This past 11 April, the Center for Medieval Studies hosted its annual “Compatible Careers” event. Each year, the Center asks alumni to share their experiences of finding jobs after their graduations that go beyond the traditional academic/tenure-tracked path. The perennial question for graduate students nearing their graduations is: “what next?” To study what you love is a joy, but the fact of the matter is that, eventually, one needs to realize what one wants to do for a living. This question haunts many a student at night, especially those who would elect a non-academic path. The purpose of this annual workshop is to show students that taking alternate paths is not only possible, but it may even result in finding a better fit for them. This year’s speakers represent a wide array of careers that show promise and reward the creative medievalist willing to look beyond the usual choices presented to them.
Gilbert Stack, who works now as Fordham’s Director of Assessment and Accreditation and fiction writer, relayed that, if you have the opportunity, getting a PhD in a field you love is never, under any circumstances, a bad idea. Stack called the PhD a “green card” for work in academic institutions, including work in administration. One can pursue the terminal degree without setting down the path to university teaching, if one does not want to. He also suggested students consider careers in academic administration, noting that such positions will be expanding to accommodate new regulations and student needs.
The next speaker was Joanne Overty, the owner of DeMontfort Books. She related that she graduated with a BA in Economics and, after entering into the world of investment banking, realized how much she hated working as a banker. A medieval art history class she took as an undergraduate changed her perspective, and awoke in her a desire to study manuscripts. She and her husband (a curator) inherited the extensive manuscript collection of her employer. After selling much of the collection to collectors and institutions and sending the rest to the Morgan Library and Museum, she went through Fordham for an MA in Medieval Studies and PhD focusing on manuscript studies. She and her husband now own their own book selling business, combining their love of manuscripts with her economics training and business experience. Overty’s main point of advice was for students to be flexible if they intend to enter into book selling or archival work.
The next speaker was David Smith, the Director of Marketing and Publishing for the Library of America. Saying that publishing has always been a good career choice for people with humanities degrees, Smith related that publishing now has a greater need than ever for experienced writers and researchers. Smith runs the Library of America’s social media presence, monitoring and maintaining relations between the company and its consumer base and spreading the word about upcoming book releases. He also runs his own blog, where he posts researched stores, biographies, and histories using upcoming publications from the Library of America. As of this past April, he has surpassed 10 million views. Smith related that publishers need younger people who know how social media works in order to publicize their latest releases in an intelligent and well-mannered way.
Allison Alberts, the final speaker, presented her experiences as an upper school English teacher at Sacred Heart in Greenwich. Having taught at both the college and primary school levels, Alberts provided a valuable reflection upon her experiences teaching students at a myriad of ages and levels. After her PhD, Alberts looked for a position for around three years before she heard of the position at Sacred Heart. She related that she did not even think of being a high school teacher as a career option, having just left the university environment and having taught undergraduate classes as per the requirements of the doctoral program. She said that she is happier now than when she was teaching undergraduate students. Being able to teach a single class of students over the course of a full academic year allows her to see the students grow, mature, and develop intellectually and emotionally in ways that the twice-a-week encounters with undergrads lasting only a few months does not. High school teaching also allows Alberts to engage in teaching strategies that take advantage of the greater period of time she has to introduce and discuss themes in medieval history and literature. Teaching younger students also provides her with opportunities to present themes and ideas in more creative ways than a college classroom environment usually allows: such as teaching The Wife’s Lament as a break-up story to ninth-graders, and joyfully seeing how easily they follow along with the deceptively complicated discussion that follows.
The Center would like to thank these alumni for their contributions and for sharing their invaluable advice and anecdotes to students eager to explore their options in the coming years.
This past 25 February, Fordham students Larissa Ross and Rita Orazi presented at the 2017 Hudson Valley Medieval and Early Modern Undergraduate Symposium at the College of Mount Saint Vincent.
Larissa Ross presented her paper, “Daughters of the King: Medieval Female Piety as Seen in Julian of Norwich and Constance in Chaucer’s Man of Law’s Tale.” In her paper, Larissa looked to Julian of Norwich and Chaucer to explore late medieval conceptions of the metaphysical nature of women and of ideal female holiness. Julian and Chaucer, contemporaries who influenced and were in turn influenced by the same cultures and ideologies, are rarely brought into conversation with each other. Larissa placed Julian of Norwich, a renowned holy woman, into dialogue with Chaucer’s fictitious holy woman to see where both figures embody or toy with popular perceptions of what it meant to be a woman mystic considered holy.
