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EUCE Nov 2009 Newsletter: Spotlight on Medieval Issues

This issue features MRST faculty and students. Adam Shear reflects on the complications of studying medieval Jewish thought in the early modern period.Bruce Venarde considers the value of a book and the impact of technology on his research on the rule of St. Benedict. Julia Finch shares about her summer spent studying a fourteenth-century picture Bible in Paris.

The Medieval and Renaissance Studies Program

at the University of Pittsburgh


No. 59: September 2009

Electronic address: http://www.pitt.edu/~medren



Prepared and distributed by the Executive Committee of the Medieval and Renaissance Studies Program at the University of Pittsburgh

Kirsten Fudeman, Editor


Printable Newsletter (PDF)



 Undergraduate Essay Prize

Upcoming Events

News from Departments


Undergradute Essay Prize Contest

The Medieval and Renaissance Studies Program awarded two undergraduate essay prizes in spring 2009. The winners, in alphabetical order, were Ike Harijanto, for her essay “Michelangelo and Half-Carved Blocks as Art,” written for Professor Kathleen Christian in her course “Biographies of Michelangelo” (HAA 1300), and Chloe Kuhns, for her essay, “Teresa and Ávila: Rhetoric of Humility and Defense in Book of My Life,” written for Professor Hannah Johnson in her course “The Holy and Unholy: Saints and Their Others,” Junior Seminar (ENGLIT 1900). Congratulations to both!

Upcoming Events

Sponsored and Co-sponsored by the Medieval and Renaissance Studies Program


October 2-3

ICMA Fall Conference in Pittsburgh

A collaborative conference between the International Center of Medieval Art and The Department of History of Art and Architecture, University of Pittsburgh, with sponsorship from The Medieval and Renaissance Studies Program

Speakers: Franklin Toker, Nancy Wicker, Kate Dimitrova, Kirk Ambrose, Susan Ward, John Williams, Michael Curschmann, Renate Blumenfeld-Kosinski, Alison Stones, Lisa Reilly, Sarah Bromberg, Lawrence Nees, Danielle Oteri, and Colum Hourihane.

For the full program, please see the ICMA website:http://www.medievalart.org/htm/events.html?contentframe=/htm/events/symposia.html


Friday, October 9 at 5pm

CL 244B

LAWRENCE F. RHU (University of South Carolina)

"Shakespeare Italianate:  Skeptical Crises in Three Plays of Shakespeare" 

Tucci Lecture, Department of French and Italian

Thursday, October 29 at 4:30pm

202 Frick Fine Arts


"Medieval Urban Theatre and Festivals"

Nancy Regalado is Professor of French at New York University. Professor Regalado has written and edited many books and articles on medieval literature and culture, addressing topics such as lyric and narrative, reader reception, and performance theory. Her most recent publications include Performing Medieval Narrative (Oxford, 2005), and essays on Villon’s Testament and the songs of Jehannot de Lescurel. She has received fellowships from the ACLS and the National Endowment for the Humanities, among many others, along with two teaching awards from NYU.


Tuesday, November 3 at 2:30pm 501CL

Two lectures on the topic “The Idea of France in the Middle Ages and Renaissance”:

DAISY DELOGU (Chicago), “A Natural King and a Free People: Philippe de Mézières's 'Dream of the Old Pilgrim' (1386-89)”

KATHERINE CRAWFORD (Vanderbilt), “Salic Law and the Politics of Exclusion”

Humanities Center Event


December 3-5


Short-term fellow at the Humanities Center

Thursday, Dec 3, 12:30, 526 CL

Colloquium discussion of a chapter from her book In The Wings of Time: Rome, the Incas, Spain and Peru

Thursday, Dec 3, 5pm, 501 CL

Lecture, “The Poetics of Representation in Viceregal Peru: A Walk Round the Cloister of San Agustin in Lima”

Friday, Dec 5, 1pm, 526 CL

Discussion on José de Acosta’s travel narrative, led by Prof. MacCormack


Spring Events:


Thursday, Jan. 28, 4pm

202 Frick Fine Arts





"Truth, Self-Evidence, and the Colonial Question, ca. 1500s."


Questions? Please contact Program Director Jen Waldron jwaldron@pitt.edu


News from the Departments



Marianne Novy’s article, “The Merchant of Venice and Pressured Conversions in Shakespeare's World,” appeared in Shakespeare's World/World Shakespeares, The Selected Proceedings of the International Shakespeare Association World Congress, Brisbane, 2006, ed. Richard Fotheringham, Christa Jansohn, and R. S. White (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2008), 108-118. Continuing the international theme, this May she lectured on women and other outsiders in Shakespeare at three universities in Taiwan—at National Cheng Kung University, Tainan; Tamkang University, Taipei; and National Kaohsiung Normal University, Kaohsiung.


