Classics, events, Latin language and Literature, Medieval Studies, new york city, Workshops

Fordham’s First Latin Bootcamp: Fun for the Whole Community

On the evening of Friday November 13th, Fordham University kicked off its first annual Biduum Latinum Fordhamense, otherwise known as “Latin Bootcamp,” co-sponsored by the Classics department, the Center for Medieval Studies, GSAS Futures and the Fordham Graduate Students Association. Professor Matthew McGowan delivered the opening lecture, which emphasized how a knowledge of the Latin language provides special access to the nuances and layers of meaning in a range of texts from the classical, medieval, and renaissance eras.

The crowd didn’t seem to need much convincing on that account–the event drew a large, enthusiastic, and truly interdisciplinary audience. With students and faculty from the philosophy, history, theology, and classics departments, as well as the Center for Medieval Studies in attendance, the premiere of Fordham’s first Latin Bootcamp brought together members of the entire community, both within and outside of Fordham University. Several tri-state area secondary school teachers came for a lesson in pedagogy, as well as many instructors and alumni of the Paideia Institute. One area teacher even brought two of his own young students–his high school-aged children, who were accomplished in both Greek and Latin.

Philosophia et septem artes liberales as illustrated in the Hortus Deliciarum. This pictorial representation of the liberal arts served as springboard for our discussion of the relationship of the seven liberal arts to wisdom in the 12th century.

Philosophia et septem artes liberales as illustrated in the Hortus Deliciarum. This pictorial representation of the personified liberal arts served as springboard for our discussion of their relationship to wisdom in the 12th century. A font with seven streams flows out of Philsophia, which correspond to the trivium and the quadrivium encircling her. Below are four poets, reminiscent of the four evangelists. The composition as a whole recalls the form of a stained glass rose window composed of concentric roundels over four lancets.

The following Saturday participants translated selections from Seneca, Hugh of St. Victor, and Petrus Paulus Vergerius, giving special attention to each author’s treatment of the Liberal Arts and use of the Latin language to describe the nature of their role in personal edification. The teachers–including Professor McGowen, Charley McNamara (a PhD candidate at Columbia University), and Jim Hunt (PhD Classics, Fordham ’10)–made sure every single student got the chance to sight read a bit of Latin, and all emerged from the translation sessions surprised by their collective ability to master Latin literature of three distinct cultural periods.

Professor McGowan gave an impromptu tour of the Fordham Museum of Greek, Etruscan, and Roman art at Walsh library before our group headed to Spellman Hall for Latin Mass lead by Father Christopher M. Cullen, one of the Jesuit priests residing in Fordham’s Jesuit community. After a beautiful service featuring readings from several of our participants, the group finished the day with a medieval banquet, complete with a few merry rounds of “Gaudeamus Igitur.”

The convivial atmosphere and collaboration between Fordham students, faculty, and guests was inspiring and fostered a productive scholarly discussion about Latin and the Liberal Arts through time and across disciplines.

By Alexa Amore


English Department, faculty news, manuscript studies, Medieval Studies, Vernacular Languages

Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Andrew Albin

Professor of English Andrew Albin has been awarded a dual appointment in English and Medieval Studies. This distinction recognizes Professor Albin’s scholarship in medieval aurality and literature and honors his contributions to Fordham’s Center for Medieval Studies as an instructor since 2012. He has published on Chaucer’s Prioress’s Tale, the Chester shepherd’s play, and the medieval mystic Richard Rolle. While at Fordham, he has taught courses on subjects and authors such as early English drama, medieval embodiment, Chaucer, the Pearl poet, and spiritual sensory experience.

