Solmsen Fellows

Gregory Aldrete

Solmsen Fellow (2010-2011)

History and Humanistic Studies, UW-Green Bay

Riots in Ancient Rome

The inhabitants of ancient Rome appear to have been a riotous lot with at least 154 known episodes of unruly collective behavior between 200 BC and AD 375. As a result, Rome has often been characterized as a lawless, violent place, and its inhabitants, especially the poor, portrayed as disorderly and fickle. The reality, however, is considerably more complex with many riots being planned and instigated by elites, and with mobs often exhibiting considerable restraint and performing symbolic rather than actual acts of violence. My book will be a comprehensive study of these riots and will offer a more nuanced investigation of their causes, characteristics, organization, and effects.

Gregory S. Aldrete (Princeton B.A, 1988.; Univ. of Michigan M.A. and Ph.D. 1995) is Professor of History and Humanistic Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. Some of his main areas of research have included daily life in ancient cities, floods in Rome, gestures and non-verbal communication in Roman oratory, logistics of the food supply system for Rome, and most recently, the use of linen body armor in the ancient world. His books include: Gestures and Acclamation in Ancient Rome (Johns Hopkins 1999), Floods of the Tiber in Ancient Rome (Johns Hopkins 2007), Daily Life in the Roman City: Rome, Pompeii, and Ostia (Oklahoma 2009), and Greenwood Encyclopedia of Daily Life I: The Ancient World (Greenwood 2002, editor). Aldrete was selected as an NEH Humanities Fellow for 2004/5, was a member of two NEH seminars held at the American Academy in Rome, was a Visiting Scholar at the American Academy in Rome, received the Award for Excellence in Teaching at the College Level from the American Philological Association, is a National Lecturer for the Archaeological Institute of America, was a Wisconsin System Teaching Fellow and a UWGB Teaching Scholar, and was chosen as a recipient of both the Founders Association Award for Excellence in Teaching and the Founders Association Award for Excellence in Scholarship, the highest awards given by his university.

Nathanael Andrade

Solmsen Fellow (2015-2016)

History, University of Oregon

From the Roman Mediterranean to India: The Early Movement of Christianity through the Afro-Eurasian World System

My current project explores how Christianity made its remarkable voyage from the Roman Mediterranean to the Indian subcontinent, and it examines the social relations that made such movement possible. It also analyzes how the narrative tradition regarding the apostle Judas Thomas, which originated in Upper Mesopotamia and accredited him with evangelizing India, traveled among the social networks of an interconnected late antique world. In this way, the book probes how the Thomas narrative shaped Mediterranean Christian beliefs regarding co-religionists in central Asia and India, impacted local Christian cultures, and experienced transformation as it traveled from the Mediterranean to India, and back again.

Nathanael Andrade is an Assistant Professor of History at the University of Oregon. His past research has principally focused on topics relating to the Roman and late Roman Near East and its broader Mediterranean context. Since receiving his PhD at the University of Michigan in 2009, he has written Syrian Identity in the Greco-Roman World (Greek Culture in the Roman World; Cambridge University Press, 2013) and has conducted research as a regular member at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, NJ (2012-2013). His research has also appeared in the Journal of Near Eastern Studies, The Journal of Early Christian Studies, and many other journals and edited collections. He is at work on a project entitled “From the Roman Mediterranean to India: The Early Movement of Christianity through the Afro-Eurasian World System.”

Justine Andrews

Solmsen Fellow (2013-2014)

Art and Art History, University of New Mexico

Gothic Architecture in Cyprus: French, Byzantine, and Crusader Influence

Gothic Architecture in Cyprus: French, Byzantine, and Crusader Influence in Nicosia and Famagusta centers on the relationship of the two cities Nicosia and Famagusta from the early thirteenth century until 1489. I examine carefully the architectural, sculptural, and painted details of the extant churches in each city. While revealing the diverse sources and models, I also explore the historical context through systematic archival research. I prove that the monuments of these two cities were built and decorated in direct response to the patrons’ social positions within the island and the political position of the Kingdom of Cyprus in the East.

Justine M. Andrews is Associate Professor in the Department of Art and Art History at the University of New Mexico. She has published on the art and architecture of Medieval Cyprus, as well as on illuminated Books of Job in the Medieval Mediterranean. Her research interests include cross-cultural interaction in the Medieval Mediterranean, the artistic legacy of the Crusades in the Eastern Mediterranean, and illuminated manuscripts from Byzantium. She is currently co-curating an exhibition of Byzantine illuminated manuscripts titled: East Meets West: Byzantine Illumination at the Cultural Crossroads for the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

Michael Bailey

Solmsen Fellow (2010-2011)

History, Iowa State University

Superstition in the Late Middle Ages

The medieval church had always condemned superstition. By definition, superstition was incorrect or excessive religious devotion. Yet concern over superstition swelled in the late medieval period, evidenced by a number of tracts and treatises written specifically against superstitious beliefs and practices. This study traces this wave of concern from courts and universities in fourteenth-century France to fifteenth-century Germany, where condemnation of superstition fed into the developing notion of diabolical witchcraft. With the Reformation of the sixteenth century, the tenor of concern over superstition changed yet again. Contrasting medieval concerns to those of the Reformation, Enlightenment, and beyond, this study also asks to what extent putatively “modern” Western notions of magic and religion may or may not already be found in the medieval era.

Michael D. Bailey is Associate Professor of History at Iowa State University. His research focuses on magic, superstition, and heresy, mainly in late medieval Europe. He has been a Fulbright fellow, a DAAD fellow, and an Alexander von Humboldt fellow, as well as holding a Mellon postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of three books: Battling Demons: Witchcraft, Heresy, and Reform in the Late Middle Ages (2003), Historical Dictionary of Witchcraft (2003), and Magic and Superstition in Europe: A Concise History from Antiquity to the Present (2007), translated into Italian as Magia e superstizione in Europa dall’ Antichità ai giorni nostri (2008). He has also authored a dozen articles, and from 2006 through 2010 was the founding co-editor of the interdisciplinary journal Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft.

J.K. Barret

Solmsen Fellow (2011-2012)

English, University of Texas at Austin

The Poetics of Futurity in Renaissance England

This study investigates Renaissance literary constructions of the future, the complex relations between futurity and narrative, and the emergence of novel accounts of Englishness that turn on looking to the future rather than the past. Chapters on the literary works of Philip Sidney, Edmund Spenser, William Shakespeare and John Milton recover a temporal consciousness in which imagining future acts of retelling and remembering shapes the subject’s relation to both past and present. These writers theorize preservation, stressing a retrospective future concerned with creating a present worth remembering. By recuperating this temporal perspective, Poetics of Futurity investigates an emerging cultural self-consciousness, one with profound implications for the agency and authority of literature.

J.K. Barret, Solmsen Fellow, is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Texas at Austin. She focuses on sixteenth- and seventeenth-century literature. She received her Ph.D. from Princeton University and her B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania. She has been awarded fellowship support from sources including UCLA’s Clark Library, the University of Texas at Austin, the Whiting Foundation, the Josephine de Kármán Foundation, and the Huntington Library, and has also received funding to participate in seminars at the National Humanities Center and the Folger Shakespeare Library. In addition to time and the future, her research and teaching interests include poetry and poetics, drama, literature and the visual arts, early modern legal theory, antiquity in the Renaissance, pastoral, romance, translation studies and narrative theory.

Catherine Bates

Solmsen Fellow (2014-2015)

English and Comparative Literature, University of Warwick

Perversion in Arcadia

This project explores the multiple delinquencies of Philip Sidney’s multi-versioned romance, the Arcadia (c.1581-1584), in order to scope a broadly de-idealist reading of his poetry and prose. Of particular focus is the question of emotional and political governance—what might be called an “economy” of the passions—and ways in which, testing to the limit the rationalist models of self-government available at the time, the delinquent behaviors described within the Old and New Arcadia give way to the tragic, even nihilistic vision of a negative excess or “debt” that is not to be turned to good account, redeemed, or repaid. This alternative economy is first traced in Sidney’s Defence of Poetry, where Weberian models of turning a profit compete with a fantasized “golden world” of infinite credit, effectively playing the different pleasures of accumulation and consumption against one another and so problematizing any straightforward claims to poetry’s profitability and pleasure.

Catherine Bates is a Professor of Renaissance Literature at the University of Warwick. She specializes in sixteenth-century English literature: in particular, courtly forms such as epic, lyric, and romance. Her books include The Rhetoric of Courtship in Elizabethan Language and Literature (1992), Play in a Godless World: The Theory and Practice of Play in Shakespeare, Nietzsche, and Freud (1999), Masculinity, Gender and Identity in the English Renaissance Lyric (2007), and Masculinity and the Hunt: Wyatt to Spenser (2013). She is also currently editing the Blackwell Companion to Renaissance Poetry. She has previously held positions at Oxford (1987-1990) and Cambridge (1990-1995), and has been at the University of Warwick since 1995. She served as Head of the Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies there from 2009 to 2014. She is at work on a book entitled Perversion in Arcadia.

Robert F. Berkhofer

Solmsen Fellow (2008-2009)

History, Western Michigan University

Fabricating Histories

Berkhofer is completing a book manuscript, “Fabricating Histories,” which considers the relationship between forgeries and historical writing in the high Middle Ages. This project uses forgeries to examine medieval mentalité, which supposed a different relation between text, memory, and the past than in modern times. Based on comparative archival research, the work uses traditional methods, information technology, and post-linguistic turn theory. When completed, it will provide the first synthetic analysis of medieval forgery in a transnational European context.

Robert F. Berkhofer III is an associate professor of medieval history at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. His work focusses on northwestern Europe, particulary France, England, and the Low Countries in the period from ca. 900 to 1250. He is the author of Day of Reckoning: Power and Accountability in Medieval France (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004) and the co-editor of The Experience of Power in Medieval Europe, 950-1350 (Ashgate Publishing, 2005). From 2001 to 2006 he was co-editor of the The Medieval Review, an electronic book review journal for all fields of Medieval Studies with more than 2500 subscribers. Berkhofer, who earned his Ph.D at Harvard University, has received support for his current project from the American Philosophical Society and the Institute of Historical Research in London.

