and early modern cultures are perhaps most naturally cross-disciplinary.

BerryWhat we think of as modern culture and modern institutions were founded in the Middle Ages. The study of the Middle Ages offers us the opportunity to examine the formation of western civilization and literature in the aftermath of the fall of Rome. Early Modern studies enables us to trace the transformation of late medieval society and culture into an entirely new epoch, the Renaissance, which was an extremely innovative period that reconfigured all the disciplines and set the stage for developments in modern science, politics, economics, social organization, and the arts.. This program brings medieval and early modern studies into an ever more complex, inter-dependent, and internationalized twenty-first century, emphasizing the interrelationship of culture, ideas, technologies, religions, and movements across periods of time and geography.

Hear what our students have to say:

“I learned new ways of approaching the study of History and Literature; I feel I am simultaneously more critical and more open-minded.”

“I’ve learned so much it’s impossible to list what things I’ve learned individually.”Remb

“I gained a wide array of knowledge on medieval culture and how it is represented in modern society, new appreciation for old texts and materials that gave great insight into the culture and realities of medieval British society; I also learned that “First Knight” is a horrendous movie.”

“The blazing insight that I have gained from this class (and there have been many) is that there are so many “ways in” to the medieval world. Whether it be issues of gender, of place, of audience, of history, of text, of religion, etc., one can always access the medieval world…. And realize that, in some very important ways, it is not so very different from the modern.”

What department chairs have to say:


saint image“Over the years, the Medieval Studies program has deeply enriched the intellectual lives of students and faculty alike. Under the expert guidance of Professors Gillian Overing and Gale Sigal, the program has trained undergraduate students to be critically adept interdisciplinary medievalists.”

“The interdisciplinary Medieval Studies program has enriched the entire English department with a roster of superb lecturers, student conferences, and other events every year. The program has mentored numerous graduate students who then pursued doctoral degrees at prestigious universities. When the English department discussed our “centers of excellence” during strategic-planning meetings last year, Medieval Studies was among the programs we believe deserves recognition. Medieval Studies indeed is a model for future interdisciplinary programs we envision for undergraduates and graduate students.”



  • The Medieval / Early Modern lecture series, a cross-disciplinary series including speakers from within and outside of the Wake Forest faculty
  • A paper competition that rewards the winners with funding to the International Congress on Medieval Studies at Western Michigan University
  • The Gordon A. Melson Graduate Student Award in Medieval Studies, specifically gandolfawarded to an outstanding graduate student to attend the International Congress on Medieval Studies at Western Michigan University
  • The Medieval Studies summer program at St. Peter’s College, Oxford
  • The Robert M. Shorter award for Excellence in Medieval Studies
  • The annual Wake Forest Medieval / Early Modern Studies Student Society Conference, a student-organized interdisciplinary conference inviting participation from graduates and undergraduates from surrounding universities (see attached conference program).
  • The medieval section of the department’s library in the Archie Ammons English Department Faculty Lounge, donated to the department upon the retirement of Prof. Robert M. Shorter, the English department medievalist for 41 years.
  • The establishment of internships and fellowships for La corónica: A Journal of Medieval Hispanic Languages, Literatures & Cultures, edited by Professor Sol Miguel-Prendes, a medievalist in the Romance Language department.