Professor Albin is on leave for the 2015­-2016 academic year to complete a senior fellowship at Yale University’s Institute for Sacred Music, an interdisciplinary center for music history, musicology, theology, music performance, and ministry. During his fellowship, he is translating Richard Rolle’s Melos Amoris, preserving the alliterative patterns and musical prosody of the original text. Not only will this be the first English translation of the Melos Amoris, but Professor Albin plans to supplement it with groundbreaking research on the marginalia and manuscript context of Rolle’s work to shed light on its reception history. Professor Albin has noted that one of the ten manuscript witnesses of the Melos Amoris was bound with a gathering of mid-­15th century sacred polyphonic music by three English composers. Professor Albin will include a recording, diplomatic edition, and analysis of this music in his forthcoming book and will examine the ways in which the link between medieval mysticism and music was perceived by 15th-­ and 16th-­century readers. His multimedia and intertextual presentation of the Melos Amoris will allow modern readers to get a sense of how Rolle’s text was experienced aurally and conversant with musical practice of the period.


By Katherine Briant

Crusading Studies, Digital Humanities, history department, Medieval Studies

Talking Through the Issues: A Podcast Series on the Crusader States

This post is cross-blogged from History at Fordham University

crusaderstA new conversation has started within the History Department at Fordham. Under the direction of Dr. Nicholas Paul, graduate students in his Crusader States class are developing podcasts as a means to initiate discussion. The course, “charts the social, political, and cultural history of the feudal principalities (sometimes called “Crusader States” “the Latin East” or the ‘Frankish Levant”) that were established by Latin Christians in the Eastern Mediterranean in the wake of the First Crusade.” The podcasts, in turn, each focus on a specific theme within the current scholarship, from the background to the First Crusade in the Eastern Mediterranean, to the relationships between Latin Europeans and eastern Christians and Muslims, through the cultural, social, and political development of the Crusader States themselves

What are the advantages of the podcast format? Tom Schellhammer, a student in the course, commented that, “Historical scholarship must also embrace the current trend towards technological interaction,” as “Technology allows us to reach a wide audience, and this idea is a fantastic intro to anyone interested in learning more about the Crusader States. A podcast can build interest by succinctly covering the important discussion points on any one topic, and highlighting the importance of the topic and asking intriguing questions that spark even more debate and scholarship.”

For Tom, and all of the students in The Crusader States, further and broader discussion about the aftermath of the First Crusade is the ultimate goal, and they believe that using podcasts promotes that within and beyond their seminar. Tom says, “I think that as a class we have come up with some thought provoking questions which might benefit a larger community studying the Crusader States.   I find the material challenging and want to hear outside comments upon the work that we are doing, so I appreciate the opportunity to be heard and receive feedback on our discussions. On a topic that has interest in such widespread and diverse communities,  the podcasts truly help reach outside thoughts and opinions and ignite those same thoughts to be shared here at Fordham.”

Check out all the podcasts and listen to Tom address issues faced by the Crusader military and debate whether the creation of new states was inevitable in the aftermath of the First Crusade. History is about so much more than the sources analyzed and papers written– it is about sharing what we learn with others in hopes of creating an atmosphere of inquiry, debate, and ultimately, understanding.


Historians Recognized at Graduate School Awards Ceremony

This post is cross-blogged from History at Fordham University

Graduate students in the History Department (including several Medievalists and Alumni of the Center for Medieval Studies) collected over a dozen awards at this year’s Graduate School of Arts & Sciences Awards Ceremony. There was a great turnout as historians came to be recognized and to join in the well-earned celebration.


(l-r) Salvatore Cipriano, Jr., Stephen Leccese, Brandon Gauthier, Louisa Foroughi, Jeffrey Doolittle, Christine Kelly, Alisa Beer, Louie Valencia-Garcia, Tobias Hrynick.