Jen Waldron, Director of the Medieval and Renaissance Studies Program, was awarded a Women’s Studies Course Development Grant for a new graduate course, “Gender and the Body on the Early Modern Stage” (spring 2009). Students from English, History of Art and Architecture, Theater, and Communications enrolled in the course. Together with Todd Reeser, Waldron presented a brown bag lecture on “Gender Theories Past and Present: Pedagogical Issues” for the Women’s Studies Program in March. In April, she presented a seminar paper entitled “Teaching a Stone to Talk: Shakespeare and Post-Reformation Phenomenology” for the Shakespeare Association meeting in Washington, D.C. A high point of the year was the May conference at Northwestern University on “Phenomenal Performances: Getting a Feeling for Shakespeare’s Theater,” where Waldron gave an invited talk on synaesthesia in Midsummer Night’s Dream.


French and Italian

Renate Blumenfeld-Kosinski published one book chapter and one article, “The Conceptualization and Imagery of the Great Schism,” in Joelle Rollo-Koster and Thomas Izbicki, eds., A Companion to The Great Western Schism (1378-1417) (Brill, 2009), 123-58 and “Philippe de Mézières’ Life of Saint Pierre de Thomas at the Crossroads of Late Medieval Hagiography and Crusading Ideology,” Viator 40:1 (2009): 223-48. She also gave several invited lectures and conference papers. In the fall she gave a paper at a conference on the devil in pre-modern society in Toronto: “Multitasking Demons in the Visions of Ermine de Reims” and in November she spoke on Philippe de Mézières at the University of Poznan in Poland. “Constructing a Crusader Saint in the Late Middle Ages” was presented on the occasion of Sherry Reames’ retirement at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in May. In the summer she presented two papers: in Vienna at a meeting entitled “Betrug und Verstellung im Mittelalter” she spoke on “Discernment in Action: Demons Impersonating Saints in the Visions of Ermine de Reims.” The big event of the summer was an international colloquium on Philippe de Mézières at the University of Cyprus in Nicosia where she spoke on “Ghostly Encounters in the works of Philippe de Mézières.” Two years in the making and financed by several foundations and the Universities of Pittsburgh and Cyprus, the colloquium was hosted by Renate and her co-organizers Kiril Petkov (U. of Wisconsin River Falls) and Chris Schabel (U. of Cyprus). It featured over thirty scholars from France, England, Israel, Lebanon, Poland, and the US.

Kirsten Fudeman published a study of a medieval French elegy written in Hebrew letters called “Restoring a vernacular Jewish voice: The Old French Elegy of Troyes” in Jewish Studies Quarterly 15 (2008), 190-221.


Dennis Looney delivered two lectures connected with a new project on the reception of Herodotus in the Renaissance while on sabbatical in Italy, spring 2009: “Erodoto e il lettore ideale dell’Ariosto” at the Department of Ancient History, Univ. Bologna in April, and “Erodoto a Ferrara dal ‘400 al ‘500: Alberti, Boiardo, Ariosto” at a symposium on Herodotus at Paris IV-Sorbonne in March.  He gave a lecture, “Stretching the Canon in African American Appropriations of Dante," at the conference on Metamorphosing Dante, Institute for Cultural Inquiry, Berlin in September.  He had a RAP grant from UHC/UCIS to work with three undergraduates on “Chivalric Art and Municipal Power in the Venetian Hinterlands in the 16th Century” in Mel, Italy, in July 2009.  


Todd Reeser attended the Sixteenth Century Studies annual conference in Geneva, where he gave a paper entitled “Du Bellay’s Dido and the Translation of Nation.” He also chaired a panel on Michel de Montaigne. With Jen Waldron, he conducted a Women’s Studies Brown Bag talk dealing with teaching gender in pre-modern contexts (“Gender Theories Past and Present: Pedagogical Issues”). He also gave a paper at the MLA Annual Conference in San Francisco in December 2008 on the topic “Platonic Sexualities in Dialogue in French Renaissance Poetry” in which he treated a curious series of lesbian poems written by male Renaissance poets. He also chaired the panel “Confronting Male and Female Same-Sex Sexualities” at the conference. His co-edited book Entre hommes”: French and Francophone Masculinities in Theory and Culture came out in 2008. This fall, he is teaching a graduate seminar called “The Birth of a Nation: France in the Renaissance,” which deals with various constructions and deconstructions of the early modern French nation in literature, travel narratives, cartography, and other cultural artifacts.



