The Medieval Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison offers an interdisciplinary environment for the exploration of the cultures of Europe and the Mediterranean basin during the Middle Ages, a period spanning Late Antiquity to roughly 1500. Representing faculty from over 18 departments, we offer courses and certificate programs at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. The Program also sponsors events and conferences on topics of interest both to the university and to the community at large.
Diversity and Medieval Studies. A workshop for graduate students and faculty.
Public Lecture. Prof. Hannah Barker (Arizona State University) “Health Fraud in the Medieval Genoese Slave Market.”
Thursday, February 17th at 5:00 pm.
Health fraud was a major concern in the slave markets of the late medieval Mediterranean. Prospective slave buyers worried that, in their ignorance of medical matters, they might be tricked into buying slaves with serious illnesses like leprosy or falling sickness. In the Islamic world, physicians such as Ibn Buṭlān in eleventh-century Baghdad wrote handbooks to educate prospective slave buyers about the most common strategems used to make sick slaves seem healthy. No such genre existed in medieval Genoa, however. In my talk, therefore, I will discuss how Genoese slave buyers handled the risk of medical fraud, focusing on the role of learned and unlearned testimony about slaves’ health in fourteenth- and fifteenth-century lawsuits.
Workshop. Prof. Hannah Barker (Arizona State University), introduced by Prof. Samuel England (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
Friday, February 18th at 12:00 pm.
Public Lecture. Prof. Brendan Goldman Title TBA
Thursday, February 24th at 5:00 pm.
Public Lecture. Prof. Suzanne Yeager (Fordham University), introduced by Prof. Jordan Zweck (University of Wisconsin – Madison) “Pilgrim Toil: Emotional and Physical Labor and Claims to Sanctity.”
Thursday, March 24th from 1:00-2:30.
Past studies of pilgrim journeys take note of the extensive effort needed to journey to a shrine. Some scholars measure it by expense (a year’s salary), others calculate the time invested, or distance traveled. All scholars tend to agree that medieval pilgrimage must have been arduous without the modern amenities we enjoy in the present day. But I would suggest that the position of pilgrim as laborer is much more complex than this, particularly as many travelers allude, in often surprising ways, to their roles in expending physical and emotional toil. This talk will explore pilgrim work in the accounts of Egeria, Mandeville, Saewulf, Judah Halevi, and others. These physical and emotional investments, it can be argued, increase the value of pilgrimage, especially when attached to premodern Christian travel to Jerusalem.
Workshop. Prof. Suzanne Yeager (Fordham University), introduced by Prof. Lisa Cooper (University of Wisconsin – Madison) “Medieval Pasts and Successor Narratives: Imagining Jewish Identity in Premodern England.”
Friday, March 25th from 12:00-1:00.
Modern scholarly thinking around adaptation shows that successor versions of a text must carry a “core value” of the original or ancestor source. This workshop explores the core values that premodern Christian authors identified as essential to their portrayals of Jewish identity. Fourteenth-century Middle English texts such as The Siege of Jerusalem and The Travels of Sir John Mandeville show a range of approaches to Judaism, ranging from reviling the religion to cherishing it. We’ll explore the contested space of these views and also consider how theories of succession are expressed in other contexts, such as medieval claims to land, sanctity, and resources.
Public Lecture. Dr. Dilshat Harman (Center for Visual Studies of the Medieval and Early Modern Culture, Russian State University for the Humanities in Moscow) “Imagining Jerusalem in Late Medieval Nuremberg: Adam Kraft and Albrecht Durer.”
Friday, April 1st, at 12:00 pm.
Public Lecture. Prof. Michael Lower (University of Minnesota) “The Age of Diplomacy: Franks and Ayyubids in Western Asia, 1229-1244.”
Thursday, April 7th at 5:00 pm.
Workshop. Prof. Michael Lower (University of Minnesota) Title TBA
Friday, April 8th at 12:00 pm.
Public Lecture. Prof. Lisa Mahoney (DePaul University) “The Lost Royal Tombs of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem.”
Thursday, April 21st, at 5:00 pm (in-person, location TBA)
Workshop. Prof. Lisa Mahoney (DePaul University)
Friday, April 22nd, at 12:00 pm (in-person, location TBA)