Medieval Studies is not a department but an autonomous interdisciplinary program, or, as some of us like to call it, a conspiracy, or coniuratio of the same kind that gave origin to the medieval communes. It has a budget for graduate student fellowships and an account for indispensable administrative expenses but no budget for faculty. It derives its strength from the enthusiasm of teachers who volunteer overtime services and of students who accept taxing work.
The faculty is drawn from many relevant humanities departments -- Classics, Comparative Literature, English, French, German, History, History of Art, Italian, Music, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Philosophy, Religious Studies, Slavic Languages and Literatures, and Spanish and Portuguese -- and of the Divinity School, the Beinecke Library, and the Yale Institute of Sacred Music. There are some forty faculty members at Yale who work on the various cultures of the Middle Ages (Faculty). They form one of the largest assemblies of specialized medievalists in any university of the United States. Students have access to all of these faculty and to the courses, both graduate and undergraduate, that they offer each term. In addition, the Program offers each term a special interdisciplinary seminar in Medieval Studies, the topic of which varies from term to term.
The program sponsors lectures, colloquia, and special events throughout the academic year. The Yale Lectures in Medieval Studies bring truly outstanding medievalists to campus. The frequent Medieval Lunch Colloquium provides a low-key atmosphere in which graduate students and faculty discuss work in progress over college dining hall lunch fare. We hosted the Southern New England Graduate Student Medieval Studies Conference in 2005 and 2011. In 2006 we organized Medieval Spring: A Yale Graduate School Alumni Conference and in 2010 the annual meeting of the Medieval Academy of North America.
The Medieval studies program began at Yale in 1962. The initiative came from the eminent historian Robert S. Lopez, who for many years served as chair. Yale's Medieval Studies Program was the third of its kind to be founded in North America. At first, Medieval Studies was an M.A. program to be followed by enrollment in a regular program for the Ph.D. degree. It became a Ph.D. program in 1965. An M.Phil. program was added in 1999, in which graduate students in other departments are given funding for an extra year of interdisciplinary course work in medieval culture.