Category Archives: Uncategorized

Benjamin Anderson publishes “Cosmos and Community in Early Medieval Art”

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 publishes “Composing the World: Harmony in the Medieval Platonic Cosmos”

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.

Monica Green, “Medieval Plague, Modern Ebola, Invisible Africa: Genetics and the Framing of Global Health History”

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.


Brown Bag Lunch: Marilyn Migiel, “Reading Misogyny: Boccaccio ‘Against’ Women?”

Marilyn Migiel [Romance Studies] will discuss Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-1375) at noon next Wednesday, March 9, in Uris G24.

Migiel’s focus will be on work she has done and is currently doing on Boccaccio and the question of woman. She recently published published “Boccaccio and Women” in The Cambridge Companion to Boccaccio [2015]). At the lunchtime discussion, she will present some of the current work that she is doing on Boccaccio’s De casibus virorum illustrium (On the Fates of Illustrious Men [1360-73]).

Refreshments will be served. All are welcome!

The Medieval Brown Bag Lunch Series: Spring 2016

Announcing the return of the Brown Bag Lunch series, a monthly gathering where faculty in the Medieval Studies field discuss work in progress and current research topics. Talks will be held at noon on the second Wednesday of each month, beginning next Wednesday, February 10. All are welcome!

Feb 10 | noon, Uris G88
Andrew Hicks [Music]
, “Listening to Fragments: Editing a ‘New’ Fourteenth-Century Motet”

Mar 9 | noon, room t.b.a.
Marilyn Migiel [Romance Studies], “Reading Misogyny: Boccaccio ‘Against’ Women?”  

Apr 13 | noon, room t.b.a.
Cynthia Robinson [History of Art], “Nasrid Visual Culture: Metaphor, Symbol, and Illumination”  

Ali Houissa presents “Islamic Manuscripts,” November 19

Join us for a presentation by Ali Houissa, Middle East and Islamic Studies Librarian / Bibliographer at Cornell University Library.  The presentation takes place on Thursday, November 19, from 4:30 to 6:00 p.m. in the Carl A. Kroch Library, room 2B48.

Between the 6th and the 17th centuries, Muslims developed a rich manuscript tradition that is reflected not only in Islamic calligraphy, illuminations and painting, but also in the artisanal crafts of penmanship and calligraphy, illumination, miniature painting and papermaking. In addition to the history of the Islamic manuscript, the talk will address topics of current interest such as aniconism versus figural representation, and the preservation of manuscript collections in conflict zones. Illuminated and illustrated rare manuscripts from Cornell’s collection of sacred, devotional and non-religious texts will be on display.

This event is cosponsored by Medieval Studies and Cornell University Library.

For more information, contact or call (607) 255-3530.

Near Eastern Studies Lecture: Paul M. Cobb (University of Pennsylvania) on Wednesday, February 11

Please join us on Wednesday, February 11th for the First Event of the Near Eastern Studies Spring 2015 Lecture Series.


Paul M. Cobb from the University of Pennsylvania will be presenting “Johann Schiltberger’s Excellent Adventure: Crusade, Captivity and the Marvelous East in the Later Middle Ages” at 4:30 p.m. in 110 White Hall.


“Order and Disorder in the Middle Ages”: 25th Annual Medieval Studies Student Colloquium, February 7

Saturday, February 7 marks the 25th annual Medieval Studies Student Colloquium in the A. D. White House. This year’s theme is “Order and Disorder in the Middle Ages.” The colloquium features three panels in which students from Cornell, Yale, UConn, Binghamton, and St. John’s will present current research. Additionally, Nino Zchomelidse (Johns Hopkins) will present the keynote address, “The Place of Ritual in the Visual Culture(s) of Medieval Southern Italy.”

MSSC Poster 2015

The MSSC is sponsored by: The Cornell Medieval Studies program; GPSAFC; The Society For the Humanities; and the Cornell Department of History.

