Andrew Hicks [Music / Medieval Studies] is one of 21 scholars to have been awarded the Berlin Prize for 2017-2018 by The American Academy in Berlin. He will be in residence at the Hans Arnhold Center in Belin-Wannsee in Spring 2018, working toward the completion of his next monograph, tentatively titled The Broken Harp: Musical Metaphor in Classical Persian Literature.
On Thursday, April 20, Kathleen Davis (Professor, English, University of Rhode Island) will present “From Periodization to the Autoimmune Secular State.” The lecture will take place in 142 Goldwin Smith Hall at 4:30 p.m.
ABSTRACT: Can we imagine history without the idea of the Middle Ages? Difficult as that may be, this talk suggests, we cannot adequately understand today’s divisive politics, particularly concerning the “secular” and the “religious,” without examining the fundamental premises that generated and sustain the Middle Ages as a historical period.
Kathleen Davis received her PhD in English and Medieval Studies from Rutgers University, where she found encouragement to work across disciplinary boundaries. She has worked in the fields of Old and Middle English literature, translation studies, and postcolonial criticism. Most recently, her engagement with colonial histories and postcolonial theory led her to examine the periodizing process that gave us the categories of the “medieval” and the “modern,” and to investigate the relation of that process to colonial rule. She is the author of Periodization and Sovereignty: How Ideas of Feudalism and Secularization Govern the Politics of Time; and co-editor, with Nadia Altschul, of Medievalisms in the Postcolonial World: The Idea of “the Middle Ages” Outside Europe. Professor Davis is continuing her work in this area with two book projects. The first, tentatively titled “The Fold of Periodization,” examines the structure of periodization; reassesses the historiography of the idea of the Middle Ages; and traces the role of medieval/modern periodization in the formation of academic disciplines. The second, which Davis began while a member of the Institute for Advanced Study, focuses on the relationship between medieval/modern periodization and the idea of a “secular” versus a “religious” society, particularly as this idea affects contemporary politics.
This event is co-sponsored by the Departments of English and History, the Jewish Studies Program, and the Society for the Humanities.
Benjamin Anderson (History of Art and Visual Studies) will present a Visual Culture Colloquium on Tuesday, March 14, at 4:30 p.m. in G22 Goldwin Smith Hall. Event listing here.
A robust tradition of oracular images – made in the past and understood to contain knowledge of the future – emerged in early medieval Constantinople; by the later middle ages it had split in two, with a Latin branch claiming to foretell future popes, a Greek branch future emperors (later sultans). The two strands were drawn back together ca. 1590 (and independently) by the Cretan artist Georgios Klontzas and the French essayist Michel de Montaigne. Both juxtapositions are forms of “critique,” but point to opposite conceptions of pictorial knowledge.
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.
The Medieval Cosmologies Working Group is back for our 2017 lecture – our fifth since we began in 2013! We are pleased to announce the visit of Charles Burnett, Professor of the History of Arabic/Islamic Influences in Europe, Warburg Institute, University of London. Professor Burnett will give a public lecture on Thursday, March 9, at 4:30 PM in Goldwin Smith G22, entitled “The Worldview of Abu Ma’shar of Balkh (Albumasar).” A reception will follow at 6:00 PM in the History of Art Gallery.
Abu Ma‘shar Ja‘far ibn Muhammad al-Balkhi (787-886 AD), known as Albumasar in the West, was the eminent Arabic astrologer of the Middle Ages. Throughout his Great Introduction to Astrology, which was translated twice into Latin in the twelfth century, is an integrated worldview, embracing not only prognostication, but also cosmology, astronomy, physics, geography, medicine and ethics. This lecture addresses Abu Ma‘shar’s ideas of the position of man within his world and how they were subtly changed in the process of transmission from Arabic into Latin.
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.
ABSTRACT: 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.