Why Medieval Studies?

Examining Medieval books

The Center for Premodern Studies at the University of Minnesota continues the work and relationships of the (former) Center for Medieval Studies.


Knowledge of the past is integral to understanding the present and to mapping the future. The Center for Medieval Studies (CMS) at UMN was created to foster the exchange of ideas about the Middle Ages. Center for Premodern Studies is the foremost center for the study and research of the Middle Ages in the state of Minnesota.

  • The many activities of the Center including the Medieval Book in the Schools, introducing the culture of the Middle Ages (including manuscripts!) to students in Minnesota K-12 classes.

  • We offer both undergraduate and graduate minors in medieval studies. These programs of study allow students to deepen their knowledge of medieval history and culture by taking classes in a variety of departments.

  • One of our chief missions is to support the research of graduate students, and in that capacity we organize and offer financial support to graduate students to attend workshops on how to read medieval manuscripts, to participate in hands-on research in archives abroad, to organize/attend professional conferences and to network with professionals already working in the field. Graduate reading groups supported by the Center include those in Old Norse and Classical Arabic.

  • We sponsor many events for the public as well as for the university community, including weekly lectures by international experts, and annual endowed lectures by a world renowned expert in art history (the Sheppard lecture—a lecture created in honor of UMN Art History Professor, Carl D. Sheppard) and a world renowned expert in Manuscript Studies (the Aris Memorial Lecture—a lecture series established in honor of Rutherford Aris, UMN professor of chemical engineering and classics, whose love of manuscript culture led to the establishment of this annual lecture).

  • We organize and sponsor an annual manuscript workshop designed to provide guidance on the study of real manuscripts, the Medieval Manuscript Research Laboratory, held at the Hill Museum and Monastic Library in Collegeville, MN. The Laboratory is intended to provide practical guidance and training in the areas of text studies, text editing, palaeography and codicology. Students work with manuscripts from the HMML collection, in conjunction with a specialist in medieval paleography, Carrin Ruff, the rare book specialist at HMML, Matthew Heintzelman, and the Assistant Director of the HMML collection, Daniel Gullo.