Larissa, who majors now in Medieval Studies, plans to continue her studies of late medieval female piety and its influence on religion, social environment, and literature. She reflects upon her time working toward and during the conference as an invaluable chance for intellectual exchange that has aided her in expanding both her understanding of medieval studies and narratives and of how to approach them.
Rita Orazi delivered her paper, “Motivations for Crusading: Vengeance or Love?” which was an elaboration of a paper she wrote for Dr. Yeager’s “The Medieval Traveler” class. Looking at the debate begun by Jonathan Riley-Smith and Susanna Throop over whether we can approach the act of crusading as one of love or of vengeance, Rita discussed revisionist interpretations and manipulations of history. She emphasized the difficulty for modern audiences to understand the circumstances surrounding the Crusades and how problematic it can often be to relate the Crusades to modern conflicts in the Middle East now.
Rita, a History major minoring in Medieval Studies, also presented at the Symposium last year. She said that, in comparison to the conference last year, this year was slightly more intimidating for the fact that the presenters were to present in panels before the entire assembled audience, rather than in smaller concurrent sessions. However, because of this, this year’s Symposium had a livelier and more open-ended Q&A session after each panel. While the prospect of presenting on something as wide and discipline-spanning as the Crusades was a bit daunting, Rita’s previous experience presenting and knowing that she was focusing on only on part of the discussion surrounding her subject material eased her mind and allowed her to focus all the more clearly.
The Center would like to congratulate Larissa and Rita for their presentations and would like to wish them well as they continue in their budding medievalist careers.
On December 4th, students in Fordham’s Center for Medieval Studies visited Boston’s Beyond Words illuminated manuscript exhibit. Beyond Words: Illuminated Manuscripts in Boston Collections features manuscripts from 19 different libraries and museums in the city. Co-curated by Jeffrey Hamburger (Harvard University), William P. Stoneman (Houghton Library), Anne-Marie Eze (Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum), Lisa Fagin Davis (Medieval Academy of America), and Nancy Netzer (McMullen Museum of Art), the exhibit takes place at three different venues: Harvard University’s Houghton Library, Boston College’s McMullen Museum, and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Visiting the exhibit gave the Medieval Studies MA students the unparalleled opportunity to view over 200 illuminated manuscripts in one day, supplementing their coursework in manuscript studies, medieval literature, and medieval art history.
The Fordham medievalists viewed the McMullen Museum first. Titled Pleasure and Piety, the McMullen exhibit shed light on lay readership in the High Middle Ages. We were lucky to receive a tour by Lisa Fagin Davis, one of the co-curators of Beyond Words and the Executive Director of the Medieval Academy of America. The McMullen was packed with books of hours, antiphonals, breviaries, saints’ lives, Marian devotions, psalters, and the writings of medieval theologians, with items ranging from enormous folio-sized codices to minuscule prayer books meant to be carried on belts. While showing us the manuscript fragments in the exhibit, Dr. Fagin Davis told us about her fascinating digital reconstruction of the dismembered Beauvais Missal. She also introduced us to the Chronique Anonyme Universelle (Boston Public Library MS pb Med. 32), a 34-foot-long genealogical roll that recounts biblical events, the mythological history of Europe, and the succession of English and French kings.
After the McMullen tour, the group traveled to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, which featured Italian Renaissance books. The incunables in their exhibit allowed us to think closely about the ways in which visual culture and book culture changed in the wake of humanism and the invention of the printing press.
Items in Beyond Words: Illuminated Manuscripts in Boston Collections can be viewed in the exhibit’s digital catalogue and in a richly-illustrated print catalogue. Many of the books are fully digitized.
The Center would like to thank the Graduate Student Association for their generous support, Dr. Fagin-Davis for the insightful tour, and Dr. Kowaleski and Dr. Stoneman for their help in planning the trip.
