Medieval and Renaissance Lives


Please join us for a year-long speaker series designed especially for undergraduates in the Medieval and Renaissance Studies programs at Barnard and Columbia. As part of this series, alumni of the university will discuss in an informal setting their academic and professional trajectories, as well as their current work.

6:00 pm, Wednesday October 8 
Lauren Mancia, Brooklyn College 
Barnard Hall Room 409

5:30 pm, Monday November 24
Karen Green, Librarian for Ancient & Medieval History and Religion, Butler Library
Location: Rare Book and Manuscript Library 

6:00 pm, Monday February 4
Karl Steel, Brooklyn College
Ella Weed Room on the second floor of Milbank Hall, Barnard

6:00 pm, Monday March 2
Sara Lipton, Stony Brook University
Ella Weed Room on the second floor of Milbank Hall, Barnard

Refreshments will be served. Thank you!


Call for papers:

Translatio sententiae: Proverbs in Motion in the Pre-modern World
March 6-7, 2015; Barnard College, New York City

The Early Proverb Society, with support from the Center for Translation Studies at Barnard College, invites submissions for papers to be delivered at its first dedicated conference.  Papers are welcome on any aspect of the proverb from any part of the world prior to 1800 C.E., but we are especially interested in studies related to the conference theme of translatio sententiae.

Although the proverb is often considered a static verbal icon, it functioned, nevertheless, as a flexible mode by which wisdom and knowledge moved around the pre-modern world.  For instance, in the simplest sense of translation, versions of the “same” proverb appear in Latin and in one or more vernacular languages.  Linguistic translation frequently included significant elements of cultural transference as well:  for example, between the religious and secular spheres, between socio-political classes, and, of course, between different regional speech communities.  Proverbs transferred knowledge across time, from one generation to the next.  And, perhaps more than any other type of verbal artefact, pre-modern proverbs translated between the literate and non-literate worlds, being equally at home in both.

Please submit abstracts (250-word max.) on these or related paroemiological topics by October 1, 2014 to Dr. Laurie Postlewate.    lpostlew@barnard.edu



Matters of the Word

Barnard College’s Twenty-Fourth Medieval and Renaissance Conference
Saturday December 6, 2014

This conference will explore issues of textual materiality in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. We will explore both the material upon which words are transmitted (parchment, paper, wood, marble, bodies, etc.), as well as the inscribed object’s visual aspects (illustrations, etc.). Interdisciplinary at its core, this conference examines not only the intersection of literary studies and art history, but also addresses central concerns of the history of science, history of law, aesthetic philosophy, museum conservation, and book history.

Confirmed keynote speakers:

-Brigitte Miriam Bedos-Rezak (NYU)
-Peter N. Miller (Bard Graduate Center)

Other confirmed speakers include: 

-Andrew Albin (Fordham)
-Christopher Baswell (Barnard and Columbia)
-Emma Berat (Columbia)
-Elizabeth Black (Old Dominion)
-Jessica Brantley (Yale)
-Catherine Brown (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor)
-Katie Chenoweth (Princeton)
-Alison Cornish (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor)
-Catherine Emerson (National University of Ireland, Galway)
-Vincent Debiais (Université de Poitiers)
-Sarah Kay (NYU)
-Ken Kurihara (Union Theological Seminary)
-David LaGuardia (Dartmouth)
-Margaret Meserve (Notre Dame)
-Anneliese Pollock Renck (Bucknell University)
-Marian Rothstein (Carthage)
-Shannon Wearing (NYU)
-Nino Zchomelidse (Johns Hopkins)

This conference is organized by Professors Christopher Baswell, Rachel Eisendrath, and Phillip John Usher, together with other members of the Medieval and Renaissance Studies Program at Barnard College, Columbia University.


Women and Community in the Ancien Régime: Traditional and New Media

JUNE 18-20, 2014
Barnard College Campus
Co-Sponsors: MARGOT
This three-day conference investigates how women participated in and contributed to different kinds of community in medieval and 
early modern Europe. Featuring presentations based on texts and images in traditional manuscript and print format, as well as work that employs new technology and media projects, the conference will be interdisciplinary, and will consider the function and importance of female communities in the natural and social sciences, religion, literature, history, music, and fine arts. Sponsored by MARGOT, a long-term research project devoted to publishing fully searchable editions of texts from the French Middle Ages and the Early Modern period.

For more information and registration:



The Society for Medieval Feminist Scholarship has announced that the winner of the 2013 prize for the best graduate student article on feminist scholarship on the Middle Ages is Gillian Adler.  Gillian, a graduate of Barnard College, is a doctoral student in the English Department of UCLA, working with Christine Chism and Matthew Fisher.  Her winning essay, “Female Intercession and the Shaping of Male Heroism in the Roman d’Enéas and Le Chevalier au Lion,” was written for a class taught by Zrinka Stahuljak of the UCLA French Department and will be published in a future issue of Medieval Feminist Forum.  Congratulations!

Gillian Adler writes: "My paper, 'Female Intercession and the Shaping of Male Heroism in the Roman d’Enéas and Le Chevalier au Lion,' is concerned broadly with how women operate in twelfth-century French romance. I argue that the female intercessory figures who seem to wield verbal power and influence over the shape of these texts are assimilated into a narrative pattern that celebrates redemptive, foundational male heroes. Following the arguments of scholars like E. Jane Burns and Simon Gaunt, my paper looks at how the genre of romance subversively imagines an alternative to the masculinist model of homosociality in the chanson de geste tradition by privileging the place of female subjectivity in narrative, but ultimately constructs instances of female victimization that reinforce fantasies of male genealogical claims and chivalric repute. My interest in the intersection between romance and history developed in my studies at Barnard, when I was working with Professor Christopher Baswell in a course on the medieval imagination of antiquity and with Professor Timea Szell in a course on Boethius and Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. My undergraduate work with these professors and others on everything from early medieval historiography to late medieval female devotional practices has continued to influence the shape of my current research in the UCLA English doctoral program."

About the Program

The Medieval and Renaissance program at Barnard College enables students to acquire a thorough knowledge of the most important aspects of Medieval or Renaissance civilizations and to gain an awareness of the interdependence of historical and cultural developments.

All images are drawn from manuscripts/books owned by Barnard College or Columbia University and made available by Columbia's Digital Scriptorium. Images used with permission. The image at the top is from Barnard College's MS1, a fourteenth-century Italian manuscript.

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