MVST Alumni Nathan Melson and Samantha Sabalis Present at the 2017 IUDC

This past 21 April, Bernard College hosted the annual Interuniversity Doctoral Consortium Medieval Conference.  Each year PhD students come from the various IUDC participant institutions to present some aspect of their research to their peers and professors.  This exchange facilitates both a greater sense of community between the IUDC member institutions and gives PhD students on the verge of defending their dissertations a chance to receive valuable feedback from others of a myriad of disciplinary backgrounds.  Students came to present from NYU, Columbia, Rutgers, Princeton, CUNY, SUNY Stony Brook, and Fordham.  The two Fordham students presenting this year were Nathan Melson and Samantha Sabalis, Medieval Studies alumni and currently of the History and English departments, respectively. [Read on for more on Nathan and Samantha’s presentations and the IUDC consortium] Continue reading

Crosspost From History Blog: Summer Postcard: The Medievalist’s “Grand Tour”

Original post by Professor Nicholas Paul from: http://history.blog.fordham.edu/?m=201608

Eastbridge Pilgrim Hospital, Canterbury

Eastbridge Pilgrim Hospital, Canterbury

The next postcard in our series about the summer wanderings and adventures of Fordham historians sees PhD candidate Lucy Barnhouse undertake a medievalist’s version of the Grand Tour, presenting papers at the International Medieval Congress in Leeds, at Canterbury, and in Paris. Lucy reports:

“Leeds felt like something of a marathon on its own, and I was glad of the company of fellow Fordhamites Esther Cuenca and Louisa Foroughi. From our shared apartment we struck out for long but productive days of conferencing. Besides specialized panels galore, we got to enjoy medieval-inspired street food. It made good fortification for a series of panels on the social identities of medieval lepers.

Eastridge Pilgrim Hospital (interior)

Eastridge Pilgrim Hospital (interior)

From Leeds, I went directly to Canterbury, where the conference of the Society for the Social History of Medicine was hosted. The conference organizers gave us the chance to tour local sites of interest. Having predictably chosen to visit the pilgrim hospital of Eastbridge, I and some other medievalists proceeded on a self-guided tour of more of Canterbury’s historical architecture. After the conference—at which I presented alongside historians of the antebellum American South and twentieth-century England on the shared theme of hospitals in urban communities—I hiked out to Harbledown to see the twelfth-century leper hospital.

The last stop on the Grand Tour was Paris, where I attended my first meeting of the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading, and Publishing. I got to spend time with Alisa Beer, to meet new scholars, and to hear many interesting papers. Conference delegates also got free admission to the exhibits at the Bibliothèque Nationale, where we were hosted. Paris being Paris, I also consumed a truly alarming quantity of delicious pastries, and the conference wine-and-cheese reception was a gastronomic tour-de-force. Arguably more important was the fact that I got lots of encouragement to develop the paper I presented for a possible postdoc project. Now it’s back to the considerably less glamorous work of editing the dissertation!”

Thanks Lucy! And to all those Fordham historians on their summer adventures: keep those postcards coming!

Magda Teter Begins This Year’s Lecture Series

This past 14 September, Professor Magda Teter, of Fordham’s History Department, delivered the first lecture of the new academic year on the liminal nature of the city of Trent after Simon of Trent’s supposed martyrdom.  Trent, a city on the border between Germanic and Italian cultures, was itself a liminal space in which concepts and societies interacted with each other and came into conflict.  The 1475 martyrdom of Simon of Trent, believed to have been an instance of blood libel, was not counted by the Italians as a parallel instance as that of William of Norwich.  They believed it to be instead a unique event, with no precedent.  Italian artists, in perpetuating Simon’s burgeoning cult, presented him as a triumphant saint, without sign of pain or anguish on his face.  North of the Alps, however, Northern European presentations of Simon had him more in line with other purported cases of blood libel, with Simon being tortured and mutilated.  These images emphasized the act of his martyrdom, while imagery produced in Italy presented the end result and his sanctification.

