Medieval and Renaissance Studies
Medieval and Renaissance Studies

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.

Digital Dante Featured on ColumbiaNews

Teodolinda Barolini (Lorenzo Da Ponte Professor of Italian) and the Digital Dante project were featured in a ColumbiaNews article in May.  Read the story here:

Dante by Luca Signorelli

Dante by Luca Signorelli

Congratulations graduates!

Many congratulations to our two MA students, Jeffrey Palframan and Helen Christian, who have completed their MA theses and will have their degrees officially conferred tomorrow!  Best of luck in the future!

Professor Şenocak Appointed Fellow of the National Humanities Center

Congratulations to History Department Professor Neslihan Şenocak who was appointed as a 2015-2016 Fellow of the National Humanities Center, for her project Care of Souls in Medieval Italy, 1050–1300.  According to the Columbia Humanities Twitter feed, she is the 36th Columbia faculty member to receive this fellowship!

You can read more about the Fellowships here.


Professor Jean Howard’s Scholarship Honored in New Collection

Congratulations to Jean Howard, Columbia’s George Delacourt Professor in the Humanities, whose scholarship is honored in a new collection of essays:

Historical Affects and the Early Modern Theater
Edited by Ronda Arab, Michelle Dowd, Adam Zucker, and published by Routledge in 2015.

Read more on the Routledge website.

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Professor Dailey Receives 2015 Distinguished Columbia Faculty Award

Congratulations to English Department Professor Patricia Dailey, who has just received a 2015 Distinguished Columbia Faculty Award!


As the award announcement noted: The award was created in 2005 by Columbia Trustee Emeritus, Gerry Lenfest, (LAW’58, HON’09), to honor exceptional faculty in the Arts and Sciences. The awards are given annually to recognize unusual merit across a range of activities including scholarship, University citizenship, and professional involvement, with primary emphasis on teaching and mentoring of undergraduate and graduate students.

Profs Franklin and Kosto Elected to MAA

In the recent Medieval Academy of America Elections, Professor Carmela Franklin was elected 1st Vice President, and Professor Adam Kosto was elected to the Nominating Committee.  Congratulations to both!

Read more on the MAA blog.

Columbia PhD Student Featured on “Humans of New York”

Columbia English Department PhD student Ruen-chuan Ma was spotted discussing medieval manuscripts with “Humans of New York.”  We’re proud that our students are committed to getting out the word about book history in rain, shine, sleet, or snow!

“I’m doing my dissertation on medieval literature. I feel a sense of wonder and awe whenever I study old manuscripts. It’s like I’m holding communion with readers from centuries ago. You don’t really get that from a Kindle.”

Digital Dante Relaunched!

Columbia’s Digital Dante website was relaunched this month as a collaboration among the Department of Italian, Columbia University Libraries/Information Services’ Center for Digital Research and Scholarship, and Columbia University Libraries/Information Services’ Humanities and History Division.

Congratulations to all involved!

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Carmela Franklin interviewed about the Dictionary of Medieval Latin from British Sources

Professor Carmela Franklin recently did an interview for Italian radio on the completion of the huge Dictionary of Medieval Latin from British Sources.  You can listen to the interview (in Italian, of course!) here



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