Randolph College Home Page Give Today! Support Randolph College
AboutAdmissionUndergraduateGraduateAcademicsUndergraduateGraduateStudent LifeAthleticsOutcomesAlumnae & AlumniParents & FamiliesInside RandolphAPPLYREQUESTVISITNEWSEVENTSSupport RandolphSearch

Renaissance Studies

This interdisciplinary minor looks at the art, literature, culture, religion, and philosophy of one of the most influential periods in human history. 

Why Study the Renaissance at Randolph?

The Renaissance Studies interdisciplinary minor allows students to experience one of the richest periods in the history of Western culture, refracted through several lenses of humanistic scholarship.  

Students make connections across academic disciplines of art history, English literature, classical studies, comparative philosophy, religious studies, theatre, and history.

Recommended for students majoring in one of the fields included in the program with a special interest in this historical period.

Degrees offered

Renaissance Studies interdisciplinary minor

Participating Programs

Curriculum and Requirements

Students must complete 20 credit hours to qualify for the minor.  A minimum of 5 of the following courses are required.

Required: (4 credit hours)

An introductory course dealing with the principles of Renaissance stagecraft, the nature of performance, the construction and themes of the plays, and the concept of genre or type. Representative plays in all genres from throughout Shakespeare’s career.

One of the following: (4 credit hours)

A bold, new style emerged in fifteenth-century Florence, setting the standard for European and American art until it was challenged by Impressionism and Modernism. Students will become familiar with cornerstones of the Western tradition in painting, sculpture, and architecture, made by great artists including Giotto, Donatello and Brunelleschi. By examining the intellectual, spiritual and political context of the works, students will understand not only their artistic significance but their original meanings as well.  

Who does not know the painting of the Mona Lisa? This course examines the career of one of the most influential artists of all time, Leonardo da Vinci, and focuses on his rival, Michelangelo. Students will also discover the contributions of Venetian masters such as Titian and Palladio, whose works have inspired artists and architects for centuries.

Two of the following: (8 credit hours)

An investigation into the nature and uses of myth in ancient Greek and Roman cultures. Topics include the social significance of myth, the use of myth in art and literature, and the influence of Greco-Roman myth on Western civilization.

This course will introduce the main social, political, economic, and cultural forces that shaped and reshaped European societies and Europe’s relationship to the world in this period. Topics for discussion and study include the institutions of medieval Europe, the Renaissance, the Reformation, the emergence of modern commercial capitalism, the English Revolutions, and the Enlightenment.

This course studies European philosophy from 1600-1800, a time period when scientific discoveries inspired philosophers to radically reevaluate traditional sources of knowledge and methods of inquiry. During this period, the human mind becomes not just a tool but also an object of philosophical inquiry. Authors studied include Descartes, Hume, and Kant. Topics covered include the sources and limits of knowledge, the mind/body relationship, and personal identity.

One of the following: (4 credit hours)

Through lecture and seminar-style discussion, this course introduces the major ideas and artistic trends of the Medieval period. The political, philosophical, and spiritual changes that shaped the Western world after the dissolution of the Roman Empire are related to a selection of artistic periods and styles so that students can achieve an understanding of Medieval art and architecture within its context.

This course studies the emergence of the Baroque style in painting, sculpture, and architecture as a response to the political and spiritual upheaval wrought by the Protestant Reformation, the Council of Trent, and the Counter-Reformation. The formation of the style in Italy and its modification by northern European artists is addressed within their varied cultural contexts.

Topic will vary from year to year.

Fall 2021, Session 1: Heritage and the Classical Legacy
This course studies the forms of classical architecture developed in ancient Greece and later modified by the ancient Romans, known by extant examples and the treatise by Vitruvius. We will explore how later cultures responded to the forms, meanings, and appropriate uses of the Classical orders, and adapted them to their own needs. At the heart of this endeavor is the question why? What makes the architectural vocabulary of the Classical world so enduring and resonant? Part of the answer may be found in UNESCO’s world heritage process which evaluates the universality of cultural sites as a criteria for inclusion on their list. We will consider the processes of determining heritage, which function as a mirror, reflecting back to us the globally acknowledged value and meaning of this architectural tradition.

