Graduate Student Activities

Illuminating Hidden Figures: Diversity and Difference in the Middle Ages

 New England Medieval Studies Consortium

Brown University, March 16-17, 2018, Smith-Buonanno 106 

 The diversity of medieval Europe has come under close scrutiny from all sides. As medievalists have, with increasing vigor, insisted on complex and nuanced understandings of the constitution of both normative European societies and their interactions with those surrounding them, popular ideological movements have sought to claim the medieval past as a homogeneous, ‘white’ male space. Whether it is studied through art, literature, theology, history, gender and sexuality studies, or any of the other manifold disciplines that comprise medieval studies, the question of diversity and difference in the middle ages thus represents not only an increasingly fruitful avenue of scholarly inquiry, but also a vital interface between academia and the public at large. 

 The keynote address, "Rhetoric, Race, and the End of the White Middle Ages,” will be delivered by Cord Whitaker (Wellesley College) on the evening of Friday, March 16.

NEMSC PosterNEMSC Poster



Friday, March 16


Keynote Address: “Race, Rhetoric, and the End of the White Middle Ages” Cord Whitaker (Wellesley College)

Reception to follow


 Saturday, March 17


10:00 – 10:30am

Registration, coffee, breakfast


10:30am – 12:30pm

Blood and Borders: Race, Identity, and the Global Middle Ages

Chair: Cord Whitaker (Assistant Professor of English, Wellesley College)

  • Ayşe Esra Sirin (Brown University) "The Patron of (Im)mobilities: Saint

Nicholas of the West"

  • Annika Pattenaude (University of Michigan) "I don't think that I was even born then": A Case for "Race" in the Fables of Marie de France"
  • Jamie Keener (independent scholar) "The Constance of Race"
  • Mayer Juni (Brown University) "From Genealogy to Biography: The Transformation of the Heretical Subject in Inquisitorial Spain”


12:30 – 1:30pm

Lunch (provided to registered participants)


1:30 – 3:00pm

New Christians & Beyond: Africa, the Atlantic, the Pacific

Chair: Neil Safier (Beatrice and Julio Mario Santo Domingo Director and Librarian, The John Carter Brown Library at Brown University)

  • Sherri Cummings (Brown University) “Christianity, Portuguese Contact and Trade in Medieval Africa: Ethiopia and the Kingdom of Kongo”
  • Diego Luis (Brown University) “Chinese New Christians: Reading the Dangers of Convivencia in Colonial Manila”
  • Juan Bettancourt-Garcia (Brown University) “A Tornar Moros:” New Christians, Becoming Moors, and Jurisdictional Struggles in Late 16th Century Canarias”


3:00 – 3:30pm

Coffee and light refreshments


3:30 – 5:00pm

Bodies of Power: (En)gendering Text and Image

Chair: Caroline Castiglione (Professor and Chair of Italian Studies, Professor of History, Brown University)

  • Cristine Hartman (Syracuse University) "Medieval Women and Power: An Exploration of Traditional Gender Roles"
  • Sarah Jaran (Western Michigan University) “Catherine of Siena and her Auctorite”
  • Chris Queen (University of California - Riverside) "‘Queer’ Pictures and Digital Subjects: Sodomy and the MS Cotton Nero A.x.”




PaleoSlam is an informal gathering for those interested in reading or learning to read handwritten documents in a variety of European languages from the ancient, medieval, and early modern periods.Sessions usually feature one or two practice texts, followed by texts submitted by participants. All levels of paleographic skill and language proficiency are welcome. 

Our meetings will (tentatively) be from 5:30 to 7 in Sharpe 107 on the following dates (all Wednesdays):
Leland Renato Grigoli - Organizer 
(PhD Student, Department of History, Brown University)

Introduction to Using Medieval and Early Modern Manuscripts Workshop

(introduction to preparing to visit manuscript repositories) 

  • Wednesday, Nov. 8, from 4-5 in the Rock Library's Hecker Room

 This workshop by William S. Monroe (Senior Scholarly Resources Librarian) is aimed at graduate students (and others) who may have a need to look at European manuscript sources from the medieval and early modern periods, though others may find it informative. It will consist of a basic introduction to terminology, locating and identifying manuscript books and documents, how to prepare for visiting a library or archive, and what to do when there. It will also include a basic introduction to the idea of paleography and to paleographical tools.

And please spread the word to anyone else you know who might benefit from this.