Daniel Birkholz

Solmsen Fellow (2009-2010)

English, University of Texas at Austin

We Have to Invent Him: Harley Lyrics, Hereford Maps, and the Life of Roger de Breynton, c. 1290-1351

This interdisciplinary study brings together two major documents of a forgotten period and a backwater region—the Hereford Cathedral Mappamundi [“map of the world”] (c.1305), and British Library Manuscript Harley 2253 (c.1340), a trilingual literary anthology—and reads them alongside a contemporary life that has been reassembled from archival traces. We Have to Invent Him takes as its historical vantage point a mobile and well-connected but now obscure Hereford clerk who knew both map and manuscript well; he appears to have had a custodial relationship to each. The book I am constructing is a biography, but an unconventional one. My chapters stage conversations between a multifarious image, a multi-genre manuscript, and a reconstructed medieval “man,” using the first two items to breathe life into the third. Interpretive lines run both ways, however, for I will also use my subject’s biographical particulars and institutional milieus to animate my critical readings of the map and the anthology.

Daniel Birkholz is Associate Professor of English at the University of Texas at Austin, where he received the President’s Associates Award for Teaching Excellence in 2008. In 2002 he received Pomona College (Claremont, CA)’s Wig Distinguished Professorship Award. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota, his M.A. from the University of Toronto, and his B.A. from Carleton College (Northfield, MN). His first book, The King’s Two Maps: Cartography and Culture in Thirteenth-Century England (Routledge, 2004), was awarded the Nebenzahl Prize from the Newberrry Library (Chicago)’s Hermon Dunlap Smith Center for the History of Cartography. His essays on cartography and medieval literary history have appeared in New Medieval Literatures, The Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies, Imago Mundi, Studies in the Age of Chaucer, and The Post Historical Middle Ages (Palgrave Macmillan).

Costica Bradatan

Solmsen Fellow (2009-2010)

Philosophy, Texas Tech University

Philosophy as an Art of Dying

There are limit-situations when philosophers need something stronger than words to express themselves. Under such radical circumstances, when words and arguments irremediably fail, these philosophers (Socrates, Hypatia, Thomas More, Giordano Bruno, Edith Stein) are still left, paradoxically, with a very effective persuasive tool: namely, with the spectacle of their dying bodies. Socrates’ death was the most effective means of persuasion he ever used, and over the centuries he has come to be venerated in many circles not so much for what he did when he was alive, but precisely for the way he died. This interdisciplinary project aims at mapping out – conceptually and historically – the limit-situation in which these philosophers find themselves when the only means of persuasion they have access to is their own body and the use they can make of it by dying a martyr’s death. Drawing on developments in religious studies (martyrology), the project combines a philosophical approach (phenomenology of death/dying) with intellectual history (examining individual cases of martyr’s deaths).

Costica Bradatan received his PhD in Philosophy from the University of Durham (England) in 2004 and is currently Assistant Professor of Honors at Texas Tech University. He also taught at Cornell University, Miami University, as well as at several universities in Europe (England, Germany, Hungary and Romania). His research interests include Continental philosophy, history of philosophy, East-European philosophy, and philosophy of literature. His work has appeared in English, Romanian, Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch and Polish. Bradatan’s most recent book The Other Bishop Berkeley. An Exercise in Reenchantment was published with Fordham University Press in 2006. He is also the author of two other books (in Romanian): An Introduction to the History of Romanian Philosophy in the 20th Century (Bucharest, 2000) and Isaac Bernstein’s Diary (Bucharest, 2001; New York/Nijmegen, 2002), as well as of several dozens of scholarly papers, essays, encyclopedia entries, book translations and book reviews. He has guest-edited a special journal issue on “Philosophy as Literature” for The European Legacy (Summer 2009) and another on “Philosophy in Eastern Europe” for Angelaki (forthcoming 2010).

Costica Bradatan

Solmsen Fellow (2017-2018)

Humanities, Texas Tech University

In Praise of Failure

At the IRH Bradatan is completing a new book, In Praise of Failure (contracted with Harvard University Press), which makes the argument that, because of our culture’s obsession with success, we miss something important about what it means to be human, and deny ourselves access to a deeper layer of our humanity. A sense of what we are in the grand scheme of things, an openness towards the unknown and the mysterious, humility and reverence towards that which transcends us – these are only some of the rewards that a proper grasp of failure could bring about.

Costica Bradatan is a Professor of Humanities at Texas Tech University. He has also held faculty appointments at Cornell University, University of Notre Dame, and University of Wisconsin-Madison, as well as at several universities in Europe and Asia. He is the author or editor of ten books, most recently Dying for Ideas: The Dangerous Lives of the Philosophers (Bloomsbury, 2015), and has written for The New York Times, Washington Post, The New Statesman, Aeon, Dissent, and Times Literary Supplement, among other places.

James Bromley

Solmsen Fellow (2014-2015)

English, Miami University

Style, Subjectivity, and Male Sexuality in Early Modern Drama

This book project examines the representation of clothing in early modern plays set in London. Plays by Ben Jonson, George Chapman, Thomas Middleton, and other writers of city comedy offered audiences queer forms of male embodiment and eroticism. By tracing early modern theater’s relationship to humoral psychology, to the cloth trade, and to urbanization, I reassess the historical value of superficiality for a time period commonly associated with interest in the inner life and psychological depth. I also attend to the potential political value of dissident style, as these plays provoke us to reimagine modes of being and social relations outside of the frameworks of subculture and identity that dominate current politics of sexuality and urban space.

James M. Bromley is an Associate Professor of English at Miami University. He is the author of Intimacy and Sexuality in the Age of Shakespeare (Cambridge, 2012) and the co-editor of Sex before Sex: Figuring the Act in Early Modern England (Minnesota, 2013). He won the 2011 Martin Stevens Award for the Best New Essay in Early Drama Studies from the Medieval and Renaissance Drama Society. He is currently working on a book project entitled Style, Subjectivity, and Male Sexuality in Early Modern Drama.

Tina Chronopoulos

Solmsen Fellow (2016-2017)

Classics and Medieval Studies, University of Binghamton, State University of New York

The Voices of Ganymede: Latin Homoerotics in Medieval Europe

This project examines the cultural and material contexts of Medieval Latin literary texts produced during the eleventh and twelfth centuries that discuss or portray same-sex encounters between men. I bring questions about same-sex sexuality to texts that depict the Classical figure of Ganymede, a by-word for same-sex relations, and I put these texts into dialogue with the manuscripts in which they survive to provide for a richer appreciation of the contexts in which they were read and circulated. I show that medieval responses to Ganymede were not uniformly pro or contra same-sex desire, but that he was deployed instead in different ways to admonish and teach correct behaviour, to display knowledge of Classical Latin literature, and to play with Latin language and grammar.

Tina Chronopoulos is an Assistant Professor of Classics and Medieval Studies at the University of Binghamton, State University of New York, where she teaches a range of courses in Latin language and literature, as well as in Classical civilization and medieval studies. She is a Medieval Latinist, with particular interests in twelfth-century Latin literature written in the Anglo-French cultural realm and the manuscripts in which these texts survive. Her past research has focused on the reception of Classical Latin literature in the medieval period and the medieval Latin legend of St Katherine of Alexandria.

John-Henry Clay

Solmsen Fellow (2015-2016)

History, Durham University

Bringers of Light: The Christianisation of Early Medieval Germany under the Carolingians

Northern Germany’s conversion to Christianity is one of the most infamous episodes of medieval history. Through a series of brutal wars that lasted from 772 to 804, the Carolingians subdued the pagan Saxons, converting them by fire and steel. This is the standard narrative, at least. In this project I regard conversion not as a simple process of ‘Christians’ converting ‘pagans’. Rather, Christianity was a shared ‘symbolic resource’ in the messy middle ground of cultural and political interaction that characterised Carolingian expansion, and no one party had a monopoly of it. Different bishops and missionary groups could have conflicting aims; the Carolingian military sought to use religion for its own ends; some Saxons were more than willing to convert; and even diehard pagans used Christianity as a means of redefining their own pagan identity. Through analysing these interactions I will reveal the full complexity and ambiguity of the conversion process.

John-Henry Clay is a Lecturer in Medieval History at Durham University (UK). There, his teaching focuses on the history of western Europe from the end of the Roman empire to 1000 AD. His particular interests include the end of Roman Gaul, the origins of monasticism and Europe’s conversion to Christianity. His first monograph, In the Shadow of Death: Saint Boniface and the Conversion of Hessia, 721-754 (Brepols, 2010) drew together history, archaeology, and landscape studies in a detailed exploration of an early medieval missionary community in Hessia, and he has published numerous articles and book chapters in related areas. A secondary interest is the relationship between academic history and the creative imagination, especially with respect to wider public engagement and education, which has led to two published historical novels: The Lion and the Lamb (Hodder & Stoughton, 2013) and At the Ruin of the World (Hodder & Stoughton, 2015). He is at work on a project entitled “Bringers of Light: The Christianisation of Early Medieval Germany under the Carolingians.”

Sarah Crover

Solmsen Fellow (2018-2019)

English, University of British Columbia

Watermen, Petermen, and Mermaids: Creatures of Conversion on the Early Modern Thames

Watermen, Petermen, and Mermaids: Creatures of Conversion on the Early Modern Thames is a book-length project that employs the discourses of conversion as a lens to examine three overlooked figures – “mermaids” (prostitutes), “petermen” (illegal fishermen) and watermen (ferrymen of the river) that haunted the outskirts of early modern London. Drawing upon the works of Taylor and Greene, the city plays of Beaumont, Dekker, Jonson, and Middleton, and London civic documents, I argue that these roguish creatures’ consistent association with unlawful activity reveals something about their ability to dissolve physical and moral boundaries. They enact their transgressions in a state of incomplete conversion – half-human, half-water – reconfiguring our understanding of London’s legal, political, and social limits. My project explores how these creatures’ riverine traversals unmade boundaries and exposed Londoners’ fears that they themselves were riverine creatures.

Sarah Crover received her PhD in English at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in 2016. Her dissertation was entitled “Theatrical Water Shows and the Cultural History of the Early Modern Thames.” Her research focuses upon London civic pageantry, the Thames, conversions of the body, and ecocriticism. Her work has appeared in Performing Environments and Early Modern Culture and is forthcoming in Studies in the Age of Chaucer,  Premodern Ecologies (University of Toronto Press), and Civic Performance (Taylor and Francis). Her research has been supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (Canada), the Society for Theatre Research (UK), and the Early Modern Conversions project (McGill University). Before coming to Madison, she taught English literature and composition at UBC.

Albrecht Diem

Solmsen Fellow (2010-2011)

History, Syracuse University

The Invention of Western Monasticism

This project investigates the process of monastic institution forming in the early medieval West from the earliest monastic foundations (c. 350) to the Carolingian monastic reforms. It will especially focus on the transformation of concepts of monastic space, the integration of monasteries into political structures, the development of monastic discipline and the role of normative texts. Instead of assuming that there was an organic ‘emergence’ of monasticism, special attention will be given to conflicts about changing monastic ideals and different objectives of reform. An often neglected though for this question very fruitful source are the references to (and constructions of) a collective past as they can be found in almost any monastic text.