Bruce Venarde went to Germany for the first time in March 2009 for a conference of the Forschungsstelle für Vergleichende Ordensgeschichte (FOVOG)/Research Centre for Comparative History of Religious Orders at the Katholische Universität Eichstätt. The conference theme was women's vita religiosa in the early Middle Ages and his paper was entitled "Robert of Arbrissel and Women's Vita Religiosa: Looking Back and Ahead."  Thanks to the generosity of UCIS, he was also able to spend a few days in Sankt Gallen, Switzerland, enjoying a beautiful city and inspecting one of the early medieval manuscripts from the spectacular collection at the San Gall Library. In the past year, he added Journal of the History of Sexuality to the list of journals for which he has reviewed.


History of Art and Architecture

During the academic year 2008-2009 Kathleen Christian had a Robert Lehman Fellowship at the Villa I Tatti in Florence. She delivered two lectures, “Les collections de sculptures dans l’histoire des jardins, de l’Antiquité à nos jours,” in the Auditorium du Louvre, Paris, and “Poétique du jardin de sculptures: les collections d’antiques à la Renaissance (Kupferstichkabinett, Berlin, Die römischen Zeichnungen Maarten van Heemskercks 1532-1536/37, Internationales Colloquium; The Antiquities Collections of Rome Seen through the Lens of the Berlin Albums). She also published an article, “Landscapes of Ruin and the Imagination in the Antiquarian Gardens of Renaissance Rome,” which appeared in Gardens and Imagination: Cultural History and Agency, edited by Michel Conan, in the Dumbarton Oaks Colloquium Series in the History of Landscape Architecture (Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks, distributed by Harvard University Press, 2008, 116-37).


A second edition of Ann Sutherland Harris book, Seventeenth-Century Art & Architecture (London: Laurence King, 2005) appeared in 2008. The text has been revised and expanded and the number of color images has been considerably increased. Ann has also recently published two articles: “Guido Reni’s royal patrons: a drawing and a proposal” (The Burlington Magazine CLI, March 2009, 156-159) and “Gaspard Dughet’s Drawings: Fame and Function” (Master Drawings XLVII, 2009, no. 3, 267-324). Her recent book reviews include Marco Chiarini, Teodoro Filippo di Liagno, detto Filippo Napoletano, 1589-1629, Vita e opere (Florence [Centro Di], 2007) for The Burlington Magazine CL 2008, October, 694-695 and Poussin and Nature: Arcadian Visions, edited by Keith Christiansen and Pierre Rosenberg, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, February 11 – May 12, 2008 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008), in College Art Association Reviews on-line, 9/2009. She delivered three papers in 2008-2009: “Sofonisba, Lavinia, Artemisia and Elisabetta: New Research, New Perspectives,” at the conference, “Artistic Production and the Feminist Theory of Art”, June 26-28, 2008, at the Montehermoso Cultural Center, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain; “Bernini’s Portrait Drawings: Progress and Problems”, at the conference on Gian Lorenzo Bernini and the Portrait Bust at the J. Paul Getty Museum, October 6-7, 2008; and “Donne artiste italiani come rivali: Elisabetta Sirani e Artemisia Gentileschi”, at the symposium, Nuove prospettive di studio sulle artiste dal Rinascimento al Novecento, sponsored by the Provincia di Bologna: Assessorato Cultura e Pari Opportunità, February 19-21, 2009.


Alison Stones is on leave on an ACLS Digital Innovation grant for 2009.  She gave papers at several conferences: “Learning to Write” (Comité international de paléographie latine, London), September 2008; “L´écrit dans l'image,” Paris (INHA), October 2008; “Autour de 1300,” Geneva, February 2009; the Vernon Manuscript Conference, Oxford, June 2009; and chaired sessions at “L'écrit dans l'image and at Gothic Art and Thought,” Index of Christian Art, Princeton, in March 2009.  She lectured on the Lancelot-Grail Project at Rutgers in March 2009.  She published reviews in Cahiers de civilisation médiévale, Francia, and Scriptorium, and several essays, “The Illustrations of Mort Artu in Yale 229: Formats, Choices, and Comparisons,” in The Mort Artu in Yale 229, ed. E. Willingham (Turnhout: Brepols, 2008), 263-316; “Amigotus and his collaborators,” in  Régionalisme et Internationalisme: Problèmes de Paléographie et de Codicologie du Moyen Âge (Actes du XVe Colloque International de Paléographie Latine [Vienne, 13-17 septembre 2005]) réunis par O. Kresten & al. (Veröffentlichungen der Kommission für Schrift- und Buchwesen des Mittelalters; Reihe IV, Monographien 5) (Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Phil.-Hist. Klasse, Denkschriften ...), Vienna, 2008, 235-56; “L'Illustration des livres liturgiques français au moyen âge (Rapport sur les conférences),” in Annuaire-EPHE, SHP-139e année (2006-2007), Paris, 2008, 175-80.


