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MEMS Research from Past Years

2018 Research Awards

Project: Learning a New Transcription Technology

This summer Rheagan Martin (History of Art) traveled to Venice, Italy, to consult early printed books in the collections of the Fondazione Giorigo Cini and the Fondazione Querini Stampalia. He attended a week-long workshop in Wolfenbüttel, Germany, organized through the Herzog August Bibliothek and Friedrich-Alexander Universität. This course taught an international standard for transcribing manuscripts known as TEI (Text Encoding Initiative) within a digital framework known as XML (Extensible Markup Language). This allows manuscripts to be transcribed and searched digitally not just as text but as recognizable values such as makers or geographic locations. The workshop was a great opportunity to continue to develop the German-language skills for which he used MEMS funding last summer and to advance his interest in digital humanities as it relates to manuscript studies.


Project: Discovering Riches in Salisbury

This past summer Taylor Sims (History) spent two weeks in the U.K. exploring several archives relevant to her research on women, gender, and the English Reformation. From London to Salisbury to Chippenham, she put her MEMS Summer Grant to use exploring archives at various levels of national, church, and diocesan administration. Starting in London, she worked in the National Archives at Kew, the British Library, and the London Metropolitan Archive. With a variety of manuscript sources, including lay subsidies, wills, court records, sermons, and saint's lives, she was able to analyze every-day, local, and gendered experiences of religious continuity and change.

Since Taylor's dissertation project focuses on the Diocese of Salisbury from 1450-1600, she also visited the Salisbury Cathedral Archive. Here, she was able to explore a relatively underutilized source base on social, economic, and pious networks in Salisbury and its parishes. The Cathedral Library also provided surprising sources, including dynamic manuscripts that reflect both consistent and changing local theological concerns. Before arriving in Salisbury, Taylor had not anticipated how rich the archive would be, since her project is not primarily concerned with cathedral administration or Salisbury as the seat of power. However, the prescriptive and descriptive sources she found make the sixteenth-century parish life more legible than she had hoped. While in Salisbury, she also spent a morning in the parish church of St. Thomas & St. Edmund, viewing the medieval stonework, paintings, and memorials.

Taylor went on to Chippenham to visit the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre (the Wiltshire Record Office) to access churchwardens' accounts, visitations, and confraternity rolls. Here, she worked with late fifteenth and sixteenth-century parish records and focused on local dynamics in the county of Wiltshire. Several of the churchwardens' accounts were too fragile to handle; but with the help of understanding archivists, she was able to access most of her sources and compile a substantial source base for her dissertation. While in Chippenham, she was also able to explore the village of Lacock, with its fourteenth-century parish church, tithe barn, and late medieval houses.

Jacob van Cotham, Averbode Altarpiece, c. 1510


Project: In Search of Quentin Mestys

This research trip was crucial to the first chapter of Kate Campbell's (History of Art) dissertation, which situates Quentin Metsys’s work in Antwerp as triggering a paradigm shift in Antwerp artists’ conceptions of their own artmaking practices.

In Belgium she was able to study Metsys’s paintings in collections and archives of the Royal Museums of Fine Arts in Antwerp. This research focused on the Saint John Altarpiece, made c. 1511 for the altar of the Joiners’ Guild in Antwerp’s cathedral. She studied documents related to provenance and conservation of the painting dating back to the nineteenth century and visited the Antwerp municipal archive to look for documents of the Joiners’ Guild related to the commission of the altarpiece. She was also able to study and photograph an undigitized copy of Franchoys Fickaert’s Metamorphosis (1648), the first monograph on Metsys, in the collection of the Museum Plantin-Moretus.

The second half of the trip was spent at a conference in Belgium and continuing her research in Spain. The Historians of Netherlandish Art, a major conference in the field was held this year at Ghent University, where Kate gave a Pecha Kucha presentation on my dissertation. In Madrid She studied several of Metsys’s works in the collection of the Prado Museum, including The Temptation of Saint Anthony, made in collaboration with Joachim Patinir c. 1520-24. There she met Christine Seidel and Alejandro Vergara, curators of Flemish painting, and discussed Metsys’s working methods with them.

She returned with a better understanding of Metsys’s typical practices and his reception in seventeenth-century art literature, as well as a better understanding of the work of his collaborator, Patinir. 