What do scripture commentaries, modern English translations of ribald Latin Poetry, Piers Plowman, and verse translations of Syriac hymns have to do with each other?
Not much, except that they are the most recent additions to Fordham’s Online Medieval Sources Bibliography. The Online Medieval Sources Bibliography (OMSB) is a database of modern editions, both print and online, of medieval primary sources, designed to help users of all kinds find the most suitable edition for their needs by describing in detail an edition’s contents, best audience, and useful features. The sources described above represent just a small sampling what has been included in the database since its inception in 2003.
One interesting facet of the project is the way in which it has grown over the years, recently detailed by Fordham CMS Director and project founder Maryanne Kowaleski, in an article from the digital medievalist online journal, co-authored by Morgan Kay, who has played a crucial role as the project’s computer programmer and coordinator. As Kowaleski and Morgan have noted, entries are researched and recorded by graduate assistants from the Center for Medieval Studies who are employed on a year-by-year basis, so that the site has grown according to the individual interests of each graduate student who has passed through.
This year, graduate assistants Nicole Andranovich, Rachel Butcher, Abigail Sargent and Joseph Rudolph are each contributing source descriptions in their areas of interest, including medieval Coptic and Greek literature, biblical commentary and exegesis, English documentary sources, Syriac theological work, and medieval Latin poetry. Abigail Sargent notes that working on the OMSB has been a great learning experience, and is “valuable for learning to efficiently assess how and by whom a source might be used. It also gives you exposure to a number of different materials you might not come across in your own coursework.”
There are currently over 4000 medeival source descriptions on the OMSB, which can be searched by multiple fields, including date, author, geographic region, type of resource, and original language.
This week on The Venerable Blog, we would like to draw your attention to the upcoming activities of Fordham History Professor Richard Gyug, who manages the website of the Society for Beneventan Studies.
The Society is dedicated to the study of the world surrounding the Beneventan script, a calligraphic text hand used in southern Italy and Dalmatia between the tenth and thirteenth centuries. Typically, works produced in the Beneventan script come from monastic houses and contain liturgical texts, though many classical, medical, and historical texts were also written in this hand. This field regularly generates conference proceedings, dissertation topics, and other research.
The Society for Beneventan Studies exists to compile these developments, functioning as a notice board for events, organizer of sessions at conferences, and sponsor of research initiatives. Their website gathers information about relevant events and initiatives and collects links to online resources for Beneventan studies.
Dr. Gyug will be giving a talk focused on Beneventan script at Drew University for the conference Communities of Italy: New and Traditional Approaches, Saturday, April 5, 2014 from 10:00 am-5:00 pm.
The lecture, entitled “Between East and West on the shores of the southern Adriatic: Dubrovnik and Kotor”, is part of a session focusing on Beneventan Italy as a textual community. Also taking part in the session is Andrew Irving of the General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church, whose talk will cover changes in mass book design at Montecassino.
In addition to his work as director of the Society for Beneventan Studies, Dr. Gyug has produced an edition of a Beneventan missal from Dubrovnik, an area covered in his upcoming talk. Complete with introductory material, the edition is entitled Missale Ragusinum: the Missal of Dubrovnik (Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, Toronto, 1990) and can be previewed here.
To register for the conference, see the Drew Valley Medieval Association (DVMA) website.
In conjunction with the website, The Latin Works of John Wyclif, Fordham will be hosting a conference this coming June entitled “Europe After Wyclif”. Fordham is sponsoring the conference jointly with Michael Van Dussen at McGill University, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and the Lollard Society. It is co-chaired by Fordham Theology Professor J. Patrick Hornbeck II, and will take place at the Lincoln Center Campus, June 4-6, 2014.
“Europe after Wyclif” aims to explore the impact of John Wyclif, a controversial Oxford scholar, and the L/lollards in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, particularly in continental contexts. By taking an interdisciplinary approach to the theme, the conference organizers highlight intersections between Wycliffism, traditionally considered a purely insular heresy of the fourteenth century, and broader European cultural trends. Most of the presentations will address Wycliffism or oppositions to it in England and abroad, but some will focus on related contemporary religious movements, such as the Hussites and Waldensians. Scholars of late-medieval religion, literature, and politics will find this conference exciting as it links geographic and cultural areas that are most often treated separately. The full program is listed on the conference website, along with instructions on how to register.
