The undergraduate community in Medieval Studies at UVA is a thriving group of students dedicated to studying the pre-modern world in all its forms. We encourage new students with interest in the medieval period to join our community, whether or not they wish to become majors or minors in the program.
Aline (Ai Linh) Dolinh
What I love most about Medieval Studies is how it constantly urges me to broaden my understanding of the past—my classes have taught me that the medieval world was far from homogenous, stretched far beyond the boundaries of Europe, and was defined as much by cultural vibrancy as it was by brutal violence. In my own work, I’m deeply interested in the way that culturally constructed understandings of race, sexuality, and “monstrosity” in the Middle Ages still have implications on contemporary life. I’m also pursuing a major in English and a minor in Art History, and I’ve found movements such as postcolonial and critical race theory invaluable to my own analysis of marginalized subjects in the medieval world!
Lauren is a Third-Year concentrating on the intersection between Christianity and Femininity in the Middle Ages. She enjoys historical fashion design and painting which eventually led her to study early female imagery throughout high school. Lauren declared her First-Year at the University, continuing a life-long interest in both history and art in a period that has always been fascinating to her. What she loves best about Medieval Studies is the flexibility and opportunity the program provides. With this major, Lauren takes a range of classes from English to Religion to Art History which creates a fuller picture of life in the Middle Ages. She also appreciates the staff who helped foster her passion for research. She currently researches with a Double Hoos grant to define ‘Books of Hours’, a genre of devotional manuscripts primarily owned by women.
Megan Maxson (class of ’20)
As a third year student, I selected this major because I enjoy studying the culture, ideology, and societies of the Medieval era – particularly the Norse. I much prefer focusing on this specific and interesting period rather than broadening to the subject of history as a whole. As a child I was drawn to documentaries and the medievalism genre, a well as visiting historic sites. I had a keen interest in what those who had inhabited such places may have been like. When I was in my later high school years I discovered that the Medieval Studies major existed and I instantly knew it was what I would take up upon my transfer to the University of Virginia. Currently as a fourth year student, I couple this major with an archeology minor and hope to pursue graduate school and a career in these subjects.
Jacob Ericson (CLAS ’13)
I am a law librarian working for the law firm Stewart McKelvey in Halifax, Nova Scotia. After completing my Medieval Studies degree at UVa in 2013, I took a few years off before moving the Halifax to pursue my Masters of Library and Information Studies at Dalhousie University in 2015. It isn’t hard to find the connection between medieval studies and library and information studies. The program’s multidisciplinary nature provided me with a strong foundation in research and writing as well as a love for examining a topic through the lenses of many different areas of study. I always found the topic of “medievalism,” the practice of utilizing medieval themes in popular culture, fascinating. While at UVa I wrote about gender identity in the medieval period and compared the depictions of the undead in popular culture to the draugr of Old Icelandic folktales. While working on my masters, I studied the history of the written language and storytelling, from mankind’s earliest written words to how we tell stories today in eBooks, film, and even video games. Many of the techniques we use today to design a successful website or create an eBook have their foundations in how we originally learned to read and write. My degree in Medieval Studies taught me that to truly understand the present, and predict the future, one needs to examine the past. I am thankful not only for the lessons I learned in the Medieval Studies program at UVa, but for the many wonderful people I met as well. I have many fond memories of drinking mead while talking about Monty Python, and making friends with the other students who fought to out talk me during discussion sessions. The knowledge and friendships that I gained through the program stay with me to this day, and for that I will be eternally grateful.
Travis From (class of 2018)
Travis was a double major in History and Medieval Studies. His studies focus mainly on the court cultures of the Medieval and Early Modern periods. He is a transfer student from Northern Virginia Community College where he graduated with degrees in Business Administration and Liberal Arts. He is also a performer for the Virginia Renaissance Faire where he teaches about important historical figures such as Sir Walter Devereux, 1st Earl of Essex, Sir Christopher Hatton, KG, and Vice Admiral Sir Francis Drake, and their role in Queen Elizabeth I’s court. Travis begins graduate work in the UK next year, specializing in Elizabethan court culture.
