Medieval and Renaissance Studies
Medieval and Renaissance Studies

Archives for New faculty

New Faculty, Fall 2015

We are delighted to announce two new faculty members in the Medieval & Renaissance community at Columbia University this fall: Professor Alexandre Roberts (from the history department) and Professor Eliza Zingesser (from the French department).

Alexandre Roberts (PhD Berkeley, 2015) is joining us as Assistant Professor of History. Alex is an extraordinarily gifted scholar of Greek- and Arabic-language texts produced in the Byzantine empire and its former territories, with an interest in intellectual, religious, and scientific culture. The first part of his dissertation examines the translations from Greek into Arabic of an eleventh-century Byzantine cleric living in the border town of Antioch, ʿAbdallāh ibn al-Faḍl. Ibn al-Faḍl’s translation campaign focused on the works of the Greek church fathers writing from the fourth through the eighth centuries (John Chrysostom, Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nyssa, Maximos the Confessor, John of Damascus, etc.). The second part of the dissertation turns to the study of the earliest Greek alchemical manuscript, dating from the tenth or eleventh century. His concern here is the intellectual position of alchemy in eleventh-century Byzantium, as well as the book itself as an artifact of that culture. The unifying theme of the two parts is an attempt to uncover the eleventh-century Byzantine understanding of matter and its transformation, concepts central both to the divine act of creation addressed by Basil, and to alchemical thought. This is an exciting appointment for both History and Medieval and Renaissance Studies at Columbia.

Eliza Zingesser is a specialist of medieval French and Occitan literature. She studied at Smith College (A.B. summa cum laude) and at Princeton University (Ph.D. 2012). She was formerly a Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge (2012-2013) and an Assistant Professor at the University of Ottawa (2013-2014). Her main focus within medieval French and Occitan literature is on issues of assimilation, multilingualism, cultural and linguistic contact, and gender and sexuality. She is currently writing two books. The first, French Troubadours: Assimilating Occitan Poetry in Medieval France, explores the reception of Occitan lyric poetry in France in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, that is, during the Albigensian Crusade (1209-1229) and its aftermath, which witnessed France’s annexation of the majority of Occitania. French Troubadours shows how Occitan poems were subtly incorporated into the French canon by way of imitation, compilation with French texts, and adaptation to the French sound system. By extension, it shows how the linguistic and cultural specificity of troubadour lyric was suppressed in its early French transmission. The second book, Borderlands: Intercultural Encounters in the Medieval French Pastourelle, explores how pastoral literature became a privileged vehicle for the exploration of cross-cultural tension by francophone medieval writers, including anonymous poets, Jean Bodel, and Jean Froissart. The book turns to four territories peripheral to medieval francophone space—Occitania, the Basque country, Flanders and England. Zingesser was a member of the Executive Committee of the MLA Discussion Group for Provençal Language and Literature (2010-2015). She has received grants and awards from the Medieval Academy of America, the Fulbright Foundation, the Institut Français d’Amérique, the Josephine de Kármán Fellowship Trust, and the Institute for Research in the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Welcome Visiting Assistant Professor Jonathan Morton

Dr. Morton will be a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of French and Romance Philology.  This Fall he’s teaching a course on “Le Roman de la rose and Medieval Discourses of Nature.”

Jonathan Morton is a Junior Research Fellow at New College, University of Oxford. He works on medieval French and Latin literature and intellectual history, with a particular focus on the relationship between poetry and philosophy. In 2014 he completed his D. Phil. at Oxford on the Roman de la rose and Aristotelian philosophy in the thirteenth century, on the basis of which he is writing a book, entitled Nature, Art, and Ethics: The Roman de la rose in its philosophical context, which reinterprets the Rose by examining its dialogue with and reworking of some of the key philosophical texts and traditions of the thirteenth century when it was composed. As well as writing articles on different aspects of the Roman de la rose, he works on French and Latin bestiaries, particularly studying their relationship with Neoplatonic theology. He has recently started work on a new project about creativity and its meaning in the High Middle Ages, with a focus on the philosophical poetry of the Chartrian school and the representation of technology in vernacular and Latin sources

Welcome Visiting Professor Zev Harvey

We are delighted to welcome Zev Harvey as a Visiting Professor of Philosophy at Columbia.

Professor Harvey studied philosophy at Columbia University (BA, 1965; Ph.D., 1973) and taught in the Department of Philosophy at McGill University (1971-1977), before moving to Jerusalem in 1977.  He is the author of many studies on medieval and modern Jewish philosophy, including Physics and Metaphysics in Hasdai Crescas (1998).  He is an EMETPrize laureate (2009) and Professor Emeritus in the Department of Jewish Thought at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Professor Harvey will be teaching Maimonides Guide of the Perplexed  and the graduate level course Medieval Philosophy in Fall 2012.