Albrecht Diem is Assistant Professor in the Department of History, Syracuse University. His research focuses on the history of monasticism in the Early Middle Ages and the history of gender and sexuality. He published a monograph, Das Monastische Experiment. Die Rolle der Keuschheit bei der Entstehung des westlichen Klosterwesens, Vita Regularis, vol. 24, Münster: LIT-Verlag 2005. His recent articles include ‘A Classicising Friar at Work: John of Wales’ Breviloquium de virtutibus’, in: Alasdair A. MacDonald, Zweder von Martels and Jan Veenstra (eds), Christian Humanism. Essays in Honor of Arjo Vanderjagt, Studies in Medieval and Reformation Traditions, vol. 142, Leiden: Brill 2009, pp. 75-102; ‘Nu suln ouch wir gesellen sîn – Über Schönheit, Freundschaft und mann-männliche Liebe im Tristan Gottfrieds von Straßburg’, in: “Die sünde, der sich der tuivel schamet in der helle”. Homosexualität in der Kultur des Mittelalters und der frühen Neuzeit, Stuttgart: Thorbecke Verlag 2009, pp. 91-121; ‘Organisierte Keuschheit – organisierte Heiligkeit. Individuum und Institutionalisierung im frühen gallo-fränkischen Klosterwesen’, in: Pavlina Rychterova, Stefan Seit and Raphalea Veit (eds), Das Charisma. Funktionen und symbolische Repräsentation, Beiträge zu den Historischen Kulturwissenschaften, vol. 2, Berlin: Akademie Verlag 2008, pp. 323-345; ‘The rule of an Iro-Egyptian Monk in Gaul. Jonas of Bobbio’s Vita Iohannis and the construction of a monastic identity’, in: Revue Mabillon 80 (2008), pp. 5-50; ‘Monks, kings and the transformation of sanctity. Jonas of Bobbio and the end of the Holy Man’, in: Speculum 82 (2007), pp. 521-559. Albrecht Diem (M.A. Heinrich-Heine Universität Düsseldorf, PhD Universiteit Utrecht) taught at the universities of Groningen and Utrecht and was a post-doctoral research fellow at the Katholieke Universiteit Nijmegen and at the Institut für Mittelalterforschung, Austrian Academy of Science, Vienna. Since 2007 he is assistant professor at Syracuse University. He received a Mellon Fellowship of the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies Toronto in 2001/2002. The last three summers he spent as a guest fellow at the Institut für Mittelalterforschung, Vienna.

Janet Downie

Solmsen Fellow (2012-2013)

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.

Anne Duncan

Solmsen Fellow (2013-2014)

Classics and Religious Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Command Performance: Tyranny and Theater in the Ancient World

Command Performance examines depictions of tyrants in Greek and Roman tragedy alongside depictions of historical Greek and Roman tyrants to demonstrate that they share a common representational strategy: they represent absolute power as a force that theatricalizes existence. Scholarship on tragedy and on absolute rulers tends to posit a relationship of unidirectional influence (from tragedy to real life or vice versa). This project combines literary, historical, and historiographical analysis to find a “feedback loop” in the relationship between theater and absolute rulers, as historians began to depict real rulers in “tragic” style, real tyrants began to style themselves after tragic kings, and tragic kings increasingly resembled historical rulers.

Anne Duncan holds a Solmsen Fellowship at the Institute for Research in the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for 2013-14. She is an Associate Professor in the Department of Classics and Religious Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her publications include Performance and Identity in the Ancient World (Cambridge University Press, 2006) and articles on Greek and Roman performance issues. She is currently at work on two projects: a monograph about the intersections between theatricality and absolute rule in the ancient world (Command Performance: Tyranny and Theater in Classical Antiquity), and a textbook on Roman spectacle (under contract to Cambridge University Press).

David Ebrey

Solmsen Fellow (2016-2017)

Philosophy, Northwestern University

Plato’s Phaedo: The Initiation of a Philosopher

In my book project I provide a new, comprehensive reading of Plato’s Phaedo, a dialogue set on the last day of Socrates’ life. I argue that Plato appropriates and transforms Pythagorean and Orphic views in order to present a radical new account of the soul, the good life, and the nature of reality. According to this new account, the life of knowledge is the best life possible, but we are unable to fully realize this life while embodied. This ethical view, I argue, is grounded in a new account of the nature of the soul, which is in turn grounded in a new account of Plato’s forms. I show how the different elements of the dialogue fit together to form a cohesive philosophical vision.

David Ebrey (Ph.D., UCLA) works on ancient Greek philosophy, primarily on Plato and Aristotle. So far his research on Plato has focused on Socratic inquiry, the value of knowledge, moral education, and Platonic forms. His research on Aristotle has focused on matter in Aristotle’s natural philosophy and syllogisms in his logic. He has published in journals such as Journal of the History of Philosophy, Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie, and British Journal of the History of Philosophy, and he has edited a volume, Theory and Practice in Aristotle’s Natural Science (Cambridge, 2015). He has received a Mellon Postdoc (2007-2009), Alice Kaplan Humanities Institute Fellowship (2011-2012), and a Spencer Foundation Grant (2012-2013). He was a visiting fellow at Clare Hall, Cambridge in 2013. He is currently working on a book on Plato’s Phaedo.

Mary Agnes Edsall

Solmsen Fellow (2012-2013)

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.

Esther Eidinow

Solmsen Fellow (2011-2012)

Ancient Greek History, University of Nottingham, United Kingdom

Jealousy, Poison and Death

Dr. Eidinow’s project starts from a number of trials that took place in fourth-century BCE Athens: the defendants were all women, the charges against them included asebeia (‘impiety’) and working with pharmaka (‘spells’ or ‘drugs’). This study explores the social processes that may have led to these trials, including jealousy, gossip, and gender relations, but also attempts to set these events in their historical context as both effect and catalyst of cultural trauma. It argues that these trials raise questions about the long-term impacts of the Peloponnesian war, draw our attention to the powerful role of the supernatural in Athenian society and as a historical force, and, finally, may set the stage for the formation of modern concepts of ‘magic’ and ‘the witch’.

Esther Eidinow is Lecturer in Ancient Greek History at the University of Nottingham. Her research focuses on magic and religion in the ancient Greek world, using an interdisciplinary approach. She is the author of Oracles, Curses, and Risk in the Ancient Greek World (Oxford University Press, 2007) and Luck, Fate and Fortune: Antiquity and Its Legacy (I. B. Tauris, 2011), and has published articles in Past and Present and Classical Quarterly. She is the assistant editor of the fourth edition of the Oxford Classical Dictionary (eds. S. Hornblower and A. J. S. Spawforth; Oxford University Press, forthcoming) and is also co-editing the Oxford Handbook to Greek Religion for Oxford University Press.

Damián Fernández

Solmsen Fellow (2012-2013)

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.

Denice Fett

Solmsen Fellow (2011-2012)

History, University of North Florida

Lying Abroad: Information, Communication and the Culture of Diplomacy in Reformation Europe

This study explores the logistics of information and international communications and its impact on Reformation-era diplomacy between West European states. By exploring the cycle of information—its acquisition, dissemination and utilization—it demonstrates that all parties engaged in diplomatic discourse used strikingly similar methods of accomplishing their goals despite differences in both governmental structure and religious orientation. These similarities indicate that the limitations imposed by logistics forced these governments to use parallel methods, and that the same weaknesses pervaded all national practices. This approach presents a better understanding of exactly how “things happened,” because the manner in which news and information spread often shaped the outcome of those events. The monograph draws on a wide variety of sources, including diplomatic correspondence, financial accounts, private memoranda and diaries, depositions, memoirs and other materials. At its core, this work is a study of the individuals involved in the process and their experiences interacting in a vibrant, dynamic environment.

Denice Fett, Solmsen Fellow, is Assistant Professor of History at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Florida. She completed her PhD at the Ohio State University in 2010. Although her current project focuses on diplomatic communications and information networks in Reformation diplomacy, her broader research interests include diplomatic culture, information and intelligence, the transmission of news, and the impact of time and space on early modern international communications.

Christelle Fischer-Bovet

Solmsen Fellow (2014-2015)

Classics, University of Southern California

The Ptolemaic Empire (323-30 BCE)

Christelle Fischer-Bovet is working on a book that aims at developing a better understanding of state formation and imperialism in Egypt after the conquest of Alexander down to the inclusion of Egypt into the Roman Empire (332-30 BCE). It provides a critical narrative of the Ptolemaic empire based on Greek and Egyptian papyri and inscriptions as well as archaeological material, coins and ancient Greek authors. At the same time the study uses the evidence to evaluate different theories of empire. This book proposes that the resilience of state institutions (political, economic, and military) and above all of state ideology that were borrowed, developed and adapted by the Ptolemies, explain the long-lasting success of their state, which was made possible through the incorporation of the local elites. This approach offers a new framework for understanding Ptolemaic Egypt and social integration in multicultural states and for rethinking the phenomena of state expansion, stability and decay.

Christelle Fischer-Bovet is an Assistant Professor of Classics at the University of Southern California who specializes in the social and cultural history of the Eastern Mediterranean from Alexander the Great to the Romans, with a special interest in Greco-Roman Egypt. Her book Army and Society in Ptolemaic Egypt (Cambridge University Press, 2014) combines documentary evidence (papyri, inscriptions) with social theory to examine how the changing structures of the army led to the development of an ethnically more integrated society. She has also written several articles on Ptolemaic history and (forthcoming) articles on the role of ethnicity in the institutions of the new Hellenistic states and on legal and fiscal categories used by the Ptolemies and the Romans in Egypt. She is now preparing a new book called The Ptolemaic Empire for Oxford University Press and co-writing with the numismatist Cathy Lorber an article on wages and monetization in Hellenistic Egypt.

Valerie Garver

Solmsen Fellow (2008-2009)

History, Northern Illinois University

Textiles in the Carolingian World, c.715-c.915

At the IHR, Garver is working on “Textiles in the Carolingian World, c.715-c.915,” a book-length study of the meanings and functions of cloth and dress in the Carolingian lands. Early medieval people used clothing and decorative textiles to make political and spiritual statements. Churchmen’s views of female textile fabrication were ambivalent: though these men relied upon and valued the women’s products, textile workers’ lack of male supervision aroused suspicion. Yet other sources present textile labor as a female virtue. Archeological and written evidence makes clear women’s pivotal contribution to the Carolingian economy and society through their fabrication of cloth. Studying textile production offers an opportunity to examine the Carolingian Empire within a global context. Garver will address how Carolingian cloth fabrication and trade fit into wider Eurasian patterns and explore the implications of textile exchange for diplomatic relations with the Byzantine Empire and the Abbasid Caliphate. Investigating textiles is therefore allowing her to re-assess the ninth-century transformation of western European society while addressing questions of gender, status, power, and economy. By focusing on a single item she is able to cross both disciplinary boundaries and the traditional divides of social, cultural, religious, and economic history.

