Global Early Modern Studies

The Global Early Modern Studies concentration builds on existing strengths of the doctoral certificate program in Renaissance Studies, and the MALS concentration in Western Intellectual Tradition. It is also a vital component of re-envisioning our teaching of the fifteenth through eighteenth centuries. There is at present no Master’s program in the CUNY system devoted to early modern studies.

Skeptical of a traditional view of the period, which would see humanist rediscovery of the classics as vaulting European culture into modernity, with all others catching up as they may, this more international approach considers modernity in broader context. There was no empire in the seventeenth century more powerful than the Ottomans, who posed an enormous obstacle to European commercial aspirations in the Eastern Mediterranean. If we identify modernity with advances in science and rising empiricism, then we must notice that European and Indian observational astronomy run somewhat in parallel in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

Given this international scope, students must complete a reading exam, or the equivalent of Level II in the Graduate Center’s Language Reading Program, in a second language. This should be closely related to their scholarly interest. Students are not permitted to use the credit hours of their language courses toward the degree, but must show evidence of satisfying the language requirement in order to graduate.

Global Early Modern Studies scholars at the Graduate Center include faculty members in such masters and Ph.D. Programs as Art History, Classics, English, French, History, MALS, LAILAC, Music, and Philosophy. 

Degree Requirements

The Global Early Modern Studies concentration requires the following coursework for a total of 30 credits:

  • A required introductory course [MALS 70000: Seminar in Interdisciplinary Studies] (3 credits)

  • Two required core courses to introduce students to Global Early Modern Studies [MALS 74600 and MALS 74700] (6 credits)

  • Students choose their remaining 18 credits of electives from among courses offered across the masters, doctoral, and certificate programs in the Social Sciences and Humanities at The Graduate Center.

  • A master's thesis/capstone project [MALS 79000] (3 credits)

Core Courses

Two introductory 3-credit core courses prepare students for advanced courses in Global Early Modern Studies as well as other masters and doctoral courses.

MALS 74600 Introduction to Global Early Modern Studies

An introduction to study of the early modern period, focusing on specific cultural milieu varying by term. In all of its iterations, the course examines topics with broad implications for study of the period, in a way spanning several national traditions and academic disciplines. These can include a set of influential artists, a literary genre or mode especially prevalent in early modernity (such as pastoral or epic), an intellectual tradition, transformations in visual culture, or a historical issue (such as the emergence of scientific method or of capital-based economies). Assignments include a conference-style presentation and research paper.

MALS 74700 Special Topics in Global Early Modern Studies

This course foregrounds the intellectual stakes of considering materials with which knowledge is disseminated in early modernity. Not only print and manuscript, but the elements of which they are made: linen rag, animal hides, type, ink dyes, horse hooves. Along the way, students are introduced to archival methods such as paleography and descriptive bibliography, techniques fundamental to research of the period. Students also learn how to utilize the city’s outstanding archives and rare books libraries, especially the Morgan Library and the New York Public Library.

Elective Courses

 Electives can be chosen among courses offered across most of the masters, doctoral, and certificate programs in the Social Sciences and the Humanities at The Graduate Center.

For related coursework in Global Early Modern Studies, students may look to offerings in the MALS program, in the certificate program in Renaissance Studies, and in the following programs: Art HistoryClassicsEnglishFrenchHistory, LAILAC (Latin American, Iberian, and Latino Cultures),  Music, and Philosophy.

Library Resources

Students' contact for Global Early Modern Studies research is reference librarian Alycia Sellie.

associated faculty

Other faculty, who have taught core courses or electives for this concentration or supervised theses and capstones, include Sarah Covington (History) and Amanda Wunder (History, Art History).

Global Early Modern Studies Concentration Faculty

GC profile default image

Anna Akasoy


  • Liberal Studies


  • Medieval Studies


  • Comparative Literature


  • Middle Eastern Studies


  • Global Early Modern Studies

Deputy Executive Officer

  • Liberal Studies