Welcome Visiting Scholar Michael Stolberg

The History Department is delighted to introduce their Visiting Scholar for the Fall 2012 semester,  Michael Stolberg.  Michaelis chair of the history of medicine at the University of Würzburg, Germany.  His research focuses on the history of medicine and the body in 16th- and 17th-century Germany, Italy and France.  Recent publications include Experiencing illness and the sick body in early modern Europe (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2011; orig. German edn 2003), Die Harnschau. Eine Kultur- und Alltagsgeschichte (Böhlau, 2009, forthcoming Engl. edn; A cultural history of uroscopy, Ashgate, 2013) and “`Abhorreas pinguedinem`. Fat and obesity in early modern medicine (c. 1500-1750)”, in Stud. Hist. Phil. Biol. Biomed. Sc. 43 (2012), 370-378.  He is currently working on the voluminous personal notebooks of Georg Handsch, a fairly obscure Padua-trained, young physician in mid-16th-century Prague, studying in particular the oral transmission of medical knowledge to the patients and their families, the acquisition of practical skills and the role of empirical observation in ordinary medical practice.

Michael welcomes your contacting him for coffee and discussion while he is here at Columbia, and he can be reached at  <[email protected]>.

Welcome new Med-Ren faculty!

We welcome three new additions to the Medieval, Renaissance and early modern faculty:

Manan Ahmed has joined Columbia’s History Department as Assistant Professor.  Professor Ahmed is interested in the relationship between text, space and narrative. His work on Islam´s arrival to Sindh in the 8th century traces the longue durée history of contestations among varied communities in South Asia. His areas of specialization include political and cultural history of Islam in South and Southeast Asia, frontier-spaces and the city in medieval South Asia, imperial and colonial historiography, and philology. He is currently working on a manuscript which takes a close look at the production and reception of Chachnama, a text written in Persian in 1226 C.E. in then capital city of Uch. He is the co-Director of Zukunftsphilogie: Revisiting the Canons of Textual Scholarship – a multi-year research project based at Freie Universität Berlin. He plans to offer courses on memory and history, South Asia from medieval to the early modern period, the city and space in medieval India, and intellectual history of Muslims in early modern Asia.   In Fall 2012, he will be teaching a lecture course entitled “History of South Asia I: al-Hind to Hindustan” (History W3810, MW 10:10-11:25).

Rachel Eisendrath has just joined the Barnard English Department.  Professor Eisendrath specializes in sixteenth-century poetry. She comes to Barnard from the University of Chicago, where she received her Ph.D. in English literature in 2012. Her work on Renaissance poetry explores problems of aesthetics, the history of poetic forms, and the intersection of literary and visual arts. Her dissertation, “Renaissance Ekphrasis and the Objects of History,” is a study of elaborate literary descriptions, or ekphrases, against the background of the early modern rise of objectivity. The project explores the fraught relation between aesthetic form and an increasingly empiricist understanding of the historical world. She has an article on Spenser’s treatment of art and objectivity forthcoming in Spenser Studies. Professor Eisendrath received a B.A. from Harvard and M.A. degrees from St. John’s College and the University of Chicago; in addition, she studied painting and sculpture at the New York Studio School.

Seth Kimmel has just joined Columbia’s Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures. Professor Kimmel studies the literatures and cultures of medieval and early modern Iberia. He earned his B.A. in Comparative Literature and Religion here at Columbia and his Ph.D. from the Department of Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley in 2010. Before joining Columbia´s Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures in 2012, Professor Kimmel spent two years as a member of Stanford University´s Mellon Fellowship of Scholars in the Humanities, where he taught classes on theories of secularism and religion, the history of reading, and cultural exchange and conflict among Iberian Christians, Muslims, and Jews. Professor Kimmel’s current book project is an intellectual history of New Christian assimilation. The book argues that canon law, Oriental Studies, and history writing were all transformed by hotly contested debates over eradicating Islam and Judaism from the Iberian Peninsula and converting non-Christians elsewhere in the Spanish empire. Other research and teaching interests include the history of cartography and Mediterranean and Transatlantic Studies. Professor Kimmel’s work has appeared in the Journal of Medieval and Early Studies and the Hispanic Issues book series, and he is currently completing two new essays, one on early modern secular discourse and inquisitorial discipline and the other on the relationship between local print economies and peninsular representations of Ottoman Turks.