NEWs in medieval and early modern studies
Workshop Presentations Available Online
Glaire D. Anderson (UNC-Chapel Hill) organized a two-day conference held at UNC’s Winston House in London with Corisande Fenwick (Leicester University) and Mariam Rosser-Owen (Victoria & Albert Museum). This conference was entitled “The Aghlabids & Their Neighbors: An Interdisciplinary Workshop on Art & Material Culture in Ninth-Century North Africa.” All presentation from the workshop are now available on the UNC Global Vimeo Channel. See our Digital Resources page for more information.
Senza Vestimenta: The Literary Tradition of Trecento Song
Lauren Jennings (Music) has published a new book with Ashgate Press. While scholars have traditionally identified a “divorce” between music and poetry as the defining feature of early Italian lyric, Jennings seeks to reintegrate the poetic and musical traditions through a fresh evaluation more than 50 literary sources transmitting Trecento song texts. She explores how scribes and readers interacted with song as a fundamentally interdisciplinary art form. Challenging the traditional narratives of Trecento song and literature, in which “musical” poetry and “non-musical” poetry are held firmly at arm’s length, this book brings to light new audiences and new modes of reception that ask us to reevaluate music’s role in the broader cultural world surrounding its composition, performance, and manuscript circulation.
Orpheus in the Marketplace: Jacopo Peri and the Economy of Late Renaissance Florence
Tim Carter (Music, UNC) has worked with Richard A. Goldthwaite (History Emeritus, Johns Hopkins) in a rare collaboration between a musicologist and economic historian. Their book, published by Harvard University Press (2013), investigates the wide-ranging investments and market activities of Florentine musician Jacopo Peri (1561-1633), known as the composer of the first operas. Carter and Goldthwaite used a large collection of recently discovered personal and family account books to conduct a greater exploration of Peri’s professional and personal life.
This collaboration opens a completely new perspective on one of Europe’s principal centers of capitalism. Peri’s economic circumstances reflect continuities and transformations in Florentine society, and the strategies for negotiating them, under the Medici grand dukes. At the same time this work allows a reevaluation of Peri the singer and composer that elucidates the cultural life of a major artistic center even in changing times, providing a quite different view of what it meant to be a musician in late Renaissance Italy.
Catholicism Today: An Introduction to the Contemporary Catholic Church
Professor Evyatar Marienberg (Religious Studies) has recently published a new book with Routledge (2014). Catholicism Today aims to familiarize its readers with contemporary Catholicism. The book is designed to address common misconceptions and frequently-asked questions regarding the Church, its teachings, and the lived experience of Catholics in modern societies worldwide. Opening with a concise historical overview of Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular, the text explores the core beliefs and rituals that define Catholicism in practice, the organization of the Church and the Catholic calendar, as well as the broad question of what it means to be Catholic in a variety of cultural contexts. The book ends with a discussion of the challenges facing the Church both now and in the coming decades. Marienberg has also created a complementary blog related to the book.
The Works of Lucy Hutchinson receives Honorable Mention from MLA
Professor Reid Barbour‘s (English and Comparative Literature) edition of The Works of Lucy Hutchinson: The Lucretius Translation, edited with David Norbrook, received honorable mention as best scholarly edition at last year’s MLA conference. The book was published by Oxford University Press (2011) and is the first volume in the four-volume edition of The Works of Lucy Hutchinson, the first-ever collected edition of the writings of the pioneering author and translator.
Sir Thomas Browne: A Life
Professor Reid Barbour (English and Comparative Literature) has recently published the first complete biography of the extraordinary prose artist, physician, and polymath. With the help of recent archival discoveries, the biography recasts each phase of Browne’s life (1605-82) and situates his incomparable writings within the diverse intellectual and social contexts in which he lived, including London, Winchester, Oxford, Montpellier, Padua, Leiden, Halifax, and Norwich. The book makes the case that, as his contemporaries fervently believed, Browne influenced the intellectual and religious direction of seventeenth-century England in singularly rich and dynamic ways. Sir Thomas Browne: A Life was published by Oxford University Press (2013).
Alan Nelson named Harold J. Glass USAF Distinguished Term Professor
Through the generosity of Dr. and Mrs. Harold E. Glass of Philadelphia, the Graduate School of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has established a three-year term professorship for a faculty member and a corresponding fellowship for the graduate student the professor selects to mentor. Alan Nelson (Philosophy) has been selected by the Graduate School as the inaugural Harold J. Glass USAF Faculty Mentor Distinguished Professor. This award is a tribute to his talent and success as a mentor to graduate students. Nelson is a past recipient of the Graduate School’s Faculty Award for Excellence in Doctoral Mentoring, among other University teaching awards.
