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Medieval Languages

The study of medieval languages gives students a better understanding of the origins and development of French, as well as insight into medieval society and literature.

Students can read all the texts in modern translation for undergraduate topics courses (Saints and Soldiers of Medieval France and Courtly Literatures of Medieval France) and for PhD seminars (Poetry, Politics, and CommunityFraming the Twelfth Century; and The Romance of the Rose). Nonetheless, we encourage students to study the original languages as well.

We offer innovative courses in Old French at the undergraduate and graduate level, including “Old French in Action,” which gives students the opportunity to produce a medieval play. Students who take the course at the advanced level learn to read and edit texts from medieval manuscripts.

Graduate students can continue their language study with an advanced practicum (the "Old French Workshop,” which accompanies PhD seminars on French material). Graduate students can also study the Occitan language through a seminar on the troubadours.

Bel m’es, quan vei chamjar lo senhoratge,
que.lh veilh laissan joves lor maisos,
e chascus pot laissar en son linhatge
tans filhs que l’us puoscha esser pros :
adoncs m’es vis que.l segles renovel
mielhs que per flor ni per chantar d’auzel!

—Bertran de Born


I like to see fiefs change hands,
and the old leave their houses to the young.
A man can have enough sons that one turns out well.
And so I think the world is renewed
better than by blooming flowers or singing birds!