Project: Tracking Down Key Sources

In summer 2018 Kate Waggoner-Karchner (History) completed a research trip to Spain where she visited Oviedo, Salamanca, and Toledo to view and potentially photograph three manuscripts. The first, held at the Oviedo cathedral, is a key part of a dissertation chapter on challenges the Church faced in the fifteenth century. Kate was able to meet with the archivist and study the manuscript and the archive’s catalog, which is unpublished. She was able to confirm the manuscript's origin and that several of the texts in it directly relate to her topic. After taking notes on the features of the manuscript and some of the marginalia, the archivist allowed her to photograph the key text in its entirety, as well as several marginal notes from other texts and watermarks.

Then on to Salamanca, where she met with her advisor, Ryan Szpiech, who was teaching in Granada, and several Salamanca professors, including one who personally held a second manuscript she was interested in seeing. She was allowed to photograph the entire manuscript, which has never before been studied. After carefully going through the photographs and labeling everything, she identified a missing folio, a fact she was able to confirm the next day, along with several other minor features, so she now has comprehensive notes for future use. While this document’s features and contents do not fit directly into her dissertation topics, she plans to write up a short notice about it for one of several appropriate journals on medieval manuscripts. 

Finally, she spent a day in Toledo where she met with one of the cathedral archivists and was able to identify the third manuscript (the old catalog did not have the most recent shelf-markings) and study that item in situ. She confirmed not only that this was a copy of Contra legem that scholars had not previously identified, but that it was created in the same context as the manuscript in Oviedo (making it another critical source for her chapter on the Church). In addition to using it in the dissertation, she plans to include it in her write-up on new copies of Contra legem for publication.


Project: Assimilation in Alsace

This past summer, Haley Bowen (History) spent several weeks conducting archival work and carrying out exploratory dissertation research in Paris and Strasbourg. Relying primarily on the correspondence and administrative documents of Cardinal Mazarin and Jean-Baptiste Colbert, she explored how the Paris government administered the recently acquired territory of Alsace in the late seventeenth century.

When it was seized from German princes, Alsace was viewed by Parisian elites as a war-torn and utterly backwards region, and its enthusiastic new duke went to great lengths to introduce French morals and customs into the territory. This included, for example, the chaste requirement that brothers and sisters no longer sleep in the same bed (incest among the Alsatians being of great concern!) and that local Alsatian elites adopt French modes of dressing. Her research this summer allowed her to place these peculiar assimilation projects in the broader context of French territorial expansion during the seventeenth century. The documents hint that such assertions of soft power were part of an overall strategy to eliminate foreign influence within the region and cement claims that the German-speaking territory did truly belong to France.

Two weeks at the municipal archives in Strasbourg and the departmental archives in Bas-Rhin provided tantalizing evidence of the strategies local Alsatian elites used to circumvent French authority, especially the government's 1685 demand that Protestants convert to Catholicism or leave France permanently. Strasbourg, long a hotbed of Protestantism, managed to gain special exemptions from expulsion through both negotiations with Parisian officials and a careful strategy of calculated avoidance. She hopes to use this research in a forthcoming article that explores questions of local autonomy and assimilation in French borderlands. The trip also allowed her to spend significant time in Strasbourg, a city whose dual identity persists in striking forms even today.


Project: Linking Senegal, Spain, and Peru

In summer 2018 Ximena Gómez (History of Art) went to Senegal and Spain to complete the research for her dissertation. She began her trip in the Senegalese capital, where she attended Dak’art, a biennial exhibition of African art. In addition to encountering contemporary African art and artists, she enjoyed meeting the exhibition’s hostesses, who were dressed in the traditional clothing of Senegalese ethnic groups, including the jewelry she had written about in a chapter on the Virgin of the Antigua. She also acquired a Christian wax-print fabric with the Notre-Dame du Perpétuel Secours, whose West African interpretation of the Virgin she will treat in the conclusion of her dissertation.

She next traveled to Casamance, in southern Senegal, where many of the black Antigua confraternity members she studies originally hailed from. While the ritual objects they would have used are not extant, it helped to see the unique environment that produced them. Seeing how the forest immediately meets the sea in this area, she speculates that enslaved West Africans brought to Lima would have found the coast and fishing culture of Lima familiar, but the lack of wooded areas jarring. She now suspects that the confraternity’s early purchase of a wooden processional image could have had special significance to the Senegambian devotees of the Virgin of the Antigua in Lima.

