Next week at CEMERS: Ronald L. Martinez, Bernardo Lecture

Center for Medieval & Renaissance Studies

26th Annual Bernardo Lecture

November 10, 2016

5:30 Casadesus Hall (4:30 Reception in Green Room)

Ronald L. MartinezProfessor of Italian at Brown University,

 Cleansing the Temple: Dante and the Defense of the Church

Readers of the Commedia are familiar with Dante’s severe judgment of contemporary popes. The attacks are explicable as part of Dante’s strategy of defending the Church itself, which the poet saw as imperiled by papal avarice and political ambition. From the reference to the biblical punishment of Uzzah for touching the Ark of the Covenant in Epistola XI, urging Italian cardinals at the 1314 conclave to elect a Pope favorable to Rome, we know that Dante anticipated accusations of meddling in Church affairs. And meddle he did: the representations in the poem of the Church, in guises both historical and typological (Ark of the Covenant, Temple, Bride of Christ, etc.) comprise an ambitious program by which Dante identifies with the role of protector and purifier of the Church, modelled chiefly on scriptural episodes of Christ cleansing the Temple, a longstanding staple of anti-simoniacal reform within the Church itself. A series of passages in the second half of Paradiso (Cantos 15-16, 18, 22, 27) elaborate Dante’s investment in this role, one that is repeatedly linked to the poet’s condition as an exile. 


CEMERS annual bus trip to Cloisters/Metropolitan Museum of Art

Image courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Image courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies will hold its annual bus trip to the Cloisters and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, both in Manhattan, on Friday,
March 11.

All members of the campus community are welcome. The cost of the trip is $25 for medieval studies majors and minors; $35 for all other undergraduate and graduate students; and $50 for faculty and staff.

Ticket prices include transportation to and from New York City, admission to both museums and tours of both the Cloisters and the Islamic Galleries at the Met. The bus will depart from the Binghamton University Events Center at 8:30 a.m. and will return at approximately 10.30 p.m. that evening. Participants should be ready to board the bus at 8:15 a.m. The bus will not stop on the way to New York, but a catered lunch will be available for an extra fee (and the meal, chips and beverage) will be dropped off at the bus before departure.

Information and signup available at the CEMERS office, LN-1129, by calling 607-777-2730 or by contacting Erin Stanley via e-mail ( The deadline to sign up is Friday, Feb. 26.

This week at CEMERS: Paul Schleuse, Binghamton University


Wednesday, April 15 at 3:00 PM in the IASH Conference Room (LN1106)

Paul Schleuse, Associate Professor of Musicology, Binghamton University

“Image, Imitation, Imagination: Woodcut Illustrations in Adriano Banchieri’s Music Books”

paul schleuseIllustrations in prints of renaissance music are extremely rare, beyond generic elements like initial letters, decorative borders on title pages, and printer’s marks. When they do appear they can tell us much about a book’s function: as unusual (and expensive) additions they could not have been used haphazardly; as images not visible to a separate audience they strongly suggest that the music was intended for the enjoyment of the singers themselves. A handful of Venetian prints from the years around 1600 use images of theatrical performances in precisely this way, most notably Orazio Vecchi’s L’Amfiparnaso (1597), whose woodcuts were custom-made to portray situations from the commedia dell’arte-style scenario that unifies the book. Vecchi’s imitator Adriano Banchieri composed no fewer than four distinct books of three-voice canzonettas that rewrite L’Amfiparnaso and also use woodcut illustrations, but they do so in a more haphazard manner. As I will show, most of Banchieri’s images were recycled from a set of at least thirty-one generic theatrical woodcuts that first appeared in prints of Venetian comedies in 1591 and 1592. These illustrations will shed new light on Banchieri’s purpose in repeatedly re-inventing his theatrically themed canzonettas, on the recreational function of these books, and on his shifting views of performance practice for these works at a time that also saw the emergence of opera.

This week at CEMERS: Elina Gertsman, Case Western Reserve University

Screen Shot 2014-10-05 at 5.26.37 PMThis paper considers the late medieval concept of despair as a framework for exploring patterns of emotional response to Hieronymus Bosch’s Christ Carrying the Cross. My discussion situates Bosch’s painting within a fraught topic of debate between social constructivists and proponents of universal emotions theory, asking whether we can interpret Bosch’s spiritually arduous image through the lens of the emotional communities that cohere around it. Art historians commonly describe protagonists of late medieval religious images as models for compassionate imitation; I nuance this approach by worrying the complex synergy between devotional treatises and emotional expression, as located in and challenged by later medieval material culture.

CEMERS bus trip scheduled

Image courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Image courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (CEMERS) is offering a bus trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Cloisters on Friday, March 14. The bus, admission fees to the museums and guided tours at each are included in the price. The cost is $30 for students and $40 for faculty, staff and others. If interested, visit Barbara Knighton at the CEMERS office (LN-1129), call her at 777-2730 or send an email to

This week at CEMERS: Theresa Coletti, University of Maryland

CEMERS lecture

Wednesday, October 30, 2013
2:30 pm
LN 1106 (IASH conference room)

Reception to follow

Theresa Coletti,  Distinguished Scholar-Teacher
Department of English
University of Maryland

“Sex and the City:  Sacred and Social Epistemologies in the Chester Slaughter of the Innocents

The biblical story of the Slaughter of Innocents recounted in Matthew’s gospel provided late medieval English urban communities the opportunity to gaze upon a symbolic image of social and political relationships in which they might discern their own likeness. Vernacular dramas on the Slaughter appropriate themes and tropes associated with medieval interpretations and celebrations of the Innocents’ feast to critique social and material categories of late medieval urban life. This paper examines the Slaughter of the Innocents in the Chester mystery cycle, the most provocative of the English plays on this subject. In the Chester Slaughter, dramatic reflexivity involves an elaborate comic subplot in which mothers of the Innocents struggle verbally and physically with soldiers of Herod seeking to murder their children. In one such contest, a mulier attempts to thwart the soldier who threatens to attack her child if it has a “pintell” (penis); the woman insists that the child has “two holes under the tayle.” Her challenge puts into play a series of substitutions that focus on questions of social and sexual identity, exposing their intersections with power and knowledge. Analyzing the web of social and symbolic relationships signified by the mulier’s act, this paper contends that the challenge of counting holes under the tail encodes an anxious critique of the major categories of difference on which civic authority and social structure were based.