Triangle Medieval Studies Seminar (TMSS)

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A collaborative effort between Duke, North Carolina State, and UNC-Chapel Hill, the Triangle Medieval Studies Seminar (TMSS) offers a humanities-based, interdisciplinary forum for the study of history, art history, religious studies, literature, music, women’s studies and more. TMSS scholars focus on the period ca. 500 – 1500 in Europe, Byzantium, and the Islamic world along with other regions. The seminar invites local and visiting scholars to present their written work as the basis for a rigorous discussion of current trends, topics, and problems in the field of medieval studies.

The TMSS would like to thank the UNC Carolina Seminars program, the Duke Council for European Studies, the Duke History Department, the Duke Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, the NC State CHASS Research Office, and the UNC MEMS Program for their past and present support.

Interested in joining the TMSS Listserv and receiving updates about events? Please email Brett Whalen ( or Daniel Morgan (

Upcoming Events:

Spring 2017

The Spring Triangle Medieval Studies Seminar will be held on Saturday, April 8, 9:00 am to 1:30 pm, at the National Humanities Center.

The first paper will be presented by Rodrigo Adem (UNC Chapel Hill), whose paper is on the formation of Muslim scholarly lineages centered in Nishapur, Iran and Baghdad, Iraq, considered paradigmatic for the historical development of Sunnism and Shīʿism respectively. Members of these networks participated in the dismantling and reconstitution of earlier theological practices in accordance with a rising trend of anti-traditionalism  and emphasis on conformity with philosophical proof of religion – a phenomenon which has yet to be acknowledged within the historiography of Islam. Next, Elizabeth Hasseler (UNC Chapel Hill) will present a paper on representations of just kingship in twelfth-century Norwegian and Hungarian chronicles, sagas, and saints’ lives. As writers of history on the expanding northern and eastern edges of Latin Christendom looked back on the historical processes that had fundamentally reshaped their peoples’ religious and political communities, they drew on the memories of their holy kings in order to describe the ordering of their new kingdoms. And finally, Taylor Cowdery (UNC Chapel Hill) will present a paper on three historical poems by the medieval poet, courtier, and Benedictine monk John Lydgate (c. 1370-c.1451): the Siege of Thebes, Troy Book, and Fall of Princes.  In all three poems, Lydgate uses a strikingly simple type of poetic form—the so-called casus form—to recount historical narratives in a way that, contrary to past critical opinion, eschews representation. Ultimately, Lydgate’s unique use of the casus form offers scholars new ways of conceptualizing medieval notions of both form and history.

The seminar schedule is as follows:

9:15 – 9:30 AM     Coffee and Bagels

9:30 – 10:30     Rodrigo Adem, Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Religious Studies, UNC-CH, “A Changing of the Guard: The Great Epistemic Shift in 11th-Century Nishapur.”

10:30 – 10:45     Break

10:45- 11:45     Elizabeth Hasseler, PhD Candidate, History, UNC-CH, “The Crown of Righteousness: The Royal Saint as Rex Iustus in Norwegian and Hungarian Historical Writing.”

11:45 – 12:15     Lunch Buffet (vegetarian options available)

12:15 – 1:15     Taylor Cowdery, Professor of English, UNC-CH, “Lydgate and the Surplus of History.”

Please RSVP to Daniel Morgan ( by 5 pm Friday, March 31.

The pre-circulated papers will be made available on the TMSS Sakai website, however you may also contact Daniel Morgan directly for copies.


Directions to the National Humanities Center:

 The National Humanities Center is located at 7 T.W. Alexander Drive, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709-2256.

Parking is available on location.

Directions from Chapel Hill:

Take Interstate 40 going East. Take exit 279B for NC-147 N/Durham Freeway. Merge onto NC-147 N. Take the Cornwallis Road exit toward Research Triangle Park. Turn right onto E Cornwallis Road, and then turn right onto TW Alexander Drive.

Directions from Durham:

Follow NC-147 S to TW Alexander Drive in Triangle. Take exit 7 from NC-147 South. Turn right onto TW Alexander Drive and then make a u-turn. Follow signs for the National Humanities Center.

Please RSVP to Daniel Morgan ( by 5 pm Friday, October 28.

The pre-circulated papers will be made available on the TMSS Sakai website, however you may also contact Daniel Morgan directly for copies.


Previous Seminar Programs:

Fall 2016

Michael Cornett, Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Duke University, “Medieval British Manuscripts on Microfilm: A Location Guide”

Jessica Hines, PhD Candidate, English, Duke University, “The Politics of Compassion in Nicholas Love and Margery Kempe”

Jessica Boon, Associate Professor, Religion, UNC-CH, “Jesus’ Hyperbody: Materiality and Physiology in Castilian Passion Texts and Altarpieces, 1480-1540”

Spring 2016

Clare Woods, Associate Professor of Latin, Duke University, “Explicating the Epistles in Carolingian Francia”

Kristen Neuschel, Associate Professor of History, Duke University, “Swords in the Crowd”

Alexandra Locking, PhD Candidate, History, UNC-Chapel Hill, “Manly Virtue and Womanly Compassion: Gendering Authority During the Eleventh-Century Ecclesiastical Reform”

Fall 2015

Neslihan Senocak, Associate Professor of History, Columbia University (NHC fellow), “Twelfth-century Italian Confraternities as Institutions of Pastoral Care”

Matthew Hotham, PhD candidate, Religious Studies. UNC-Chapel Hill, “Wholly Bodies: The Conjunction of Asceticism & Corporeal Ascension in the Makhzan al-Asrar of Nizami Ganjavi (d. 1209)”

Brett Whalen, Associate Professor of History, UNC-Chapel Hill, “The Cross and the Keys: Gregory IX, Frederick II, and the Public Realm ca 1227-1230″

Spring 2015

Shannon Gayk (English, University of Indiana-Bloomington/NHC), “Wearing the Armor of Christ”

Joshua Hevert (History, UNC-Chapel Hill), “A Latin Light in West Asia: The Foundation of the Archdiocese of Sultanieh, Persia”

Christopher Melchert (Oriental Studies, Oxford/NHC), “Origins and Early Sufism”

Fall 2014:

Glaire Anderson (Art History, UNC-Chapel Hill), “Reframing the Arts of Cordoba”

Derek Kreuger (Religious Studies, UNC-Greensboro), “Beyond Eden: Placing Adam, Eve, and Humanity in Byzantine Hymns”

J. Christian Straubhaar (German Studies, Duke), “Negative Images: Henry Suso’s ‘glichnús’ between Neoplatonic Theology and Visual Theory”

Spring 2014:

Stephen D. White (Emory University, Emeritus) “Was Revenge in Medieval European Societies an Urge? An Impulse? An Emotion?”

Mona Hassan (Duke University) “Conceptualizing the Medieval Islamic Caliphate”

Carol Symes (Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) “Everyman His Own Historian: The First Crusade and the Media Revolution of Medieval Europe”

Fall 2013:

James Knowles (NC State University) “Ghastly Vignettes: Pierce the Ploughman’s Crede, the Ghost of Shakespeare’s Blackfriars, and the Future of the Digital Past”

Jehangir Yezdi Malegam (Duke University) “Learning from Leviathan: Community and Emotions in the High Middle Ages”

Lee Manion (University of Missouri) “‘When our kingdom had no head’: Scottish Narratives of Political Power in the Later Middle Ages”


TMSS Conveners:

Brett Whalen (UNC–Chapel Hill), Jessica Boon (UNC–Chapel Hill), Mona Hassan (Duke), Clare Woods (Duke), Jim Knowles (NC State), and Timothy Stinson (NC State)