This difference in presentation was, Teter argues, symptomatic of a wider division between those who wanted Simon to be considered a saint and those who held the account of his death as suspect or merely wanted to see his as a victimization without greater spiritual value.  Mere weeks after Simon’s disappearance, Bishop Hinderbach of Trent distributed printed pamphlets in Latin and German relating the death of Simon and containing the earliest representations of contemporary Jews in printed media.  Weeks after that, Hinderbach released a second version of the story on newly printed pamphlets, with yet a third version of the story being spread via pamphlet after the papal order to cease the forced conversion of Jews in Trent, begun in response to Simon’s death.  It was this use of easily mass produced printed pamphlets that allowed Hinderbach to spread and establish Simon’s cult in Trent and beyond as quickly as he did and, largely, in spite of papal resistance.  Pope Sixtus IV, having forbade Hinderbach from allowing Jews to be forcibly converted or killed, resisted the notion that Simon was a saint by virtue of his supposed martyrdom on the grounds that only the papacy could render such judgments.  While Hinderbach, as Teter shows, was acting within the established medieval custom of allowing popular sentiment to drive the recognition of a martyr as a saint, the papacy at this time was establishing a more formal division between the concepts of saint and beatus/a, with the saint being the formally canonized figure and the beatus/a an approved figure to whom individuals can appeal without accusation of idolatry.  This conflict, ebbing for a time after Hinderbach’s death and the subsequent downturn in popularity of Simon’s cult beyond Trent, came to a temporary conclusion during the Council of Trent.  Teter believes that during this time, the attendees of the Council would have been inundated with the imagery of Simon’s martyrdom, resulting in a revival of his cult and his later inclusion in the liturgical calendar.  Simon’s inclusion in the liturgical calendar made it difficult for the papacy to assuage popular concerns over blood libel, as to deny its existence or instances in which it was purported to have occurred would be to call into question the legitimacy of officially recognized and celebrated saints.

Within this series of events, Teter sees the struggle between old and new understandings of how saints and beati/ae are or should be recognized.  Hinderbach, though the driving force behind the formation of Simon’s cult, was abiding by practices employed throughout the Middle Ages, while the papacy was attempting to exert greater influence over who could be officially recognized as a saint or even who could be seen as beati/ae.  Teter presents this struggle over recognition of Simon of Trent as exemplifying the liminality of the city of Trent at the time.  It was culturally liminal, chronologically liminal, and technologically liminal, and serves as a microcosm of the social, religious, and legal shifts taking place at that time.

The Center would like to thank Professor Teter for her lecture and for getting this academic year off to an excellent start!

Richard Gyug Publishes His Newest Book

This past 15 August, PIMS published, as part of the Studies and Texts series, Richard Gyug of Fordham’s newest book, Liturgy and Law in a Dalmatian City: The Bishop’s Book of Kotor. Discussing an innovative liturgical compendium written in the mid-twelfth century mostly in Beneventan script, Liturgy and Law explores how the manuscript reveals civic and liturgical developments and interactions.

Richard Gyug, Liturgy and Law in a Dalmatian City: The Bishop’s Book of Kotor (Toronto: PIMS, 2016)

Richard Gyug, Liturgy and Law in a Dalmatian City: The Bishop’s Book of Kotor (Toronto: PIMS, 2016)

The Center for Medieval Studies would like to congratulate Dr. Gyug for his most recent contribution to the field!

Alexa Amore (Medieval Studies) returns from walking the Camino de Santiago

IMG_6247

Alexa Amore (MA Program, Medieval Studies) at Las Medulas (ancient Roman mines near Ponferrada, Spain).

Every year, students at Fordham University have the unique opportunity to walk the Camino de Santiago through the study abroad course Study Tour: Medieval Spain. This summer, graduate student Alexa Amore (MA Program, Medieval Studies) accompanied Professor David Myers, chaperones Alex Egler, Louisa Foroughi, and Rachel Podd, and a group of 24 undergraduate students (Fordham’s largest Camino group to date!) on the medieval pilgrimage route from León to Santiago de Compostela. The group was also thrilled to be joined in Spain by Katrine Funding Højgaard, a former visiting student from Denmark in Fordham’s graduate program in Medieval Studies.

