The GW Medieval and Early Modern Studies Institute was founded in 2008 by faculty and students in English, History and Romance Languages. We quickly grew to include twenty-three professors and numerous students in seven departments, making us the largest humanities initiative at GW.
Our mission was to bring fresh critical perspectives to the study of the literature and culture of early Europe within a global perspective, connecting the past to the present. Appropriate to our location in DC, we emphasized the international character of the period: the connections that entangled Britain and France with the North Sea, Ireland, the Mediterranean and the New World. We had an abiding respect for well known authors such as Shakespeare, but we researched and taught them alongside the texts that they read and within the wider worlds they traveled: narratives of China, India, Jerusalem, the Americas; adventures on the seas and along pilgrimage routes; stories of magic, possibility, loss, trauma and transformation. We never conducted this work in isolation. We were committed to ensuring that our work was available to all, from undergraduates in introductory courses to the graduate students who will someday write field-changing books and teach the next generation of students. Every lecture, symposium, and other event we sponsored was free and open to all who wished to attend. Many were co-sponsored with other humanities units. We supported the research of our award-winning faculty, who were extraordinarily successful in obtaining the grants and fellowships that boost our international ranking. We believed strongly that a keen and critical engagement with history can help to bring about a more just future.
GW MEMSI ended its ten years of programming in the spring of 2018. This page is no longer maintained.