October, 17-18-19, 2024

david appleby

Teacher in the exclusively liberal arts program of Thomas Aquinas College in Southern California

After studying European history at the University of Utah, David Appleby earned a PhD in Roman and Medieval history at the University of Virginia. He began his career teaching in the Department of History of the United States Naval Academy, and now teaches in the exclusively liberal arts program of Thomas Aquinas College in Southern California. His current research interest focuses on patterns of presentification in the early medieval West.

Paper: My paper, “’Iudaica superstitio’ and Construction of the Frankish Christian Present in ninth-century Lyon”, considers how the sense of the present, with which Agobard, Florus, and Amolo operated, depended upon ideas about the past and the future they attributed to contemporary Jews. This material has been studied in relation to questions of apocalyptic expectation around the year 800, but not as ordered to the construction of an authoritative present. At the end of the first quarter of the twenty-first century, the term Anthropocene gains currency as confidence in techno-futures dwindles and as a sense of permacrisis sets in. There is growing awareness that the present exists not as a natural given but as a temporal space the extent and character of which depend upon the views of past and future that are operative at a given time and place. These developments have encouraged some early medievalists to look more closely at various configurations of the present in the period they study. My discussion explores how, what they termed “Iudaica supersitio” became a constitutive element of the presentification of Agobard, Florus, and Amolo.


Dean of the Honors College, University of Arkansas

william diebold

Professor of Art History and Humanities emeritus at Reed College

William J. Diebold is the Jane Neuberger Goodsell Professor of Art History and Humanities emeritus at Reed College. He was educated at Yale and Johns Hopkins and has published extensively on early medieval topics, including the book Word and Image: An Introduction to Early Medieval Art. His current research is on the modern reception of medieval art, specifically in 20th-century German museum exhibitions and he is currently editing, with Brigitte Buettner, a volume entitled Medieval Art, Modern Politics.

Representing Carolingian Jews in Modern Germany: Jews and Judaism in the Exhibition Ex oriente (Aachen, 2003)

In 2003, the exhibition Ex oriente: Isaac and the White Elephant in Aachen centered around the diplomatic mission Charlemagne sent to Bagdad. The exhibition attempted to present the three cities that defined Isaac’s journey (Aachen, Bagdad, and Jerusalem) and the three religions represented by the anecdote’s protagonists (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam). Ex oriente also tried to represent those places and religions as they were both in 800 and in the early 21st-century. Such an ambitious program is remarkable and Ex oriente did many things well, but, given its impossibly broad and remarkably fraught subject, the exhibition unsurprisingly ran into problems. In keeping with the theme of this conference, this paper examines one of those difficult areas: how Ex oriente represented Jews and Judaism and their relationship, medieval and modern, to Christians and Muslims and to Christianity and Islam.

stefan esders

Professor of late antique and early medieval history at Freie Universität Berlin

Stefan Esders was trained as a historian and classicist at the universities of Heidelberg, Freiburg and Oxford before writing his PhD in Ancient History (University of Freiburg) and his habilitation in Medieval History (University of Bochum). Since 2006, he has been professor of late antique and early medieval history at Freie Universität Berlin. His work focuses on legal, religious and social history of the early medieval West between the 5th and the 9th century.

Paper: the seventh century with its manifold wars and their Mediterranean repercussions marks a dramatic change in the history of the Jews, as several attempts are reported to have been undertaken by Christian rulers to forcefully convert Jews to Christianity. The paper (“Forced conversions of Jews in 7th-century Italy: Places, chronology and historical contexts”) will collect and discuss the scattered and often controversial source evidence for forced conversions in Italy, with a focus on Rome, Ravenna and Pavia.

abigail firey

University Research Professor in the Department of History at the University of Kentucky

Abigail Firey is a University Research Professor in the Department of History at the University of Kentucky, and has served two terms as Director of the interdisciplinary World Religions Program. She specialises in medieval legal history, intersections of cultural and intellectual history in the early middle ages, manuscript studies, and digital humanities. She directs the Carolingian Canon Law project (https://ccl.rch.uky.edu) and recently released in collaboration with Prof. Melodie Eichbauer the first iteration of the Museum of Lost Laws (https://museum-lost-laws.as.uky.edu/).