IMG_5006

Apse of Sant Climent de Taüll (twelfth century romanesque fresco), National Art Museum of Catalonia, Barcelona.

As a medievalist with interests in pilgrimage studies and art history, Alexa was eager to follow the traditional pilgrimage route through Spain and to adopt the lifestyle of a pilgrim, or peregrina. She opted to travel as light as possible, leaving her laptop at home and bringing only a twelve pound backpack and camera with her for the entire trip. Alexa arrived in Spain several days before the official start of the study tour in order to spend some time in Barcelona and Madrid. Among the highlights from this part of her journey, she visited several famous Gaudí buildings including the Sagrada Familia as well as the National Art Museum of Catalonia, which houses one of the most important collections of romanesque frescoes in the world.

IMG_5325

Katrine Funding Højgaard (Fall 2015 visiting student, MA Program, Medieval Studies) standing in front of El Christo de la Luz, a mosque built c. 999-1000 CE and later converted into a church.

She also visited all three major museums in Madrid–the Prado, the Reina Sofia, and the Thyssen Bornemisza–and took a day trip to Toledo in order to see  several former synagogues and mosques, including El Cristo de la Luz. “As an undergraduate I took a class on Spanish art that covered everything from visigothic churches to Picasso’s Guernica,” she explained “so I was so excited to see all of these works of art in person.”

When she arrived in León, Alexa started to feel nervous about the two weeks of hiking that lay ahead of her. “I didn’t do much training ahead of time because I was so busy during the semester… I wasn’t sure how it was going to work out, but I was determined to walk the whole way on my own two feet!”

IMG_5946

Sunrise at Rabanal del Camino, a tiny village on the Camino de Santiago with approximately 60 permanent residents.

For Alexa, the best part of the pilgrimage was the journey itself. She especially enjoyed the tiny villages along the Camino “where there was absolutely nothing going on and it was just peaceful and life was incredibly simple for the people living there. It was so nice to arrive, take off my shoes, and just sit and look at the sky and the mountains, listen to the birds and watch the sun set. And after a really long day’s walk, you just feel like you earned every minute of that stillness.”

IMG_6916

Katrine Funding Højgaard (Fall 2015 Visiting Student, MA Program, Medieval Studies) and Alexa Amore (MA Program, Medieval Studies) proudly display their completed credenciales and compostellas at the pilgrim’s office in Santiago de Compostella.

After the long-awaited arrival in Santiago de Compostela with the Fordham group, Alexa travelled south to spend a few days visiting Córdoba, Granada and Seville. 28 long days on the road later, she was happy to return to the United States. “It didn’t take long for me to realize that all along, I was actually on a pilgrimage to New York City,” she explained. “I really missed home, but I was so glad that I left it all behind in order to gain a fresh perspective on where I am in my life now and where I’m going in the future.”

IMG_7049

The Fordham Peregrinos of 2016!

For more on the Camino de Santiago, visit the Fordham peregrinos’ ongoing digital project, Mapping the Camino: The Student’s Guide to the Camino de Santiago, which Alexa founded along with Professor Myers and the Fordham peregrinos of 2016.

Jeffrey Doolittle and David Pedersen Present at the IUDC

Jeff Doolittle (PhD Program, History) Presents at the Inter-University Doctoral Consortium, April 2016

Jeff Doolittle (PhD Program, History) Presents at the Inter-University Doctoral Consortium, April 2016.

This past 1 April, the 2016 Interuniversity Doctoral Consortium Medieval Conference was hosted by CUNY in the Graduate Centre’s Segal Theatre. To this conference of doctoral candidates presenting their research to professors and students alike came chosen representatives from members of the Consortium: SUNY Stony Brook, NYU, Princeton, Rutgers, Colombia, from CUNY itself, and two students from Fordham, Jeffrey Doolittle and David Pedersen.