Valerie L. Garver is Assistant Professor of History at Northern Illinois University. Her research interests center upon the social, cultural, and religious history of the Carolingian Empire. Questions concerning women, gender, and family and the historical and interdisciplinary study of material culture lie at the heart of her work. She is the author of Women and Aristocratic Culture in the Carolingian World (Cornell University Press, forthcoming 2009), and her most recent article is “Learned Women? Liutberga and the Instruction of Carolingian Women,” in Lay Intellectuals in the Carolingian World, ed. Patrick Wormald and Janet L. Nelson (Cambridge University Press, 2007), pp. 121-38. Garver, who earned her PhD from the University of Virginia, has received support from the Fulbright Program, Northern Illinois University, the University of Virginia, and the University of Notre Dame.

David Goldstein

Solmsen Fellow (2009-2010)

English, York University

Eating Otherwise: Food, Ethics, and Rhetoric in Early Modern England

This project explores the meanings and functions of food in early modern English culture, arguing that for the Renaissance writer, the rhetoric of eating functions preeminently as a language of ethics that links or collapses the treatment of the food on one’s plate with that of other human beings. This rhetoric appears in an array of contexts, from the drama of Shakespeare and Jonson, to the genre of the cookbook and household manual, to the poetry of Spenser and Milton. Rather than viewing food as one among many metaphors to address moral questions, this book shows that Renaissance ideas of otherness frequently emerge from, and in turn shape, beliefs and theories about eating in literary, religious, philosophical, and political contexts. While the project focuses on early modern literature, it raises questions that are relevant across the humanities: Where do our bodies meet the world; where does the material meet the metaphysical? Why are eating, speaking, and reading so intertwined? When do we move from eating the other to being obliged to the other? Why speak of an ethics of eating?

David B. Goldstein is Assistant Professor of English at York University in Toronto. His teaching and research interests include early modern English literature, book history and theory, food studies, and contemporary poetry.  He has published scholarly articles on Shakespeare, Robert Duncan, and Martha Stewart, while his food journalism has appeared in Saveur, The New York Sun, Time Out New York, and other publications. David’s poetry has appeared in numerous magazines, and he is the author of a poetry chapbook, Been Raw Diction (Dusie, 2006), as well as a founding member of the Wakow art collective. During his stay at the IRH, he is completing Eating Otherwise, a monograph about food, rhetoric, and ethics in early modern England.

Mira Green

Solmsen Fellow (2017-2018)

History, University of Washington

Digesting Bodies: Status, Gender, and Mastery in Roman Society and Homes

Providing a distinct window into the social and political developments of the early Roman Empire, my book project takes up various lived experiences in domestic settings to probe Roman notions of embodiment. In particular, my work focuses on Roman attitudes towards the digesting body and the domestic practices associated with its needs. While recent work in Roman social and cultural history has enhanced our knowledge about Roman attitudes toward sexuality, far less attention has been given to the role of the digesting body for the articulation of Roman social hierarchies. I argue that Roman authors’ accounts of somatic functions subtly reveal elite concerns about political and social changes occurring during the late Republic and early Empire. Additionally, through an analysis of material evidence, my project reveals how numerous activities related to basic bodily needs became the markers of a person’s place in Roman society.

F. Mira Green is a Lecturer in Ancient History in the History Department at the University of Washington. She received her PhD in Roman History from the University of Washington and M.A. in Greek History from the University of Utah. Her research focuses on questions of hierarchy and power that are intertwined with a society’s ideas about daily life, food, slavery, sexuality, and the material expressions of mastery in the Roman world. She has published articles in the Journal of Roman Archaeology and Helios.

Max Harris

Solmsen Fellow (2015-2016)

Independent Scholar

Christ on a Donkey: Palm Sunday, Processional Theater, and Blasphemous Pageants

Christ on a Donkey explores Palm Sunday processions and other public representations of Christ’s entry into Jerusalem as embodied sites for the celebration, display, contestation, diffusion, and mockery of religious justifications for war and other exercises of power. Drawing on church processions, royal entries, and folk practices from as far apart as fourth-century Jerusalem, tenth-century Augsburg, and seventeenth-century Bristol, my project examines the mimetic practices deployed in such representations, the process by which royal entries and Palm Sunday processions came to resemble one another, and the shifting boundaries between narrative and performance, religion and politics, and dissent and blasphemy.

Max Harris is an independent scholar and Executive Director Emeritus of the Wisconsin Humanities Council. He has taught at the University of Virginia and, as a visiting professor, at Yale University. He is the author of five books: Theater and Incarnation (1990, 2nd ed. 2005), The Dialogical Theatre (1993), Aztecs, Moors, and Christians: Festivals of Reconquest in Mexico and Spain (2000), Carnival and Other Christian Festivals: Folk Theology and Folk Performance (2003), and Sacred Folly: A New History of the Feast of Fools (2011). His work has won the Otto Gründler Book Prize, and (twice) the David Bevington Award for the Best New Book in Early Drama Studies.

Samantha Herrick

Solmsen Fellow (2016-2017)

History, Syracuse University

Networks of Shared Imagination: Apostolic Legends in Medieval Europe

People often depict the past as they wish it to have been. Such historical construction is the subject of my research, which examines medieval legends claiming that numerous European cities were evangelized at the dawn of Christianity by figures close to Jesus. These legends, at odds with reliable evidence and so widespread as to be cliché, have received more derision than study. My research instead considers them as a meaningful discourse at once local and widely shared. On the local level, I use them to understand how communities navigated change and competition. By tracing the networks along which the legends traveled, I investigate how communities shared information. Additionally, my work argues that these legends reflect a collaborative approach to historical construction, through which far-flung writers, readers, and scribes wove individual histories into a larger narrative.

Samantha Kahn Herrick is Associate Professor of History at Syracuse University. Her research focuses on medieval Europe and, in particular, the uses and significance of hagiographical legends. In addition to studying how and why medieval people fashioned and disseminated stories about the past, she is also interested in how historians can use problematic but abundant hagiographical legends to supplement the very limited number of more “reliable” sources. Her first book demonstrated the political significance of legends celebrating largely imaginary saints. She is currently writing a monograph about a neglected body of apostolic saints’ lives and co-editing a volume on history and hagiography. She has been a fellow at the Syracuse University Humanities Center (2014-15) and a Scruggs Faculty Research Scholar (2012-15), a member of the Institute for Advanced Study (2011-12), and Professeur invitée at the Université Paul Verlaine, Metz (France) (2007).

Jessica Keating

Solmsen Fellow (2011-2012)

Art History, UW-Madison

Objects of Diplomacy: Encounters between the Austrian Hapsburgs and the Muslim World, 1529-1612

What role did diplomatic exchanges play in producing new visions of the world in the early modern period? How does exchange work when it transpires between two groups that operate within varying value systems and norms? These questions are at the heart of Objects of Diplomacy. In answering them the project illuminates events that led to a phenomenon we now call “globalization” both as a set of historical activities and as a story whose echoes still have power to make sense of our world. Although not often studied by art historians, diplomatic gift exchanges were crucial to the circulation of art objects between East and West in the early modern period, and often helped establish trade agreements that permitted the mobility of persons, commodities, and cultural artifacts between the two regions on a large scale. Throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the Austrian Hapsburgs, rulers of the Holy Roman Empire, directed a formidable amount of energy to exchanging gifts with Muslim sovereigns. Objects of Diplomacy charts a series of exchanges between Hapsburg and Muslim rulers and examines the ways the transactions promoted dramatic shifts in art production, political ritual, the identity of the Holy Roman emperor, and views on a world-state in the Holy Roman Empire. It argues that Hapsburg-Muslim gift exchange was not undertaken for political expediency alone, but an attempt, on the part of the Hapsburgs, to transcend the dichotomous categories of “Christian” and “Muslim” in an effort to form a society of states. In pointing to the ways cross-cultural encounters and material objects were imbricated in the formation and expression of ideas about a global community, it reveals an alternative history of Cosmopolitanism that precedes its philosophical formation during the eighteenth-century Enlightenment.

Jessica Keating is a Solmsen Fellow with the Institute for Research in the Humanities. She received her Ph.D. in Art History from Northwestern University in 2010 with the support of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, the Fulbright Commission, and the DAAD Commission. She is the co-editor and contributor to a special issue of the Journal of the History of Collections entitled Captured Objects: Inventories of Early Modern Collections.

Stacy S. Klein

Solmsen Fellow (2012-2013)

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.

Ben LaBreche

Solmsen Fellow (2013-2014)

English, University of Mary Washington

Tragedy of Reason: Liberty in the Age of Milton

Historiography of the past twenty years has often been at pains to distinguish seventeenth-century theories of liberty from modern liberalism. Over the same period, however, political theorists have questioned the conceptual usefulness of liberalism even in our own day: a variety of critiques have shown liberalism to be less a coherent political philosophy than a set of logical conflicts. Tragedy of Reason bridges the gap between these two bodies of scholarship to offer a new approach to political writing during and after the English civil wars, particularly the poetry and prose of John Milton. Specifically, this project relates political writings transhistorically without anachronism by focusing on specific problems that early modern and modern theorists of liberty share. This method reveals a new degree of theoretical sophistication and conflict in works written on the cusp of the early Enlightenment, and it also shows how these texts can contribute to the debates of twenty-first century political theory regarding topics such as pluralism, the relationship of law and violence, popular sovereignty, and the role of faith. By juxtaposing texts of different periods and genres, this project also explores how we imagine and order power relations rationally in any period and argues for the importance of literary techniques in responding to the limitations of reason.

Ben LaBreche, Solmsen Fellow, is an assistant professor of English literature at the University of Mary Washington. His interdisciplinary research focuses on how British writers of the seventeenth century grappled with problems that would come to define modernity. His forthcoming article in Milton Studies will examine how English toleration tracts of the mid-1640s anticipated the theoretical problems of twenty-first century postsecularism, and his article “Espousing Liberty: The Gender of Liberalism and the Politics of Miltonic Divorce” received the Milton Society of America’s James Holly Hanford Award for the best essay on John Milton in 2010. In addition to the Solmsen, he has also recently received fellowships from the Clark Memorial Library, the Folger Shakespeare Library, the Harry Ransom Center, and the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies.

