Tag Archives: medieval history

Prof. Magda Teter wrote “When Poverty Became Profane” in the April 29th issue of the New York Review of Books.

On April 29, 2021, Prof. Magda Teter published, “When Poverty Became Profane” in the April 29th issue of the New York Review Books. Below is an excerpt of Teter’s debut NYRB piece.

“The questions about poverty and charity we are facing now, in the middle of a major economic and public health crisis, are not new. They reflect our moral values as well as our social, legal, and political structures. (Tellingly, in the US, charitable giving is intertwined with tax codes.) To be sure, these values do change over time and vary across regions and cultures. In Judaism, tzedakah—roughly, charity—is a moral obligation, a mitzvah. (Although a mitzvah is also considered a good deed, in Hebrew it means a religious precept or commandment.) “Formal institutions for poor relief,” not just individual almsgiving, Kaplan writes, were already

“prescribed” in the Mishnah and the Tosefta—ancient Jewish texts from the second and third centuries CE. Zakat, or almsgiving, is one of the Five Pillars of Islam.

In Christianity, by contrast, charity is not a commandment or a pillar of religious practice, though Jesus’ teachings about poverty and wealth have played an important part in the development of Christian views on charity and on the role of the poor within society. In Christian medieval communities, for example, poverty was not considered shameful. Quite the opposite: poverty as a voluntary way of life was seen as a manifestation of piety, embodied most famously by Saint Francis of Assisi and the members of mendicant orders. In the seventh century Saint Eligius reportedly said, “God could have made all men rich, but He wanted there to be poor people in this world, that the rich might be able to redeem their sins.” The poor begging at church entrances were a common sight, offering the wealthy an opportunity to give alms. Even the word for “hospice” suggested an aura of holiness. In Paris, it was Hôtel-Dieu, and among Jews of Northern Europe it was called a hekdesh, related to the Hebrew root for “holy,” k-d-sh.

Then, Kaplan notes, echoing the historian Thomas Max Safley, “something happened to charity in early modern Europe.” In the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, crop failures led many of the rural poor to move to cities. Frequent epidemics overwhelmed local hospices, and religious individuals and institutions alike were unable to provide adequate support to the sick and the poor. More formal solutions were needed, and almsgiving and poor relief became increasingly regulated. Now the poor were no longer seen as a means of redemption for the rich but as a public nuisance and a social burden, and perhaps as a vector of disease.

The cities began to define who was deserving and undeserving of aid. Public begging was increasingly banned, poverty was gradually criminalized, and residency was required to qualify for poor relief. In 1516, for example, Paris banished “vagabonds.””

You can follow Prof. Magda Teter on Twitter @MagdaTeter.

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“Retracing Power: Authority, Conflict, and Resistance in History,” Fordham History Graduate Student Workshop on Friday, March 5, 2021.

Register here for Zoom link

“Retracing Power:Authority, Conflict, and Resistance in History”

Graduate Student Workshop

Sponsored by the O’Connell Initiative for Global Capitalism

Fordham University, Department of History

Friday, March 5, 2021

Zoom

9:00am Welcome and Opening Remarks

David Hamlin (Fordham University)

Panel 1 Authority and Conflict in Law and Medicine

9:30 – 11:00am Grace Shen (Fordham University) – Commentator

“She Behaved as a Doctor”: Empirics and 

Enforcement in the Pastoral Visitations of 

Late Medieval Catalonia

Rachel Podd (Fordham University)

Orientations: Re-Defining the Direction of 

Heterosexual Desire

Sean Cosgrove (Cornell University)

Chemical Conversations: Scientific Investigations

and Medical Punishments in the Soviet Union’s 

Special Hospitals

Garret McDonald (Fordham University)

11:00 – 11:15am Break

Panel 2 Power Struggles of Governance and Citizenship

11:15am-12:45pm Nana Osei-Opare (Fordham University) – Commentator

The Nahaman River Milling Dispute, and the Thirteenth-Century Energy Crisis of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem

Tobias Hyrnick (Fordham University)

Asantean noumena: The politics and 

imaginary reconstruction of the Asante Palace

Tony Yeboah (Yale University)

12:45 – 2:00pm Lunch Break

Panel 3  Unfree Labor 

2:00-3:30pm Samantha Iyer (Fordham University) – Commentator 

Corvée Labor and the Politics of Popular 

Insurrection in Trois-Rivières, 1760-1776

Richard Tomczak (Stony Brook University)

Choose Your Human Rights Battles Wisely: 