Alex Novikoff (Dept. of History) moderates a panel at the Inter-University Doctoral Consortium, April 2016.

Alex Novikoff (Dept. of History) moderates a panel at the Inter-University Doctoral Consortium, April 2016.

Jeffrey Doolittle, a PhD candidate in the History Department, delivered his presentation, “Reframing the Works of Pliny in the Early Middle Ages: Montecassino and Monastic Medical Culture,” on his work studying two copies of the Physica Plinii, the Early Medieval compilations of the sections on medicine in Pliny’s Historia Naturalis. Likening it to entries from the Catholic Encyclopedia making their way into undergraduate papers, Jeffrey presented the Historia Naturalis as a text from which scribes took material for their own codices and works, copying only what they needed. Comparing the Physica Plinii copies of Montecassino’s Archivio dell’Abbazia codex 69 and Bamberg codex Med. 2, Jeffrey seeks to explore the differences between two roughly contemporary recipe collections and show that the monks of Montecassino had a very different approach to organization and the idea of “completeness” in regard to the Physica Plinii. While both manuscripts he is studying seem to agree with each other to a remarkable extent (accounting, of course, for the ubiquitous problem of missing pages) in both the list of treatments and the steps provided, they also display some levels of regional adaptation, as Pliny’s original list has been added onto in both medieval copies.

IMG_3503

Speakers Joy Partridge (PhD Program, Art History-CUNY) and David Pedersen (PhD Program, English-Fordham) take questions after their presentations at the IUDC (April 2016).

David Pedersen, of the English Department, delivered his presentation, “Old English Apologetics: The Search for Epistemological Certainty in The Old English Boethius,” based on the first chapter of his book. Contrary to some interpretations of The Old English Boethius, the English adaptor of the text (who had an audience for his works, of which the Exeter Book, David believes, likely was one) did not fail in his ability to follow the logic of Boethius, but, rather, consciously modified the text to more accurately reflect his own questions of why evil persists in a world created and governed by God. In effect, the Old English adaptor of Boethius modified the original text to incorporate the Augustinian belief that creation is, fundamentally, good, though currently exists in a fallen state. The adaptor’s refusal to come to a conclusion is not a failure of logic, but, rather, a refusal to allow anything beyond his own logic to serve as a basis of inquiry. He disallows his faith to serve as the underlying assumption that would allow his logic to carry him through to the end. David contests the adaptor’s failure is not one of logic, but of the employ of logic alone. The second chapter of David’s book will be published later this summer by Studies in Philology.

Between these two presentations was the roundtable session, “Trigger Warnings and Free Speech: The Politics of Teaching the Middle Ages,” during which the issue of whether trigger warnings should or should not be used in a classroom environment was discussed by Steven F. Kruger (Queens College and CUNY), Sara Lipton (Stony Brook), Andrew Romig (NYU), and Jill Stevenson (Marymount Manhattan). The discussion spotlighted how divisive the topic is, with instructors and professors of varying levels of experience, but with ample examples drawn upon from their personal experiences, weighing in on whether a trigger warning may ruin the shock value of a text or image, losing a valuable pedagogical resource and sterilizing medieval history, or whether they can allow a student to psychologically prepare him or herself to more readily accept the lesson material. The discussion also highlighted how the term “trigger warning” is itself largely misunderstood or stands in need of further clarification, as some believed it to be an allowance for a student to refuse interaction with particular subjects or ideas. This debate will continue to grow in prominence, and, undoubtedly, in enthusiasm in the years to come.

The Centre for Medieval Studies would like to congratulate Jeffrey and David for their excellent presentations and contributions.

 

By Kevin Vogelaar

Medievalist Rachel Podd (PhD Program, History) wins the 2015 Loomie Prize

This post is cross-blogged from History at Fordham University.

Each year the History department awards its highest honor for excellence in graduate scholarship, the Loomie Prize. The Loomie prize is awarded to the best seminar paper produced during the previous academic year.  All M.A. and Ph.D. students who have taken the proseminar/seminar sequence or a research tutorial are eligible. The prize for 2015 was awarded to Rachel Podd and Christine Kelly.  