Susan Lape

Solmsen Fellow (2010-2011)

Classics, University of Southern California

The Life of Demosthenes: Biography, History, and Democratic Culture

The biography of Demosthenes, (384-322 BCE), the most famous Athenian orator and democratic politician of fourth-century Athens, is inextricably linked to the history of Athenian democratic culture. In part, this is because Demosthenes orchestrated some of the most significant events of the proverbially interesting times in which he lived. Cheated out of his inheritance, Demosthenes made a stunning forensic debut by winning a lawsuit against one of his corrupt guardians, a powerful older cousin who endeavored to squash the lawsuit and hide the stolen assets. With his against the odds victory, Demosthenes made a name for himself as a speechwriter and within a few years segued into a political career. Demosthenes’ personal history -the looting of his estate by powerful older men – shaped his understanding of law, the courts, democracy, and even kinship, while predisposing him to view conflict as uneven contests of the weak against the strong, a tendency that informs his portrayal of Philip of Macedon as an inevitable threat to democracy and freedom. This study aims to shed light on the role of Demsothenes’ biography in the making of fourth-century history and in modern reconstructions of it.

Susan Lape is an Associate Professor of Classics at the University of Southern California. Her research interests include ancient drama, law, and cultural history. She is the author of Reproducing Athens: Menander’s Comedy, Democratic Culture, and the Hellenistic City, (2004), and Race and Citizen Identity in the Classical Athenian Democracy (2010). Lape has received a Junior Faculty Fellowship from the American Council of Learned Studies, a Laurance S. Rockefeller Visiting Fellowship from the University Center for Human Values, Princeton University, a Junior Faculty Fellowship from the Society of Scholars, Walter Chapin Simpson Center for the Humanities, University of Washington and the Solmsen Fellowship at the Institute for Research in the Humanities, University of Wisconsin.

Jeremy Ledger

Solmsen Fellow (2017-2018)

History, University of Michigan

Mapping Mediterranean Geographies: Geographic and Cartographic Encounters between the Islamic World and Europe, c. 1150-1600

Mapping Mediterranean Geographies is a study of the cultural encounter between Muslim and Christian inhabitants of the Mediterranean basin between the twelfth and sixteenth century. It approaches this subject from the vantage point of the circulation, transmission, and reception of geographical knowledge between Muslim and Christian geographical writers and cartographers who dwelled along the shores of the sea. The project begins with an acknowledgement of difference across the Mediterranean: geographical knowledge of the world and ways of representing it differed greatly between the Islamic world and western Europe. Based on Arabic, Latin, and Romance sources, my research asks how these disparate knowledges crossed the Mediterranean and explores the ways in which geographers and cartographers received this ‘imported’ knowledge and incorporated it into their own descriptions and maps of the world. Through the lens of geography and cartography, this project assesses the different ways in which Muslim and Christian inhabitants of the Mediterranean understood their world and how cross-cultural exchange and reception of new knowledge altered those conceptions.

Jeremy Ledger received his Ph.D. in history from the University of Michigan in 2016. His research and writing center on the social, cultural, and intellectual history of interfaith relations in the medieval and early modern Mediterranean. He is currently working on a book project entitled Mapping Mediterranean Geographies that explores how Muslim and Christian inhabitants of the western and central Mediterranean constructed the cosmos, globe, space, self, and others in geographical writing, cartography, and travelogues. His research has been supported by grants from the Fulbright IIE, the Council of American Overseas Research Centers, Fulbright Hays, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the American Institute for Maghrib Studies.

Joseph Mansky

Solmsen Fellow (2019-2020)

English, University of Oklahoma

Seeds of Sedition: Libels, Plays, and the Early Modern Public Sphere

My project asks why libels and plays were so closely conjoined in the cultural imagination—and in the social practice—of early modern England. For the authorities and the antitheatricalists, both scurrilous scraps of verse and professional plays were, to quote one disgruntled mayor, “the very seeds whereof spring seditions.” What made these literary forms seditious was not just their dangerously topical content but, especially, their mode of public address. Libels, plays, and libelous plays engaged their audiences not as passive spectators but as deliberative agents. Anyone could listen to a subversive ditty or drop a scandalous verse in the street; anyone could see and be seen at a play, or even stage a slanderous performance of one’s own. Through libels and plays, commoners ordinarily left out of the political scene became both judges and actors in the theater of state. I show that Renaissance dramatists recognized this connection: William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, Ben Jonson, Thomas Heywood, and Barnabe Barnes all dramatized (and sometimes practiced) the politics of libel. So too did the amateur playwrights across England who used dramatic performance to publish their own libelous messages. From a dilapidated castle in northern England to London’s commercial playhouses, commoners deployed the technologies of the theater not only to entertain but also to mobilize their popular audiences. The threat, or the promise, of libels and plays was that they together might turn subjects into citizens.

Joseph Mansky is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Oklahoma. He received his Ph.D. in English from the University of California, Berkeley in 2018, and then spent a year as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Literature at Bard College. In addition to Seeds of Sedition, he is working on a literary history of early English republicanism. Both projects put literature in conversation with early modern social and political history. He has published articles in the journals PMLA, Renaissance Drama, Shakespeare Quarterly, and Milton Studies, and his work is forthcoming in ELH. His research has been supported by the Renaissance Society of America, the Folger Shakespeare Library, the Huntington Library, and the Center for British Studies at UC Berkeley.

Catherine Martin

Solmsen Fellow (2008-2009)

English, University of Memphis

Milton and the Culture of Italy

Martin’s IRH project draws on her interests in late Renaissance religion and culture across the continent of Europe. By focusing on its international “republic of letters,” the project explains why the staunchly Protestant Milton made and kept so many close friends in Italy and how that experience left an indelible mark on his life and work. The project also touches on her related interests in the international origins and development of early modern politics (especially republicanism), science (with particular emphasis on Galileo and Bacon), and science fiction.

Catherine G. Martin was a Dunavant Professor (a term named professorship) at the University of Memphis during 2005-8. Martin has written extensively on the development of the late allegorical epic, the subject of her first book, The Ruins of Allegory: “Paradise Lost” and the Metamorphosis of Epic Convention. This book was the 1999 recipient of the Milton Society’s James Holly Hanford Award; her IRH project extends its scope by thoroughly documenting Milton’s “epic” debts to Dante, Petrarch, Ariosto, Tasso, and their lesser known compatriots. Her most recently completed monograph, Milton among the Puritans, is more political in focus, reexamining the poet’s contribution to what was once called the “Puritan Revolution” from a revisionist perspective. It is currently under review at Oxford University Press. In the interim she has produced two edited collections, Milton and Gender (Cambridge, 2004), and Francis Bacon and the Reconfiguring of Early Modern Thought (Ashgate, 2005). Martin received her Ph.D from the University of California at Santa Cruz, and in addition to the honors and awards listed above, she was the recipient of a dissertation fellowship there. More recently she received the John Donne Society’s 2006 award for the most distinguished essay of that year, and in 2009 delivered the plenary address at the Donne Society’s annual conference. Future publications continue in all the areas outlined above, including Donne, another long-term interest, with the addition of further explorations of both Baconian and Spenserian allegory.

Paul-Alexis Mellet

Solmsen Fellow (2018-2019)

History, University of Geneva; Institute for the History of Reformation (IHR)

Circumventing the Violence – Remonstrances as a Means of Negotiation and Resistance during the European Civil Wars between 1550 and 1650 (France, the Low Countries, England)

Remonstrances were texts printed in Europe during the civil wars (1550-1650). They are unique in that they served simultaneously as a means of governance, instruments of negotiation and avenues of resistance. They enable continuous dialog during the conflicts. Whereas previous scholarship has focused on conflict and the violence itself, I examine the remonstrance as a means of circumventing the violence and sustaining institutional interaction. I show that – the battles, conflicts and massacres notwithstanding – negotiation remained the focus of power relations between the authorities and a “political society” that used remonstrances to seek to impose (its vision of) peace and justice.

Paul-Alexis Mellet was born in Paris in 1970. After concluding his studies in Philosophy (Paris IV/Paris-Sorbonne), he aroused his interests in History by obtaining an ‘agrégation’ certificate (Paris I / Panthéon-Sorbonne) and by writing a thesis (Université de Tours/CESR) on Protestant Monarchomachs — jurists, diplomats, and theologians who theorized armed resistance against tyrants (issued by Droz in 2007). He was Professor of Modern History in the Centre for Advanced Studies in the Renaissance (CESR) and in the University of Tours. He is now Professor at the University of Geneva and at the Institute for the History of Reformation. Professor Mellet has published a number of ancient texts, notably Le réveille-matin des Français et de leurs voisins (1574), issued by Garnier in 2015, Conseil à la France désolée (1562), issued by Droz in 2017, and Histoire de France de La Popelinière (1581), issued by Droz in 2019. His present interests are central to the concern of religious warfare in Renaissance Europe and he devoted his recent HDR thesis (Paris IV/Paris-Sorbonne) to a research on the remonstrances that were printed during such epoch. His position consists in showing that during the conflicts of this time, all the parties involved (Catholics, Protestants, Royalists) undertook permanent efforts to restore peace and establish justice.

Gregory Milton

Solmsen Fellow (2013-2014)

History, University of South Florida

Cultures of Debt: Christian, Muslim and Jewish Society in Iberia (1000-1500)

Milton will be using his time as a Solmsen Fellow to develop his second book project, Cultures of Debt: Christian, Muslim and Jewish Society in Iberia (1000-1500). This study will examine the complex nature of debt by considering the real factors of socio-economic life within the historical context of interreligious interaction during the later Middle Ages. It will explore how debt, obligation, and gift exchange made up a language of cross-cultural, cross-class relations which demanded negotiation and required variability between and among elite, commercial, and agrarian members of Iberia’s major religious communities. Medieval aristocratic and mercantile values clashed. Church and state authorities debated the moral regulation of economic exchange. Modern expectation often assumes that the contractual terms of debt must be met without exception, describing violations (real or assumed) with morally prescriptive language. The real language of debt, however, has delineated a range of activity and attitude for people, medieval or modern, with a fluidity often unrecognized. Debt – an economic act, social obligation, and moral question – connected people in medieval Iberia through an ever-shifting web of culture.