The Transmission in Francia of the Visigothic Conciliar Decrees Pertaining to Jews

The legislation issued by church councils in Gaul and Visigothic Iberia in the sixth and seventh centuries took shape in different social and political contexts, although both emerge from a Roman heritage. Decrees regarding the status and activities of Jews appear to have distinct orientations in the Gallic and Visigothic canons. Less explored is the continued use of these canons as authoritative touchstones in subsequent compilations of canon law, produced especially energetically in the Carolingian empire, often drawing upon both Gallic and Visigothic precedents. This paper explores the consistencies and inconsistencies in synthesis of these tributaries to legal culture, and also the implications for law often conceived as universal, but bearing the imprint of regional history. To what extent did those working with legal texts in the Carolingian empire conserve cultural distinction between Francia and Iberia, and to what extent did they incorporate the strikingly virulent anti-Judaic legislation of the Visigothic monarchs?

yaniv fox

Associate Professor at the department of general history, and vice dean of humanities at the University of Bar-Ilan

Yaniv Fox a historian of the late antique and early medieval West, an associate professor at the department of general history, and vice dean of humanities at the University of Bar-Ilan. His work focuses primarily on Gaul from the fifth to the eighth centuries. His first book, Power and Religion in Merovingian Gaul: Columbanian Monasticism and the Frankish Elites, published with Cambridge University Press in 2014, examined the development of the ‘Columbanian’ monastic congregation and its ties of patronage with elite Frankish families.

Fox’s next project looked at the portrayal of the Merovingian period in historiographical works composed between the sixth and sixteenth centuries. Authors working in the Merovingian era used its kings to impart a range of moral lessons to their readership. During the Carolingian period, the Merovingians were scapegoated to justify the deposition of their last king by Pippin III in 751, and from the tenth century, the Merovingians were rehabilitated and re-enlisted to prop up the dynastic designs of the Capetian kings of France. This process is examined in his new book—The Merovingians in Historiographical Tradition: Between the Sixth and Sixteenth Centuries—published with Cambridge University Press in 2024.

Presently, Fox’s research focuses on the rhetoric of purity and pollution in exegetical and homiletic literature, particularly in the works of two bishops—Caesarius of Arles and Justus of Urgell. In September 2021, the research group he has organized on the topic received a fellowship at the Israel Institute of Advanced Studies in Jerusalem.

Yitzhak Hen

Professor of late antique and early medieval History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and the Director of the Israel Institute for Advanced Studies

I am a Professor of late antique and early medieval History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and the Director of the Israel Institute for Advanced Studies. My research focuses on the social, cultural and intellectual history of the post-Roman Barbarians kingdoms of the early medieval West; Western Liturgy; as well as early medieval Latin Palaeography and Codicology. I have published numerous articles and several book, among them Culture and Religion in Merovingian Gaul, 481-751 (1995); The Sacramentary of Echternach (1997); The Royal Patronage of Liturgy in Frankish Gaul to the Death of Charles the Bald (2001); Roman Barbarians: The Royal Court and Culture in the Early Medieval West (2007). I am currently working on a book on Western Arianism, and another one on forbidden knowledge in the early medieval West.

In my paper, I should like to focus on the ways Jews and Judaism are perceived in Carolingian prayer-books and liturgical commentaries on the mass. These texts offer an exceptional glimpse of a Carolingian world-view (at least of some Carolingian authors and liturgists), and they reflect an interesting image of Jews and Judaism. At the same time, the image projected by liturgical compositions may have shaped the common image of Jews and Judaism in the Carolingian world and propagated it to a wide audience.

gregor kalas

Associate Professor of architectural history at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Gregor Kalas is an associate professor of architectural history at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where he served a term as the director of the Marco Institute for Medieval and Renaissance Studies. His research focuses on the afterlives of ancient buildings, including the meaningful restoration projects of Late Antiquity. He explored this topic in a monograph, The Restoration of the Roman Forum in Late Antiquity: Transforming Urban Space (Austin, TX, 2015). He co-edited (with Ann van Dijk) the volume, Urban Developments in Late Antique and Medieval Rome: Revising the Narrative of Renewal (Amsterdam 2021). Kalas has received support for his research from the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Whiting Foundation.

