NEWs in medieval and early modern studies
Islamophobia in America (Palgrave Macmillian, 2013)
“Carl W. Ernst, Kenan Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies here at UNC-Chapel Hill, edited this collection of five essays by six specialists which provides important insights into virulent anti-Muslim prejudice, relating it to a conflict over American identity during a time of crisis.”
-Carolina Arts & Sciences, Fall 2013
Occult Knowledge, Science, and Gender on the Shakespearean Stage (Cambridge University Press, 2013)
In this ground-breaking study, Mary Floyd-Wilson argues that the early modern English believed their affections and behavior were influenced by hidden sympathies and antipathies that coursed through the natural world. These forces not only produced emotional relationships but they were also levers by which ordinary people supposed they could manipulate nature and produce new knowledge.
Ruth von Bernuth Tapped to Head Jewish Studies Center
Ruth von Bernuth (Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures, early modern) replaces founding director Jonathan Hess, who has completed his third term as director for the Center and he is on research sabbatical this academic year. Read the full story here
She received her PhD in medieval and early modern German literature at the Humboldt University, and joined the Carolina faculty in 2008. Her current project focuses on the relationship between texts in Old Yiddish and the German literature of the early modern period, and explores representative works of the major genres of writing in Old Yiddish— biblical texts, heroic epics, early novels and songs. The objective of her research is to uncover the dynamic cultural process that forms Old Yiddish literature and its German parallels.
The Islamic Villa in Early Medieval Iberia: Architecture and Court Culture in Umayyad Córdoba (Ashgate, August 2013)
In her most recent book, Glaire Anderson (Art History, medieval) focuses closely on the Córdoban case study, synthesizing the archaeological evidence for the villas that has been unearthed from the 1980s up to 2009, with extant works of Andalusi art and architecture, as well as evidence from the Arabic texts. While the author brings her expertise on medieval Islamic architecture, art, and urbanism to the topic, the book contributes to wider art historical discourse as well: it is also a synthetic project that incorporates material and insights from experts in other fields (agricultural, economic, and social and political history). In this way, it offers a fuller picture of the topic and its relevance to Andalusi architecture and art, and to broader issues of architecture and social history in the caliphal lands and the Mediterranean.
Marcus Bull to Lead MEMS in 2013–2014
Marcus Bull (History, medieval) has generously agreed to act as interim director while I am on research and study leave next year. Professor Bull came to UNC from the University of Bristol in 2010. In addition to being a leading scholar of medieval aristocratic culture, the crusades, historiography and narratology, he has the energy, commitment, and administrative savvy to shepherd MEMS through its next successful year in 2013–2014. Please join me in welcoming Marcus as the interim director!
Jes Boon (Religious Studies, medieval and early modern) to Teach MEMS Seminar on “Spanish Religions: Medieval Convivencia and Colonial Encounter”
This interdisciplinary course, created with a MEMS Seminar Development Grant, will explore the three monotheisms in medieval Spain, and how the Spanish understanding of religion based on the historical intersection of three religions affected the colonizing endeavor in Mexico, Peru, and the Philippines. Postcolonial theory, critical race theory, and gender theories will be central to the course. It features guest seminar leaders from the disciplines of art history (Cornell), historical anthropology (Duke), history (UNC), as well as Religious Studies (UNC).
The Historia Iherosolimitana of Robert the Monk (Boydell & Brewer, 2013)
Marcus Bull (History, medieval) and Damien Kempf (University of Liverpool) have co-edited a critical edition of this near-contemporary history of the First Crusade (1095–1099). Written near Reims in northeastern France in about 1100, more copies of Robert the Monk’s manuscript have survived than of any other such account. The text was thus in the nature of a medieval “best-seller” that came to dominate how educated Europeans learned about the First Crusade as it faded from memory. This publication represents one of the principal products of a major project in the historiography of the First Crusade, funded by the UK’s Arts and Humanities Research Council with Bull as the principal investigator.
An Interdisciplinary Studies Major in MEMS
by Kelsey King
I first learned about the Program in Medieval and Early Modern Studies as a freshman at UNC in the medieval history survey course taught by Dr. Brett Whalen. I had always enjoyed the blending of academic interests—seeing how one subject could influence and help make sense of another—but had assumed that no such course of study existed in the university system. I was partly right, and happened to enter at a time of great change for interdisciplinary studies and the fledgling UNC MEMS program.
The MEMS minor had been established, and already completed by a handful of students. Naturally, I signed up, but found myself wanting more than just the required five courses. I was already taking MEMS courses anyway: from classes on fifteenth-century Italian painting to Shakespeare to the First Crusade; I thought I might as well try and make a major of it. Fortunately for me, the MEMS program was only too willing to help me design an Interdisciplinary Studies Major with a focus on MEMS, using guidelines prepared for the planned MEMS major. I owe particular thanks to Dr. Brett Whalen, Dr. Darryl Gless, and Dr. Marcus Bull for helping me plan and execute the major.
To me, MEMS is a selection of only the most fascinating bits of academia, with each department’s perspective accenting the others. MEMS allows me well-rounded views of any course of study, whether it be literature or history or religious studies. Each provides me with tools with which I might more fully investigate and consider questions at hand. My senior honors thesis, focusing on how rhetoric transforms memory into narrative in the case of the eleventh-century Norman Italian histories, is the culmination of such interdisciplinary work. Not only has the UNC MEMS program provided me with the academic interest and rigor I sought when coming to UNC, but it has also encouraged my enthusiasm and natural curiosity for all things medieval
[For more information about the Interdisciplinary Studies Major, please visit http://www.unc.edu/ugradbulletin/depts/interdisciplinary.html]