Gregory Milton has taught history at the University of South Florida, Marquette University, UCLA and the U.S. Naval Academy. His scholarship focuses on Europe and the Mediterranean during the Later Middle Ages, particularly the social effects of economic activity experienced by individuals and communities. His first book, Market Power: Lordship, Economy and Society in Medieval Catalonia (1276-1313) examined the development of the rural market town of Santa Coloma de Queralt, tracing the intersection of regional commercial interests, local lordship, and royal authority within the town’s market place. The regularity of commerce and credit in rural society for peasants and local nobility, along with the actions of Jews and Christians as enterprising businessmen, created complex economic, political, and cultural interactions across religious and social boundaries. Dr. Milton has published articles exploring the connection between religious identity and finance, about the transformation of written culture as notaries became professional scribes during the last quarter of the thirteenth century, as well as about the role of Jews as financiers in later medieval Iberia. A forthcoming article will address the marriage season of Santa Coloma as a combination of temporal and business activity in the formation of new rural households in Catalonia.

Simon P. Newman

Solmsen Fellow (2019-2020)

Sir Denis Brogan Professor of History, History, University of Glasgow

The Invention of Runaway Slaves in the Seventeenth-Century English Atlantic World

For as long as there have been systems of forced labor people have sought to escape from them. Yet while bound labor was commonplace in late medieval and early modern England, full and legally supported slavery did not exist. Thus as racial slavery began to take root in the seventeenth-century English colonies in North America and the Caribbean, escape emerged as a somewhat new form of resistance to enslavement. How it occurred, how both masters and the enslaved reacted to it, and how individuals and governments sought to prevent it all involved or required new practices, new laws, and new attitudes.

This project explores the development of both a practice and an understanding of resistance to slavery through escape in the seventeenth-century English Atlantic World. I will explore the creation of legal systems in the colonies to confront escape and the simultaneous development of the first runaway slave and servant advertisements in England (where newspapers advertisements for freedom-seeking runaways pre-dated those of the colonies by half a century).

Most work on runaways has focused on the period after 1750, and I will explore the narrativized embodiment of resistance through escape in the cultural construction of seventeenth-century advertisements, laws, and codes. The stories of how these early runaways, and masters’ reactions to them, helped shape the larger institution of racial slavery will deepen our understanding of the developing racial power relations within England and its early colonies.


Simon Newman began his career writing about popular political culture and social history in the era of the American Revolution. For the past fifteen years, he has focused on the history of slavery in the British Atlantic World, publishing a book on the origins of the plantation labor system. He led a Leverhulme Trust funded project creating a database of runaway slave advertisements published in eighteenth-century Britain, and this research has resulted in collaborations with playwrights, musical composers, film-makers and a graphic novelist who are all interested in the presence of enslaved people in Georgian Britan.

Professor Newman is interested in digital humanities and the potential it has for new kinds of resources and publications in slavery history. In 2018 he published the William and Mary Quarterly‘s first born-digital article, and he is aiming to publish the research he completed at the Institute as an Open Access digital book.

Professor Newman has also helped initiate a report into the degree to which the University of Glasgow benefitted financially from Atlantic World racial slavery. Glasgow was the first British university to undertake such a study and to develop a program of reparative justice as a result.

Su Fang Ng

Solmsen Fellow (2017-2018)

Clifford A. Cutchins III Associate Professor of English, Virginia Tech

Literary and Other Lives of Interpreters: Captives, Converts, and Scribes in the Early Modern East Indies

Shakespeare wrote: “You taught me language, and my profit on’t / Is, I know how to curse”: Caliban’s accusation of European linguistic colonialism is riveting theatre but hardly an accurate picture of how early modern transnational exchange. English was peripheral and Europeans had to learn other languages or depended on interpreters. Often unknown and invisible, the interpreter who translates was a crucial principal in early modern Euro-Asian trade and other negotiations. Using case studies, I consider the role in the period before its professionalization in the East Indies. Interpreters, Asian and European, were converts, captives, scribes, and refugees. Their lives left traces in travel accounts, literature, dictionaries and grammars, and the rare portrait. My study explores the affective engagements of cross-cultural male intellectual and other collaborations, friendships, and competition. In Europe’s encounter with Asia, skilled linguists, whether bookish humanists or practical merchants, collaborated in constructing global networks.

Su Fang Ng is Clifford A. Cutchins III Associate Professor of English at Virginia Tech, where she teaches early modern literature. Her first book, Literature and the Politics of Family in Seventeenth-Century England (Cambridge University Press, 2007), examines the family-state analogy as a contested political language shared by royalists and republicans. She guest-edited a special issue on Transcultural Networks in the Indian Ocean for Genre (July 2015) and has published essays on medieval, early modern, and postcolonial topics. She is completing revisions on a second book, Alexander the Great from Britain to Islamic Southeast Asia: Peripheral Empires in the Global Renaissance for Oxford University Press: this book remaps global literary networks by uncovering the connected literary histories of Alexander the Great romances at the peripheries of Eurasia. She has won residential fellowships at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, the National Humanities Center, the University of Texas at Austin, Heidelberg University, and All Souls College at Oxford, as well as a number of small grants.

Giorgio Pini

Solmsen Fellow (2018-2019)

Philosophy, Fordham University

Investigations into Duns Scotus’s Metaphysics

To what extent did the belief in an omnipotent deity (the kind of deity that can upset the standard way things are by performing miracles) influence the development of some of the basic concepts by which Western intellectuals have been thinking about the deep structure of the reality? In my research, I will consider this question by focusing on the the later medieval thinker, John Duns Scotus (d. 1308). Duns Scotus left a lasting mark in both philosophy and theology. His contributions to metaphysics have been long recognized as both original and influential on foundational early modern figures such as Descartes and Leibniz. My research project is to write the first book-length new treatment of his metaphysics in English in about 70 years. My monograph will be structured as a series of investigations on key topics and will make use of hitherto unexplored sources. The focal point of my project will be the relationship between God’s omnipotence and metaphysics. By focusing on this topic, I also hope to shed some light on the extent to which people and cultures with different religious commitment or no religious commitment might agree on a “neutral” interpretation of the structure of reality independent of those very commitments.

Giorgio Pini (PhD 1997, Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa, Italy) is professor of philosophy at Fordham University in New York City, where he has been teaching since 2005. He held fellowships in Toronto (Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies), Leuven (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium), and Oxford (All Souls College). He has published extensively on later medieval metaphysics and theory of cognition with a particular focus on the thought of the Franciscan theologian and philosopher, Joh Duns Scotus. His most recent book is the critical edition of an hitherto unknown treatise on metaphysics by Duns Scotus, which was published by Brepols in 2017 in the series Corpus Christianorum Continuatio Mediaevalis.

Marjorie Elizabeth Plummer

Solmsen Fellow (2016-2017)

History, Western Kentucky University

Stripping the Veil: The Protestant Nun and Experiments in Coexistence in Early Modern Germany

Differences between religious groups coexisting in the same nation remain one of the thorniest sources of controversy and violence in many regions of the world. The vital role of women in creating means of transmitting religious identity and arbitrating differences has been often noted. Beth’s book project examines how nuns of diverse confessional beliefs shaped their devotional lives and negotiated their everyday lives in non-coreligious monastic, parish, and political communities after the early German Reformation (c.1520-c.1745). The overlooked presence of Protestant nuns in the Holy Roman Empire is evidence of a more complex lived experience of religious change and confessional accommodation than traditional histories of early modern Christianity would indicate. Her research questions focus on the fluidity of devotional lives of these women, the interplay between peaceful and violent resolution of religious differences, and the role these women played in shaping official and popular attitudes towards religious freedom.

Beth Plummer is Professor of History at Western Kentucky University. Her research focuses on the impact of the reform movement on family, gender roles, and religious identity in early modern Germany. Her publications include From Priest’s Whore to Pastor’s Wife: Clerical Marriage and the Process of Reform in the Early German Reformation (Ashgate, 2012), which won 2013 SCSC Gerald Strauss Book Prize, and articles on monastic marriage, concubinage, bigamy, historical memory, and Protestant nuns. She is also co-editor of Ideas and Cultural Margins in Early Modern Germany: Essays in Honor of H.C. Erik Midelfort (Ashgate, 2009) and Archaeologies of Confession: Writing the German Reformations, 1517-2017 (forthcoming). She is currently working on a book-length monograph on the experience of nuns and former nuns during the dissolution and reform of monastic life in early modern Germany.

Todd W. Reeser

Solmsen Fellow (2012-2013)

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.”

Benedict Robinson

Solmsen Fellow (2013-2014)

English, Stony Brook University

Grammars of Mood: How the Seventeenth Century Invented a New Language of the Emotions

This project draws on the histories of language, literature, philosophy, and science to trace the seventeenth-century origins of a modern structure of the emotions. On the evidence of both language and literature I build a phenomenology of early modern experience, comparing it with the technical discourses the period used to theorize emotion: medicine, philosophy, rhetoric, theology. I argue that the period generated a philology and a poetics of emotion that helped shape the forms of feeling we still talk about today, and that the study of language and literature have a crucial contribution to make to current interdisciplinary conversations about emotion.

Solmsen Fellow Benedict S. Robinson is Associate Professor of English at Stony Brook University. His first book, Islam and Early Modern English Literature, was published in 2007 by Palgrave. He has published articles in Shakespeare Quarterly, ELH, SEL, Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies, and elsewhere. He is currently under contract with Arden Early Modern Drama for an edition of John Webster’s The White Devil.

Jennifer Row

Solmsen Fellow (2016-2017)

Romance Studies, Boston University

Queer Velocities: Time, Sex and the Early Modern Stage

My book project examines the impact of new time-keeping technologies on rhythms of life in seventeenth century France. Specifically, I tell the story of how the appearance of the minute and second hands on clocks gave a new richness and texture to the very experience of time: of time passing, of haste, and of slowness.  Time came to govern sexuality in new ways: from certain socio-sexual tempos (paces of courtship, bereavement, reproduction) to the regulated speed of seduction onstage.  Early modern theater staged a wide range of desires, from the homoerotic and deviant to the heteronormative.  The performing arts were in fact an essential cornerstone of Louis XIV’s glittering Absolutist spectacle. However, instead of analyzing the explicitly political uses of theater, I turn instead to theater’s more insidious and subtle forms of managing the population, or biopower. As Foucault argues in the History of Sexuality, disciplinary power, rather than deciding on the citizens’ right to live or to die, sought instead to manage bodies and lives through the controlled flourishing or strategic diminishing of life’s capacities. One essential component of this management, I argue, includes temporal speeds. The theater both modeled and contested new types of embodiment, new body politics, and new temporalities that were on the horizon in the seventeenth century.  Each play I analyze showcases a different form of delay or haste that critically interrupts the normative temporality of marriage, motherhood, mourning, or sovereignty. In this light, I argue that queer velocities onstage hijack aesthetic and temporal disciplinary norms to offer counter-hegemonic erotic sensations, forms of intimacies, and circulations of affect.

