NEH Summer Seminars for Medievalists

Medievalists should note that seven of the 2014 National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminars and Institutes for College and University Teachers focus on the Middle Ages. Four offer opportunities to conduct research in Europe (Rome, Florence, Oxford, York) while the two in the United States offer access to specialized research libraries and collections. While most participants will hold faculty positions, directors may admit up to two graduate students in each seminar. Below are brief descriptions of these medieval Seminars and Institutes with links to their websites where further information and applications are available (the application for all NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes is March 4, 2014).

Summer Seminars

Arts, Architecture, and Devotional Interaction in England, 1200-1600
The NEH Summer Seminar on Arts, Architecture, and Devotional
Interaction, 1200-1600 will be held in York, England from June 8
to July 4, 2014. The seminar is designed to provide college and
university teachers with an extraordinary opportunity to explore
how and why artwork and architecture produced between 1200-1600
engaged devotees in dramatic new forms of physical and emotional
interaction. Building on the work of scholars over the past
decade, we will examine the role of performativity, sensual
engagement, dynamic kinetic action as well as emotional and
imaginative interaction within the arts.
The seminar will take full advantage of its spectacular locale.
Most seminar meetings will be held in churches or museums and we
will be accompanied by visiting scholars who are specialists in
the daily topics. The seminar is designed for all kinds of
teachers in the humanities, not just art historians. You do not
need a specialist’s knowledge of English Gothic art and
architecture, but we expect that participants will have some
scholarly engagement with European history, art history,
theology, theater, music, or some other appropriate field.
For further details, visit

Reform and Renewal in Medieval Rome
In this seminar held at the American Academy in Rome, project
directors Maureen C. Miller (University of California, Berkeley)
and William L. North (Carleton College) use the rich history of
the city and its surviving medieval monuments as a laboratory
for reconsidering central concepts in European history that
continue to be powerful elements of our public discourse.
Indeed, “reform” and “renewal” seem to be almost passwords for
legitimate and positive transformation. With its repeated
movements for religious and political reform and renewal, the
Middle Ages offers a particularly rich historical landscape in
which to investigate these processes. Through readings, site
visits, and discussions, the seminar seeks to foster
participants’ individual research and pedagogical projects and
to build a supportive interdisciplinary community of inquiry
that will continue to share ideas, work, and teaching materials
after the summer ends. Theoretical readings on the dynamics of
conceptual and institutional change will be paired with three
richly documented, interdisciplinary case studies: the
Carolingian political, religious, and intellectual
transformations of the ninth century; ecclesiastical reform in
the eleventh and twelfth centuries; and the efforts to revive
the Roman republic in both the twelfth and the fourteenth
centuries. Readings include theoretical discussions of the
conceptual and institutional dynamics of reform, core primary
sources for each of the cases studies, as well as a range of
classic and revisionist scholarship. Site visits in and around
Rome – for example, to S. Clemente, S. Prassede, SS. Quattro
Coronati, S. Angelo in Formis, the Lateran, and the Campidoglio
– are designed to put texts into conversation with visual and
material evidence.
Readings include essential primary sources such as the Liber
pontificalis, the Donation of Constantine, Bonizo of Sutri’s
Liber ad amicum, and the Life of Cola di Rienzo, as well as a
range of classic and recent revisionary interpretive essays. The
directors encourage applications from scholars engaged in
research and teaching on reform and renewal throughout medieval
Europe, but also welcome those in Renaissance studies, for which
the medieval movements of reform and renewal are an essential
foundation, and those pursuing comparative projects on these
themes. In addition to the unparalleled resources of Rome’s
numerous archives, libraries, sites, and museums, participants
may also be aided by the American Academy’s own library and
research facilities. For further information visit,

NEH Summer Seminar for School Teachers
David Raybin and Susanna Fein welcome applications for a
four-week NEH Summer Seminar for School Teachers on Chaucer’s
Canterbury Tales. The seminar will be located in London, July
6-August 2, 2014. The seminar is open to school teachers (K-12),
with up to two spots reserved for graduate students who plan to
become school teachers. Please tell any teachers and graduate
students who might be interested in receiving information about
the seminar to contact us at, or to consult the
seminar website: The deadline for receipt of
applications is March 4, 2014.

