Welcome to the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies

THE CENTRE FOR MEDIEVAL AND RENAISSANCE STUDIES (CMRS) at Monash was established by Academic Board at its meeting of 12 October 2011 and launched on 1 March 2012. The Centre draws on the expertise of academic and research staff from the Department of History and from across the university and beyond.

It aims to promote research and to provide specialist research training and support for honours and postgraduate students, and to coordinate first to third level units as a pathway for undergraduates. For information to help you make decisions about a pathway in medieval and renaissance studies in 2016, contributing to a History Major or Minor, see: History.

The Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies is located at Monash Clayton and the Monash University Prato Centre (the Bill Kent Library), and is the hub of the Prato Consortium for Medieval and Renaissance Studies.

The main forum for the CMRS is the weekly seminar (11am Friday, 20 Chancellors Walk, Room E561). Contact the postgraduate committee to be included on the mailing list.

A Message from the Director:

Welcome to the New Year! What follows is an overview of 2016 and the initiatives and events which will be giving shape and form to the CMRS during the year ahead.

Brief retrospective

2015 ended on several high notes. Natasha Amandola had news that her PhD had passed (congratulations, Natasha!), joining the 2015 success of Diana Jeske and Sam Baudinette. Anne Holloway is still awaiting news. Also congratulations to honours student Kate Aldred, who won both the J.D. Legge and Ian Turner Prizes for her thesis and her overall honours result respectively.

Med-Ren Month – November-December  2015 – at Monash Prato was energizing, as usual. The courses in Prato (Dante’s World, and Text and Community) went off well, as did the Prato Consortium Postgraduate Workshop (8 December), with Bill Kent Fellowhship awardees Rebecca Lobel and Ros Halliday representing Monash.  The symposium held at Monash Prato in honour of Alison Brown (of which the CMRS was the major sponsor) was an outstanding success, with excellent papers and attracting an audience of an array of scholars (established and upcoming) – congratulations to Carolyn James (and Rebecca Russell, Gregorian University, Rome) for their organization.  Both the workshop and symposium seemed to inspire the Text and Community students, who had assessment tasks tied to both events.  The annual meeting of the Prato Consortium for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (the Universities of Amsterdam, Arizona, Edinburgh, London – Queen Mary and Birkbeck Colleges, Toronto, Warwick)  was also held during these days and continued to firm up initiatives which will benefit CMRS postgraduates (more below). Three of our postgraduates were part of the PCMRS sponsored week-long palaeography course, tailored to our needs and taught by the staff of the Medici Archive Project at the Florence’s State Archives. I also had independent meetings early on in December with Professor Ingrid de Smet, Director of Warwick’s Centre of Renaissance Studies, which had several outcomes of benefit to HDR students (see below).

Rosa Matorana and Rebecca Lobel are the new members of the CMRS Postgraduate Committee, replacing Jill Cox and Luke Bancroft whose terms have come to an end. Bryan Cussen will continue on the committee until June and Steve Joyce until the end of the year. As you know, this committee is the heart of the CMRS, ensuring that we stay flexible and responsive to postgraduate needs in order to provide a stimulating and supportive context for research and writing. So warmest thanks to Luke and Jill for their contribution, and welcome to Rosa and Rebecca.

In Prospect

CMRS ‘The Body in the City, 1100-1800’ Project – Faculty of Arts Focus Program 2016-2020: This was the ‘big news’ with which 2015 ended. The academic members of the CMRS were successful in their application for Faculty funding for a project which aims to give coherence as a group to their individual research endeavours.  It will also help us shape how we think about our undergraduate teaching, as well as honours and postgraduate projects.

The Project analyses the complex, diverse, and multi-layered realities and understandings of ‘the body’ in medieval and early modern societies. It will concentrate on both real and metaphorical bodies in the urban context and investigate their inter-relationship.  The Program will focus, integrate and extend the research synergies of Monash’s Medieval and Early Modern historians and the group of high profile specialists (art, architecture, literature, medicine, politics, religion, gender, society) who constitute the Prato Consortium for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (universities of Amsterdam, Arizona, Edinburgh, London, Toronto, Warwick, State Archives of Prato) which centres on Monash’s Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies.

The details are still being worked out, but as a result of the success:

  1. Professor John Henderson  is to be appointed to the CMRS for 0.4 of his time. Professor Henderson (Birkbeck College, University of London), is internationally known for his work on the social, medical and religious history of medieval, renaissance and early modern Italy. Over the 5 years of his appointment there is planned a rich program of activities, research funding applications, mentoring and mentorship, and publications. John will be spending, each year, one month with us at Clayton (mid-September-October) and two months at Monash Prato where he will be a key contributor to ‘Med-Ren month’. During his appointment, he will be available for postgraduate supervision and mentoring. He will also ‘be visible’ to undergraduates.
  2. Visiting Scholars. The Program will bring visiting scholars (generally from the Prato Consortium) to Monash Clayton for one month each year for the next 5 years.
  3. Dedicated sessions at the International Medieval Congress (Leeds) and the Renaissance Society of America Conferences, commencing this year, 2016.