The Kennedy Administration, the United Nations, 

and the Saudi Arabian Slave Trade

Nicholas DeAntonis (Fordham University)

Commerce, Identity, and Mobility in the Dangme 

Littoral of the Eastern Gold Coast, 1850s—1870s 

Ishmael Annang (Georgetown University)

3:30 – 3:45pm Break

Panel 4 Political Cultures

3:45-5:00pm              Amanda Armstrong-Price (Fordham University) – Commentator

Culture Wars: Arnoldian Culture in Late Nineteenth 

and Early Twentieth Century Britain

Jarrett Moran (Graduate Center, City University of New York)

Structuring spontaneity: The twilight of anarchist 

organization in Spain and Italy, c. 1917-1923

William Whitham (Princeton University)

5:00 – 5:15pm Break

5:15-6:15pm Retracing Power, Refiguring History: Haunted Bauhaus

and a New History of Modernism

Dr. Elizabeth Otto (SUNY Buffalo)

6:15-6:30pm Closing Remarks

Asif Siddiqi (Fordham University)

6:30pm Cocktails and Celebration

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Dr. Esther Liberman Cuenca, who earned her Ph.D. in medieval history at Fordham in 2019, has been awarded the 2021 Van Courtlandt Elliott Prize from the Medieval Academy of America, which recognizes a first article in the field of medieval studies of outstanding quality.

Dr. Esther Liberman Cuenca, who earned her Ph.D. in medieval history at Fordham in 2019, has been awarded the 2021 Van Courtlandt Elliott Prize from the Medieval Academy of America, which recognizes a first article in the field of medieval studies of outstanding quality. The prize, for her article, “Town clerks and the authorship of custumals in medieval England,” Urban History 46:2 (2019): 180-201, was established by the Medieval Academy of America in 1971 and consists of a certificate and a monetary award of $500. It will be presented at the Academy’s 2021 Annual Meeting, hosted online by Indiana University, Bloomington. She is one of two winners of the award this year. The prize committee submitted the following citation.

In her perceptive and finely-crafted essay Esther Liberman Cuenca examines the expertise and duties of clerks in medieval English towns, and particularly their roles in creating custumals, or collections of written customs. She highlights and traces two fundamental aspects of clerks’ authorship, their legal and administrative expertise, and their roles in transmitting urban laws to posterity. Urban historians of the Middle Ages are familiar with custumals, documents found in almost every medieval towns that regulated the lives of their citizens, from markets and commerce to administration, social mores and hygiene. While historians usually locate and frame analyses of the documents within the history of urban politics and “normalization”, they rarely study who actually drafted them. Cuenca’s innovative article engages the historiography of urban literacy, and of the anonymous professionals who supported literacy within an urban institutional framework. Her careful analysis of their oaths and administrative practices, which often adapted older materials, reveals that town clerks played critical roles in transmitting customary law to future generations of administrators. Clerks were usually left in the shadow of their superior, and the vital contribution of Cuenca’s work is to bring these individuals to light by focusing on the creation, organization, and preservation of urban custumals, and most of all on their authorship. Were these clerks scriptores, compilatores, or commentators? By showing that they fulfilled all of these roles, Cuenca reaffirms their existence in urban memory.

Esther Liberman Cuenca

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Graduate Student Amanda Racine receives the prestigious Fulbright Fellowship.

Amanda Racine (PhD student, Medieval History) has received a Fulbright Fellowship to France for 2020/21. She will be affiliated with Centre d’études supérieueres de civilization médiévale (CESCM) at the Université de Poitiers working with Professor Martin Aurell. Over the course of the year she plans to study extant oaths and customs  spread across several archives in France: the Société Archéologique de Montpellier in Montpellier; the Archives départementales des Bouches-du-Rhône, the Archives municipales de Marseille, and the Bibliothèque municipale d’Arles, all in and around Marseille; and the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF) in Paris. Amanda has also been awarded a grant from the American Numismatic Society for the 66th Annual Eric P. Newman Graduate Summer Seminar in 2020 (delayed due to COVID-19). She plans to study the text and iconography of Frankish, Fatimid, Ayybuid, and Mamluk coins from the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.

You can follow Amanda on Twitter @AMNerbo.

Amanda Racine

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Graduate Student Rachel Podd receives the NACBS-Huntington Library Fellowship for British Studies.