Summer Institutes

Dante’s Divine Comedy: Poetry, Philosophy, and the City of Florence
This four-week NEH Summer Institute for College and University
Teachers will take place in Florence in summer 2014. Situating
the study of the Comedy in Florence offers an intellectually
expansive view of the poem and of how Dante parlayed Florence’s
emerging power into a critique of civic disorder,
acquisitiveness, and corruption. At the same time that Dante
was formed as a poet in his turbulent but brilliant city, he was
inspired by the intellectual, spiritual, and theological
currents and cross-currents represented so pervasively in its
built environment. The Institute is designed for those who want
to teach Dante, who would like to expand their knowledge of the
place and time that inspired the poem, or who want to increase
their knowledge of medieval literature, history and art.
The director of the Institute, Professor Brenda Deen Schildgen,
will join a number of leading scholars of Dante, medieval
history, art history, and philosophy, to lead the NEH scholars
through a close reading of Dante’s Comedy. These institute
leaders include Peter Hawkins, Professor of Religion and
Literature at Yale University; Giuseppe Mazzotta, Sterling
Professor in the Humanities for Italian and chair of the Italian
Studies Department at Yale University; Professor William Franke
at Vanderbilt University; Lino Pertile, Carl A. Pescosolido
Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures at Harvard
University and director of the Villa I Tatti. The focussed
discussions of Dante’s poem will be supported through lectures
on Medieval Ethics and Politics by Professor David Ardagh; the
history and importance of Benedictine monasticism to the
development of Florence, and more particularly, to Dante’s
formation, by the Rector of San Miniato al Monte; and the role
of St. Francis, Franciscanism, and Giotto in Dante by Professor
Chiara Frugoni.
For more information, see

Medieval Political Philosophy: Islamic, Jewish, and Christian
Ths Institute will be held at Gonzaga University in Spokane,
Washington and is co-directed by Douglas Kries, Joseph
Macfarland, and Joshua Parens. It will begin with a week of
discussion of Islamic medieval political philosophy, for even
though Islam emerged after Judaism and Christianity, political
philosophy flourished within Islam first. The towering figure of
Alfarabi will be emphasized, but alternative thinkers such as
Alghazali and Ibn Tufayl will also receive attention. The week
will conclude with a discussion of how to approach teaching
Islamic political philosophy in an undergraduate classroom.
The second week will treat Jewish political philosophy during
the medieval period. The principal figure for this second week
will be Moses Maimonides, with Saadya Gaon, Judah Halevi, and
Isaac Abravanel being considered as alternatives. As with the
first week, the second week will conclude with a curricular
discussion, but this time on teaching Jewish political thinkers
of the Middle Ages.
For the third week, Thomas Aquinas will be considered as the
dominant Christian thinker, with Marsilius of Padua and Dante
Alighieri being studied as alternatives. This week ends with the
Fourth of July holiday.
The final week of the seminar will turn from developing a deeper
understanding of these three traditions of political philosophy
to a comparative discussion of the three. Participants will
discuss not only historical lines of influence, but also the
similarities and differences of the authors discussed in the
first three weeks. Topics to be discussed in this week will
include the relative importance of Plato or Aristotle in the
three traditions, how the notion of religious law is understood
in each of the three traditions, and the very status of
political philosophy itself within the three. The final day of
the Institute will return to the question of curriculum.
The focus throughout the Institute will be on understanding the
three traditions of medieval political philosophy, not on
advocating for one or another over the others. The directors
anticipate that the participants are likely to hold religious
commitments to one of the three religious communities, but
participants selected will need to display genuine interest in
and respect for all three. For further information visit

The Mongols and the Eurasian Nexus Global History
Held at the East-West Center in Honolulu, Hawaii, this Institute
will provide participants with five weeks of
enthusiastically-delivered and intellectually-absorbing
lectures, discussions, museum visits, and films focused on
investigating the Mongol period of the thirteenth and fourteenth
centuries—an era of extraordinary interactions among the peoples
and civilizations of Asia and Europe that in many ways marked a
turn toward greater multiculturalism and more concertedly
pursued globalization. Funded by the National Endowment for the
Humanities (NEH), this program will enable undergraduate
educators to develop new curricula on this crucial moment in
world history. While focusing on the Mongol era, its historical
contexts and subsequent impacts, the program will also offer
resources for enhancing engagement with multiculturalism, its
challenges, and creative possibilities. For further information

Representations of the ‘Other’: Jews in Medieval England
The five-week program, directed by Professor Irven M. Resnick,
will meet from 12 July through 16 August 2014 at the Oxford
Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies (England), to study the
legal status, economic conditions, theological stereotypes, and
cultural depictions of Jews as the most visible ‘other’ in
medieval Christendom. Since in 1290 medieval England was the
first to expel its entire Jewish community, it will serve as a
case study for the institute. Oxford hosted a significant
thirteenth-century Jewish community and also was a site of
medieval anti-Jewish violence. We will explore the history of
its Jewish community with a walking tour of medieval Jewish
Oxford and with visits to local museums. In addition, Oxford
offers access to the Bodleian library, which possesses one of
the world’s great collections of medieval Hebrew and Latin
manuscripts. Visiting faculty for this summer institute include
Jeremy Cohen, Sheila Delany, Daniel J. Lasker, Sara Lipton, and
Robert Stacey. For additional information, please consult or email

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