In Madrid, visits to the Prado and the Museo de América allowed her to see, among other things, a city view of Lima dating to the seventeenth century, which gives a rich visual representation of a city teeming with commerce and a large multiracial population. This, rather than the outdated narrative of a “Spanish city,” is the version of Lima that her project hopes to add to art historical study.

Since her project deals with limeño cults of the Virgin, it was important to see the Spanish cults from which Lima’s developed. Pilgrimages to multiple shrines of the Virgin included the Virgin of Montserrat near Barcelona, the Virgin of Guadalupe in Extremadura, and the Virgin of the Antigua in Seville. Though she is no longer well-known, the Spanish Guadalupe used to be extremely popular, particularly in the early modern period and among the first invaders of Mexico and Peru. She found it particularly interesting to see how, despite sharing little more than the title, the Guadalupe shrine in Spain claims a link to the cult of the famous Mexican Virgin (this link is not important at the Mexican shrine). These kinds of transatlantic relationships are at the core of her project, and considering the Spanish perspectives on American counterparts was useful, since these would have affected how colonial peninsulares perceived the indigenous and black cults in the Americas.

In Seville she spent days transcribing at the Archivo General de Indias and evenings seeing the images that most directly affected the religious life of colonial Peru and Mexico. At the AGI she found a number of letters written by early bishops that describe processions and confraternal life in Lima. One from 1619, which lists the confraternities active in the city of Lima and its archbishopric, has been cited many times in studies of Peru’s sodalities. Seeing the letter in full will help her update some of the information on limeño confraternities that has been considered definitive. In another letter, complaints about procession decorum and the (lack of) respect shown to the archbishop speak to how important these occasions were in terms of public display. Evidence like this helps to contextualize the black Antigua and indigenous Copacabana confraternities in Lima and their relationships to religious visual culture.


Project: Exploring London Bridge History

Between May 31 and August 3, Emmamarie Haasl (History) traveled from her lease in North London to the Metropolitan Archives, the National Archives in Kew, the British Library, the Institute for Historical Research, or the Senate House Library five to six days per week. Besides conducting research for her dissertation, she presented a paper at the Institute for Historical Research and attended weekly seminars there through June. She registered for a workshop at the archives in Kew to learn new techniques for using medieval legal records and participated in a planning symposium at the Museum of London for the 2020 commemoration of the martyrdom of Thomas Becket. While attending the International Medieval Symposium at Leeds, she reconnected with a number of fellow scholars, and she made several day trips to the Canterbury Cathedral Archives and the Bodleian Archives in Oxford.

Emmamarie’s dissertation “Belonging to London Bridge” analyzes changing relationship between religion and commerce in communities on and around London Bridge from the medieval into the early modern period. London Bridge House is an important focus, since by the fifteenth century its interests included the chapel on the bridge, a pilgrimage site, multiple storehouses and properties on the bridge and around London, a large permanent workforce for the maintenance of these properties and the bridge infrastructure, connections with local craft guilds, and property-based relationships with various religious houses in the region. Its administration, mostly based at a complex in Southwark on the south side of the Thames, linked all these together to maintain the bridge, fulfilling one of the seven acts of corporal mercy: caring for travelers.  She argues that the sixteenth century dissolution of the bridge chapel and the monasteries and fraternities in the bridge’s network were one step in a much longer transition undergone by non-parochial places of religious significance in the urban late medieval landscape.


2017 Research Awards

In Santa Cruz, Seville's Jewish quarter in medieval times.


Project: Exploring Spain's Past

Shai Zamir (History) attended an intensive Spanish language course at the University of Granada in May to improve his skills in reading, listening, speaking and writing while living in a Spanish-speaking environment, surrounded by the rich history of Granada. Being enrolled at level 6 (out of 9) he could practice his Spanish on topics of his own choice, so for instance, he delivered a short talk to his colleagues about the history of the Judeo-Spanish.

As part of the program he took Spanish-guided educational trips to historical sites such as the Alhambra palace, the Granada cathedral, a former Morisco house, Baroque monasteries, and many other places central to the history of Muslims, Christians and Jews in medieval and early modern Spain.