Rachel Podd  (PhD candidate, Medieval History) received the NACBS-Huntington Library Fellowship for British Studies to conduct research at the Henry Huntington Library in San Marino, California. During her time there she plans to photograph and transcribe a variety of medieval medical manuscripts, including regimens for health, medical recipes and charms, as part of her larger research project focused on medieval ideas about health management.  She will draw on these materials for her Ph.D. thesis on “Health in Late Medieval England: The Impact of Age, Sex, and Income on the Lived Experience.”

Rachel Podd

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Graduate Student Douglass Hamilton awarded Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to participate in a three-week Mellon Summer Institute in French Paleography

Douglass Hamilton is one of fifteen faculty and advanced graduate students at U.S. and Canadian colleges awarded a grant by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to participate in a three-week Mellon Summer Institute in French Paleography program at the Newberry Library in Chicago. The course covers the history of French handwriting and will emphasize hands-on training with facsimiles and manuscripts of the late medieval and early modern periods. This training will allow Douglass to gain critical experience with archival material and manuscripts written in the French language, which will be essential for my research on Old French literature of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Because of the coronavirus, the seminar has been moved to the summer of 2021.

You can follow Douglass Hamilton on Twitter at @SacreDoog.

Douglass Hamilton

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A Recap of History Day at Fordham

On Monday, February 10, 2020, Fordham’s History Department hosted its annual History Day celebration. The event brought together some fascinating research from Fordham undergraduate and graduate students and Fordham faculty. The day’s keynote speaker was Prof. Amanda Armstrong. Below is just a snippet of the fascinating work and images we heard from our participants. You will hear from Brian Chen, Hannah Gonzalez, Grace Campagna, Emma Budd, Christian Decker, and Kelli Finn.

Brian Chen discussed Henry Kissinger’s diplomacy during the South Asia Crisis of 1971. He argued that given the geopolitical constraints of the Cold War and the limits of U.S. influence in the region, his response to the genocide in East Pakistan was not unreasonable. Kissinger’s policy of “quiet diplomacy” improved the prospects of peace between the United States and the Communist world, while also providing necessary humanitarian relief to the Bengali people. 

Hannah Gonzalez’s paper, “Natives, Naturalists, and Negotiated Access: William Bartram’s Navigation of the Eighteenth-Century Southeast,” examined how the naturalist William Bartram negotiated access to native territories and knowledge while constrained by colonial politics and a climate of cross-cultural hostilities. This navigation of the Southeast involved the utilization of imperial and colonial structures, from treaties to white traders. As recorded in Travels, Bartram’s journey demonstrates how naturalists negotiated the cultural landscape on levels beyond the scientific.

You can follow her on Twitter @hannahegonzalez.

Grace Campagna’s presentation, “The Quern: The Biography of a Medieval Object,” traced the lifecycle of an artifact, including its production, operation, and repurposing, using both historical and archaeological methods. The quernstones that archaeologists discovered in the Thames river came from a quarry in Germany in order to undergo the final stages of manufacturing in a London workshop. The presentation examined how communities assign value to everyday items and addressed the challenges of analyzing objects for which there are few primary sources.  You can access the full link to her article here:  https://medievallondon.ace.fordham.edu/exhibits/show/medieval-london-objects-3/quern 

Emma Budd’s presentation analyzed intersecting power dynamics in colonization, humanitarian intervention, and sexual assault. Through the lens of the Algerian War of Independence, she argued that the three aforementioned phenomena are intrinsically connected by their roots in a desire for power without concern for humanity. 

Christian Decker’s presentation talked about Polish immigrant networking from 1900 to 1945. It included discussion of family and labor networks, religious networks, all the way up to the formation of the Polish American Congress.

You can follow Christian Decker on Twitter @PCGamingFanatic

Kelli Finn’s presentation, “We survive. We’re Irish:” An Examination of Irish Immigration to the United States, 1840 -1890,” examined how the systemic poverty that Irish immigrants faced from the 1840s-1880s shaped their immigrant experience. It argued that the extreme poverty that the Irish faced lead to harsh stigmatism of Irish immigrants even in the workforce which in turn lead to poor living conditions for the Irish when they got to America and the highest mortality rates among immigrant groups at the time.

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Ph.D. Candidate Louisa Foroughi to Start a Tenure Track Position at Lafayette College

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.

Congratulations, Louisa!

Louisa Foroughi

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Two History Faculty Members Awarded The Prestigious National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship

We are absolutely delighted to announce that Fordham historians Scott Bruce and Yuko Miki are recipients of the 2020-2021 NEH fellowship. Below is a description of their fascinating projects.

