Anna Waymack, a 4th-year Ph.D. student in the Medieval Studies program, has received an Alice H. Cook and Constance E. Cook Award in recognition of her advocacy for victims of sexual violence and her work to promote better policies relating to sexual harassment and assault here at Cornell and across the United States. More Cook Award winners are listed here.
Benjamin Anderson [Assistant Professor, History of Art and Visual Studies] has published a new book, Cosmos and Community in Early Medieval Art [Yale University Press]. The book “uses thrones, tables, mantles, frescoes, and manuscripts to show how cosmological motifs informed relationships between individuals, especially the ruling elite, and communities, demonstrating how domestic and global politics informed the production and reception of these depictions.” Read more here.
Andrew Hicks [Assistant Professor, Music / Medieval Studies] has published a new book, Composing the World: Harmony in the Medieval Platonic Cosmos [Oxford University Press]. The book “charts [a] constellation of musical metaphors, analogies, and expressive modalities embedded within a late-ancient and medieval cosmological discourse: that of a cosmos animated and choreographed according to a specifically musical aesthetic.” Read more here.
A presentation by Laurent Ferri, curator of pre-1800 collections in the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, adjunct associate professor of Comparative Literature, and member of the graduate field in the Department of Medieval Studies. Lecture date: September 24, 2015. More information here.
Samantha Zacher [Professor, English] has published a new book, Imagining the Jew In Anglo-Saxon Literature & Culture [University of Toronto Press]. The book examines “visual and textual representations of Jews, the translation and interpretation of Scripture, the use of Hebrew words and etymologies, and the treatment of Jewish spaces and landmarks.” Read more here.
On Monday, November 7, Monica Green (Professor, History, Arizona State University) will present “Medieval Plague, Modern Ebola, Invisible Africa: Genetics and the Framing of Global Health History.” The talk will take place in 165 McGraw Hall at 4:30 p.m.
There is a long historiography about health and medicine in Africa in the modern colonial and post-colonial periods. But genetics is helping us see beyond the limit of colonial encounters and the written archives they created. Plague, it is currently believed, is in origin a Eurasian disease. Its entry into Africa—at least three separate times in the past 2500 years—can now be traced, not by any new archival discoveries, but by the genetic trail left by its causative organism, Yersinia pestis. Genetics is the story of life itself, and it can help decipher the narratives of migrations, ecological transitions, and social change in Africa that, in the current state of evidence, are otherwise invisible to us. It provides hints more than answers. But those hints allow us not only to bring Africa into narratives of the medieval Black Death, but also to show the relevance of “medieval” narratives to the present day. The same genetics analyses that have driven new work on plague’s histories also drove epidemiological understandings of the West African Ebola outbreak in 2013-15. As “the story of life,” genetics allows us to integrate Africa into more truly global histories of disease.
Monica H. Green is Professor of History at Arizona State University, where she teaches medieval European history and the history of medicine and global health. She has held fellowships from, among others, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard, the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, All Souls College, the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, and most recently, the American Academy of Berlin. She has published extensively on various aspects of medieval medical history and recently edited the volume Pandemic Disease in the Medieval World: Rethinking the Black Death (2014). She is interested in bringing new work in genetics and bioarchaeology into dialogue with traditional historical work in documentary sources, and is now expanding her work into the field of global health history, which uses the narratives of infectious diseases from leprosy to HIV/AIDS to tell of common threats to health that humans have shared the world over.
This event is sponsored by the Department of History and the Medieval Studies program.
Late Medieval / Renaissance scholar Carol Kaske has died. You can find her obituary in the Cornell Chronicle, here.
An essay by John Wyatt Greenlee, a third-year Medieval Studies Ph.D. student, has been selected by the English Department as a co-winner of the Moses Coit Tyler Essay Prize. The prize was established in 1936 and is awarded for the best essay by a graduate or undergraduate student in the field of American history, literature, or folklore.
The title of Greenlee’s essay is “Eight Islands on Four Maps: The Cartographic Renegotiation of Hawai’i, 1876-1959.”
The essay was published in the Fall 2015 issue of the journal Cartographica and is currently listed on the journal’s website as its most read article ever.
Please join us in celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Medieval Studies Program at Cornell University. Our celebration will include a roundtable discussion of the program’s history, honors for the charter members of the program, and a keynote address by Don Randel (Chairman of the Board of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences).
Details are available at this page.
In scholarship of the past few decades, symbol and metaphor, as couched in poetry, rhymed prose and sacred texts, have been shown to provide productive lenses through which to reconstruct the phenomenology of viewers’ experiences of numerous medieval Islamic built environments. Her own previous work includes deep exploration of these themes in both fitna/Taifa (11th-century) and Almoravid (late 11th-early 12th century) contexts. Her present project brings these concerns into the Naṣrid and post-Naṣrid contexts of Granada, where metaphor’s task might be said to have morphed from one of transformation to one of embodiment, of assisting audiences in comprehending the “true” nature and essence of what they see. This paper will focus on two key case studies: the first, a lighting display confected from the (only, and quite lavish) celebration of the mawlid orchestrated by Muḥammad V in December of 1362, within the precincts of the Alhambra; the second, an inscription containing the famous “Light Verse” known to have formed part of the program of ornament commissioned for Granada’s Madrasa Yūsufiyya in the 1340s. Neither object of investigation survives physically—texts provide our only windows onto them, and will serve as our point of departure for their reconstruction and interpretation.