On weekends, he traveled -- to Cordova, the Alpujarras, and Sevilla (where he visited the General Archive of the Indies) to become more familiar with Andalusia's history and pursue other intellectual interests. In Seville, other than visiting the Alcazar and the Jewish quarter, he also had a chance to examine closely Jusepe de Ribera's painting La mujer barbuda, the subject of his final essay in Kenneth Mills' seminar "Conversion and Christianities," as well as other Baroque paintings at the Museo de Bellas Artes and the Hospital de la Caridad.

He writes: "On this first visit to Spain, MEMS has given me the opportunity not only to improve my Spanish, but also to gain a basic familiarity with Spanish history, geography, and culture, which will be significant for my training as an early modernist working on Sephardic history in Spain and the Mediterranean."

CUNY's Latin/Greek Institute


Project: Intensive Latin... in NYC?!

Tonhi Lee (English) applied for the MEMS Summer Awards to partially fund the tuition for an intensive Latin program at CUNY’s Latin/Greek Institute. The course consisted of approximately 6 semesters worth of Latin, which covered all the essential skills necessary to read, write, and translate from a wide range of periods. For the first 5 weeks, the course focused on achieving “active mastery” of Latin syntax and learning essential vocabulary. The subsequent 5 weeks were devoted to reading as many real Latin texts as possible, both in prose and poetry. Among the authors that we read are Caesar, Cicero, Sallust, Tacitus, Catullus, Horace, Ovid, Plautus, Seneca, Augustine, Dante, Erasmus, and Milton, to name a few.

The program also offered lectures on the history of Latin, lexicography, and textual criticism, which helped him better understand the disciplinary tools and traditions that inform our knowledge of Latin texts, as well as the radical uncertainties involved in scholarly efforts at interpretation and translation. This kind of training provided the knowledge and skills he can now apply to his own studies in the early modern period.


Project: German, Metallurgy, and Early Science

This summer Rheagan Martin (Hsitory of Art) traveled to Berlin to take a six-week intensive German language course. This greatly enhanced his research skills, comprehension in museums, and ability to communicate on the ground. While in Berlin, he visited many major museums including the Kunstgewerbemuseum and the Naturkundemuseum (Decorative Arts Museum and the Natural History Museum). Seeing these collections helped him define the scope and content of the dissertation. Having previously focused on the work of goldsmiths, now he is incorporating early scientific instruments and the visual history of science into the work. 


Project: Roots in Stone and Slavery: Rootedness, Mobility, and Empire in 17th Century Cartagena de Indias

The second Diane Owen Hughes Scholar, Ana María Silva (History), spent the past month of June conducting research at the Archivo General de Indias (AGI) in Seville and the Archivo Histórico Nacional (AHN) in Madrid, Spain. In Seville, she read and transcribed manuscript lawsuits, correspondence, administrative reports, and petitions sent from the Caribbean port city of Cartagena de Indias to the King of Spain and the Council of the Indies during the seventeenth century. She focused on archival records related to local conflicts about the urban organization of this Spanish colonial city, especially with respect to the location of nuisance industries, such as tanneries, and the people who lived near them.

At the Archivo Histórico Nacional, she continued to study the formation of Cartagena’s urban and social geographies, this time by looking at the financial archives of a tribunal of the Spanish Inquisition located in that city. Specifically, she examined the Inquisition’s records about property that the tribunal confiscated from supposed heretics, especially real estate. Based on this data, she will analyze the impact that the Inquisition’s confiscation practices had on specific neighborhoods and communities in Cartagena, especially among women of African descent.

Both in Seville and in Madrid, she visited museums and libraries, including the Biblioteca Nacional de España, the Museum at the Archivo General de Indias, and the Museo de Historia de Madrid, where she explored collections that she might use in future projects.

Facade of San Matteo, Genoa.


Project: Intensive Latin Propels Research

Archival work in Italy, and specifically in Genoa, is critical to Brenna Larson's (History of Art) dissertation work and requires at least intermediate reading ability in Latin. Genoa maintained the use of Latin longer than most Italian cities; as a port town, Latin served as an important lingua franca for a diverse population. With the help of published references, Brenna was able to locate items of interest and bring images of those items home. Her time in the  State Archive in Genoa during the first half of the summer only reinforced her need for Latin.  

