Renaissance and Early Modern Studies

University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

The Designated Emphasis on Renaissance and Early Modern Studies (DE) draws on UC Berkeley’s exceptional faculty strength in arts, humanities, and social sciences to foster interdisciplinary research on the Renaissance and early modern period, and to provide an intellectual community for those working in these areas. It offers comprehensive training in a wide range of departments and disciplines. Students combine seminar work in intellectual and cultural history, material culture, and languages to supplement their traditional doctoral studies. The DE fosters cutting-edge research and close collaboration with faculty.

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To be admitted to the Designated Emphasis in Renaissance and Early Modern Studies, an applicant must already be accepted into a PhD program at the University of California, Berkeley. For further information regarding admission to graduate programs at UC Berkeley, please see the Graduate Division's Admissions website.

Students are invited to apply for admission to the DE during their second semester of graduate study at Berkeley.

The application consists of an application form (which can be downloaded from the REMS website), a brief (two-page single-spaced) essay stating the student’s rationale for applying, any relevant coursework or other preparation for the DE, and the student’s projected pathway through the program; a writing sample (no more than 20 pages); and the name and email address of a Berkeley faculty member who knows your work well and will support your application to the DE.

Designated Emphasis Requriements


The required course of study consists of five courses: two required core courses offered by the DE, and three approved electives, one of which may be used to satisfy the DE’s language requirement.

The first of the core courses is “Critical Approaches and Methodology.” This course engages with diverse disciplines, interpretive traditions, bibliographical resources, and scholarly practices (such as paleography, iconology, history of the book, and philology) in order to provide students with essential intellectual tools for graduate-level interdisciplinary research in Renaissance and Early Modern Studies.

The second core course (although it may be taken first) is “Intellectual History.” This course focuses on major texts, artists, authors, and themes (such as humanism, the Reformation, the Baroque, Machiavellianism, courtliness, and colonialism) that provide crucial intellectual contexts for interdisciplinary research in the field.

The three electives will be chosen in consultation with the head graduate adviser. At least one of these electives must be taken outside the student’s home department. This breadth requirement cannot be satisfied by a course that also fulfills the language requirement.

Students in the DE in REMS combine seminar work from an array of departments in intellectual and cultural history, material culture, and languages to supplement their traditional doctoral studies. The REMS website lists courses that DE students may take in fulfillment of their requirements.

Language Requirement

The language requirement may be satisfied by an upper division course in a language outside the student’s department, as approved by the head graduate adviser. Students must demonstrate that the chosen language will be essential to their dissertation projects. For many students, this language will be Latin, the lingua franca of the early modern and Renaissance world. However, the language might also be Italian, or Dutch, or Classical Arabic, if the student’s dissertation project requires it. The language requirement may also be satisfied by previous coursework or by a translation exam, as approved by the head graduate adviser.

Qualifying Examination

The QE must include examination in an interdisciplinary field of knowledge within the DE; students must receive written approval of the field from the head graduate adviser before taking the QE. At least one faculty member affiliated with the DE must participate in the QE. Satisfactory performance on the QE will be judged according to the established procedures of the student’s home department.


The dissertation must include research in an interdisciplinary field of knowledge within the DE. This research may take several forms, which will vary from student to student: for instance, students might analyze texts that are outside the normal purview of their home departments, or they might apply interdisciplinary knowledge that has been obtained through study within the DE. The dissertation committee must include at least one faculty member affiliated with the DE, and the committee should be formed in consultation with the head graduate adviser.

Degree Conferral

The DE will be acknowledged solely in conjunction with the PhD in an established PhD program and will be signified by the transcript and diploma designation, “PhD in [major] with a Designated Emphasis in Renaissance and Early Modern Studies.”

Faculty and Instructors

+ Indicates this faculty member is the recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award.


Oliver Arnold, Associate Professor.

Albert Russell Ascoli, Professor. Italy, national identity, literature and history, Dante, authorship and authority, Ariosto, Machiavelli, Petrarch, Boccaccio, epic and romance, Renaissance, early modern, Middle Ages.
Research Profile

David William Bates, Professor. Enlightenment, early Modern European intellectual history, 20th century European and American intellectual history, history and theory of media and technology, history of political thought.
Research Profile

Emilie L. Bergmann, Professor. Early modern Spain, colonial Spanish America, Spanish literature, Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, visual studies, gender and sexuality studies.
Research Profile

Frank Bezner, Associate Professor. Medieval Latin literature; Medieval literary culture; Neo-Latin; Intellectual history.
Research Profile

Deborah Anne Blocker, Associate Professor. Early modern French literature and history.
Research Profile

+ Wendy L. Brown, Professor. Feminist theory, critical theory, theories of neoliberalism, public higher education, nineteenth and twentieth century political theory.
Research Profile

