CMS - Classical and Medieval Studies Major



Program Long Title

Classical and Medieval Studies Major

Program Code


Program Description

The Program in Classical and Medieval Studies combines a uniquely interdisciplinary study of cultural history with an emphasis on empowering students to read and assess texts in the relevant ancient languages.

The Bates program is distinctive in its scope, linking the study of classical antiquity with that of the Middle Ages. This broad chronology, coupled with a broad geographical and cultural range, encourages students in the program to examine the long track of history – to see how humans act and react with each other, with their environments, and with their pasts—and futures. Learning the languages of these ancient and medieval peoples is central to this inquiry, so students can engage more directly and authoritatively with primary sources. Grounded in these language skills, students in the program examine the past through a range of different lenses: art, architecture, drama, literature, philosophy, religion, and social and cultural history.

The program centers historical questions about power, oppression, and the constructed nature of culture, identity, and the past itself. As such, the program embraces the global context of ancient and medieval Mediterranean cultures, from northern Europe and Scandinavia to Central Asia, and from North and West Africa to the Indian Ocean. Many diverse cultures constituted ancient "Greece" and "Rome," including North Africa and the Near East as well as Crete and Sicily. The program’s definitions of the medieval period encompass the diverse cultures and societies of Africa, Europe, and West and Central Asia, including the civilization of Islam, the Byzantines, and the Latin and vernacular cultures of Western Europe, from the Visigoths and Vikings to Middle English poets and the builders of the great Gothic cathedrals, while considering throughout those who lived within these societies as minorities.