Contacts | Minor in Renaissance Studies | Summary of Requirements | Grading | Advising | Renaissance Studies Courses

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The minor in Renaissance studies offers students an interdisciplinary examination of the networks of trade, culture, and power that, in the formative centuries between the Black Death and the Enlightenment, profoundly changed the culture and society of Europe and the Mediterranean and brought the region into contact with the broader globe. This era birthed empires, economies, literatures, languages, conflicts, technologies, and ideas whose influence, both within the European continent and well beyond, powerfully shaped the advent and structures of modernity. A list of University of Chicago faculty working in Renaissance studies can be found on the Renaissance Studies website.

The minor unites the humanities and social sciences, teaching students to use the tools of multiple disciplines to examine the society, art, literature, music, and the political, economic, and historical experiences of the Renaissance world. A student might choose to minor in Renaissance studies in order to reach beyond the lens of one discipline to see how major figures (Machiavelli, Luther, Montaigne, Cervantes, Shakespeare) or major events (the Reformation, European contact with the Americas) yield different insights when examined with the diverse methods and tools of inquiry used in different departments.

The minor could represent an interest distinct from the student’s major, or it could complement a major in the social sciences or humanities for a student working on materials from the period. It could equally complement a major in the sciences, for students who want to understand the era (of Galileo and Vesalius) that so powerfully shaped the way their disciplines are understood and studied today.

Minor in Renaissance Studies

Students must complete six courses for the minor. Because of the interdisciplinary nature of the minor, courses eligible for the minor will come from a variety of departments and will be listed on the Renaissance Studies website.

The Renaissance can be approached through many disciplines, including:

Art History, Classics, Comparative Literature, English Language and Literature, Fundamentals: Issues and Texts, Germanic Studies, History, History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Science and Medicine, Music, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Philosophy, Political Science, Religious Studies, Romance Languages and Literatures (e.g., Catalan, French, Italian), Russian and East European Studies (e.g., Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian, Czech, Polish), and Theater and Performance Studies.

At least three (3) of the above disciplines must be represented among the six (6) approved courses that students take to complete the minor. An updated list of eligible courses with descriptions specifying which discipline each course represents will be maintained on the Renaissance Studies website. Any uncertainty about which courses represent which disciplines can be resolved by consulting the Renaissance Studies website or the faculty director.

Students may petition to count courses not listed on the website if they can demonstrate that the courses have substantial content related to Renaissance questions. A student may also petition to count up to two language courses if the student can demonstrate that the language is being studied for the purpose of pursing Renaissance studies. A successful petition requires students to obtain approval from the faculty director, who will contact College Advising on the student’s behalf.

Courses in the minor may not be double counted with the student's major(s) or with other minors.

Summary of Requirements

Three RENS courses representing three distribution areas *300
Three RENS electives300
Total Units600


Courses in the minor must be taken for quality grades, and more than half of the requirements for the minor must be met by registering for courses bearing University of Chicago course numbers.


Prospective minors must meet with the Renaissance Studies faculty director to discuss their interests and course plans and to obtain advice and approval. This meeting could happen whenever the student is ready to declare. Together the student and the faculty director will fill out the Consent to Complete a Minor Program form listing the proposed courses, which the faculty director signs. Students should submit completed, signed forms to their College adviser by the end of Spring Quarter of their third year.

Renaissance Studies Courses

Full, updated lists of eligible courses along with the distribution areas they fulfill can be found on the Renaissance Studies website, but contact the faculty director if you have questions about whether a course may be counted toward the Renaissance Studies minor.


Undergraduate Primary Contact

Faculty Director
Timothy Harrison
Rosenwald 426