Over the past three decades, the field has been transformed: the scope of Renaissance and Early Modern Studies today is global, transnational, transcultural and deeply committed to a vision of a richly interlinked world with many, varied, locally-inflected transitions to modernity. No longer can the study of Renaissance humanism be held apart from studies of the colonial Americas, or the production of Chinese porcelain remain the province of East Asian scholars alone; diplomatic relations in the Mediterranean are understood to be closely linked to the circuits of people, goods, and ideas in sub-Saharan African and the Indian Ocean; the European expansions overseas are seen to be a product of, and also to have produced, the New Science and Baroque art of the seventeenth century. Taking this vast scholarly expanse as our purview, the Program in Early Modern Studies welcomes new connections, new conversations, and new communities.
The combined doctoral program in Early Modern Studies has, since the early 1990s (under the previous rubric of Renaissance Studies), offered graduate students the opportunity to focus on the history and culture of the late medieval and early modern periods, circa 1300-1700, with an emphasis on interdisciplinary approaches. It is the only doctoral program of its kind in the United States. Graduate students who are admitted into the program currently pursue the Ph.D. degree jointly with one of ten departments: English, History, History of Science and Medicine, Comparative Literature, Classics, Italian, French, Spanish and Portuguese, Music, and the History of Art.
The Program in Early Modern Studies was renamed in 2022 to signal the global scope of the field even as we acknowledge the significance of “Renaissance” as the site for an intellectual genealogy— often contested, but never ignored—from antiquity to the present. The Program will focus on the historical period between 1350 and 1800, a range broadened to recognize that “early modernity” is manifested differently and at different times across the world. There have been productive debates across the humanities in the last twenty years about the terms “medieval,” “pre/early modern” and “modern”; our reformed program’s expansive historical breadth is an invitation to engage with such questions while offering an intellectual “big tent” to faculty and graduate students. We hope that this framework will also enable new connections across traditional disciplinary divisions at Yale.
It is a key goal of the new Program to expand its partner departments to reflect its embrace of various axes of global interconnection. We welcome inquiries from colleagues in a wide range of disciplinary formations.