The Latin Works of John Wyclif, a digital initiative first undertaken by Dr. Hornbeck and Georgetown Professor Penn Szittya, includes letters, sermons, and other works within the Wyclif corpus. The site’s continuing aim is to digitize the full canon of Wyclif’s works, first published in nineteenth- and twentieth-century editions.
This week at the Venerable Blog, we are excited to introduce the audio content newly added to the webpage of the Center’s French of England Project. Through the efforts of Thelma Fenster and Jocelyn Wogan-Browne, as well as Matthew Schottenfeld, Television Production Manager at Fordham, the Project’s site now hosts nine audio readings of texts in Anglo-Norman, all part of an ongoing collaborative enterprise “to make the French of England audible.”
The first five readings were recorded informally, by various voices, during the Reading the French of England Aloud sessions at the Kalamazoo International Congresses of 2012/13. Four others were recorded especially for Fordham’s French of England Project by Professor Emerita Alice Colby-Hall (Cornell University), a leading expert in the pronunciation of the medieval French dialects and of the Anglo-Norman language. Professor Colby-Hall also provides linguistic commentary. Each entry contains citations of a modern edition and translation, manuscript references, and a link to the external audio file. We encourage you to practice your Anglo-Norman aloud as the text scrolls past, or simply to listen along with us to these clear and instructive readings. The audio readings can be found here, at the French of England Project.
These audio readings are only one aspect of the French of England Project. We also conduct a biweekly Anglo-Norman Reading Group. This semester, it is led by Dr. Thomas O’Donnell of Fordham’s English Department and Dr. Brian Reilly, an Old French specialist in Fordham’s Modern Languages and Literatures Department.Anyone interested in participating in the ANRG should contact the Center for Medieval Studies at email@example.com. We will be happy to provide you with the date and time of the next meeting and the material to be discussed.
Our next blog post will discuss the June conference to be held at Fordham University, stemming from the Latin Works of John Wyclif site. Visit Fordham’s searchable database of primary Wyclif texts to brush up before next time!
Welcome to The Venerable Blog, a biweekly update highlighting the wide range of digital activities taking place on the sites hosted by Fordham’s Center for Medieval Studies. We invite you to comment and participate as our digital projects change and expand!
This week, we’d like to bring attention to our annual conference taking place March 29-30 at Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus. This year’s topic, “The French of Outremer: Communities and Communication in the Crusading Mediterranean,” grows out of the French of Outremer website hosted by the Center. The French of Outremer (or FOO) conference will feature roughly 50 speakers coming from Lebanon, Cyprus, Italy, France, Denmark, the UK, Canada, and the US who will offer papers exploring the artistic, geographical, historical, linguistic, literary, musical, and religious aspects of the French penetration and colonization of lands in the eastern Mediterranean. Two of the three plenary sessions will showcase well-known French of Outremer scholars Peter Edbury (Cardiff University) and Laura Minervini (University of Naples), and the third will feature a sneak peek from two Metropolitan Museum of Art curators who are planning the MET’s 2016 exhibition, “Jerusalem, 1000-1400.” An updated version of the program, including speaker names along with their paper abstracts, can be found here. If you are unable to join us in person, be sure to follow the conference on twitter, at #FOO2014. We will be live-streaming Dr. Edbury’s presentation, so check the conference web-page for instructions on how to follow the presentation and tweet in comments or questions.
We are looking forward to the conference with great excitement, and view it as a real opportunity to expand the activities and reach of the site. The French of Outremer site currently serves as a scholarly meeting place for those interested in French-language texts and communities from the Latin East.
We are continuously updating the various source pages and adding new scholarly submissions to our “thematic essay” page. An exciting recent contribution by French scholar Pierre-Vincent Claverie provides an introduction to the topic of Frankish epigraphy, and includes detailed images of both Latin- and French-language inscriptions etched on tombstones and other stone surfaces from the Latin East. We will soon be posting two more essays, one on textual translation in the Latin East, and another on wills from the Levant.
Our next blog post will highlight the latest additions to the French of England website, for those wishing to perfect their Anglo-Norman accents!