This course seeks to understand, analyze, and interpret representations of gender and sex within Renaissance art and literature (in both England and Italy). Using 80 contemporary texts when possible and readings from the disciplines of literature, social history, feminist theory, and art historical texts, the course aims for a fuller assessment of gendered Renaissance life as it pertains to art and literature.

The Hebrew Bible is an anthology reflecting the religious life and thought of ancient Israel and a primary source for beliefs, desires, and norms that underpin Western civilization. Students study and employ a wide range of strategies proper to scholarly analysis of the diverse textual traditions enshrined in the Hebrew Bible. Topics include founding legends, prophecy, wisdom, and apocalypse.

Scholarly analysis of the canonical anthology of the early Christian movement, emphasizing its origin in provincial Palestinian culture and efflorescence in Asia Minor of the first two centuries CE. Students study and employ a wide range of strategies for ascertaining the origin, setting, transmission, and aims of New Testament writings. Topics include scholarly reconstructions of the historical Jesus, diverse perspectives on Jesus among early Christian communities, the thought-world and ministry of the apostle Paul, formation of the New Testament canon, and the evolution of orthodoxy.

Opportunities for Experience

Summer Research Program

Spend the summer working closely with a professor on a focused aspect of a Renaissance Studies topic of your choosing.

Randolph’s intensive eight-week Summer Research Program enables students to work with professors on a research of their own design; live in a residence hall on campus, participate in on-campus summer events, attend special seminars with guest speakers; and share the progress and results of their research.

Learn more about the Summer Research Program.

Symposium of Artists and Scholars

Modeled after a traditional academic conference, the SAS brings together students of all disciplines to share the results and highlights of the best work being produced at the College –  oral presentations, readings of creative works, performances, exhibitions of student artwork, and poster presentations.

Learn more about the Symposium of Artists and Scholars.

Internships

Learn by doing – in the field and on the job.  The Career Development Center will help place you in positions with leading companies and organizations in your field of study.

Learn more about internship opportunities.

Unique Experiences

Opportunities

Top Ranked Professors

Randolph College’s faculty are consistently recognized as among the best in the nation. The Princeton Review ranked the College in the Top 20 for most accessible professors in the 2021 edition of its flagship college guide, The Best 387 Colleges.

Randolph has been ranked in the top 20 for most accessible professors for four consecutive years.

Faculty Coordinators

Mara Amster

Professor of English, Arts & Letters Division Head

Read More... Mara Amster

Andrea Campbell

Professor of Art History

Read More... Andrea Campbell

Only at Randolph

Randolph students can take advantage of unique programs which give them a more enriching education than can be found anywhere else.

The Liberal Arts Advantage

Randolph graduates learn to think critically, solve problems and work well with others. They are prepared to succeed in all aspects of life.

Learn More
Money for Your Research

The Randolph Innovative Student Experience (RISE) program provides every student a $2,000 grant to fund research, creative work, experiential learning or other scholarly pursuits.

Learn More
The Randolph Plan

Randolph students work with faculty mentors to explore a broad range of disciplines as they chart their academic path.

Learn More
TAKE2

Two courses per half-mester means you get to focus in and dig deep into your coursework while still having time for the rest of the college experience. Two classes. Seven weeks. Repeat.

Learn More

News

Randolph named one of the nation’s top liberal arts colleges

The College was ranked #124 in the 2023 edition of its Best Colleges guidebook, up from #141 last year.

Read More

Randolph’s professors ranked 12th in the nation for accessibility

Randolph was also included on the Green Honor Roll.

Read More

Randolph featured in 2023 ‘Fiske Guide to Colleges’

The 2023 edition of the guide praised how Randolph has evolved to remain relevant while preserving the best elements of its past.

