Global Premodern Studies

The grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation that created the Consortium for the Study of the Premodern World includes funds to develop new structures for graduate education at the University of Minnesota. Among the proposals is the creation of a Global Premodern Studies curriculum that brings faculty from different disciplines together to teach courses that offer a comparative geographic, temporal, and disciplinary approach to a given topic. We have called these team-taught, multidisciplinary graduate seminars Global Premodern Studies (or GPS) Topics Courses, and launched the first series of these courses in 2015. 

GPS topics courses are substantive, graduate-level seminars open to all students at the University. They are broadly conceived temporally, topically, and disciplinarily, and they exemplify the integrated, multidisciplinary understanding of the premodern world that the consortium hopes to cultivate. To give a few examples, one might imagine a scholar of early English literature giving a course entitled "Earliest Literatures" that would combine the study of Anglo-Saxon literature with other founding literary moments in other traditions around the world. A thematic course that looked at the body, or conceptions of power and political community, or approaches to visual representation across time and space might also be imagined.  All manner of courses studying contact, encounter, and relations among and between peoples and histories are also encouraged. The team-teaching of GPS Topics Courses by multiple faculty members is encouraged, and the Center for Premodern Studies is happy to support programs that aid faculty in broadening their syllabi and developing their pedagogy to better fit with our goals.

Visiting Scholar Program

The most important resource available to faculty teaching GPS topics courses is the GPS Visiting Scholar Program, which began in 2015. Each semester, we welcome visiting scholars who contribute to the work of the consortium in a variety of ways. These visitors help consortium faculty to broaden the curriculum of GPS Topics Courses temporally, topically, and disciplinarily by bringing their specialized expertise into these courses. University faculty teaching GPS Topics Courses are encouraged to invite 1-2 visiting scholars to campus to lead sections of their course. In this way, the visitors help University faculty to broaden their own understanding of a given topic or field and to provide students with perspectives and expertise not available among the our University program faculty. The Center for Premodern Studies provides funding for these courses to bring in visiting scholars to contribute new perspectives and ideas to the class.