Jennifer Row is an assistant professor of French at Boston University and affiliate faculty with BU’s Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and World Languages and Literatures, and received her PhD in Comparative Literature (2014) from Cornell University.  Her research and teaching interests include early modern theater (17th and 18th c), queer and feminist theory, and affect theory. Her book project, Queer Velocities, looks at the impact of newly precise timekeeping technologies on queer erotics in seventeenth-century French theater. She was a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study at the University of Minnesota and organizes a “Premodern Temporalities” research group with the UMN Center for the Study of the Premodern World. She has previously taught at the Université de Paris-Sorbonne (Paris-IV) and at the Lycée Louis-le-Grand.

Brian Sandberg

Solmsen Fellow (2009-2010)

History, Northern Illinois University

‘Martial Acts Virtuously Enacted by Women’: Gender and Violence in the French Wars of Religion

My project concerns the gendered nature of violence and political culture in early modern French history. Religious identities and animosities sharply divided France along confessional (or sectarian) boundaries between a Catholic majority and Calvinist minority in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Gender boundaries also strongly influenced French society, defining women’s and men’s positions in religious, political, military, and cultural spheres. Women’s abilities to challenge and transgress both gender and confessional boundaries were especially apparent at the royal court and in the religiously mixed areas of southern France during the religious wars. This study aims to bridge the gap between gender studies and the history of warfare in order to discover the ways in which violence and subjectivity were gendered in the French Wars of Religion. A comprehensive approach to gender and violence can contribute to both fields by reassessing Natalie Zemon Davis’s “rites of violence” and John A. Lynn’s “campaign communities.” Gender studies that consider violence have often focused usefully on state breakdowns, social ruptures, and political transformations as key periods of change in gendered discourses. The French Wars of Religion of 1562-1629 represent a similar period of chaotic social disruption and cataclysmic violence that significantly altered associations between gender and violence. The unique aspects of confessional division and sectarian violence in these conflicts provide an excellent case for examining both the limitations and possibilities confronting women during a period of severe disruption and changing gender relations.

Brian Sandberg is an Assistant Professor of History at Northern Illinois University who is interested in the intersections of religion, violence, and political culture during the European Wars of Religion. Sandberg completed his doctoral studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2001, and held teaching positions at Simpson College and Millikin University before coming to Northern Illinois University, where he teaches courses on The European Wars of Religion, The Mediterranean World, The Renaissance, Early Modern France, and Early Modern Globalization. He previously served as a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow at the Medici Archive Project, and held a Jean Monnet Fellowship at the European University Institute. His first monograph entitled, Warrior Pursuits: Noble Culture and Civil Conflict in Early Modern France (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, forthcoming) examines provincial nobles’ orchestration of civil violence in southern France in the early seventeenth century. He has published a number of articles and book chapters on religious violence, gender relations, and noble culture in early modern France, and is currently working on a new book project on Gender and Violence in the French Wars of Religion, 1562-1629.

Andrew Scheil

Solmsen Fellow (2008-2009)

English, University of Minnesota

The Matter of Babylon: Figures of the City in the Early Middle Ages and Beyond

At the Institute Scheil is working on a book on the understanding of Babylon in the Western imagination from the classical period to the present. This wide-ranging project in intellectual history and literary criticism explores the seminal early medieval understandings of Babylon and tracks the later reception of this complex body of allusive lore. Although Babylon has enjoyed an unbroken record of allusion and adaptation in the West, used extensively by writers in every century, this project will be the first synthetic view of this rich history, detailing a wide variety of literary, rhetorical and ideological appropriations of the great city of eastern antiquity.

Andrew Scheil is an Associate Professor of English and a McKnight Presidential Fellow (2007-2010) at the University of Minnesota. His fields of research include Anglo-Saxon literature and culture; late antique, medieval, and early modern literature; poetry, historiography, and exegesis. His first book, The Footsteps of Israel: Understanding Jews in Anglo-Saxon England (Michigan 2004) won the 2005 Best First Book Prize of the International Society of Anglo-Saxonists and the 2008 John Nicholas Brown Prize of the Medieval Academy of America. He has published articles on Anglo-Saxon topics in journals such as Anglo-Saxon England, Journal of English and Germanic Philology, Exemplaria, Literary Imagination, and Neophilologus. His current project was funded in 2007-2008 by a NEH Fellowship for University Teachers. Scheil was educated at Rutgers University (BA) and the University of Toronto (MA and PhD).

Andreas Schwab

Solmsen Fellow (2015-2016)

Classics, Ruprecht-Karls-University of Heidelberg

The Translation of Foreign Religion in Herodotus

In my book project on the translation of foreign religion in Herodotus’ Histories, I deal with narratives about foreign peoples, cultures, and their religions, that – in Antiquity as well as today – have been delicate subjects. At the intersection of Classical Studies, Ancient History, and Religious Studies, my investigation explores Herodotus’ narratives about foreign religions in the Histories in order to reconstruct his method of describing and understanding foreign religions. The close, systematic analysis of Herodotus’ narratives on Egypt and Persia will be directed by a multidimensional concept of ‘religion’ and by key questions raised by scholarship of the modern studies of religion (e.g. aesthetics, psychology and sociology of religion).




Andreas Schwab is an Assistant Professor of Classics at the Ruprecht-Karls-University of Heidelberg in Germany. He published his first book on the sophisticated Late Antique (4th cent. CE) hexameter poetry and theology of Gregory of Nazianzus, Peri Pronoias On Providence: Text, Translation and Commentary, Classica Monacensia series (Tübingen 2009). In his second book, Thales of Miletus in Early Christian Literature, Studia Praesocratica series (Berlin/Boston 2012), he focuses on the reception of this early Greek philosopher, astronomer and sage of the 6th century BCE. He has written articles on the hermeneutics and the reception of ancient Greek philosophy, Herodotus, the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, and early Christian literature. In 2015 he co-edited a volume entitled Le Travail du Savoir / Wissensbewätigung: Philosophie, sciences exactes et sciences appliquées dans l’Antiquité. He is also a co-editor of The Reception of the Homeric Hymns (Oxford University Press, forthcoming). His current book project is on “The Translation of Foreign Religion in Herodotus.”

Mali Skotheim

Solmsen Fellow (2017-2018)

Classics, Princeton University

Radical Dancers: The Rise of Pantomime and the End of Drama in Antiquity

Mimes, pantomimes, magicians, acrobats, and puppeteers performed at ancient Greek religious festivals alongside actors of tragedy, comedy, and other stage performers. I focus on the role of pantomime in Greek, Roman, and early Christian culture. Pantomime, first attested in the first century BCE under Augustus, transformed the traditionally staged and acted drama that audiences were familiar with into an exciting new form, a masked, mimetic dance. At every stage in the history of the dance, pantomimes dancers negotiated complex relationships between verbal and bodily expression, high and low culture, tradition and innovation, Greek-ness and Roman-ness, and masculinity and femininity. I argue that these tensions must be understood in relation to the institutional context of the Greek festivals, where the dance was popularized throughout the ancient Mediterranean.

Mali Skotheim received her PhD in Classics from Princeton University in 2016, and her BA in Latin from Swarthmore College in 2005. During 2015-16, she was a Rome Prize Fellow at the American Academy in Rome, where she completed her dissertation, The Greek Dramatic Festivals under the Roman Empire. Her work has been generously supported by fellowships at the Center for Epigraphical and Paleographical Studies at The Ohio State University, the Warburg Institute in London, the Center for Ancient History and Epigraphy at the German Archaeological Institute in Munich, and the American School of Classical Studies at Athens.

Sharon Strocchia

Solmsen Fellow (2010-2011)

History, Emory University

Nuns and the Healing Arts in Late Renaissance Italy

Among the many agents of health in Renaissance Italy were religious women who worked as apothecaries, nurses, hospital administrators, and spiritual healers serving a wide public. But Renaissance nuns were not only healers who played a vital role in the Italian urban healthcare system: they were also articulate, introspective sufferers who narrated their experiences of illness and disability with growing frequency. This book-length study situates both nuns’ medical agency and their subjective experiences as sufferers in relation to signature developments of the early modern period, such as the expansion of female monasticism, new state welfare initiatives, Catholic reform, and medical professionalization. Tapping unexplored archival materials, my project both historicizes suffering as a social construction and revises current understandings of how healthcare in Renaissance Italy was organized, practiced, and gendered.

Sharon Strocchia is Professor of History at Emory University. Her research focuses on women and religion in Renaissance Italy; her most recent work integrates these themes with the social history of medicine. She is the author of Death and Ritual in Renaissance Florence (1992) and Nuns and Nunneries in Renaissance Florence (2009), as well as numerous articles on female religiosity in the Italian Renaissance, several of which have been awarded prizes. Strocchia (B.A. Stanford University; M.A., Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley) has received grants from the Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies (Villa I Tatti, Florence), National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Humanities Center, American Council of Learned Societies, Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, Renaissance Society of America, American Philosophical Society, the Newberry Library, and the Folger Library.

Richard C. Taylor

Solmsen Fellow (2019-2020)

Philosophy, Marquette University; annual visiting professor, Institute of Philosophy, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium

Aquinas and “the Arabs”: Classical Arabic Philosophy and Its Importance for the Thought of Thomas Aquinas

In the history of philosophy, there is an acute need for an informed account of the role of philosophy from the Arabic tradition in the formation of European philosophical and theological doctrines. There is at present no modern systematic book-length study spelling out with detailed philosophical analysis how teachings of the Arabic tradition informed the medieval European tradition. This work aims to begin to fill that gap with an intensive study of five key issues in thought of Thomas Aquinas, a preeminent philosopher and theologian of thirteenth-century Latin Europe whose work was strongly influenced by the Arabic tradition.

I am Professor of Philosophy at Marquette University where I began my career in 1982 (Ph.D. University of Toronto). Since 2011 I have been visiting professor at the Institute of Philosophy at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium where annually co-teach with Prof. Andrea Robiglio the course Aquinas in Context with special emphasis on Thomas’s use of the Arabic philosophical tradition for the formation of his key teachings in natural science, theory of knowledge, metaphysics and much more. Since my student days I have studied philosophy in Greek, Arabic and Latin contexts with special focus on the early 9th-century Arabic tradition, the Aragic rationalist tradition of Averroes and others, and the influence of philosophical reasoning of those thinkers on the formation of philosophy and theology in medieval Europe. My current IRH project grows out of these interests and recent graduate courses taught in Istanbul, Leuven, Pisa, and Milwaukee.