Read More

Randolph named one of the nation’s top liberal arts colleges

The College was ranked #124 in the 2023 edition of its Best Colleges guidebook, up from #141 last year.

Read More

Randolph’s professors ranked 12th in the nation for accessibility

Randolph was also included on the Green Honor Roll.

Read More

Randolph featured in 2023 ‘Fiske Guide to Colleges’

The 2023 edition of the guide praised how Randolph has evolved to remain relevant while preserving the best elements of its past.

Read More
Facebook Twitter Instagram LinkedIn YouTube RSS Feeds Snapchat

Mara Amster

Professor of English, Arts & Letters Division Head

Credentials:B.A., Duke University
M.A., University of Virginia
Ph.D., University of Rochester
Associated Departments:English, Renaissance Studies
Office:Smith 406
Phone:4349478514
Email:mamster@randolphcollege.edu

News Headlines

While I teach Shakespeare, Renaissance Drama, Women Writers, and the first half of the British Literature survey, I think I am famous (infamous, perhaps?) for my Renaissance Literature class, subtitled “Unruly Women.” In this upper-level course, we examine a wealth of writing (drama, poetry, medical treatises, legal documents, royal proclamations, and sermons) that concerns itself with the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries most unruly women: prostitutes, murderesses, witches, and virgins. The class, based on my own scholarly research on female sexuality, gendered representations, and Renaissance literature and culture, allows us to make connections between life in the 21st century and life in the 17th century; the concerns that preoccupied and even obsessed our Renaissance writers — the bodies, minds, and souls of women — often sound quite familiar to us.

In all my classes, students discover that while Renaissance writing may seem dated, it still has the power to shock, fascinate, amuse, and disturb us. It can be silly, scary, or sexy, or sometimes all three simultaneously.

In 2005-06 I was a Visiting Research Associate at the Women’s Studies Research Center at Brandeis University. While there I completed work on a two-volume anthology – Texts on Prostitution, 1592-1633 and Texts on Prostitution, 1635-1700 – that was published in February 2007. Currently I am working on The Purchase of Pleasure: Representing Prostitution and the Early Modern Market, a book that examines seventeenth-century representations of prostitution and its relationship to pleasure, performance, pornography, and profit.

×

Andrea Campbell

Professor of Art History

Credentials:B.A., The American University
M.A., PhD., Rutgers State University of New Jersey

Associated Departments:Art History and Studio Art, Museum and Heritage Studies, Renaissance Studies
Office:Leggett 536
Phone:434.947.8483
Email:acampbell@randolphcollege.edu

News Headlines

As an undergraduate in Washington, D.C., I had the opportunity to study original works of art at the National Gallery and was enthralled by their collection of Italian Renaissance art. Italian Renaissance art is now my specialty, and I teach a range of courses at Randolph including Ancient, Medieval, and Baroque art, as well as Museum Studies. The interdisciplinary approach that framed my undergraduate education in Renaissance Studies still informs my teaching and research, and some of my favorite classes are those I co-teach with colleagues, such as Masterworks of Greek and Roman Art, a course that combines the perspectives of archaeology and art history.

The study of art and the material of our cultural patrimony has never been more critical to our lives as citizens. My students learn how to reconstruct the original meaning of works of art and architecture while being encouraged to consider their roles as historians and challenged to pose new questions.  The skills gained in critical thinking and writing, in addition to the ability to read and discern meaning in our visual environment, are some of the powerful tools gained in the study of art history that serve our students well in all their future occupations.

I am dedicated to getting students in front of original works of art and take students on field trips to all sorts of museums, both in our area and in nearby cities such as Richmond and Washington. My favorite course culminates in a two-week study tour in Italy; it is a great joy for me to witness students experience the power of Italian art in a way that can never be matched in the classroom.

My research interests include fifteenth-century Sienese art and culture, the subject of a current book project, and issues of patronage and iconography in Venetian painting and sculpture, which will be explored in two future projects.

×