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News and Events

2014-2015 Research Theme:

"Medieval and Renaissance Globalisms"

In concert with the Pittsburgh Consortium for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, a set of talks and reading groups this year will focus on the theme of “Medieval and Renaissance Globalisms.” We will examine how today's globalization is part of a long and complex historical process that has roots in the cross-cultural interactions of the medieval and early modern periods. We invite students and faculty from area universities to join us as we explore topics such as the overlapping constructions of race and sexuality during Europe's early overseas expansion; mutually transformative encounters among Christianity, Judaism, and Islam; the circulation of material objects in increasingly global markets; and textual, visual, and dramatic representations of cultural others.

Upcoming Events

Monday, November 10 at 4:30 pm

Carlos Cañete (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Madrid)

“The Origins of Humanity: Cultural and Religious Polemics in Early Modern Times" Humanities Center, Cathedral of Learning 602 

Carlos Cañete is Juan de la Cierva Postdoctoral Researcher at the Center for Human and Social Sciences CSIC (Spanish National Research Council). He is also lecturer of the MA in Arabic and Islamic Studies at the Autonomous University of Madrid. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Málaga (Spain). He is currently a visiting scholar at UCLA’s Center for 17th- and 18th-Century Studies. His research focuses on the historiography of cultural representations of Africa and the Mediterranean, the intellectual history of debates concerning human origins, orientalist discourse and postcolonial theory. His numerous publications address a range of topics, including the archaeology and architecture of early Jesuit missions in Ethiopia and questions of domination and hybridity in Iron Age Morocco.

Abstract: The American philosopher Richard H. Popkin argued that Preadamite Theory—the idea that there were men before Adam—was “the real spectre haunting Western Thought.” He showed that before the 17th century there were several sources that, in one way or another, suggested the existence of humanity before Adam. However, the real turning point was French theologian Isaac La Peyrère’s 1655 book, Prae-Adamitae. According to Popkin, the Preadamite Theory caused a tremendous shock to European consciousness, a shock that would have great relevance to the emergence of modern thought. This talk reframes Popkin’s argument by placing Preadamite Theory in the context of a greater theological system proposed by La Peyrère, a system that combined human origins, millenarianism, nationalism and epistemology. It argues that the only way to determine the “real spectre haunting Preadamite Theory” is to explore the mechanisms of early modern cultural and religious interaction that made this idea thinkable in the first place. The ultimate goal is to demonstrate the transcultural nature of this process and hence of one of the main roots of modernity. Please click here for flyer.


Spring 2015 Events

Tuesday, January 27, 2015, at 4:30 pm

Kim Phillips (University of Auckland, New Zealand)
“Before Orientalism”
Humanities Center, Cathedral of Learning Room 602

Kim Phillips is Associate Professor of History at the University of Auckland. She is editor of A Cultural History of Women in the Middle Ages. London: Bloomsbury (2013), coauthor (with Barry Reay) of Sex Before Sexuality: A Premodern History (2011), and author of Medieval Maidens: Young Women and Gender in England, 1270-1540 (2003).


Wednesday, January 29 at 12:00 pm

Shirin Fozi (University of Pittsburgh)

"Memory and Forgery in the Abbey Church of Drübeck, 850-1200"

Frick Fine Arts building, room TBA

Shirin Fozi spends as much time as possible looking at medieval things, with a particular emphasis on the art of Germany and France during the tenth through twelfth centuries. Before joining the faculty at the University of Pittsburgh in 2013, Fozi spent three years as an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Medieval Art History at Northwestern University. Her research is primarily focused on monumental sculpture, and she is especially interested in the memorials and funerary monuments that began to appear in northern Europe during this period. Her secondary interest is in medieval treasury arts, including metalwork, ivory, and rock crystal,


Wednesday, February 18, 2015, at 5pm

Carmen Nocentelli (University of New Mexico)
"Early Modern Globalization and the Invention of Europe"
Humanities Center, Cathedral of Learning Room 602

Nocentelli is Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of New Mexico. Her book, Empires of Love: Europe, Asia, and the Making of Early Modern Identity (Penn, 2013), emphasizes the overlapping and mutually transformative construction of race and sexuality during Europe's early overseas expansion, arguing that the encounter with Asia contributed to the development of Western racial discourse while also shaping European ideals of marriage, erotic reciprocity, and monogamous affection.