Sara Trevisan

Solmsen Fellow (2015-2016)

Arts and Humanities, Brunel University London

From Noah to King James: Genesis, Genealogy, and the Myth-Making of British Absolutism, 1598-1642

European theories of monarchical absolutism went hand in hand with a genealogical conception of history in which the king could trace his ancestry back to the patriarchs of Genesis via a network of predecessors who were often obscure or mythical. This genealogy with roots in the Garden of Eden had evolved in the middle ages but was still extant during the reign of the early Stuarts (1603-1649), when unusually complex genealogical trees were used to support the claims of the new dynasty to be ‘natural kings’ not only of Scotland and of England but of Britain. My book explores this genealogical conception of kingship, its role in debates on British nationhood, and its reflections in seventeenth-century British historiography, literature and visual culture. I argue that the principles of ‘natural kingship’ theorized by King James VI and I, and translated into verse and onto the stage, rested on views of genealogy as a structure that can be manipulated to define shared origins, ethnic and national identity, and hierarchical preeminence.

Sara Trevisan is Lecturer in Early Modern English Literature at Brunel University London and Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the University of Warwick starting in May 2016. She has published on early modern literature and culture in journals such as Renaissance Quarterly, Renaissance Studies and The Seventeenth Century. She is particularly interested in European intellectual history, court and civic festivals, literary geography, iconography, theories of monarchical rule and nationhood. She is currently writing a monograph on the use of genealogy as a tool for royal celebration in early Stuart literature and culture, entitled From Noah to King James: Genesis, Genealogy and the Myth-Making of British Absolutism, 1598-1642.

Scott Trudell

Solmsen Fellow (2014-2015)

English, University of Maryland, College Park

Song and Mediation in Early Modern England

Trudell’s current book project traces the development of verse with a musical dimension in the poetic and theatrical cultures of early modern England, beginning with the renewed interest in musical humanism among Sidney and his peers, and continuing through Milton’s fascination with musical language and experience. Song was an essential part of the literary canon, and it circulated ubiquitously in written format. Yet it was also highly performative, inseparable from the rhythmic, vocal and instrumental conditions of its recital. As such, song brings out the extensive interaction between writing and sound in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century literary culture. Song resists the notion that literature can be confined to a particular media format, subject as it was to a constant series of feedback loops between scriptive, acoustic, visual and other media. Persistently understood as poetic yet irreducible to script, song invites us to re-imagine literature as a process of mediation, adapted and redefined by the competing influences of technologies, formats, authors and performers.

Scott A. Trudell is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Maryland, College Park, where his research and teaching focus on early modern literature, media theory and music. In addition to his current book project about song and mediation from Sidney and Shakespeare to Jonson and Milton, he has research interests in gender studies, digital humanities, pageantry and itinerant theatricality. His work has been published in Shakespeare Quarterly, Studies in Philology and edited collections. He is at work on a book entitled Song and Mediation in Early Modern England.

Sonia Velázquez

Solmsen Fellow (2018-2019)

Religious Studies; Comparative Literature, Indiana University-Bloomington

Promiscuous Grace: Reimagining Beauty and Holiness with Saint Mary of Egypt

In Promiscuous Grace: Reimagining Religion and Beauty with St. Mary of Egypt I study the immensely popular story of Mary of Egypt’s conversion from promiscuous twelve-year old to venerable anchorite as mediated by her interaction with an image of the Virgin Mary. This figure, though rarely studied from a theoretical perspective, emerges in this project as a productive transhistorical vehicle for reflecting on the role of beauty and appearances in works that are ostensibly about asceticism and Christian doctrine. Through the study of three instantiations of the legend from the thirteenth to the seventeenth centuries, I show how these works—on the page, on the stage, and on canvas—engage openly with questions of generosity and promiscuity, belief and appearances, mediation and immediacy, feminine charm and the grotesque. Examining how the legend of this saint mediates the presence of the divine in this world, I ultimately seek to recuperate for grace its double meaning as the gratuitous gift of salvation (holiness) and the allure of the senses (beauty) as well as to challenge our contemporary understandings of hagiography as synonymous with uncritical acclamation, of belief as the static acceptance of dogma, and of beauty as that which “one does not have to work at” (Arthur Danto).

Sonia Velázquez has a joint appointment as Assistant Professor in the departments of Religious Studies and Comparative Literature at Indiana University, Bloomington. Her research focuses on the intersection of aesthetics and religion, especially in the medieval and early modern periods in Europe. She has co-edited a volume on pastoral and the humanities with Mathilde Skoie (Exeter/Bristol Press, 2007) and a Critical Cluster on Giorgio Agamben and early modern Spanish poetry for MLN in 2017. Her publications include articles on Pascal’s wager and theatrical stagings of conversion; on style as a vehicle of political and ethical engagement with questions of politics and anthropology in Cervantes’ Los trabajos de Persiles y Sigismunda; on poetry and hospitality in Théophile Viau’s La maison de Sylvie, and on the fallacy of secularization in Alexandre Hardy’s stage adaptation of Cervantes’ short story La fuerza de la sangre. Her article, “Didacticism and the Ends of Storytelling: Walter Benjamin’s Medievalism and Forms of Knowledge in Sendebar” received the Allen and Judy Shoaf Award for the Best Essay Published in Exemplaria (2013).

Melissa Vise

Solmsen Fellow (2017-2018)

Italian Studies, New York University

The Unruly Tongue: Speech and Violence in Medieval Italy

What can words do? This project offers a historicizing twist to that question by asking what words could do in medieval Italy. I focus on the northern Italian cities, the nascent self-governing republics that arose in the midst of monarchic and seigniorial rule. The cities branded themselves as beacons of libertas, but dissimilar to the ideals of many modern republics, speech was far from free. I construct a cultural history of speech and its regulation by drawing together medical tracts, pastoral treatises, rhetorical manuals, contemporary literature, statute law, and civic, episcopal, and inquisition trial processes. This diverse source base has suggested that a narrative forefronting clerical or political persecution cannot fully explain medieval regulation of speech. Instead, I argue that the definition and prosecution of speech crimes were part of a larger and developing ethics of speech, one that identified the ability of words themselves to become weapons and that summoned all to guard against their violence. I work to identify the construction, geography, and cultural import of a moral order: the ephemeral and irretrievable yet determinative world of speech.

Melissa Vise is a historian of medieval Europe whose research focuses on religious, cultural, and legal history with an emphasis on the Italian peninsula. Most recently, she was a Visiting Assistant Professor at New York University in the Department of Italian Studies. She was a Presidential Fellow at Northwestern University (2012-14), a Fellow in the Mellon Academy for Advanced Studies of the Renaissance (2013), a Charlotte Newcomb Fellow (2014-15), and a winner of the Medieval Academy of America’s Olivia Remie Constable Award (2017). Her most recent article, “The Women and the Inquisitor: Peace-making in Bologna, 1299” is forthcoming in Speculum, 2018.

Justine Walden

Solmsen Fellow (2019-2020)

Ph.D., History and Renaissance Studies, Yale University

What Price Souls: Capuchin Mission in Congo, Mercantilism, and Antislavery

What Price Souls looks at how in their responses to Portuguese, Dutch, English, and French slaving in seventeenth-century Congo, West Africa, Italian Capuchin missionaries brought Mediterranean and Atlantic slavery into dialogue. Analyzing the dispatches sent by Capuchins to their headquarters at the Propaganda Fide in Rome, I show how Capuchins mediated empire, weighed in on ideas about profit, and contributed to evolving ideas about race. In that Capuchins condemned slavery’s abuses, I argue that their work represents a prescient instance of antislavery sentiment.

After receiving my Ph.D. in History and Renaissance Studies at Yale University (2016), I served as a visiting Postdoctoral researcher on a digital mapping project at the University of Toronto. My first book (forthcoming, Brepols) looks at a series of exorcism manuscripts written by Florentine monks to understand religious change, politics, and why the persecution of groups like witches, Jews, and peasants spiked in late fifteenth-century Europe. My bachelor’s degree is in Philosophy from the University of California Berkeley; my MA is in American Civilization from the University of Pennsylvania.

Colin Wilder

Solmsen Fellow (2011-2012)

Political Science, University of South Carolina

Who Answers When the Landlord Calls? Interpreting Property and the ‘German Idea of Freedom,’ 1650-1800

Using small case studies in Germany in the period under study, the project traces relationships between abstract theories of human freedom and specific conflicts over property rights in early modern Germany, specifically in the Hessian and Rhine-Main region. This study deepens our understanding of the foundations of market society and liberalism in Europe. The book’s intellectual sketch is based on numerous court, academic and ministerial documents, while the social narrative will be plotted on the basis of social network analysis of the thousands of small actors and writers. Relationships among statesmen, lawyers and professors will be measured specifically for clustering, bridging and node-centrality.

Colin Wilder is a Solmsen Fellow at the Institute for Research in the Humanities. Colin finished his PhD in History at the University of Chicago in 2010. In 2010-2011, he taught courses at Brown University on”The Emergence of Capitalism in Early Modern Europe” and “Prosperity and Poverty: The History, Ethics and Economics of the Wealth of Nations.” Colin’s article, “Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks: Four Motifs of Legal Change from Early Modern Europe,” will appear in the February 2012 issue of History and Theory. His essay, “The Importance of Beginning, Over and Over,” was published in Intersections, Vol. 25 (Leiden: Brill Publishers, 2011), and a related essay, “Zu unterschiedlichen Formen der Historizität in der deutschen Rechtsgeschichte des 18. Jahrhunderts” will appear later this year in the volume Geschichtskulturen um 1700, edited by Thomas Wallnig (DeGruyter). He is also developing a large database of jurists and other authors of the German Enlightenment entitled “The Republic of Literature” (see link below). Colin’s research interests include the development of commercial society; liberal legal and economic systems; natural law and rights theories; and the problems of history and theory.

Colin Wilder’s webpage

The Republic of Literature

Eliza Zingesser

Solmsen Fellow (2014-2015)

French and Romance Philology, Columbia University

Borderlands: Intercultural Encounters in the Medieval French Pastourelle

This project shows how pastoral literature—especially pastourelle poetry—became a privileged site for French explorations of cultural and linguistic difference in the Middle Ages. The generic framework of the pastourelle poem—in which an errant knight encounters, and subsequently often rapes, a shepherdess—entangles cultural and linguistic difference with sexual power and class hierarchy. Borderlands turns to Occitania, Flanders, the Basque Country and England as imagined in francophone poetry.

Eliza Zingesser is an Assistant Professor in the Department of French and Romance Philology at Columbia University. She has published on medieval and Renaissance literature in journals such as Modern Language Notes and Modern Philology. She is particularly interested in assimilation, multilingualism, cultural and linguistic contact, and gender and sexuality. In addition to Borderlands, she is at work on a book project on the early francophone reception of troubadour lyric.