Majors & Minors

Early Modern Studies

Explore how the rich history, art, literature, language, and culture of the 15th through 18th centuries on both sides of the Atlantic helped shape the modern world.


Michael Saenger

Professor of English

Michael Saenger

Professor of English

Ancient statue of sensual Italian renaissance era woman.
Ancient statue of sensual Italian renaissance era woman.

Southwestern’s minor in early modern studies enables you to examine the period between 1400 and 1700 from a multidisciplinary and cross-cultural perspective. By considering the medieval cultures of Catholic Europe, the revival of ancient Greek and Roman texts, and the Inca and Aztec Empires and their transition into the Spanish colonial period, you will learn how these diverse cultures shaped the modern world. We invite you to explore such questions as the following:

  • How is femininity represented in the poems of John Donne?
  • In what ways is the depiction of Westeros in Game of Thronesbased on England’s Wars of the Roses in the 15th century?
  • What did books look like in Inca and Aztec times, and how did their forms and functions change with the advent of the Book in colonial Spanish America?
  • How did Shakespeare’s tragedies reflect contemporary notions of race and ethnicity?
  • Why were women excluded from most of the theatrical traditions of the early modern period?
  • How did the coexistence of Islamic, Jewish, and Christian cultures in the Iberian Peninsula affect notions of a unified Spain in the Renaissance up to today?

Southwestern’s early modern studies minor provides an inclusive examination of both sides of the Atlantic. You will learn about art, history, literature, and theater while enriching your research and writing skills.

Early Modern Studies is one of the Paideia Minors. Paideia provides intentional opportunities for students to integrate various academic disciplines and experiences, empowering them to develop versatile analytical abilities that lead them to become creative problem solvers who are well equipped to tackle complex issues. Paideia is not a traditional program but provides innovative, structured pathways that enable the acquisition of these invaluable skills.

All SU students are encouraged to graduate with Paideia Distinction by making Paideia a formal part of their studies. This requires completing either one of the Paideia Minors (or two High-Impact Experiences) and successfully completing a Paideia Seminar.

Graduation with Paideia Distinction formally recognizes students’ cultivated curiosity to learn, integrate multiple viewpoints, and create change. The Paideia skills that students develop make SU graduates highly sought-after by recruiters, employers, and graduate programs.

Learn more about the Paideia Seminar, how to apply for it, and how to graduate with Paideia Distinction.

  • Shakespeare across Time, Languages, and Disciplines

    Associate Professor of Theatre Sergio Costola and Associate Professor of English Michael Saenger coordinated a seminar on translating Shakespeare at an international conference in Rome.