Scott Bruce’s project is entitled, The Lost Patriarchs Project: Recovering the Greek Fathers in the Medieval Latin Tradition. Yuko Miki’s project is entitled, Brazilian Atlantic: Archives and Stories of Illegal Slavery.

The Lost Patriarchs Project: The influence of Greek patristics on western European thought and culture remains an important, but largely overlooked, aspect of the history of medieval Latin literature. The goal of my project is the creation of an instrument of reference called The Lost Patriarchs: A Survey of the Greek Fathers in the Medieval Latin Tradition.  This book will present a catalogue of the deep, largely untouched, reservoir of medieval Latin texts that have Greek Christian origins, both those known directly from surviving manuscript copies and those known indirectly from medieval library catalogues. It will provide an alphabetically arranged handbook that presents a series of concise accounts (500 to 10,000 words) of the manuscript tradition and transmission of Greek Christian literature in the medieval Latin tradition.  A reference tool of this kind would gather all this is known about these texts in current scholarship, allowing future researchers to begin the work of charting their influence in western Christian doctrine and devotional practices.

Brazilian Atlantic: This project is a narrative history of illegal slavery in the nineteenth-century Atlantic World. Through four intertwined stories about a slave ship and its captives, two West African men, a financier, and a Kongolese prince, it investigates how illegal slavery thrived throughout the Atlantic World in general, and in Brazil in particular, in the very midst of the “Age of Emancipation.” In paying attention to the lived experiences of women, men, and children forced into, or who profited from, illegal slavery, this project challenges the predominant, sweeping narratives of the nineteenth-century as the triumph of abolition, free trade, and liberal freedom. Through an ethnographic reading of the archives of illegal slavery, this project weaves together the past and present, historical characters and archival encounters to propose a new way of writing about the ambiguous histories of slavery and freedom that centers the suffering and afterlives of the enslaved.

** Yuko Miki’s photo was taken by Margarita Corporan Photography **

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by | January 16, 2020 · 2:41 am

Professor Magda Teter’s New Book, “Blood Libel: On the Trail of An AntiSemetic Myth” (Harvard, 2020) is Now Out.

About the Book:

“A landmark history of the antisemitic blood libel myth—how it took root in Europe, spread with the invention of the printing press, and persists today. Accusations that Jews ritually killed Christian children emerged in the mid-twelfth century, following the death of twelve-year-old William of Norwich, England, in 1144. Later, continental Europeans added a destructive twist: Jews murdered Christian children to use their blood. While charges that Jews poisoned wells and desecrated the communion host waned over the years, the blood libel survived.

Initially blood libel stories were confined to monastic chronicles and local lore. But the development of the printing press in the mid-fifteenth century expanded the audience and crystallized the vocabulary, images, and “facts” of the blood libel, providing a lasting template for hate. Tales of Jews killing Christians—notably Simon of Trent, a toddler whose body was found under a Jewish house in 1475—were widely disseminated using the new technology. Following the paper trail across Europe, from England to Italy to Poland, Magda Teter shows how the blood libel was internalized and how Jews and Christians dealt with the repercussions. The pattern established in early modern Europe still plays out today. In 2014 the Anti-Defamation League appealed to Facebook to take down a page titled “Jewish Ritual Murder.” The following year white supremacists gathered in England to honor Little Hugh of Lincoln as a sacrificial victim of the Jews. Based on sources in eight countries and ten languages, Blood Libel captures the long shadow of a pernicious myth.”

Book Reviews:

“An intellectual tour de force. This authoritative study of the blood libel and its ramifications in early modern Europe will become a classic.”—Ronnie Po-Chia Hsia, author of Trent 1475: Stories of a Ritual Murder Trial

“A work of wide-ranging research, great insight, and remarkable erudition. This will be the definitive book on blood libel for a long time to come, equally important for readers of Jewish history and Christian history in early modern Europe.”—Larry Wolff, author of Inventing Eastern Europe: The Map of Civilization on the Mind of the Enlightenment

“In this deeply researched and meticulously argued book, Magda Teter offers the first comprehensive study of the origins and afterlife of one of the most virulent and harmful of all anti-Jewish accusations. But Blood Libel is far more than a narrative history. By highlighting the central role of printed books, broadsheets, and images in the dissemination of the libel, Teter illuminates the mechanisms by which hate can be generated, and offers a powerful and sobering lesson for our own time.”—Sara Lipton, author of Dark Mirror: The Medieval Origins of Anti-Semitic Iconography

Magda Teter

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