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.
Cynthia Robinson [History of Art] will discuss Nasrid visual culture at noon this Wednesday, April 13, in White Hall room B04.
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.
On April 13 (Wednesday) at 4:30PM, Prof. MICHEL ZINK will deliver a lecture at the A.D. White House (Guerlac Room) titled, “Women’s Songs/Men’s Songs in Medieval Europe”
Michel Zink holds the chair in “Littératures de la France médiévale” at the Collège de France, which goes back to the illustrious tradition of the chair of “Langue et littérature françaises du Moyen Âge” founded in 1853 for Paulin Paris. Before 1994 he was a professor of medieval French literature at the Sorbonne (1968-70, 1972-76, and 1987-94), at the University of Tunis (1970-72), and at the University of Toulouse (1976-87). He has also been a Visiting Professor at the University of Constance, the Johns Hopkins University, Berkeley, and Yale. In 2007 he received the International Balzan Prize “for his fundamental contributions to the understanding of French and Occitan literature in the Middle Ages, a decisive chapter in the development of modern European literature; for his new interpretation of the relation between medieval and modern literature; and for his seminal initiatives that have brought the literature of the Middle Ages back into the cultural tradition of France and Europe.”
More about him:
This event is co-organized by the French Studies Program co-sponsored by and the Medieval Studies Program, the Department of Romance Studies, and the Society for the Humanities.
Hispanic Studies invites you to “The Wise King’s Nightmare,” a lecture by Simon Doubleday (Hofstra University), Thursday, April 7, 4:30 p.m., Klarman Hall room KG42. Reception to follow.
Doubleday is Professor and Chair of the Department of History at Hofstra University, founder and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Medieval Iberian Studies, president of the American Academy of Research Historians of Medieval Spain, and author of The Wise King: A Christian Prince, Muslim Spain and the Birth of the Renaissance (Basic Books, 2015).
For more information contact Simone Pinet at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This event is co-sponsored by the Department of Romance Studies and the Medieval Studies Program.
Quodlibet will sponsor the visit of David Freidenreich [Colby College], who will deliver a lecture on Monday, March 21 at 4:30pm in White Hall room 110: “”Food and Identity in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.”
“Refusing to share a meal or accept food prepared by others does more than just express the notion that ‘We’ want nothing to do with ‘Them.’ This kind of anti-social behavior also reinforces ideas about who They are and, perhaps more importantly, who We are. Join us to explore the evolution of Jewish food laws and the ideas they convey about Jewishness. We’ll also examine the role food restrictions play in shaping Christian and Islamic identity, and we’ll consider the ways in which traditional ideas about Us and Them continue to shape interfaith relations today.”
David M. Freidenreich is the Pulver Family Associate Professor of Jewish Studies at Colby College, where he serves as director of the Jewish studies program and associate director of the Center for Small Town Jewish Life. As a member of the religious studies department, he teaches a wide range of courses on Judaism, Jewish history, and comparative religion. After receiving a B.A. from Brandeis University, he earned his Ph.D. at Columbia University and rabbinic ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary. His award-winning first book, Foreigners and Their Food: Constructing Otherness in Jewish, Christian, and Islamic Law, explores attitudes toward adherents of foreign religions expressed in ancient and medieval laws about sharing food. He is currently studying the ways Christians have used ideas about Jews to think about Muslims.
[Also, from the Department of Near Eastern Studies:]
“Freidenreich will also be giving a lecture entitled ‘Christian Portrayals of Muhammad’s Jewish Associates’ on March 21st from 12:10-1:10pm in 410 White Hall. Lunch will be provided. If there is significant interest in this lecture, it may be necessary to change the room location to 110 White Hall. 410 is our lounge and we’ve got somewhat limited seating, perhaps enough for 25 people.”
If interested in this noontime lecture, please contact Ayla Cline at email@example.com.
On Friday, March 11th, the Medieval Cosmologies Working Group will host a visit by Ilya Dines, Kluge Fellow at the Library of Congress, and a scholar of medieval Latin manuscripts who specializes in natural-scientific traditions, with a particular focus on bestiaries and cartography (nli.academia.edu/IlyaDines). His critical edition of the bestiaries of the “third family” is forthcoming from the University of Toronto Press, and his edition of and commentary on the Westminster Bestiary is forthcoming from Siloé. The visit will consist of a workshop and a seminar, both of which are open to all interested members of the community.
From 1:30-3:00, Kroch Library will host a workshop with relevant manuscripts and early printed works in Cornell’s collections.
From 4:30-6:30 in Goldwin Smith 156, Ilya Dines will lead a seminar on Huntington HM 38, a volume on geography, astronomy, medicine, and the apocalypse produced in the fifteenth-century in Lübeck. The manuscript contains a unique sequence of maps that illustrate “what will happen to the earth during the Last Days,” which are the topic of a new monograph by Chet van Duzer and Ilya Dines: Apocalyptic Cartography: Thematic Maps and the End of the World in a Fifteenth-Century Manuscript (Brill, 2016). Attendees may access an electronic copy of the monograph at this link – https://cornell.box.com/s/co2tmifnm34lgr785skwn2ioduwbf09r – please focus on chapters 1 and 5.
Ilya Dines’s visit has been supported by the Program in Medieval Studies and the Departments of English and the History of Art.
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 ). 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!