Academic Visitor to CMRS: We welcome A/Professor Jakob Ladegaard of Aarhus University, Denmark. He will be with us until the end of June, working on a book on literature, slavery and economy in Early Modern England. He is looking forward very much to being involved in our activities. 

Second Annual Postgraduate Symposium – 29 April 2016: Luke Bancroft and Bryan Cussen are following up the success of  last year’s Postgraduate Symposium one this year, the working title of which is: Religion and Society in Renaissance Europe: 1350-1600. Nick Eckstein (Univ. of Sydney and   CMRS Associate) will be the keynote. Charles Zika and Clare Monagle will be among the speakers.

Bill Kent Memorial Lecture – Louis Green Memorial Lecture:  On Thursday 6 October (6.00 pm) The Bill Kent Memorial Lecture will be delivered by Dante expert Professor Lino Pertile (immediate past Director of the Harvard Center for Italian Renaissance Studies: Villa i Tatti). This will also be the occasion of the launch of “A paradise where devils dwell”: Studies on Florence and the Italian Renaissance in Honour of F.W. Kent.

The Louis Green Memorial Lecture will also take place later in October. We will let you know details when available. (Louis Green and Bill Kent, as many of you will know, developed medieval and renaissance history at Monash from the 1960s. We are all their beneficiaries!).

Faculty Distinguished Visiting Scholar to CMRS: Dr Cordelia Beattie, a medievalist at the University of Edinburgh,  will be with us from about July 18 – August 5 and will be giving a masterclass for med-ren postgrads and working with other med-ren staff.

CMRS Visiting Senior Scholar (Australasia): Following the success of Sue Broomhall’s week-long visit in August last year (postgrad workshop, mentoring, history seminar), we will again be inviting applications from senior Australasian scholars to spend a week with us early on in second semester.

Monash-Warwick Alliance Opportunities: Recent meetings have finalized details which will allow postgraduate students to benefit from the Monash-Warwick Alliance and the relationships between Warwick’s Centre for Renaissance Studies and Monash’s CMRS. Students can:

  • avail themselves of the joint PhD under the Monash-Warwick Alliance(i.e. a supervisor form Monash and one from Warwick)
  •  avail themselves, through Warwick, of an intensive, week-long palaeography course at the Warburg Institute, London (usually scheduled for early May)..
  • -have up to 10 weeks as Visiting Students at Warwick’s Centre for Renaissance Studies (which, when translated into our local vernacular here at Monash, includes ‘Medieval’)

There is also a student-led project application, headed up by Luke Bancroft and a PhD student at Warwick, which has made it through the first round and will be amongst the final applications to be considered for funding by the Alliance. So we wish Luke and his counterpart every success, especially since the benefits will flow through to the CMRS over the long term. 

The Prato Consortium for Medieval and Renaissance Studies: A Bill Kent HDR Prato Research Fellowship will again be available in 2016, to support travel to Europe for research, and participation in the Prato Consortium Postgraduate Workshop (December).

Postgraduates are encouraged to be part of the Prato Consortium Postgraduate workshop, tentatively scheduled for 13 December 2016.

Palaeography course at the State Archives of Florence, tailored to the needs of Monash and Prato Consortium postgraduates will be offered again in 2016 (tentatively 5-9 December).  Anyone who is even vaguely interested should contact me soon.

HDR Language Acquisition Workshops: French, German, Italian: We again have funding to help you develop your reading into the historiography in your field not published in English. Again the CMRS Postgrad Committee  will be endeavouring to ensure that these workshops are tailored to your needs. I will be having a meeting with those interested in participating in any of these workshops – Friday 12 February, 11 am, Room N602.

Latin Reading: 10.00 – 10.55 every Friday morning during semester. Again, this is a postgraduate-led seminar which aims to give people confidence with translation from Latin into English. Texts your are working with can be used as the basis for any seminar.

Palaeography: In addition to the week long courses in Prato and London (see above), student-led palaeography workshops will be again organized on a weekly basis at Clayton.

Friday CMRS Seminar – weekly at 11.00 am: The CMRS Postgrad Committee is currently working on this semester’s program. There will be some visiting presenters, including: First semester: March 18 (tbc) Blaise Dufal; Also Jakob Ladegaard (Academic Visitor to CMRS); and Julie Hotchin. And looking ahead to second semester: Cristelle Baskins (July); Faculty Distinguished Visiting Scholar to CMRS Cordelia Beattie (5 August) (August) Marino A. Balducci (26 August); Lino Pertile (7 October); John Henderson (Focus Program professorial appointment to CMRS, September); also Focus Program Visiting Scholar.

MoU between CMRS (Monash) and CMRS (UCLA): The memorandum between the two Centres is to be signed shortly. The relationship is meant to be practical and to give the opportunity for exchange. I have funds set aside in the 2016 budget for one postgraduate to fly to Los Angeles and to take part in UCLA’s CMRS activities and to avail herself/himself of the considerable expertise that is there. Anyone interested should arrange a meeting with me.

‘Monash Massive’: Again, the CMRS/Prato Consortium is going to be well represented at both the Renaissance Society of America conference in Boston at the end of March, and at the International Medieval Congress at Leeds in July. The CMRS is hosting receptions at both of these major international conferences

Peter Howard