The full schedule is below:

8:30 – 9:00 – Breakfast

9:00-10:20 – Panel 1: “Changing Projections of Kingship”
Spencer J. Weinrich (Yale), “A Saint in the Family: Richard II’s Image of Edward II”
Abby Sprenkle (Cornell), “The ‘Doom’ of Kings: Anglo-Saxon Law as Kingly Literature”
Patrick Butler (UConn), “You Can’t Always Get What You Want: Revisiting the Failed Second Anointing of Edward II”

10:20-10:30 – Coffee Break

10:30-11:50 – Panel 2: “Rhetoric and Style of Order and Disorder”
Danielle Reid (Cornell), “Historia Nova: New approaches to the history of Zosimus”
Mariana Bodnaruk (Cornell), “Administering the EmpireL  The Unmaking of an Equestrian Elite in the Fourth Century CE”
Camasin Middour Pedroja (Binghamton), “Politeness and Power: Feminine Rhetoric in the Stonor Letter and Papers”
Sam Barber (Cornell), “Constructing the Community in Late Antique Ravenna: The Arian Baptistery in its Ideological Context”

11:50-1:00 – Coffee & Lunch

1:00-2:30 – Keynote Address
Nino Zchomelidse (Johns Hopkins), “The Place of Ritual in the Visual Culture(s) of Medieval Southern Italy”

2:30-2:40 – Coffee Break

2:40-4:00 – Panel 3: “Physicality and Transformations”
Phillip Grayson (St. Johns), “‘Turn Me Back Into My Former Nature’: The Transformations of St Christopher”
Anna Waymack (Cornell), “When Aging Breaks Time: The Disordered Temporalities of Langland, Merlin, and the Wandering Jew”
Max McComb (Cornell), “Moral Order and Disordered Bodies: Healing Miracles in the Translatio et Miracula Sanctorum Marcellini et Petri


Thursday, March 13: Peter Casarella (Notre Dame)

Dr. Peter Casarella from University of Notre Dame will be giving a talk on March 13 at 4:30 at Lewis Auditorium, Goldwin Smith Hall, entitled “Vis vocabuli: Nicholas of Cusa’s Disputed Contesting of Nominalism.”

Nicholas of Cusa (1401-1464) was a polymath who lived in a dynamic age in which scholasticism, humanism, and nominalism were often in fierce competition. His mystical theology leaned heavily on Neoplatonic sources and legitimated a turn to apophaticism in theology. He was thus categorized as a nominalist by early followers, a trend continued by a number of contemporary interpreters. A more careful study of his thinking about the nature of language and the expressiveness of the work of art, however, reveals a more complicated and interesting scenario.

F. Jamil Ragep to Deliver “Medieval Cosmologies” Lecture

The Medieval Cosmologies Working Group is pleased to announce the visit of F. Jamil Ragep, Canada Research Chair in the History of Science in Islamic Societies at McGill University. Professor Ragep will deliver a public lecture on Thursday, November 21st, at 4:30 PM in Goldwin Smith G22:

“The Astronomical Genre of Hayʾa: Cosmology without Philosophy?”

In the early history of Islamic astronomy, there arose a subdivision called hayʾa, which more than likely had its inspiration from Ptolemy’s cosmological work called the Planetary Hypotheses. But over time this genre took on a life of its own, eventually becoming the umbrella term for all astronomy and ostentatiously excluding astrology from its domain. It also became the locus for attempts to reform the Ptolemaic system and a contender to be the Islamic cosmology on religious grounds, something occasionally opposed on religious grounds as well. The story of hayʾa—its genesis, evolution, and relationship with philosophical cosmology—will be the subject of this talk.

On Friday the 22nd at 1:25, working group members are invited to join the seminar on medieval cosmologies in Goldwin Smith G19 for further discussion with the lecturer (1:25-3:00). Those planning to attend may contact Andrew Hicks ( for copies of the readings.

F. Jamil Ragep’s visit is made possible by the generous support of the Cornell Institute of European Studies Luigi Einaudi Chair Innovation Fund and the Department of Near Eastern Studies.

For more information on the working group: