Renaissance Studies Undergraduate Minor

Launched in 2018, the undergraduate Renaissance Studies Minor lets students take an interdisciplinary approach to studying the culture, literature, art, music, society, and political, economic, and historical experiences of the Renaissance world.  Requiring six courses in at least three different departments, with opportunities to study Renaissance languages and to study abroad, 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.  Disciplines through which minors can approach the Renaissance include Art History, Classics, Comparative Literature, English, Germanic Studies, History, Music, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Philosophy, Political Science, Religious Studies, Romance Languages, Slavic Languages and Literatures, Theater and Performance Studies, History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Science and Medicine (HIPS), and others.

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.

Prospective minors must contact and meet with the Renaissance Studies Program Director to discuss their interests and course plans and to obtain advice and approval.  Together the student and the program director will fill out the Minor Program Application Form listing the proposed courses, which the program director signs. Students should submit completed, signed forms to their College advisers, preferably by the end of the third year.



Six (6) Renaissance Studies (RENS) courses. Courses eligible for the minor will be cross-listed with a RENS (Renaissance Studies) subject code.  Usually RENS courses will come from the following disciplines and programs (though other disciplines may offer RENS courses as well):

Art History (ARTH), Classics (CLCV), Comparative Literature (CMLT), English (ENGL), Fundamentals (FUNDL), Germanic Studies (GRMN), History (HIST), History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Science and Medicine (HIPS), Music (MUSI), Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations (ARAB, HEBR, NEAA, NEHC etc.), Philosophy (PHIL), Political Science (PLSC), Religious Studies (RLST), Romance Languages (CATA, FREN, ITAL, PORT, SPAN etc.), Slavic Languages and Literatures (BCSN, CZEC, EEUR, GEOR, POLI, REES, SLAV, SOSL etc.), and Theater and Performance Studies (TAPS).

At least three (3) of the above disciplines must be represented among the six (6) approved courses that students take to complete the minor. The updated class lists on the Renaissance Studies website will identify the category into which each course falls. These designations are based on the faculty member’s primary affiliation; you can find a list of those affiliations at: https://renaissancestudies.uchicago.edu/facultybydept/

For an up-to-date listing of RENS courses, with descriptions specifying which discipline each course represents, please consult: https://renaissancestudies.uchicago.edu/courses/

NOTE: because the minor launched in 2018, RENS courses may not show up in the Registrar’s system for the 2018-19 school year. If you having trouble finding RENS courses in the Registrar’s system, consult our web listing of courses.

To give an example, although ENGL 16600 (Shakespeare’s Tragedies and Romances) is cross-listed in the Catalogue with TAPS and FUNDL, because the professors teaching this course are primarily affiliated with English, it is designated as representing English on the Renaissance Studies Program’s website and counts as an English course for the Distribution Requirements of RENS.  Thus, a student who took both ENGL 16600 and ENGL 16560 (Shakespeare and the Ancient Classical World) could not count one course as TAPS and the other as ENGL for purposes of the Renaissance Studies distribution requirement, and would still need to take two courses from other disciplines to complete the distribution requirement.  The student could, however, count both ENGL 16600 and ENGL 16560 toward the total requirement of six RENS courses to complete the Minor.

To give a contrasting example, HIST 29516 (History of Skepticism) is designated as a History (HIST) course by the Renaissance Studies Program, while HIPS 17400 (Science, Culture, and Society in Western Civilization II) is designated as a course in the program on the History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Science and Medicine (HIPS).  A student who took both these courses would thereby complete two of the three elements of the Minor’s distribution requirement, even though HIST 29516 is cross-listed with HIPS and HIPS 17400 is cross-listed with HIST.  The student could also count both these courses toward the total requirement of six RENS courses to complete the Minor.

Any uncertainty about which courses represent which disciplines can be resolved by consulting the Renaissance Studies website or the Program Director.

Students may petition to count courses not cross-listed as RENS if they can demonstrate that the courses have substantial content related to Renaissance questions. To do so, students must obtain approval from the Program Director, who will contact College Advising on the student’s behalf.  Since the minor is new, students may also petition to have courses from earlier years counted as RENS courses if the courses predated the creation of the RENS course option.

Advanced language courses that focus on texts from the Renaissance will be cross-listed with RENS.  In addition to these, a maximum of two (2) of the six (6) courses required to complete the Minor may be fulfilled by language courses at any level (introductory, intermediate, or advanced) in a language relevant to Renaissance studies which are not cross-listed with RENS, so long as these courses do not also count towards the student’s major requirements. Appropriate languages include, but are not limited to:

Ancient or modern Greek, Arabic, Armenian, Basque, Catalan, French, Georgian, German, modern or Biblical Hebrew, Italian, Latin, Middle or Old Persian, Occitan, Ottoman, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Slavic, Spanish, Turkish.

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

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.

Contact the Program Director if you have questions about whether a course may be counted toward the Renaissance Studies minor.