The full list of students receiving awards in 2015

Melissa Arredia, Senior Teaching Fellowship

Edoardo Marcello Barsotti, GSAS Summer Fellowship

Alisa Beer, Senior Teaching Fellowship (MVST ’13)

Salvatore Cipriano, Jr., Archival Research Assistantship, Research Support Grant, Professional Development Grant

Stephanie DePaola, Research Fellowship

Jeffrey Doolittle, Senior Teaching Fellowship

Louisa Foroughi, GSAS Summer Fellowship (MVST ’13)

Brandon Gauthier, Alumni Dissertation Fellowship

Tobias Hrynick, HASTAC Fellowship, Loomie Prize (MVST ’15)

Christine Kelly, American Studies Summer Institute Fellowship

Stephen Leccese, American Studies Summer Institute Fellowship

Christopher Rose, Paul A. Levack Award (MVST ’12)

Louie Valencia, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Pre-Doctoral Fellow

Pedro Cameselle, Research Support Grant

Laurence Jurdem, Research Support Grant

Joseph Passaro, Research Support Grant

Alessandro Saluppo, Professional Development Grant

Alumni, faculty news, manuscript studies, Medieval Studies

Associate Director, Dr. Laura Morreale, Participates in Manuscript Studies Conference at Saint Louis University

On October 16 and 17,  Associate Director Laura Morreale participated in the 42nd Saint Louis Conference on Manuscript Studies, held at Saint Louis University, and hosted by the Special Collections of the Pius XII Memorial Library and the Knights of Columbus Vatican Film Library.  Dr. Morreale organized a panel entitled “A Good Read: The Production of Vernacular Texts in Thirteenth- and Fourteenth-Century Italy and their Public,” which featured four scholars whose work touches on French-language writing in Italy during this period.

WEstern 24

Folio of Western 24, Courtesy of Columbia University’s Rare Books and Manuscripts Library

Dr. Morreale’s paper “A Common ‘Artu’, examined the non-élite status of one French-language manuscript created in fourteenth- century Italy, now catalogued as Western 24 of Columbia University’s Rare Books and Manuscripts Library. This little-studied manuscript offers an example of the varying quality of French-language manuscript production and consumption in Italy, even for texts normally viewed as coming from a courtly context.

One of the highlights of the conference was the plenary lecture by Stella Panayotova, Curator of the Fitzwilliam Collection (Cambridge). The talk, entitled “Manuscript Illumination: Art and Science,” outlined procedures and early results of the Miniare project, which employs non-invasive techniques to uncover methods and materials used by craftsmen, artists, and scribes to create medieval manuscript images and text. Of particular interest to all of those on the French of Italy panel was the assertion that a select number of images from Venetian manuscripts, when analyzed, contained smalt, a type of ground glass. Since the area of Venice, and Murano especially, is known for its glass industry, the linking of the glass industry with manuscript production encouraged a new set of ideas about who might have participated in the creation and circulation of these texts.

Also of interest were two panels that examined current digital initiatives to improve scholarly access to manuscript holdings and information. A team from University of Pennsylvania’s Schoenberg Institute of Manuscript Studies outlined several new projects, including OPenn, which provides high-resolution images of manuscripts from the University of Pennsylvania and affiliated institutions; Collation, a project that both deconstructs and reconstructs manuscripts, offering scholars a new way to analyze the production process; and a new version of the Schoenberg Database of Manuscripts, just recently updated by the library. Representatives from Saint Louis University also offered an update on METAscripta, a major initiative to digitize and make openly accessible the over 10,000 microfilms of manuscripts from the Vatican Library now held at the Knights of Columbus Vatican Film Library.

The conference was a big success and the conference organizers are already preparing for next year. The Call for Papers for the 43rd Saint Louis Conference on Manuscript Studies has already been issued, with abstracts due on March 15, 2016.



art history, Medieval Studies, new york city, summer internships, undergraduate news

Peter A. Vergara (FCRH ’18) Shares his Experiences as an Intern at the Cloisters


“In mid March 2015 – toward the end of New York’s perpetual winter – I took the subway up to Dykman Street and trekked up the snowy hills of Fort Tyron Park to reach The Cloisters Museum and interview for their summer internship program. To my amazement, I did receive the offer to become one of eight summer interns working for the Education Department at The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Cloisters Museum and Gardens. June 1st was the beginning of the most fascinating, exhausting, and rewarding summer I have had so far. The internship at The Cloisters was two-fold: Day-Camp tours and a Gallery Talk.


