Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

Flight into Egypt, Abbey St-Denis (Paris), 1144

(Glencairn Museum 03.SG.114)

All images are from objects at Penn or in other Philadelphia collections

More info on the images...

The University of Pennsylvania is one of the oldest centers for the study of the Middle Ages in North America. Since the nineteenth century, Penn has been the home of eminent medievalists in many fields, including all areas of European, Jewish, Islamic, and East Asian history, cultures, and literature. This long tradition has built rich resources for pursuing advanced research, notably in the Van Pelt and Fisher Fine Arts Libraries, the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, and the Schoenberg Center for Electronic Text & Image. A deep commitment to interdisciplinarity fosters broad interaction across fields, and active programs of lectures, colloquia, and exhibitions bring together specialists from all departments.

Undergraduate and graduate students of all levels of study are encouraged to take advantage of this broad perspective—an English major studying Chaucer will find the manuscripts of a Wycliffite Bible to examine first-hand and a doctoral candidate writing on the Fourth Crusade can study original texts, coins, and illuminations from the Islamic Mediterranean. Students can develop skills in paleography, musicology, linguistics, or textual editing, according to their interests, and they learn the essentials of medieval bibliography and historiography. Student research projects often take advantage of local collections, whether poring over a nun’s prayer book or performing Fauvel’s musical cacophony, or they may just as well collaborate in faculty-sponsored projects, testing Avicenna’s theories of vision or excavating Plantagenet castles, for example.

Graduate students will also find opportunities to present their original research, both in workshop settings at Penn and more formally at area colloquia. Faculty involvement in the Medieval Academy and the Medieval Institute (Kalamazoo) similarly encourages student participation at those organizations’ annual meetings.

Penn’s research and educational missions also enjoy close collaboration with numerous Philadelphia-area institutions. Hundreds of manuscripts and incunabula await study and investigation at the Free Library and the The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia, and the medieval art collections of Glencairn Museum and the Philadelphia Museum of Art are inexhaustible resources. The Delaware Valley Medieval Association and the Quaker Consortium, an association of area colleges and universities that allows students to take courses from leading scholars at neighboring schools, especially foster dialogue and interaction among scholars and students.

Welcome to Medieval Studies at Penn!


Medieval Events

  • May 7, 2012 (All day)

    Dr. Vincent Debiais (Universite de Poitiers, CESCM)
    "Create and Order Images with Words: Epigraphic Constructions on Romanesque Capitals of Southern France"

  • April 28, 2012 (All day)
    Conference at Villanova University

    Organized by Colum Hourihane (Index of Christian Art; President, DVMA)
    Time TBD
    Speakers: TBD

  • April 14, 2012 - 5:15pm
    Van Pelt Library, Meyerson Conference Room

    Prof. Therese Gross-Diaz (Loyola University)
    Title: TBA

    This even it sponsored by Medieval Studies @ Penn, and Religious Studies. A reception will follow the talk. All are welcome.

  • March 29, 2012 - 5:15pm
    Van Pelt Library, Meyerson Conference Room

    Prof. Scott G. Bruce (University of Colorado-Boulder)
    "Hagiography and the Invention of Islam at Cluny"

    This even it sponsored by Medieval Studies @ Penn, Religious Studies, History, and the Center for Ancient Studies. A reception will follow the talk. All are welcome.

  • March 17, 2012 (All day)

    "Textual Intercourse: Medieval Appropriates and Appropriate of the Medieval"

    Keynote Speaker: Prof. Kevin Brownlee (Univ. Pennsylvania)

    Program TBD

  • March 1, 2012 - 6:00pm
    Williams Hall, Cherpack Lounge (Rm 543)

    Prof. Alison Cornish, Univ. Michigan
    "Dante and Volgarizzamento"

  • February 23, 2012 - 4:00pm
    Williams Hall, Cherpack Lounge (Rm 543)

    Prof. Sharon Kinoshina, Univ. California-Santa Cruz
    "How to Do Things in the Medieval Mediterranean: The Case for Medieval Mediterranean Literature"

  • February 18, 2012 (All day)
    Conference at the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey

    Organized by Adam Miyashiro (Richard Stockton College) & Colum Hourihane (Index of Christian Art; President, DVMA)
    1:00-5:30pm

    Marla Pagan-Mattos, Ph.D. Candidate, Comparative Literature, University of Pennsylvania: "The Erasure of a Saintly Genealogy: The Vida de San Millan de la Cogolla of Berceo and the Task of 'tornar en romance'"

    Claire Taylor Jones, Ph.D. Candidate, Comparative Literature, University of Pennsylvania: "Meister Eckhart's Daughter?"

    Aaron Hostetter, Assistant Professor of English, Rutgers University, Camden: "Feeding Aristocratic Identity in Sir Gowther"

    David King, Associate Professor of French, The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey: "Judicial Duels and Moral Anomie in La Mort le Roi Artu"

    Teofilo Ruiz, Professor of History and Spanish, University of California, Los Angeles: "Writing Festivals in Late Medieval Spain"

  • February 2, 2012 - 5:15pm
    Van Pelt Library, Meyerson Conference Room

    Prof. Eric Palazzo (Universite de Poitiers, CESCM)
    "The Liturgy and the Five Senses: The Cartulary of Saint-Martin-du-Canigou"

    This even it sponsored by Medieval Studies @ Penn, History of Art, and Religious Studies. A reception will follow the talk. All are welcome.

  • December 3, 2011 (All day)
    Conference at the Index of Christian Art (Princeton Univ)

    Organized by Colum Hourihane (Index of Christian Art; President, DVMA)

    Andrea Worm (University of Augsburg), "Sancta Mater Ecclesia. A Catechetic Rendering of the Heavenly Jerusalem"

    Mailan Doquang (Princeton University), "Architectural Thresholds in Thirteenth Century France"

    Martha Easton (Seton Hall University), "Memory, Mysticism, and Medieval Architecture: Hammond Castle and American Medievalism"

    Mildred Budny (Research Group on Manuscript Evidence), "The Holistic Approach is Greater Than the Sum of the Parts: The Added Mark Frontispiece in the Ninth-Century Royal Bible Revisited"

    Nino Zchomelidse (Princeton University), "Allegory and Remembrance: Lay Patronage in the Angevin Kingdom"

    Beatrice Radden Keefe (Princeton University), "A Pictograph of Terence"

    Annemarie Weyl Carr (Southern Methodist University, emeritus), "Naming Images, Venerating Icons in Sylvester Syropoulos' World"