Rachel Podd‘s paper “Interrogating the Guaridoras: Women, Medicine and Magic in Catalonia before the Plague” was written under supervision of Alex Novikoff. The Loomie judges noted that it was based on rich source material, and offered a convincing argument about why and how these sources could be useful to scholars beyond those who specialize in 14th century Catalonia. Rachel wrote that “these documents offer a window… into a vibrant and dynamic world. Within them, one may find Saracens and Christians, men and women, as well as spells and incantations for the health of people and of animals. Through close reading and contextualization, they can elucidate the lives of individuals performing curative activities outside of the major civic centers of Catalonia before the arrival of the plague – what types of diseases did they treat, and how? If caught, what punishment could they expect from the ecclesiastical judicial structure?” Hence, Rachel demonstrated how these records sit at the juncture of vernacular medicine, episcopal control, and inquisition.

Christine Kelly‘s paper “Gender, the Popular Front, and the Folksong Revival through Sing Out! Magazine, 1950 – 1968″ written under supervision of Kirsten Swinth. Her essay is an outstanding example of cultural analysis built from the gritty work of data collecting.  By categorizing hundreds of articles in the folk music periodical, Sing Out!, Christine developed a highly original thesis about the discourse of gender in the 1960s folk music revival.  She overturned a conventional division between the leftist cultural movements of the 1930s, and those of the 1960s, showing that folk revivalists in the 1960s resurrected familiar tropes and narratives of gender from the 1930s.  These were ultimately highly traditionalist, premising an anti-capitalist utopia on an idealized view of the American past where women remained tied to “traditional domestic and reproductive spaces” and “men were more responsible for carrying out the daily operations of political thought and cultural innovation that constituted the engine [of the] folk song revival.”

We reached out to Rachel and Christine for details about their work and how they developed the ideas and research for their papers.

Rachel Podd

 

RachelPodd

Rachel Podd

“Over the course of the 2014-2015 school year, I was a student in “Medieval Intellectual Cultures,” with Dr. Alex Novikoff. The course covered a wide geographical and temporal scope; my area of interest had always been late medieval England, but Dr. Novikoff’s class seemed an ideal space to explore a new location, if not a new time, and so I began looking for primary source material involving gender, medical practice, and law on the Iberian peninsula. Eventually, I came upon a set of transcriptions from the fourteenth-century Episcopal Registers of Ponç de Gualba, the bishop of Barcelona. What struck me first was the uniqueness of the texts. It is somewhat of a truism in medieval history that the majority of recorded voices are elite, urban, and male. These episcopal registers included not only those voices we might expect, however, but also those of almost a dozen rural, poor women, brought before the ecclesiastical court for working magic. By and large, and in contrast to the indictment against them, however, these women were acting as healers, guaridoras, albeit without formal education or licensing, and it was those curative activities which interested me. After translating the documents, I wrote “Interrogating the Guaridoras: Women, Medicine and Magic in Catalonia before the Plague”; through close reading and contextualization, I explored what types of diseases they treated, and how. If they were caught, what punishment could they expect from the ecclesiastical judicial structure? Those questions, among others, informed the text. My work is not complete, with regard to both Spain and the paper. In May I will be presenting a version of my project at the annual meeting of the American Association for the History of Medicine. Furthermore, last summer I walked from Leon to Santiago de Compostela as part of a Fordham Course, and I will be going again this summer as a graduate assistant.”

 

Christine Kelly

Christine Kelly

Christine Kelly

“Among the community of historians, literary scholars, sociologists, and musicologists, who look carefully at the contributions of the folk music revival in the cultural life of twentieth century American society, a standard feature of their source evidence includesSing Out! The Folk Song Magazine.  The most well-known magazine of the folk revival period, founded in 1950 and peaking in influence around 1965, Sing Out!’s high number of subscriptions and articles authored by key figures in the movement render it a window into the world of folk music that help to reshape the political and cultural trajectory of American society.