For the day-camp tours, we, the interns, had two lists of twelve works of art. One was titled People in the Middle Ages and the other Medieval Treasure Hunt. We spent time researching and learning about these twenty-four works of art and how they fit Vergara during Gallery Talkinto their theme. Our research prepared us to be tour-guides in preparation for groups of summer camps and schools – the average group was twenty-something kids, of any age between four and twelve. Our job was to take the facts and history of Medieval Art and bring to life the Middle Ages for these kids. Of course, we would avoid the gruesome stories of plague and torture; however, we highlighted the level or skill and patience that went into creating tapestries and stained glass without modern tools. The children loved identifying the figures of the king’s court in the Nine Heroes Tapestries and exploring the shining works of gold, ivory, or rock crystal. At the end of each tour, we spent 10-15 minutes with a craft project that related to the theme of the tour.


The second part of the internship was the Gallery Talk. Over the course of the nine-week program, each intern came up with a theme of their choice and developed a one-hour lecture around 6-8 works of art that related to the topic. We had access to the Met’s extensive library and were expected to research our objects in great detail. The topic I chose was Art Across Medieval Spain. Growing up in Madrid and being exposed to medieval ruins at a young age, I was eager to explore the history behind the art of medieval Iberia. I specifically focused on the religious conflicts between Christians and Muslims, and on the pilgrimage culture of traveling to and from Santiago de Compostela. The most fascinating information I came across in my extensive research was that these two themes are intrinsically related; each of the seven works of art I included in my lecture directly related to both the Christian Reconquista and the pilgrimage to Santiago. The work I had the most fun studying and presenting was an alabaster statue of Saint James the Greater – on this stop of my Gallery Talk I touched on the historical enigma behind this disciple of Jesus, his significance to Spanish culture during the Middle Ages and the transformation of his meaning today as pilgrims flock to his remains from all over the world for religious and secular reasons.


As you might know from visiting the museum yourselves, The Cloisters provide a sliver of medieval Europe on the northernmost tip of hectic Manhattan; not only is this a space for academia and truism, but also a refuge from the speeding yellow cabs and loud street vendors downtown. I was honored and privileged to help this unique museum over the summer – plus, I learnt a great deal about Medieval Art in the process.”


Peter Vergara is a freshman at Fordham College Rose Hill. He is double majoring in Political Science and Art History, with a minor in Philosophy.



events, Medieval Studies, Vernacular Languages

Fall Symposium on “Faith and Knowledge in Late Medieval Scandinavia” a Success

In the midst of the excitement and commotion of Pope Francis’s Manhattan visit on Friday, September 25, an intimate group of scholars from the United States and Norway convened at Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus for a conference on Faith & Knowledge in Late Medieval Scandinavia, organized by Drs. Mikael Males and Karoline Kjesrud, both postdoctoral fellows at the University of Oslo.

The conference is the latest in a series of recent events at Fordham concerning the literature and culture of medieval Scandinavia. In 2012, Fordham hosted a symposium titled “Textual Interpretation in Medieval Vernaculars,” as well as an earlier conference in 2010, “New Directions in Medieval Scandinavian Studies,” which developed into a book, Eddic, Skaldic, and Beyond: Poetic Variety in Medieval Iceland and Norway, edited by Fordham’s Dr. Martin Chase, S.J., and released by Fordham University Press this past spring 2015. The theme of this latest conference grew out of conversations that took place between the two organizers regarding their respective interests. While Dr. Males studies the poetics of Old Norseskaldic verse and Dr. Kjesrud studies the reflection of power relations between social classes in literary genres, both often found themselves wondering how ideas about the divine were made manifest to subjects in medieval Scandinavian society. How did people acquire the tenants of their religious beliefs? In what terms and forms did they express them?

