CARA News: Harvard University

The Harvard University Committee on Medieval Studies is an interdisciplinary community of faculty drawn from departments and schools across the university, including the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the Law School, the Divinity School, and the Graduate School of Design. In addition to offering a number of courses of its own, the Committee regularly cross-lists and promotes classes dealing with the Middle Ages in Europe and beyond. It also maintains a robust, wide-ranging, and growing program of talks, workshops, and conferences. Among the highlights of the 2016-2017 year:

In October, we co-hosted (with Boston College and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum) the 2016 Harvard Triennial Conference in Medieval Studies, a three-day symposium on illuminated manuscripts and their contexts held in conjunction with the groundbreaking exhibition (at BC’s Gardner Museum, the ISG, and Harvard’s Houghton Library) “Beyond Words: Illuminated Manuscripts in Boston-Area Collections” <>

The Medieval Studies Program’s Medieval Studies Seminar (sponsored by Harvard’s Mahindra Humanities Center) hosted talks by Pernille Hermann (Aarhus), Bernhard Jussen (Frankfurt), Elena Boeck (DePaul), and Lisa Fagin Davis (MAA), as well as panel discussions in September (Looking for Law in All the Wrong Places: Medieval Legal History and the Problem of Sources, with Piotr Gorecki (UC Riverside), Elizabeth Kamali (Harvard Law School), Intisar Rabb (Harvard Law School/History), and Dan Smail (History)) and January (Blurred Boundaries: Defining ‘The East’ in Medieval Studies, with Charles Stang (Harvard Divinity School), John Zaleski (Harvard), Michael Penn (Mt. Holyoke College), and Anne Broadbridge (University of Massachusetts)).

In September, Susan Einbinder (University of Connecticut) delivered the inaugural Center for Jewish Studies-Medieval Studies Joint Lecture in Medieval Jewish Culture and Society, “Bone, Stone and Text: Commemoration of the Black Death Among Iberian Jews”

In October, Jessica Streit (College of Charleston) delivered “The Nature of Almohad Architectural Ornament”, the annual Aga Khan-Medieval Studies Joint Lecture in Medieval Islamic Architectural History.

In conjunction with the Mary Jaharis Center for Byzantine Art and Culture, Medieval Studies hosted lectures in Byzantine Studies by Asa Eger of UNC Greensboro (“The Islamic-Byzantine Frontier: Interaction and Exchange Among Muslim and Christian Communities”) and Alicia Walker of Bryn Mawr College (“Christian Bodies, Pagan Images: Women, Beauty, and Morality in Byzantium”).

In March, Julian Weiss (King’s College London) delivered the annual Houghton-Medieval Studies lecture and workshops on Early Book History: “In the Tracks of Josephus: Reading Jewish History and Belief in the Early Modern Hispanic and Lusophone Worlds” (lecture) and “Creating Vernacular ‘Literature‘ in Renaissance Spain” (workshops).

Also in March, Medieval Studies and the Harvard Art Museums hosted the annual Medieval Material Culture lecture and workshops, Breaking the Mold: Metal as Material, Medium, and Message in the Middle Ages, featuring a lecture by Ittai Weinryb of Bard Graduate Center (“Casting Monuments: Bronze, Ecology, and Colonialism”) and workshops on medieval metalworking with Prof. Weinryb and HAM’s Francesca Bewer and Katherine Eremin.

In the coming months, Medieval Studies is excited to be hosting two conferences—”The Invention of Byzantine Studies in Early Modern Europe” (26-27 October 2017) and “Christian Africa/Medieval Africa, 300-1600 CE” (2-3 November 2017)—and to be co-sponsoring the 2017 New England Medieval Conference, “Ghosts of Charlemagne”, which will take place on 7 October at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. More information on these events, and on Harvard’s many other upcoming medieval events, courses, and programs, can be found at our website,

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