The Major

Classical and Medieval Studies Major

Department: Classical & Medieval Studies

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.
Courses Taken Outside of Bates
Students are encouraged to study abroad in selected programs in order to engage more directly with the material aspects of these diverse cultures. Courses taken in college-approved study abroad programs may be used in partial fulfillment of the major in classical and medieval studies. Students seeking to receive classical and medieval studies major credit for summer courses in ancient languages (ancient Greek or Latin) should obtain permission from the classical and medieval studies program committee before undertaking the course of study. Advanced Placement examination scores of four or five in Latin may be used toward the college’s graduation requirements and may be used to help place students in Latin courses, but may not count toward the major, minor, nor General Education Concentration requirements. Generally speaking, the Bates classical and medieval studies program does not grant credit for online courses, including online language classes, to fulfill its requirements. If a student wishes to seek an exception to this rule, they should consult the program chair and gain the approval of the program committee before enrolling in such a course.
Short Term Courses
The major may include a short-term course.
Pass/Fail Policy
Pass/fail grading may not be elected for the ancient language courses required for the major
Other Considerations

Within the major students may elect to concentrate in either classical studies or medieval studies. The major requires twelve courses, and may include a Short Term course.

1) Two of the following courses:
CM/HI 101. Introduction to the Ancient World.
CM/HI 102. Medieval Worlds.
CM/EN 104. Introduction to Medieval English Literature.
CM/HI 108. Roman Civilization: The Republic.
CM/HI 109. Roman Civilization: The Empire.
CM/HI 112. Ancient Greek History.
CM/RE 238. Jews and Judaism in Antiquity.
AV/CM 251. The Age of the Cathedrals.
AV/CM 252. Art of the Middle Ages.

CMS 107

2) Beginning in fall 2024, all CMS majors are required to take CMS 107, Race Reception and the Modern Creation of the Ancient and Medieval Past. Complete ALL of the following Courses:CMS107 – Race Reception and the Modern Creation of the Ancient and Medieval Past

CMS 107 is required of all CMS majors, in addition to any two 100 level classes in the program.

3) Four courses in Latin or four courses in ancient Greek, taken at Bates or through other approved programs.

4) Five additional courses selected from classical and medieval studies and the list below. First-year seminars taught by the faculty in classical and medieval studies may count toward the major, with the approval of the chair. Additional courses in ancient Greek and Latin beyond the four required courses may be counted toward these five.

The following courses, described under their departmental listings, also may be applied to the major (the first-year seminars require permission of the chair):

FYS 191. Love and Friendship in the Classical World.
FYS 345. Classical Myths and Contemporary Art.
FYS 518. Ancient Magic and its Practitioners.

5) CMS 457 or 458. Senior Thesis. Typically majors complete a one-semester thesis. Thesis advisors are chosen by the chair of the program in consultation with students, according to the topic of the thesis. Additional information is available on the website.