Medieval European History
Advanced study in the fields of ancient, classical, early Christian, late antique, Byzantine, and medieval history is a strength of the history department, and is directed by faculty with international stature. The “pre-modern” cluster of graduate faculty is especially oriented around research into the relationships between religion, culture, and law. Daniel Gargola works on Roman law and religion; our endowed Chair of Catholic Studies, David Hunter, works on the nexus of patristic writings and social practices; David Olster studies the place of religious rhetoric within the socio-political discourse of late antiquity; Abigail Firey studies medieval legal history (especially canon law) and its relation to cultural and intellectual developments.
We encourage interdisciplinary investigations, and most graduate committees include faculty from other departments. It is possible to study classical, post-classical, and spoken Latin, Greek, manuscript cultures and paleography, art history, musicology, philosophy, Old English and other vernacular languages, Judaica, and a number of individually-tailored topics. Library holdings are excellent in the pre-modern fields, and include some manuscript, archival, and early printed materials in Special Collections.
Faculty in the Pre-Modern fields accept applicants for graduate study only after careful consideration of their prior preparation, likelihood of success, and proper dovetailing of their interests and faculty competencies. Because of the special needs for adequate preparation in foreign languages in order to conduct research in the pre-modern and early modern fields, we expect applicants to enter the program with some preparation already completed, and expect them to continue their language studies while in the graduate program. Plans for language study are best discussed on a case-by-case basis with supervising faculty.
Scholarly engagement and exchange among the pre-modern scholars at the University of Kentucky is given special institutional support in History 705, the Colloquium in Pre-Modern History, at which invited speakers present work-in-progress to faculty and graduate students drawn from a number of departments and other institutions. This colloquium is a required course for all History graduate students pursuing pre-modern studies.