Classics, Princeton University
“Myth in the Landscape: Ancient Heroes and Hellenic Culture in Imperial Asia Minor”
This book uses notions of landscape as cultural process to examine the engagement of Imperial Greek literature with the material and visual worlds of Hellenism. Second Sophistic literature is famously classicizing and retrospective, but these writers also take a marked interest in how the Greek past emerges as a living presence in the physical landscape. In Asia Minor, the myths of the Trojan War especially offered more than just a vast archive of literary reference points. These stories – deeply resonant and endlessly flexible – were inscribed in the natural and monumental landscapes of the region. This project brings literary and visual evidence together to investigate the reanimation of heroic myth in Greek-speaking Asia Minor during the early centuries CE.
Janet Downie has been assistant professor of Classics at Princeton University since 2008. She received her PhD in Classics from the University of Chicago and her BA from the University of Victoria, Canada. Her research focuses on Greek literature of the Roman Imperial era and she is interested broadly in the history of rhetoric and oratory, authorship and issues of literary self-presentation, and ancient medical writers, including Galen. Her first book, At the Limits of Art: A Literary Study of Aelius Aristides’ Hieroi Logoi will be published by Oxford University Press.
Mary Agnes Edsall
"A Road of the Affections: Rhetoric, Catechesis, and the Cultivation of the Christian Self, A.D. 1-1150"
This book-length project rewrites a paradigm long central to the discipline of medieval history and the study of medieval devotional literature: affective piety. It demonstrates that the genealogy of affective piety goes back to the arts of disciplining the passions that originated in the philosophical schools of antiquity, for philosophers who taught disciplines of the soul were also rhetoricians who sought to move and persuade. Their methods were adapted by early Christian teachers and rhetorical appeals to the emotions became a basic preaching, literary, and prayer practice of the church. This project, therefore, recovers the history of how preaching, texts, and practices were used to shape the emotions and craft Christian selves at different times and places.
Mary Agnes Edsall, Solmsen Fellow, has recently held positions at University of Massachusetts Boston (visiting) and at Bowdoin College. Her interdisciplinary scholarship focuses on the literatures and practices of Christian catechesis and devotion of the European Middle Ages, with attention to memory (personal and cultural), mnemonics, rhetorical theory, and the role of images and the emotions. She has recently published on early copies of Anselm of Canterbury’s Prayers and Meditations as exemplars of practice that drew their power from the way that they reproduced the charismatic presence of their author. Forthcoming articles address the patristic prehistory of medieval Arma Christi imagery and the connections between monastic anthologies for novice formation and household devotional anthologies of late medieval England. Her research interests also include Hugh of Fouilloy, an under-studied writer whose works were widely read in his time (mid-twelfth century) and beyond.
History, Northern Illinois University
“An Invisible Class in a Silent Land. Aristocracies and Society in Late Antique Atlantic Iberia (ca. 300-600)”
This project investigates the transformations of aristocracies during Late Antiquity in an obscure corner of the Roman World: Atlantic Iberia. The project addresses the following question: a powerful and wealthy aristocracy dominated the Iberian Peninsula during the late Roman Empire; what happened to these aristocrats after Rome “fell”? The fate of Iberian aristocracies after the so-called fall of the Roman Empire lies at the center of the quest to understand the formation of Medieval Spain. By focusing on one area of the peninsula (Atlantic Iberia), Damián Fernández contends that a mosaic of local aristocracies with different economic and social strategies dominated local societies in the mid-sixth century, in contrast to the uniformity that had prevailed among the late-Roman elites in Iberia. Thus, the fate of the regional Roman aristocracy was not simply a “decline” or a “fall.” Nor does “continuity” provide a better paradigm. Rather, local aristocracies changed the basic meaning of what it meant to be an aristocrat, with responses varying from region to region.
Damián Fernández has been an assistant professor at Northern Illinois University’s History Department since 2010. Prior to that appointment, he was a visiting research scholar at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World (New York University). He received his PhD in History from Princeton University and his BA from the University of Buenos Aires. He is interested in the social and economic history of Late Antiquity and in comparative studies of state and society in pre-modern contexts. He has published in Antiquité Tardive and is currently working on his book manuscript and three other articles on late-antique Iberia.