Anthony J. Cascardi, Professor. English, comparative literature, literature, Spanish, Portuguese, philosophy, aesthetics, early modern literature, French, Spanish Baroque.
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Thomas Dandelet, Professor. Renaissance Italy and Europe, Spanish Empire, early modern Mediterranean.
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Ivonne Del Valle, Associate Professor. Colonial period in Mexico, internal colonialism in Mexico, Jesuits (Loyola, Acosta, Baegert), Baroque and Enlightenment from a colonial perspective, technology and environment, drainage of Mexico City lakes, Christianity and Pre-Hispanic religions.
Research Profile

+ Kathleen Donegan, Associate Professor. Colonial America, early America, Native America, early Caribbean.
Research Profile

David A. Frick, Professor. Slavic languages and literatures.
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+ Timothy Hampton, Professor. Culture, politics, English, comparative literature, French, renaissance and early modern European culture, the romance languages, the ideology of literary genre, the literary construction of nationhood, the rhetoric of historiography.
Research Profile

Kinch Hoekstra, Associate Professor.

Elizabeth A. Honig, Associate Professor. Painting, Rome, baroque, Renaissance, Antwerp, digital humanities, Brueghel, Rubens.
Research Profile

Victoria Kahn, Professor. Rhetoric, comparative literature, Renaissance literature, poetics, early modern political theory, the Frankfurt School.
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+ Jeffrey Knapp, Professor. Religion, nationalism, theater, English literature, Shakespeare, English renaissance, Spenser, drama, imperialism, epic poetry, authorship, mass entertainment.
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David Landreth, Associate Professor. English Renaissance literature 1500-1660.
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Henrike Lange, Assistant Professor.

Niklaus Largier, Professor. Religion, literature, German, history of medieval and early modern German literature, theology, mysticism, secularism, senses, sensuality, history of emotions, passions, asceticism, flagellation, sexuality.
Research Profile

Daniel Lee, Assistant Professor. Political theory, history of political thought, jurisprudence.

David Marno, Assistant Professor.

Michael James Mascuch, Associate Professor. Rhetoric, photography, autobiography, narrative and culture, media and society, documentation, early modern Britain.
Research Profile

Susan Maslan, Associate Professor. French, early modern French literary, political history, the enlightenment, human rights.
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Mairi Mclaughlin, Associate Professor. French linguistics, Italian linguistics, romance linguistics, translation studies, history of French, History of Italian, History of the Romance Languages, language contact, History of the Press, Speech Reporting.
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Ignacio Navarrete, Professor. Spanish literature: poetry, poetic theory, narrative and culture, history of the book, Cervantes, Don Quixote, Medieval and Early Modern Spanish literature. Modern Spain.
Research Profile

Todd Olson, Professor.

Nicholas Paige, Professor. Cinema (French New Wave), 17th- and 18th-century French literature and culture, history and theory of the novel, quantitative literary history and digital humanities, aesthetics and image theory, subjectivity and autobiography.
Research Profile

+ Joanna M. Picciotto, Associate Professor.

Diego Pirillo, Associate Professor. Renaissance Europe, History of Books and Reading, history of political thought, History of Historiography.
Research Profile

Sugata Ray, Assistant Professor. Early modern, visual culture, Hinduism, Islam, architecture, Urban cultures, environmental studies, ecology, aesthetics, globalization, postcolonial studies, colonialism, museums, historiography, art history, India, South Asia.
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Ethan H. Shagan, Professor. British history, early modern European history, history of religion.
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Jonathan Sheehan, Professor. Religion, Christianity, Europe, secularism, Secularization.
Research Profile

Chenxi Tang, Associate Professor. European intellectual history, German literature from the eighteenth to the early twentieth century, political and legal thought, cultural theory, early modern European literature, Europe and China.
Research Profile

James G. Turner, Professor. Gender, sexuality, English, 16th-18th-Century English, Italian and French literature, art and literature, 17th-Century political writing, landscape and the city, Enlightenment materialism, sexuality in Renaissance Italian art and Antiquity.
Research Profile

Sophie Volpp, Associate Professor. East asian languages and cultures, history of performance, gender theory, the history of sexuality, material culture, material objects in late-imperial literature.
Research Profile

Michael Wintroub, Associate Professor. Religion, ritual, social change, rhetoric, history of science, early modern cultural history, travel, identity formation, alterity, cross-cultural contact, popular and court culture, state-building, humanism, vernacular consciousness and literature, mater.
Research Profile

Emeritus Faculty

Davitt Moroney, Professor Emeritus. Music, musicology, music performance, Italian Music.
Research Profile

Contact Information

Designated Emphasis in Renaissance and Early Modern Studies

4207 Dwinelle Hall

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Program Director

Ivonne Del Valle, PhD (Spanish and Portuguese)

5226 Dwinelle Hall

Head Graduate Adviser

Kinch Hoekstra (Law and Political Science)

700 Barrows Hall

Graduate Student Services Adviser

Mary Ajideh

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