This summer, with the support of a MEMS Summer Award, Brenna completed the intensive Latin course at the Summer Language Institute at the University of Michigan. The course covered the grammar and vocabulary of the first two semesters of Latin and provided a great deal translation practice; the class worked through many texts typically introduced in second year Latin. With her new skill set in place, she is now able to fully explore the documents she'd obtained earlier in Italy.

HM 143 with paratext.


Project: Paleography in Play: Manuscript Work in Middle English

This past summer, Annika Pattenaude (English) writes, she spent a week at the Huntington Library in Pasadena researching late medieval manuscripts. Her purpose was to expand and develop her paleography skills.  Focusing on five manuscripts: HM 114, HM 143, HM 744, HM 503, and HM 111, which contain popular medieval works like Troilus and Criseyde, Piers Plowman, Mandeville's Travels, a Wycliffite sermon in Middle English, and some of Hoccleve's shorter poems, she focused on transcribing Anglicana and Secretary hands. Using the guidebook Opening-up Middle English Manuscripts and other online guides as working aids, she learned to be attentive to subtle differences in individual letters, for instance, the double compartment "a" or the distinct "r" that looks like a "v" in Anglicana script. I also learned to recognize certain abbreviations, like the p for "per," þ with a superscript "t" for "that." The work was tedious but productive. Having some knowledge of paleography from previous graduate courses, this research trip was an excellent opportunity to put what she had learned into practice. 

In addition, this experience highlighted the difference between reading a medieval text in manuscript form and in a modern edition. She focused not only on what the manuscript said but also how its manuscript medium affected her reading and interpretation of the text. The creative decorations in HM 143 (shown here), a series of detached faces floating out of illuminated initials in Piers Plowman, influences how we perceive the text as a clouded network of voices. That is, the floating faces elaborate on the text's formal and narrative structure, which might be understood as a pattern of various speeches on good living. Other paratext or irregularities raised similar issues: How does the marginal glossing in different versions of Piers Plowman and Troilus and Criseyde guide our reading experience?  


2016 Research Awards


Project: Intensive Latin and Other Basic Skills for Premodern Research

While getting a jump-start with intensive Latin here at Michigan, Taylor Sims (History) also spent the summer working as a research assistant and a mentor in the Academic Success Program. Taylor’s research interests deal broadly with women, gender identity, and religion in medieval and early modern England. Thanks to the eight weeks of work on morphology, syntax, and vocabulary, and translating classical and medieval poetry and prose, she can now work with a broader base of sources. Over the summer Taylor also looked at the Husting Court wills on microfilm. The wills date from the mid-fourteenth through the sixteenth century and are entirely in Latin, so in combination with the intensive class, this work advanced the development of her paleographic skills. This year Taylor has taken on co-coordinating the Forum on Research in Medieval Studies.


Project: Plotting a Course: A Preliminary Field Survey of the Kamo River

Last June Esther Ladkau (History) set off to explore the city of Kyoto, Japan, on foot. She visited museums, archives, temples and shrines, and hiked the mountains to get her bearings in the city and its environs. Using GIS software, she was able to track her expeditions and map landmarks and trails. The point of this was to trace the course of the river and physically experience the places and spaces of her subject: people’s experiences around the Kamo River, in particular disasters that occurred there in the medieval period. Personally visiting the area gave her a sense of place otherwise hard to imagine from the documents alone.

In addition to learning the area, Essie reconnected with local researchers, spent time in archives and research centers, and networked with established scholars in the field. Local scholars offered suggestions and resources she would not have found otherwise on this short visit. (Funded in part by a MEMS Summer Award.)


Project: Mediterranean Studies Skills: Reading Aljamiado

Hayley Bowman (History) visited the University of Colorado to undertake an intensive seminar on a mode of writing used by Spanish Moriscos (Muslims who converted to Christianity after the Reconquista) and mudejares (Muslims who remained in the Iberian peninsula but did not convert) from the fifteenth through the seventeenth centuries. The script is written in Castilian using Arabic characters. But this seminar was more than a simple language-learning experience: Beyond the analysis of the words, letters, and paleography of the sources, students were encouraged to consider the manuscripts as objects and were provided the opportunity to work with materials otherwise unavailable.

