Medieval and Renaissance Studies
Medieval and Renaissance Studies

Lauren Mancia opens our new “Medieval and Renaissance Lives” speaker series

On Wednesday, October 8, we launched our new “Medieval and Renaissance Lives” Speaker series.  The series, designed primarily for an audience of undergrads interested in the fields, features present and former Columbians discussing their academic and professional trajectories and current work in an informal setting.  The series was launched wonderfully by Lauren Mancia (CC ’05), who was kind enough to share some pictures and a bio that give a taste of her fascinating presentation.  Interested in future events in the series?  Email us for info!


Mancia examining a manuscript in a library in France.

Lauren Mancia graduated from Columbia College in 2005 (B.A. in English/Medieval Studies). When she was at Columbia, she spent a lot of time learning about different aspects of the Middle Ages; in addition to taking classes in English, Classics, Art History, History, Music, and Religion, she was a summer intern at The Cloisters Museum, and she worked as an assistant to Consuelo Dutschke, the curator of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts at Columbia’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library.  She then went on to get an M.A. in Medieval Studies at the Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of Toronto (2006), and to get a Ph.D in History at Yale University (2013). In between her M.A. and her Ph.D, she taught Art History and History at The Marymount School in Manhattan.

Mancia is currently Assistant Professor of History at Brooklyn College, City University of New York, and is also a lecturer at The Cloisters Museum.  She is a specialist in medieval monastic devotion, particular in the central Middle Ages. Her current book project, tentatively entitled Religious Reform as Emotional Reform at the Eleventh-Century Monastery of Fécamp, examines the spiritual writings of the Benedictine abbot John of Fécamp (ca. 990-1078 C.E.), who is responsible for the earliest known prayers to a suffering, crucified Christ. Drawing on the intellectual, visual, homiletic and liturgical culture of John’s Norman monastery, Mancia’s work sheds light on the emotional qualities of Benedictine monastic devotion and reform in the 11th century, and the high medieval monastic origins of later medieval affective piety.

Fecamp 2 Fecamp1

The church of Fécamp today (12th-15th century building)

Questions for Lauren Mancia? Contact her at laurenmancia AT brooklyn DOT cuny DOT edu

MA Program Fall Manuscript Workshop

The Med Ren MA program’s Fall Manuscript workshop, on Friday October 24, featured talks by Professor Robert Somerville and Professor Adam Kosto about Columbia’s Western MS 82 and 88, respectively.  Thanks to all who participated, and thanks to Professors Somerville and Kosto for a great event.  Extra special thanks as well to Consuelo Dutschke and the Rare Book and Manuscript Library for giving us the time and space to explore these interesting manuscripts!





You can learn more about these manuscripts on Digital Scriptorium — or by coming by the RBML!



Congratulations October Graduate!

Congratulations to MA student Jessica Shapiro-Weill who completed her thesis over the summer and had her degree officially conferred on October 15th.  Jessica is currently teaching at Riverdale Country School in the Bronx.  Best of luck in the future!

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

Congratulations graduates!

Congratulations to our three graduating students in the MA in Medieval and Renaissance Studies: Katy Byers, Lauren Naylor, and John Yost. Well done!

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.

Professor Emerita Caroline Bynum elected to Orden Pour le Mérite

Professor Caroline Bynum (Department of History, emerita) has been elected to the Orden Pour le Mérite. The Pour le Mérite, known informally as the Blue Max, was the Kingdom of Prussia’s highest military order for German soldiers from 1740 until the end of World War I in 1918. The award was a blue-enameled Maltese Cross with eagles between the arms based on the symbol of the Johanniter Order, the Prussian royal cypher, and the French legend Pour le Mérite (“for Merit”) arranged on the arms of the cross. A civilian version of the order for accomplishments in the arts and sciences, the Pour le mérite für Wissenschaften und Künste, was founded in 1842 and still exists in the Federal Republic of Germany today. Currently, the Order consists of 37 German and 36 foreign members.

Congratulations Graduates!

Congratulations to our graduates, Jeffery Berry and Charles Yost!

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