With such fundamental questions as these forming the conference’s unifying thread, the
N 347day’s talks ranged over a wide field of topics. Among the presenters, Elise Kleivane (University of Oslo) discussed the availability of scriptural texts in Scandinavian vernacular languages – a talk which included the fascinating example of a church door ring bearing a runic inscription of the Ave Maria; Margaret Cormack (College of Charleston) reported on the progress of a project that aims to map statue purchases in order to document the spread of saints’ cults throughout Iceland; and Stephen Mitchell (Harvard University) surveyed the charms and spells of the late medieval and early modern periods that invoked pagan gods for the attainment of such ends as wealth and treasure or protection against rats. Taken together, these talks and others presented a revealing overview of the age’s social and intellectual landscape.

The day demonstrated the potential for a focused conference to illuminate a broad question using insights from a variety of disciplines. The attendees agreed that with further refinement and consolidation, the day’s material will make for a unique book project, and all expressed interest in a follow-up conference at which the contributors might present their progress.


By Andrew O’Sullivan

Drawing by Wilhelm F.K. Christie (image courtesy of Elise Kleivane: “the ring’s catalogue number is N 347 and it is from Tønjum church, a stave church that was destroyed in a storm in 1824. The dating of the ring and its inscription is uncertain, but ca. 1200 is not impossible.”)

faculty news, history department, Medieval Studies

Maryanne Kowaleski Begins Prestigious Radcliffe Fellowship at Harvard University

This story is cross-blogged from History at Fordham University.


Last Spring, Maryanne Kowaleski, Joseph Fitzpatrick S.J. Distinguished Professor of History and Medieval Studies was selected to hold a prestigious residential fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute for Advances Studies at Harvard University to pursue her project entitled Living by the Sea: An Ethnography of Maritime Communities in Medieval England. The Radcliffe Institute fellowship competition  is international in scope, and fellowships are awarded to only 3% of applicants. As Professor Kowaleski begins her fellowship year, let’s find out more about her project and the Radcliffe Institute where she will be based. 

According to the fellowship announcement, entitled “Big Thinkers, Big Projects”. The Institute is

dedicated to creating and sharing transformative ideas across the arts, humanities, sciences, and social sciences. The Fellowship Program annually supports the work of 50 leading artists and scholars. Academic Ventures fosters collaborative research projects and sponsors lectures and conferences that engage scholars with the public. The Schlesinger Library documents the lives of American women of the past and present for the future, furthering the Institute’s commitment to women, gender, and society.

Radcliffe Institute Dean Lizabeth Cohen said of the 2015 fellows that

“It is an honor to provide these innovative thinkers with time, space, and intellectual stimulation to do their best work in ways that often defy expectations and disciplinary boundaries,” said Radcliffe Institute Dean Lizabeth Cohen RI ’02. “As Radcliffe fellows, they are sure to develop unusual collaborations, take unexpected risks, and generate new ideas.”

Professor Kowaleski’s project is entitled Living by the Sea: An Ethnography of Maritime Communities in Medieval England. What follows is from the abstract for her project.

Past human interaction with the sea has become an important issue for many disciplines, spurred on by debates on our responsibility for rising sea levels, the depletion of fish stocks, and global warming. The historical perspective’s contributions to these and other issues, such as rights of access to marine resources, are valued, but rarely focus on the period before the seventeenth century. The emphasis has also been more on people as ecological actors and less on the interaction between humans and marine environments.  My project contributes to these current debates by analyzing the impact of marine environments on the types of work, economic strategies, language, value systems, and family structures of those residing near the sea in medieval England. The study attributes a powerful role to marine ecosystems in promoting a distinctive sub-culture among the inhabitants of coastal villages and small port towns, as well as quayside neighborhoods in larger seaports.

Congratulations to Professor Kowaleski on this major award, and enjoy your year at Harvard!