Hayley especially appreciated the range of source materials: she worked on a manual on magic, a fortune-telling book, and a prayer for a newborn, all interesting avenues into the lives of marginalized groups in the late medieval and early modern Spanish world. All this has led her toward larger interests in the complex religious climate of the Spanish world, as well as offering opportunities to expand her language skills and do valuable networking. (Funded by a MEMS summer award.)

King's College London.


Project: Archives, Conference, and a Workshop: Into the Weeds of English Literary History

Megan Behrend spent July 2016 in England running between the Cambridge University Library, the British Library, and the New Chaucer Society’s 20th Biennial Congress at King's College, which included a two-day paleography and manuscript studies workshop.

Megan was able to conduct manuscript research on two of three extant versions of her topic poems, the trilingual De Amico ad amicam and Responcio. Of particular interest was their appearance in both an early canonizing collection of Chaucer texts (since they are not attributed to Chaucer) and a mid-late fifteenth-century “scrappy student notebook.” She studied their placement in these manuscripts and compared them with the form and treatment of pieces around them, and concluded that these macaronic (multilingual) poems were in fact not marginal in the literary cultures from which their manuscripts derive, as has been suggested elsewhere. She is thinking through interesting new questions about the relationship between these texts and their history.

Using Latin, French, and English, the poems also stand out from the mostly Latin academic genres such as riddles, proverbs, and grammatical treatises gathered in the second manuscript. This version of the poems is quite close to that in the Chaucer collection, but their presentation parallels that of the Latin riddles, with their bracketed tail rhymes recalling the bracketing of the riddle solutions. This points to a closer relationship between academic exercises and poetic play across languages than previously assumed. (Funded by a MEMS Summer Award.)

Medieval living space for the religious recluse.


Project: Manuscripts and Remnants of the Religious Culture of Medieval England

Thanks to a MEMS summer grant, together with other funding, Rebecca Huffman (English) visited archives in England and France, as well as undertaking a religious visual culture survey in Norwich and East Anglia. She examined nearly a dozen manuscripts related to her dissertation at the British Library, including copies of The Canterbury Tales, Julian of Norwich's Short and Long Texts, and Nicholas Love's Mirror as well as several anonymous works. At Longleat House's archives outside Salisbury, she studied vernacular religious manuscripts--in particular a unique copy of Chaucer's Parson's Tale that was separated from the rest of The Canterbury Tales and compiled together with religious verse and prose (she plans to center her Parson chapter on this manuscript).

She discovered over a few weeks in East Anglia a really engaged population of medieval readers and writers. She collected site-specific information for her Julian chapter and gained a much better context for regional medieval religious culture. Pictured here is the rare surviving anchorhold at All Saints Church in King's Lynn.

Sight reading the score at Notation Bootcamp.


Project: Precursory to Theories of Rhythm in Thirteenth-Century France

This past summer William van Geest (Music Theory) undertook Latin training at the Centre for Medieval Studies (University of Toronto) and attended a Historical Notation Bootcamp hosted by Yale University. The former, running six weeks, had students preparing their own translations that they then read in class as well as sight reading other texts from a variety of genres – poetry, legal records, historical narrative, hagiography, sermons and epistles – and from different provenances and time periods in the Middle Ages.

The Notation Bootcamp provided a three-day introduction to musical notations employed from earliest times in the Western tradition (c. eighth century) to the advent of musical printing (c. 1500). This program is meant to supplement current curricular gaps, in particular music paleography, in today’s musicological training. Familiarity with historical notations is essential for scholars of medieval music and the Yale program not only taught the participants to read various notations, but also introduced issues surrounding notation that William thinks are central to the emergence of rhythm theorizing at that time. (Funded by a MEMS Summer Award.)

At Tazlau Monastery, Moldavia, Romania.


Project: The Painted Fortified Monastic Churches of Moldavia: Bastions of Orthodoxy in a Post-Byzantine World

Alice Isabella Sullivan (History of Art), the first Diane Owen Hughes Scholar, spent four weeks in Europe this past May for research and study, first visiting Vienna to examine fifteenth and sixteenth-century Moldavian manuscripts housed in the Austrian National Library, and then visiting medieval monasteries in Romania (at Pătrăuţi, Putna, Moldoviţa, Probota, Voroneţ, and Suceviţa). She also examined many icons, embroideries, metalwork and other manuscripts from the monastic collections at Putna, Moldoviţa, and Suceviţa.

