Historians have frequently used the Middle Ages as a laboratory for thinking about alterity. Traditionally defined as the period from roughly 300 to 1500, these centuries saw the collapse of Roman imperial structures and the emergence of startling new cultural, economic, political, and social forms. Equally central to the Middle Ages were the early development and entanglement of Christianity and Islam, fostering a complex Mediterranean world system. In this period forms of European colonialism and colonization evolved that lay the groundwork for later developments across the globe as the contraction and expansion of networks of exchange reshaped connections between Europe, Asia, Africa and even the Americas. Faculty work on these themes across Continental Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and beyond. Areas of focus include entanglement across ethnic, religious, and cultural lines; the imagination and experience of space/place; the history of power, captivity, violence and trauma, and the larger Mediterranean world. Students are encouraged to explore the period through a diverse array of approaches and methodologies, including cultural, religious, and social history, archaeology, material culture, and visual culture. Collaboration across disciplines and historical fields is strong, bolstered by the Program in Medieval Studies, the Medieval and Early Modern History Seminar (MEMHS), and opportunities for graduate students to form other interdisciplinary working groups. At Brown, the field in medieval history particularly underscores the ways in which the Middle Ages are in dialog with other time periods and global geographies.

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