In the mid-twentieth century, a growing number of folk music aficionados and amateur artists, usually college age youths, turned to folk music to serve as a portal to another time, to transport them to by-gone era which they imagined as superior to the current context of the world they inherited, one of Cold War anxiety, military-industrial profiteering by an invisible but omnipresent power elite, and the anticipated blandness of their futures as organization men living and working in a post-scarcity age. Subscribers toSing Out! joined a growing body of left-leaning activists who would seek cultural changes and political solutions to mitigate their dissatisfaction, protesting for civil rights, against nuclear activity and Vietnam, and for less management of student life on college campuses. All the while, folk music, a major source of musical accompaniment to the unrest of the 1960s, would motivate and unite activists of various kinds, and readers of Sing Out! formed a common community of those “in the know” about folk music’s role as an instrument of social protest.

Curiously, however, as I have researched this movement, I noticed that among the key changes of mid-century American life – in particular the rise of second wave feminism and the movement for women’s liberation – the articles of Sing Out! had little to say, and scholars, drawing from this and similar sources among folk artists and activists, had even less to say about the role of women and gender in a movement so otherwise passionately committed to achieving broad social change and advocating for greater social inclusion. I began to wonder why. I started to explore this question by exploring the life of Joan Baez, perhaps the most influential among the “girl folk singers” as a line in Sing Out! dubbed them, whose autobiography reveals that Baez often felt confused and flabbergasted by “women’s libbers” who urged her to tailor her songs to the needs of their message of radical gender parity, one that at the time she barely understood. And yet, it seemed to me that Baez very deliberately manipulated gender-based symbols to communicate certain ideas in her music – presenting herself as an earthy, long-haired, weak-willed falsetto, she lamented such social issues as pollution and nuclear war.  This was someone who was using gender conventionality very deliberately to carve out a role for herself as an artist and activist within the folk song community that she was in, even while she felt ambivalent about the possibility that gender norms could operate strategically and often oppressively.

Later, I began to explore the long roots of the American folk music movement, so often confined in popular memory to the 1950s and 1960s, even though roots, jazz, pop, and Tin Pan Alley hits were already being labeled as a “folk,” an increasingly mass-produced and popular music genre, as early as the late 1920s and early 1930s. Woody Guthrie, Paul Robeson, Alan Lomax, and Pete Seeger, all of whom traveled closely in Communist Party and other progressive political circles in these years, presented folk music as the “music of the people,” as they proudly called it in Sing Out!’s very first issue, the music of laborers and farmers of all races, who struggled to survive amid Depression era conditions of low wages and boss exploitation. I learned through the work of historians on the American left that folk music helped to facilitate the Communist Party’s aims during the Popular Front, in which the previously isolated and sectarian Party revamped its message, trying to make it seem more authentically “American” to attract more Party members. Barbara Melosh and other historians and critics have suggested that the Depression era and the Popular Front, unlike other periods of economic and social discontent, suppressed any chance of a feminist movement joining the fray of national concerns as men, now jobless or underemployed, tried to keep women out of the workplace to prevent job competition. It was the Popular Front which informed the folk singers’ intellectual, cultural, and political coming of age, and the Front which would determine their thinking on many matters, including matters of women and gender, for decades to come.

Though published after the Front’s supposed end in 1948, the pages of Sing Out! magazine are filled with Popular Front notions of class warfare, advocacy for racial equality, an idealization of the Soviet Union, and, in addition, a depiction of women as tied to domestic spaces, where they were alleged to be most naturally suited unless the dictates of capital pulled them away in the form of wage labor to support their families. As I looked through hundreds of issues of Sing Out! produced from 1950 through 1968, I noticed that women were consistently designated to advertisements and featured in folk song lyrics, whereas men wrote the vast majority of articles of substantive intellectual and political concern. In song lyrics and ad images, women were often portrayed as standard bearers for a mythical past, one that the folk revival thrived on inventing and reinventing, in which familial harmony, simplicity, and sharing – along with accompanying notions of women as domestic and dependent – challenged the sources of discontent in the present. It seemed to me that the Popular Front, this social and cultural reconfiguring of the country’s radical left, was responsible for the folk revival’s portrayals of gender. This representation of gender would persist long past the Depression itself, into the Cold War world and its later fragmentation through social and cultural protests. Folk singers and enthusiasts, both men and women alike, became socialized into a world that, as the life of Joan Baez reveals, couldn’t conceive of later feminist imaginings nor apply them to their music, even as they challenged other kinds of unjust or oppressive norms.

