Louisa Foroughi, a 2020 Ph.D. candidate, will be starting a tenure track job in Medieval and Early Modern History in the history department at Lafayette College (Eaton, PA) beginning in the 2020-21 academic year.
Working under Professor Maryanne Kowaleski, Louisa Foroughi specializes in the social and cultural history of late medieval England. Her dissertation, “What Makes a Yeoman? Status, Religion, and Material Culture in Later Medieval England,” explores identity construction among the English peasantry, c. 1348-1538. The yeomen were a group of affluent farmers who appear throughout English records from the early fifteenth century onward, but who have previously attracted little attention from medievalists. As Foroughi argues, the documentary records and manuscripts yeomen left behind provide rare insight into how medieval English peasants crafted and expressed their sense of self. Her analysis focuses on material culture, religion, office holding, and literacy as key aspects of yeoman identity, and integrates methods drawn from anthropology, archaeology, literary criticism, and religious studies in order to access the activities and mentalité of this little-studied group. Foroughi is also eager to share her wide-ranging interests in gender studies; material culture theory; food history; medieval medicine; fiber arts; and household books and miscellanies with the students at Lafayette College. She can’t wait to join the faculty in August.
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Louisa Foroughi, a Ph.D. candidate in medieval history, was awarded the 2019 Dissertation Fellowship by the National Conference of British Studies (NACBS), a competition open to all those doing dissertation research in the British Isles on any topic of British (including Scottish, Irish and Imperial) history or British Studies. Fordham University). The citation at the annual meeting of the NACBS in November 2019 in Vancouver reads as follows.
Foroughi’s dissertation, “What Makes a Yeoman? Status, Religion, and Material Culture in Later Medieval England,” examines the English yeomanry from the mid-fourteenth to the mid-sixteenth centuries. Yeoman, she explains, occupied a middling rank in late-medieval England, above the peasantry but beneath the gentry, and its numbers and significance rose throughout the fifteenth century. Through the examination of court records, wills and testaments, and case studies, Foroughi reveals the role of both material culture and religious belief in the making of this social group previously more familiar to early modernists.
Most importantly, Foroughi has developed a series of questions – and ways to go about answering them – that recover the role of women and gender in the yeomanry’s making – something that was not high on the list of historians’ priorities in 1942, the last time the yeomanry figured as the subject of a comparable monograph. Yet the yeomanry’s position, Foroughi shows, was only made possible through the dowries brought by wives and daughters, the values transmitted from mothers to children, and the maintenance of households that partly depended upon women’s labor. To recover these aspects of late medieval and early modern social history, Foroughi’s dissertation ingeniously draws upon literary studies, religious studies, and anthropology, in order to make visible the role of women and of gender in the making of the English yeoman class.
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This Friday at 3:00 p.m., Fordham’s Center for Medieval Studies and the New York Botanical Garden are pleased to host Professor Robin Fleming of Boston College, recipient of the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship (also known as the “genius grant”), for her talk “Vanishing Plants, Animals, and Places: Britain’s Transformation from Roman to Medieval,” which uses material culture and environmental history to reveal heretofore unknown aspects of early medieval Britain. Due to the paucity of contemporary written sources, Fleming’s alternative approach, part of an emerging trend in research on the period, ought to provide truly novel insight. Appropriately, the talk will take place at the Mertz Library in the New York Botanical Garden and will be followed by an exhibit of medieval and early modern herbals. This opportunity is not to be missed! Event details below:
Vanishing Plants, Animals, and Places: Britain’s Transformation from Roman to Medieval
Humanities Institute, Mertz Library, New York Botanical Garden
Friday, September 30, 3:00 pm
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During the second half of June, Fordham Faculty Member Nicholas Paul and PhD candidate Christopher Rose to their respective research projects concerning the history of the crusades to conferences in England and Denmark. You can read more about their adventures, which involved the headquarters of a crusading military order, royal Danish castles, and viking ships, below. Continue reading →
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The participants in the Jesuit Pedagogy Seminar will be giving 10-12 minute talks this Thursday, May 5th, in the Walsh Library Special Collections Room from 10:00 am until 2:15pm. Lunch will be served at 11:00am. At 11:15, Alisa Beer, Senior Teaching Fellow in the History Department, will be giving a talk about teaching history with physical object. Alisa is already well-respected among students and colleagues for the way she weaves material culture into her classes. Earlier this year we managed to get some video of Alisa in action, talking with students about medieval manuscripts in the Fordham University Library collection:
So if you are interested in learning about how to teach history tangibly, please come along on Thursday May 5 at 11:10 for Alisa Beer’s presentation at 11:15.*
Alisa says about her talk:
As a medievalist and a rare book librarian, I believe strongly that a physical experience of the past can create a visceral connection to the study of history that is not available through the use of a textbook alone. Allowing students to interact directly with primary source objects deepens their understanding of the tangibility of the past and engages them in a way that interaction with a textbook cannot rival. As a participant in the Jesuit Pedagogy Seminar this past semester, I was able to incorporate the Ignatian ideals we learned about into my teaching by developing a hands-on exercise on textile production in which students learned about making cloth in the middle ages by actually using spindles and a small loom.
*Alisa adds that it is perfectly OK if you want to show up only for one presentation and you need not stay for the entire day.
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This Fall, Professor Elaine Crane will offer a new course, HIST 4658 Home Sweet Home: the Material Culture of Early America. The course will meet on Tuesdays 3:30-5:30 at the New York Historical Society in Manhattan.
Professor Crane writes:
Home Sweet Home will explore early America through objects in daily use. We will look at candle molds to see how hot wax and string turned darkness into light. We will handle utensils and cooking ware to learn how people produced the food they ate and the beverages they drank without the help of microwave ovens and processors. Wooden plates and porcelain cups will distinguish rich from poor as will the furniture and textiles people passed from one generation to another. Room by room and article by article early Americans will reveal how they lived their lives.
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