Alumni, art history, Medieval Studies

Scott Miller (MA ’12) Leads Exhibition Tour of ‘Treasures and Talismans’ at the Cloisters

Within the canons of art history, rings are often relegated to second-class status. Nineteenth-century art historians, for example, were more likely to regard pieces of jewelry as consumer objects than as products of imaginative artistry on par with sculptures or oil paintings. But since May, the Cloisters have sought to redress this imbalance by highlighting the role rings have played as signifiers of social identity from antiquity to the Renaissance in their exhibit entitled “Treasures and Talismans: Rings from the Griffin Collection.” Last Friday, Fordham Medieval Studies alumnus Scott Miller, who1880_cropped co-authored the exhibition’s catalog, Take This Ring: Medieval and Renaissance Rings from the Griffin Collection, led visitors from Fordham on a tour to explain how rings acquired meaning and worked to construct their bearers’ identities.

The late Byzantine and early medieval rings featured in the exhibit afforded Miller the opportunity to explore how anthropological studies throw light on the work of art history. Historians have searched for explanations, for example, for the transition from the smoothness and relative simplicity that characterized antique rings to the almost “neurotic” quality produced by the geometric and architectural designs from late antiquity. Miller described how British anthropologist Alfred Gell’s ideas concerning magic as a “technology of enchantment” have helped historians to theorize what factors might have been at work in this particular shift. Miller placed the collection’s elaborate late antique rings in the context of the Byzantine court of the tenth century as described by Liutprand of Cremona, who, durin1923_croppedg his audience with the emperor, observed mechanical singing birds, stomping lions, and levitating thrones. The highly wrought rings of late antique nobles may have been worn with the intent to dazzle and bewilder delegates like Liutprand.

Another group of rings, the diamond giardinetti, demonstrate the importance of provenance in understanding the social roles that rings played. Miller noted that without knowledge of the rings’ background and only their design and materials, a historian would likely judge these fashionable rings to have belonged to courtiers or aristocrats. But the rings’ provenance identifies them as having been donated to a Spanish convent as “dowries” by novic1878_croppedes’ families at the time of their entry into the convent. Historians, suggests Miller, have to be wary of ascribing social significance to an artifact based on its design alone. New practices and individual innovations can twist existing conventions to bestow meaning in new and unexpected ways.

To further illustrate his point, Miller turned to Fordham’s own Nina Rowe to ask about her wedding band. While the ring had been invested with great meaning by its bearer, Professor Rowe showed visitors that the band was in fact an inexpensive mood ring, one which had to be replaced so often that she orders them in bulk. “There’s a place in Alaska that sells them for cheap,” she said.


By Andew O’Sullivan

Digital Humanities, Medieval Studies

Student Spotlight: CMS Summer Intern Rachel Zeltzer (Bennington College)

Hi, my name is Rachael Zeltzer! I am a senior at Bennington College focusing on Christianity in the early Middle Ages. This summer, I interned for the Center for Medieval Studies with the Digital Humanities (D.H.) team. Before this experience, I honestly did not know very much about Digital Humanities; however, I quickly realized just how much D.H. could transform and alter data, sources, and even just words. When I arrived at Fordham, the D.H. team was in the middle of two major mapping projects, and I was lucky enough to be a contributor to both of these! rachelz

One of the projects (Forthcoming: Exploring Place in the French of Italy) involved taking a corpus of French texts written in Italy during the 12th, 13th, and 14th centuries, scanning them into the computer, using programs to strip the text, searching for certain geographical places and how many times they occurred, compiling this data into spread sheets, and then mapping the toponyms onto different maps. Though I was specifically working with the data sheets, this project allowed me, as well as the rest of the team, to think about these texts in entirely new ways. Because it was digitalized, we were also able to manipulate the data differently.

Even though mapping is not necessarily part of my studies, I was so excited to be working with such a driven, intelligent team. This project not only taught me more about the French of Italy and its geographical context/importance, but also about how to, refreshingly, think about the humanities and the Middle Ages. Digital Humanities is something I now want to try to bring to Bennington!

I want to thank Dr. Hafner, Dr. Morreale, and the rest of the team for being a part of such a fruitful, interesting, and rewarding experience!