My hope has been for my article, “Gender, the Popular Front, and the Folk Music Revival through Sing Out! Magazine,” to elaborate on these issues. In it, I quantitatively break down the content of Sing Out!, including the magazine’s reprints of folk songs and news articles, to reveal the gendered character of Popular Front discourse in this mid-twentieth century publication. It critically interrogates what is currently a divide among historians of radical and progressive politics and culture between the “Old Left” of the 1930s and 1940s and the “New Left” of the 1960s, as here the two movements appear practically indistinct. It also seeks to recover the role of women artists of the folk song revival, and to parse out why the movement’s most substantial printed cultural product, Sing Out! magazine, says so little about women and gender in and of itself. Though the essay points out the limits on the role of women in the folk revival as derived from the Popular Front, it nevertheless explores a vividly gendered and unique world in its own right that lived in the imaginations of folk artists and their fans who contributed a great deal culturally and politically during times of cultural transition and unrest.”

 

The Center for Medieval Studies congratulates both winners!

 

By Nicholas Paul

Esther Liberman Cuenca Awarded Prestigious Schallek Fellowship

This post is cross-blogged from History at Fordham University

unnamed

Esther Liberman Cuenca, recipient of the Schallek Fellowship

Fordham History Department’s own Esther Liberman Cuenca was recently awarded the Schallek Fellowship, a one-year grant of $30,000 to support Ph.D. dissertation research in any relevant discipline (art history, literature, history, etc.) dealing with late medieval Britain (ca. 1350-1500). Not only is this a prestigious honor but it will allow Esther to conduct research critical to the completion of her dissertation.

Esther’s research focuses on the development and evolution of borough customary law in medieval Britain. Borough customs were practices or traditions that over time acquired the force of law within the town. Her analytical goals are twofold: to contribute to a deeper understanding of the place of urban customary law within the British legal system, and to reveal custom’s role in the emergence of a distinct bourgeois identity in medieval Britain. Borough customary law has received little scholarly attention because of its scattered distribution in many local and county archives; the need for multi-lingual expertise in Latin, Anglo-Norman French, and Middle English; and the difficulty of dating customary clauses and ordinances from multiple iterative copies.

SROI C/4/1/1, f. 9a: The table of contents for the French Ipswich custumal, contained in the codex they call the 'Black Domesday.'

SROI C/4/1/1, f. 9a: The table of contents for the French Ipswich custumal, contained in the codex they call the ‘Black Domesday.’

Since she reached ABD status at Fordham in 2012, Esther has been teaching multiple courses at Marymount California University and this fellowship will give her the opportunity to focus fully on completing her dissertation. She plans to spend the 2016-2017 year living in England where she can complete her research at the Bristol Record Office and London Metropolitan Archives. In 2013, Esther was also the recipient of the Schallek Award, which is a small grant of $2,000 to help students cover research expenses. “The Medieval Academy/Richard III Society have been very kind to me! And I’m very grateful that they’re supporting my research,” says Esther.

