The GW Medieval and Early Modern Studies Institute was founded in 2008 by faculty and students in English, History and Romance Languages. We have quickly grown to include seventeen professors and numerous students in five departments, making us the largest humanities initiative at GW.
Our mission is to bring fresh critical perspectives to the study of the literature and culture of early Europe. Appropriate to our location in DC, we emphasize the international character of the period: the connections that entangled England and France with the North Sea, the Celtic world, the Mediterranean and, ultimately, the New World. We have a deep and abiding respect for well known authors such as Chaucer and Shakespeare, and we research and teach them alongside the texts that they read and loved: narratives of travel to China, India, Jerusalem; adventures on the seas and along pilgrimage routes; stories of magic, possibility, loss, and transformation. We never conduct this work in isolation. We are committed to ensuring that our work is 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 event we sponsor is free and open to all who wish to attend.
Through a partnership with the School Without Walls, our undergraduate course "Myths of Britain" brings Shakespeare and Beowulf to Washington’s most ambitious public high school students. GW undergraduates of all majors take courses with us and attend our events. Our Gateway Lecture series has proven a popular entryway into the best research being done on the medieval and early modern periods. We have also been able to support the research of our award-winning faculty, who have been extraordinarily successful in obtaining the grants and fellowships that boost our international ranking. Our published research fosters a deep and lasting regard for the texts and cultures of the past. We believe strongly that this kind of keen engagement with history can help to bring about a better future.
And yet there is so much more that we would like to be able to undertake: a lively program for bringing scholars to GW for long term residencies; an undergraduate course that enables our students to spend a portion of the class abroad visiting the locations that they study; mentored postdoctoral teaching opportunities for our graduate students as they hone their classroom skills and prepare themselves for the difficult humanities job market; a revitalized undergraduate major and minor; an expanded program of public lectures; better support for faculty in the final stages of completing book projects; the launching of a new line of electronic books with the Institute’s imprimatur that would make access to primary and secondary texts immediate and inexpensive; a deeper alliance with the Folger Shakespeare Library. And more.
Please consider supporting us. Every penny of philanthropic support for GW MEMSI goes directly towards our programs. Contributing is easy. You may donate by telephone (800-789-2611) or by mailing a check to The George Washington University, 2100 M Street, NW, Suite 310, Washington, D.C. 20052 (please designate the Medieval and Early Modern Studies Institute on the memo line or in an accompanying note). You may also donate online, but please ensure that under the category "Other" you designate your gift for the "GW Medieval and Early Modern Studies Institute." As director of the Institute, I am happy to speak with you about any particular initiative that intrigues you. I can be reached easily by email (email@example.com) or telephone (202 455-8157).
I have taught at GW since 1994. I've never seen anything have quite the impact that the Institute has had upon every facet of what we do, from undergraduate education to faculty research and teaching. I hope you will find MEMSI's mission as laudable as I do.
Jeffrey J. CohenDirector, GW MEMSI