Building a Sacred Mountain: The Buddhist Architecture of China’s Mount Wutai
Professor Wei-Cheng Lin (Art) has published a new book with the University of Washington Press (2014). Mount Wutai had, by the tenth century CE, become a major pilgrimage site within the emerging culture of a distinctively Chinese buddhism. The site in northeastern China was transformed from a wild area into an elaborate complex of Buddhist monasteries.
Lin traces the factors that produced this transformation and argues that monastic architecture, more than texts, icons, relics, or pilgrimages, was key to Mount Wutai’s emergence as a sacred site. Lin’s interdisciplinary approach goes beyond the analysis of forms and structures to show how built environments can work in tandem with practices and discourses to provide a space for encountering the divine.
Colonial Itineraries of Contemporary Mexico: Literary and Cultural Inquiries
Professor Oswaldo Estrada (Romance Languages), author of a monograph on Bernal Díaz del Castillo, an Early Modern Spanish chronicler (2009), has just published a new book with the University of Arizona Press (2014).
Colonial Itineraries analyzes ultra-contemporary writings – and rewritings – focused on the Mexican colonia to question a present reality of marginalities and inequality, of imposed political domination, and of hybrid subjectivities. This work opens broader conversations about Mexican coloniality as it continues well into the twenty-first century
The Well-Laden Ship by Egbert of Liège
Robert Babcock‘s translation of Egbert of Liège’s The Well-Laden Ship has been published by Harvard University Press. This work is an early eleventh-century Latin poem composed of ancient and medieval proverbs, fables, and folktales. It was originally written as a first reader for beginning students which makes it one of the few surviving works from the Middle Ages written explicitly for schoolroom use.
The Ocean of Life (Exhibit at the Smithsonian)
Carl Ernst translated from Persian a rare illustrated manual of Yoga postures from the seventeenth century, called the Ocean of Life, as part of an exhibit at the Smithsonian’s Freer Sackler Museums of Asian Art. The exhibit is entitled Yoga: The Art of Transformation and uses the largely untapped resource of visual culture to explore central aspects of yoga practice and its hidden histories.
Congratulations to Rose Aslan
Rose Aslan (PhD Religious Studies, UNC) is now an assistant professor of Religion at California Lutheran University in Southern California. Rose’s dissertation, “From Grave to Shrine: The Making of Sacred Place at the Tomb of Ali ibn Abi Talib in Najaf,” investigated contemporary debates around the sanctification of Ali ibn Abi Talib (d. 661) and the significance of pilgrimage rituals to explain how sectarian identity is strengthened through communal affiliation to – or rejection of – sacred space.
Rose was a recipient of a 2014 Mellon Dissertation Writing Fellowship. “I’m very grateful,” Rose explains, “for the immense support I’ve received from MEMS during my time at UNC, if it wasn’t for the Spring dissertation fellowship I know that I wouldn’t have been able to complete and defend my dissertation in time for my new job.”
MEMS Announces its 2014-15 Dorothy Ford Wiley Compact Seminar
In February 2015, MEMS will host its second annual Dorothy Ford Wiley Compact Seminar, Big Data for Intimate Spaces: An Interdisciplinary Seminar in Renaissance Studies & Digital Humanities, organized by Anne MacNeil (Music).
As Anne writes, “We talk a lot these days about magnitude: Big Data, crowd-sourcing, MOOCs, global access. And yet the humanities are concerned with human relationships, which often take place in intimate surroundings. During this four-day seminar, we will bridge the distance between the massive scale of the digital world and the privacy of home, between Renaissance Italy and 21st-century North Carolina. Our focus will be on intimate activities: music-making, letter-writing, quiet contemplation, and dining at the Mantuan court of Isabella d’Este (1474-1539), and the more modern habit of sitting at a personal computer for research and study.”
Marcus Bull Wins NHC Fellowship for 2014-15
Our congratulations to Marcus Bull, interim director of MEMS during the previous year, who will be spending this academic year at the National Humanities Center, working on his project Eyewitness and Narration: Texts of Conflict and Cultural Encounter between the Eleventh and Sixteenth Centuries.