In November, Brepols Publishing, through its Harvey Miller imprint, will publish the first of four volumes in Frank Toker's series, entitled The Florence Duomo Project. The concept of the series is that S. Maria del Fiore ranks as among the most influential buildings of western architecture, but until the excavations of the 1970s, for the most part directed by Toker, we knew nothing of its predecessor structures. A basilica dedicated to St Reparata supposedly lay in ruins below S. Maria del Fiore, and the adjoining Baptistery was allegedly reworked from a Roman temple to Mars, but without archaeological excavations or a detailed study of literary sources, little sense could be made of those traditions. The four volumes interweave church liturgy, field archaeology, art history, and social and political history to give the Florence Duomo (and, in some cases, early medieval Florence itself) the context that until now it lacked.

    The volume being published now is On Holy Ground: Liturgy, Architecture, and Urbanism in the Cathedral and the Streets of Medieval Florence, which gives a literary picture of S. Reparata in the centuries just before it was destroyed to make way for S. Maria del Fiore. The second volume, Archaeological Campaigns below the Florence Duomo and Baptistery, 1895-1980, gives order to the virtual encyclopedia of medieval art and architecture found below both buildings: mosaics, frescoes, tomb sculptures, armor, ceramics, the extensive layouts of a Roman house and an Early Christian basilica and its Carolingian and Romanesque rebuildings. The third volume, Reconstructing the Cathedral and Baptistery of Florence in Late Antiquity  and the Middle Ages, links the construction phases of S. Reparata and the  Baptistery with the evolution of Early Christian and medieval architecture. The fourth volume, When Stones Speak: The Florence Duomo Excavations in the Light of History, shows how the excavation results modify or revise the social and political history of Florence between the eras of Augustus and Dante.

            Toker will speak about the project on October 2, in conjunction with the ICMA regional conference being hosted by the Department of History of Art and Architecture.


John Williams gave the following lectures: “Recovering the Architecture of

Santiago: From Mausoleum to Mateo,” Annual Meeting Medieval Academy of America, March 27, 2009, Chicago and “Recovering the Architecture of Santiago,” Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, April 3, 2009. He published an article:  “Arquitectura del Camino de Santiago?,” Quintana, 7 (2008), 157-77.


History and Philosophy of Science

Peter Machamer and J. E. McGuire published Descartes's Changing Mind (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009).



John Erlen was the keynote speaker at the annual meeting of the Southern Association for the History of Medicine and Science, March 5, 2009 in Birmingham, Alabama. His talk was entitled, “The Evolution of the Doctor Patient Relationship.”


Religious Studies

Bernard R. Goldstein (University Professor Emeritus) published two books and an article relevant to MRST (all jointly authored with José Chabás): Las Tablas Alfonsíes de Toledo (Toledo: Diputación Provincial de Toledo, 2008); The Astronomical Tables of Giovanni Bianchini (Leiden: Brill, 2009); “John of Murs’s Tables of 1321,” Journal for the History of Astronomy 40 (2009), 297–320.


Adam Shears book, The Kuzari and the Shaping of Jewish Identity, 1167-1900 (Cambridge University Press) was awarded a 2008 National Jewish Book Award in the category of Scholarship. He was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure and is on leave in the fall of 2009 continuing his research on the impact of print on the transmission of Jewish texts in sixteenth-century Italy. He spoke on aspects of this research at conferences in Mantua, Jerusalem, and Cambridge, Massachusetts in the summer of 2009. This academic year he is coordinating the inaugural “Scholar’s Working Group” at the Center for Jewish History in New York on the topic of the history of the Jewish book.


Theater Arts

Attilio "Buck" Favorini's Memory in Play: From Aeschylus to Sam Shepard has been published by Palgrave-Macmillan. It contains a lengthy analysis of Hamlet and Pericles as Mnemosyne-Lesmosyne twins, as well as a section on medieval drama.


Alumni News

In 2007, writer and stage actor Robert Isenberg traveled to rural Germany to investigate Castle Isenberg, a ruined fortress in the hills of Westphalia. Armed with self-taught German and a degree in Medieval Studies, he hoped to unravel the mystery of Friedrich von Isenberg, who plotted to murder his own cousin, the Archbishop of Cologne.

The Iron Mountain is part travelogue, part historical mystery. Based on scant documents and first-hand research, Isenberg recreates the life of Friedrich, a 13th Century noble seduced by greed. The Iron Mountain fills in blanks with speculative prose, re-imagining the Age of Chivalry as an era of violence, treachery, and bloody redemption. The book is available through Amazon and the Sabella Press website.


Newsletter Archives

No. 58: Oct 2008

No. 57: Oct 2004 (PDF)


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