I am a PhD candidate in Medieval Studies at the University of Toronto, though I took a circuitous route to get here. After a brief stint as a substitute Latin teacher, I interned for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, George Washington’s Mount Vernon, and the Department of the Interior’s Museum Program. A year later, medieval studies had lured me back, and I graduated from the Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of Toronto with a MA. My PhD research centers on networks of material and cultural exchange, with a particular focus on the luxury textiles which traversed the Mediterranean and beyond in the 14th century. The fact that “Tartar” cloth (named for Tarsus in modern Turkey) traveled to English treasuries and damask (named for Damascus in modern Syria) to Rome speaks to an interconnected medieval world. In the face of popular media—and older scholarship—it can be easy to forget that the medieval world stretched beyond Europe, included Muslims and Jews as well as Christians, spoke Greek and Arabic as well as Latin, and was connected by commerce and diplomacy as much as crusade. Medieval studies allows me to learn about the connected histories (and art histories) of this vibrant and variegated world. The field also allows me to take an interdisciplinary approach to research: I can look at both surviving objects and records of objects preserved in 14th-century ecclesiastical inventories, melding art history and history, with a smidgen of digital humanities for good measure. I stumbled into the Medieval Studies major almost by accident (“hey, this class looks fun and this is a great prof!” x 10 –> major), and I consider myself immensely lucky—I haven’t looked back.
Ellie was a Religious and Medieval Studies double major from Charlottesville, Virginia. She was initially drawn to the Medieval Studies major after a course in Old Icelandic Literature, where she realized the Vikings were historically even cooler than the History Channel show depicts. Her research is focused on the transmission of Christian scriptures and formative theological texts in the early Middle Ages. She was also a fellow with the Virginia Center for the Study of Religion.
Camille Loomis (CLAS ’14)
Since graduating from UVA, I have worked as an orchestra teacher in Mississippi through Teach for America, and am now pursuing a Master’s of Divinity at Duke Divinity School. Medieval Studies enabled me to think critically about how art and religion intersect, particularly in the lives of everyday folks. My Distinguished Major Thesis in the Religious Studies department integrated material from my secondary major, Art History, and minor in Medieval Studies to examine the influence of Medieval apophatic theology on Chartres Cathedral’s design and construction. This research influenced my continued study of sacred art at Duke Divinity School. But Medieval Studies is more than the big-ticket art pieces! Did you know that a 15th-century cookbook or a 9th-century crystal can tell you just as much about religious life as stained glass cathedral windows? In the Medieval Studies program, commonplace artifacts are valuable evidence for the extraordinary richness of an average human life. Perhaps the best part about this program is the students. Some of my fondest Virginia memories involve gabbing about Saxon burials, dissecting the historical inaccuracies of Monty Python, and road tripping to touch the old wooden floors of Dumbarton Oaks. The program gave me friends and mentors I will have forever.
Rachel also completed a double major in Classics. Rachel’s research interests focus around medieval manuscripts and the transmission of texts in the Middle Ages. Rachel also worked as an IMLS Fellowship Program Assistant at the Rare Books School.
Jordan Møller (class of ’18)
Jordan was a Medieval Studies and Archaeology double major who grew up around the world as an expat kid. His own experiences with traveling and integrating himself into new cultures has informed his interest in Medieval identity, particularly that of the Norse and Anglo-Saxons. How did these far ranging peoples think of themselves in the context of their new surroundings and what did those they encountered think of them?
Heather was an Art History major with a minor in Medieval Studies. Her long-standing love of Grimm’s Fairy Tales and historical costume dramas initially drew her to studying the visual culture of the Middle Ages. Heather worked with the development of regional differences in architecture and illuminated manuscripts over time as shaped by local religious histories of the former Roman world. She is currently pursuing a career in Museum Studies.
Caroline, a Jefferson Scholar and Echols Scholar, double majored in Medieval Studies and English. Her love of Beowulf initially drew her to the field and she primarily studied the theological and literary cultures of thirteenth- and fourteenth-century England. She completed her Medieval Studies thesis, entitled “Unknowing to Know the Unknown: The Role of the English Language in the Apophatic Contemplation of The Cloud of Unknowing,” in December 2012 and went on to complete a thesis for the Distinguished Majors Program in English on legal authority and moral law in Havelok the Dane.
Anthony Reynolds, Jr.
Margaret, an Echols Scholar, double majored in Medieval Studies and Environmental Science. She worked with the Christian conversion period in Anglo-Saxon England.
Elizabeth had a double major in Classics and Medieval Studies.