At Putna, she studied key liturgical books and tetraevangelia from the reign of Stephen III (Stephen the Great, 1457-1504) and worked with monks and priests there, making useful contacts for future engagement with the Stephen the Great Research and Documentation Center, which organizes a yearly conference on medieval and early modern Moldavian history and culture. She also met and discussed her work with Romanian historians from the University of Alexandru Ioan Cuza in Iaşi.

At the moment, she is finishing up the last two chapters of her dissertation on developments in monastic church architecture in Moldavia, as well as on the iconographic programs of select churches that took on a new visual rhetoric in the decades following the collapse of the Byzantine Empire in 1453.

Nejime grave site, Kagoshima.


Project: Ties that Bind: Land, Inheritance, and Kinship in Medieval Japan

Kevin Gouge (History) spent the summer working through early documents in several University of Tokyo archives with local scholars. The archival work brought him closer to completing his case study of the Nejime family, whose different branches identified by their courtly name, Takebe, but were also known by names drawn from the villages or large farms in the physically scattered lands they controlled.

Kevin's project compares the loose network of the expansionist Nejime with the relatively isolated and concentrated Ichikawa family, following their stories through the Kamakura and Nanbokucho periods (1185-1392). His tracking of both families will allow a close comparison and analysis of broad political and social trends, as well as the relationship between social structure and the environment. (Funded by a MEMS Summer Award.)

Egerton Ms, page from Amis and Amiloun.


Project: Desiring Discord: Political Conflict in Medieval Romance

Maia Farrar (English) has been working on issues of reader reception and reading practices around early English romances and ballads. This past summer she compared the romance Amis and Amiloun in the fourteenth-century Egerton Manuscript, with the popular Bevis of Hamtoun and Florence and Blanchfloure for signs of reader engagement.

Questions in her final dissertation chapter include, How did readers interpret scenes of political conflict? Did they prioritize amorous over political moments, and how did they react to the prevalence of conflict? In Amis, tension is highlighted when the knights Amis and Amiloun choose their oath of brotherhood over the "truth" of the larger political and social fabric.

Though the Egerton ms has water damage and signs of heavy use, the Amis and Amiloun section is intact and shows signs of reader engagement -- pen tests, rubrication (marking in red) and marginalia – which suggest both active and distracted readership. A later reader of Amis added red illumination to identify and highlight the text's rhyming couplets and capital letters, a time-consuming and engaged practice. However, these marks end barely halfway through the romance on a leaf that bears a marginal doodle partially obscuring a line in a key scene wherein Amis breaks with the larger community by killing a steward's horse and then the steward in defense of his brother knight.

Compared to other popular romances that show no such mark-up, indicating passive reading, Amis stands out as a clear instance of reader engagement and a space where we can extrapolate from the romances outward to the reading community. (Funded by a MEMS Summer Award.)

Learning the ropes, with Cerberus doodle.


Project: Vernaculars of Print in the 17th c. Netherlands

Jun Nakamura (History of Art) is a historian of early modern visual culture who often finds Latin inscriptions on works he studies. This past summer, with MEMS support, he enrolled in a ten-week Latin bootcamp at CUNY, equivalent to four to six semesters of college Latin. By weeks seven and eight the class was reading Vergil’s Aeneid, and Augustine’s Confessions in weeks nine and ten. Livy, Tacitus, Lucretius, Petronius, and others made appearances along the way.

Embarking on research travel immediately after completing the course, he examined drawings at the Berlin Kupferstichkabinett and later, 16-17th century medical books at the Sächsisch Landesbibliothek, Staats- und Universitatsbibliotheck in Dresden. All these works carried Latin inscriptions, but the books were especially interesting. Both were published in Latin and contained hand annotations, also in Latin. From a long flyleaf inscription he determined that one had been given as a present to a medical student upon completion of his dissertation in 1739. Another was inscribed by two separate hands, one apparently 17th century and the other 18th. These and other marginalia shed light onto the uses of the books in the centuries following their publication, providing first-hand accounts of their provenance. (Funded by a MEMS Summer Award.)