 

By Grace Healy

Talking Through the Issues: A Podcast Series on the Crusader States

This post is cross-blogged from History at Fordham University

crusaderstA new conversation has started within the History Department at Fordham. Under the direction of Dr. Nicholas Paul, graduate students in his Crusader States class are developing podcasts as a means to initiate discussion. The course, “charts the social, political, and cultural history of the feudal principalities (sometimes called “Crusader States” “the Latin East” or the ‘Frankish Levant”) that were established by Latin Christians in the Eastern Mediterranean in the wake of the First Crusade.” The podcasts, in turn, each focus on a specific theme within the current scholarship, from the background to the First Crusade in the Eastern Mediterranean, to the relationships between Latin Europeans and eastern Christians and Muslims, through the cultural, social, and political development of the Crusader States themselves

What are the advantages of the podcast format? Tom Schellhammer, a student in the course, commented that, “Historical scholarship must also embrace the current trend towards technological interaction,” as “Technology allows us to reach a wide audience, and this idea is a fantastic intro to anyone interested in learning more about the Crusader States. A podcast can build interest by succinctly covering the important discussion points on any one topic, and highlighting the importance of the topic and asking intriguing questions that spark even more debate and scholarship.”

For Tom, and all of the students in The Crusader States, further and broader discussion about the aftermath of the First Crusade is the ultimate goal, and they believe that using podcasts promotes that within and beyond their seminar. Tom says, “I think that as a class we have come up with some thought provoking questions which might benefit a larger community studying the Crusader States.   I find the material challenging and want to hear outside comments upon the work that we are doing, so I appreciate the opportunity to be heard and receive feedback on our discussions. On a topic that has interest in such widespread and diverse communities,  the podcasts truly help reach outside thoughts and opinions and ignite those same thoughts to be shared here at Fordham.”

Check out all the podcasts and listen to Tom address issues faced by the Crusader military and debate whether the creation of new states was inevitable in the aftermath of the First Crusade. History is about so much more than the sources analyzed and papers written– it is about sharing what we learn with others in hopes of creating an atmosphere of inquiry, debate, and ultimately, understanding.

Maryanne Kowaleski Begins Prestigious Radcliffe Fellowship at Harvard University

This story is cross-blogged from History at Fordham University.

logo_xlarge

Last Spring, Maryanne Kowaleski, Joseph Fitzpatrick S.J. Distinguished Professor of History and Medieval Studies was selected to hold a prestigious residential fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute for Advances Studies at Harvard University to pursue her project entitled Living by the Sea: An Ethnography of Maritime Communities in Medieval England. The Radcliffe Institute fellowship competition  is international in scope, and fellowships are awarded to only 3% of applicants. As Professor Kowaleski begins her fellowship year, let’s find out more about her project and the Radcliffe Institute where she will be based. 

According to the fellowship announcement, entitled “Big Thinkers, Big Projects”. The Institute is

dedicated to creating and sharing transformative ideas across the arts, humanities, sciences, and social sciences. The Fellowship Program annually supports the work of 50 leading artists and scholars. Academic Ventures fosters collaborative research projects and sponsors lectures and conferences that engage scholars with the public. The Schlesinger Library documents the lives of American women of the past and present for the future, furthering the Institute’s commitment to women, gender, and society.

Radcliffe Institute Dean Lizabeth Cohen said of the 2015 fellows that

“It is an honor to provide these innovative thinkers with time, space, and intellectual stimulation to do their best work in ways that often defy expectations and disciplinary boundaries,” said Radcliffe Institute Dean Lizabeth Cohen RI ’02. “As Radcliffe fellows, they are sure to develop unusual collaborations, take unexpected risks, and generate new ideas.”

Professor Kowaleski’s project is entitled Living by the Sea: An Ethnography of Maritime Communities in Medieval England. What follows is from the abstract for her project.

Past human interaction with the sea has become an important issue for many disciplines, spurred on by debates on our responsibility for rising sea levels, the depletion of fish stocks, and global warming. The historical perspective’s contributions to these and other issues, such as rights of access to marine resources, are valued, but rarely focus on the period before the seventeenth century. The emphasis has also been more on people as ecological actors and less on the interaction between humans and marine environments.  My project contributes to these current debates by analyzing the impact of marine environments on the types of work, economic strategies, language, value systems, and family structures of those residing near the sea in medieval England. The study attributes a powerful role to marine ecosystems in promoting a distinctive sub-culture among the inhabitants of coastal villages and small port towns, as well as quayside neighborhoods in larger seaports.

Congratulations to Professor Kowaleski on this major award, and enjoy your year at Harvard!