Stacy S. Klein
English; Women's and Gender Studies, Rutgers University
"The Militancy of Gender and the Making of Sexual Difference in Anglo-Saxon Literature"
It is a long-standing truism that Old English literature rarely addresses sexual difference or erotic life, and is instead obsessed with chronicling blood feuds, heroic battle-quests, and inter-familial strife. Klein’s project examines the lexical and thematic intersections between warfare and sexual difference within literary, historical, and religious writings produced in England between approximately 700-1100 AD and provides a new conceptual framework for understanding long-occluded questions of gender and sexuality within Anglo-Saxon studies. By exploring a range of early medieval texts and traditions, from medical treatises, histories, and homilies, to heroic poems, riddles, and folk charms, The Militancy of Gender reveals the myriad forms of expression that affective relations and gender iterations may take, and contests the entrenched critical view that late medieval romance and courtly sexuality emerged as specific products of the twelfth-century literary renaissance. More broadly, the book offers a unique historical perspective on how cultural obsessions with warfare and vengeance-driven violence shape social understandings of difference.
Stacy S. Klein is an associate professor of English at Rutgers University, where she also serves as a member of the graduate faculty in the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies and a core faculty member in the Program of Medieval Studies. Her scholarly interests center on medieval literature and culture, with an emphasis on Old English language and literature, the history of gender and sexuality, feminist thought, comparative cultural studies, ideology, and aesthetics. Klein is the author of Ruling Women: Queenship and Gender in Anglo-Saxon Literature (University of Notre Dame Press, 2006), and has written numerous articles on Old English poetry, biblical translation, hagiography, and the natural world. She is also co-editor of two forthcoming interdisciplinary collections of essays: The Maritime World of the Anglo-Saxons, and The Anglo-Saxon Visual Imagination. Klein has been awarded fellowships from the ACLS, NEH, Radcliffe Institute, and AAUW, as well as a Burkhardt Fellowship for Recently Tenured Scholars. From 2007-2011, Klein served as Executive Director of the International Society of Anglo-Saxonists (ISAS), and she currently chairs the Modern Language Association’s Executive Division on Old English Language and Literature. In 2004, Klein joined forces with Anglo-Saxonist faculty at Columbia, NYU, and Princeton to found the Anglo-Saxon Studies Colloquium, an organization dedicated to advancing Anglo-Saxon Studies in and beyond the tri-state area. Klein holds a BA in English from Dartmouth College (1989), an MA in Critical Theory from the University of Sussex (1992), and a PhD in English from Ohio State University (1998). She has taught at Rutgers since 1998, and in 2011, served as Vice-Chair of the Department of English. In 2001, Klein was awarded the Sigma Phi Epsilon award for excellence in undergraduate teaching.
Todd W. Reeser
French and Women's Studies, University of Pittsburgh
“Setting Plato Straight: Translating Ancient Sexuality in the Renaissance”
A Solmsen Fellow for AY 2012-13 at the University of Wisconsin, Todd Reeser is Professor of French, with a secondary appointment in Women’s Studies, in the Department of French and Italian at the University of Pittsburgh. He just completed a year as acting director of the Humanities Center at the University of Pittsburgh. His research interests lie largely in the areas of gender and sexuality broadly conceived, especially in the early modern period. His first book Moderating Masculinity in Early Modern Culture (2006) studies ways in which masculinity often aligns itself with the virtue of moderation as it positions its various "others" (e.g. women, the sodomite, the Amerindian) as excess and lack. In 2010, Reeser published Masculinities in Theory, a monograph that provides a series of theoretical models to analyze masculinity from a literary/cultural perspective, especially as inflected by post-structuralist thought. He has also coedited Approaches to Teaching the Works of François Rabelais (2011) and “Entre hommes”: French and Francophone Masculinities in Theory and Culture (2008), and he is currently editing a collection of essays on the topic “Transgender France.”