University of Pittsburgh

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



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

The lecture will discuss the travellers’ narratives of more than twenty Europeans who made journeys to Mongolia, China, India, Sri Lanka, and southeast Asia between the mid-thirteenth and early sixteenth centuries. These diplomats, missionaries and merchants constructed a European vision of Asia that was by turns critical, neutral, and admiring. Placing medieval writing on the East in the context of an emergent Europe whose explorers sought to learn more than to rule, the lecture seeks to complicate our understanding of medieval attitudes toward the foreign.

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).

This talk is co-sponsored by the Humanities Center, the European Union Center of Excellence/European Studies Center, the Global Studies Center, and the Department of History


Wednesday, January 28 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 202

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.


Monday, March 23, 2015, at 4:30 pm

Lauren Benton (NYU)

“Before International Law: Protection and Early Modern Global Legalities”

Location TBA, on the campus of Carnegie Mellon University

Before "international law" existed as a field -- or even as a term -- cross-polity and cross-cultural relations of the early modern world were organized around several broad rubrics of law. Protection was one such rubric. References to protection pervaded early modern treaties and featured prominently in less formal agreements about alliances. Protection also conjured up a duty owed by a sovereign to his subjects. In this lecture, I consider the way protection functioned in both registers
in the early modern world, drawing on examples from Atlantic and Indian Ocean encounters between imperial agents and a variety of local polities. I also suggest that ideas and practices of protection shifted in ways that matter to understandings of world history and the history of international law.

Lauren Benton is Silver Professor of History at New York University. She researches and writes about the comparative history of empires, with special emphasis on the history of law. Her publications include works on imperial sovereignty, legal pluralism in empires, maritime law, and the history of international law. Benton’s main region of focus is the Atlantic world, but she also studies the global reach of European empires and has examined case studies from South Asia, Latin America, Africa, North America, and Australia. Benton is currently working on a history of imperial law and international order in the early nineteenth century, and she is developing a new project on imperial violence and the international law of war. Among many other books and articles, Benton is the author of A Search for Sovereignty: Law and Geography in European Empires, 1400-1900 (Cambridge, 2010).

Sponsored by the Pittsburgh Consortium for Medieval and Renaissance Studies

Wednesday, April 8, 2015, at 12:30 pm

Shirin Khanmohamadi (San Francisco State)

Topic: The place of Arabs and Arabic in Medieval Historiography and Romance

Humanities Center, Cathedral of Learning Room 602

Shirin A. Khanmohamadi is an Associate Professor in the Comparative and World Literature department at San Francisco State University, where she specializes in comparative medieval European literature, premodern travel and ethnographic writing, literary and cultural contact between the medieval European and Islamic worlds, and medievalism in contemporary theory and literature. Her articles have appeared in New Medieval Literatures, Exemplaria, and Arthuriana. Her study of premodern ethnographic poetics, In Light of Another´s Word: European Ethnography in the Middle Ages, was recently published in The University of Pennsylvania Press' Middle Ages Series (2014). Her current research is on the way in which Arabs and Arabic culture figure in articulations of translatio imperii and studii in a number of medieval genres, including historiography and romance but especially the chansons de geste.

Co-sponsored by the Humanities Center and the European Union Center of Excellence/European Studies Center