Like the territories of the ancient Roman Empire to which the premodern Mediterranean was heir, medieval history at the University of Chicago is divided into three main fields: European, Byzantine, and Islamic. Within these fields, faculty research interests and course offerings range widely both across and within cultures, from late antiquity through the fifteenth century, and from the military and economic history of community, polity, and empire to the intellectual and cultural development of religion.
Depending on their linguistic interests and abilities, students at Chicago may choose to focus on one of these fields or to take on comparative work across fields; they are encouraged to draw on the resources available at Chicago across disciplines, particularly in those fields for which the number of faculty in history is relatively small. Above all, faculty in medieval history are committed to providing students with strong empirical, linguistic, and methodological grounding in their particular fields of research, while at the same time encouraging conversation across fields.
In medieval European history, students are encouraged to think in terms not only of acquiring the necessary linguistic and technical skills of working with manuscripts and printed primary sources, but also of expanding their knowledge of European culture more generally. Faculty at the University of Chicago are particularly strong in medieval European languages and literatures (Latin as well as the vernaculars), in the history of high and later medieval art, in the history of sacred and secular music, in the history of law, and in the history of Christian theology and mysticism. In Byzantine studies, faculty are likewise strong in languages (particularly Greek and Coptic), in the history of art, and in the history of early Christianity. Students in medieval Islamic history are well served by faculty in the Departments of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations and South Asian Languages and Civilizations. Students in medieval European history are especially encouraged to situate their field chronologically with courses in ancient, early modern, and modern European history, geographically with courses in Byzantine, Russian, and Middle Eastern history, and comparatively with courses in Jewish and Islamic studies.