Old Testament Models for Charity in Eighth-Century Rome

The charity centers of eighth-century Rome, especially the diaconiae for food distributions, received inspiration from Jewish traditions of assisting the poor such as helping destitute travelers. Evidence for an eighth-century fascination with Jewish hospitality for the poor is documented in the painted Genesis cycle from c. 757-767 at Santa Maria Antiqua, Rome. An image Pharaoh’s banquet and a scene of Joseph pulled from the well can be associated with such practices of charity centers as cleansing rites, food distributions, and lodgings provided for foreign travelers and the poor. The lay benefactors who funded the welfare relief shared their interests with church authorities, since eighth-century painted inscriptions in Santa Maria Antiqua feature prophetic texts from the Jewish bible that were reconciled with Christian theological texts and these inscriptions accompany an image of the adoration of the crucifixion. The presentation argues that the lay organizers of Christian charities softened the blow of anti-Jewish polemics in order to demonstrate that welfare was for all, including the non-Christian foreigners who arrived in Rome.

Laura Suzanne Lieber

Ph.D. Department of Religious Studies Duke University

Laura Suzanne Lieber, a native of Fayetteville, Arkansas, who received her undergraduate degree from the University of Arkansas and her PhD from the University of Chicago, was Professor of Religious Studies at Duke University from 2008-2024, where she also directed the Center for Jewish Studies and the Center for Late Ancient Studies. In July 2024, she began a new position as Chair of Transregional Religious History at the University of Regensburg in Germany. Her most recent book is Staging the Sacred: Theatricality and Performance in Late Ancient Liturgical Poetry (Oxford 2023).

“A Migration of Magic and Piety: The Case of Megillat Ahimaatz”

In this paper, we will examine the traditions surrounding the “secrets of prayer” both textual and ritual praxis–that permeate the 11th century Italian Jewish Chronicle known as the Scroll (megillah) of Ahimaatz, and consider how they influenced the mystical beliefs, magical practices, and liturgical customs of the Jewish pietists of the Rhineland in Germany, the Hasidei Ashkenaz, who emerged in the 12th and 13th centuries.

consuelo lollobrigida

Professor of Art History at the University of Arkansas Rome center

Consuelo Lollobrigida is an art historian with an MA and a Ph.D. degree in Art History from Sapienza University, Rome (IT). Professor of Art History at the University of Arkansas Rome Program, she is the curator of the Annual International Women in the Arts Conference. She studied with Silvia Danesi Squarzina and Vera Fortunati, the founders of gender studies in art in Italy. Her field of expertise is women artists and studies, museum studies and Rome Renaissance and Baroque history and art. Since 2008 she has been taking part to conferences and meetings, all over the world, on women artists in 17th and 18th century, such as: RSA, Feminist Art Conference, Jane Fortune Foundation and in many universities (Bologna, Milan, Roma Tre, Granada, Madrid, Jaen, Washington).

She taught Museum Studies and Didactic of Art at Sapienza and worked as researcher in Italian and international Museums such as the Macro Rome, Soprintendenza, Galleria Nazionale di Palazzo Barberini Museo di Criminologia in Rome. As writer she authored many scholar articles and books, such as Plautilla Bricci. Pictura et Architectura celebris. L’architettrice del Barocco Romano; Following Women Artists. A Guide of Rome; Maria Luigia Raggi. Il Capriccio Architettonico tra Arcadia e Grand Tour; Introduzione alla Museologia. Strumenti e Metodi per operatori museali.

At the RC she teaches: Renaissance and Baroque Architecture, The Grand Tour of Europe, Art History, Women Artists from Renaissance to contemporary, Art as History.

michael lovell

Postdoctoral fellow at Florida Atlantic University

Michael Lovell is a postdoctoral fellow at Florida Atlantic University. His research primarily focuses on interreligious relations and social tolerance in late Roman and early medieval Gaul. His other research interests more broadly include medieval preaching, philosophy, theology, and biblical exegesis. He is currently working on his book tentatively titled, Predestination and Social Tolerance in Late Antique Gaul: Faith and Reason in a Multiconfessional Society, 330-600 CE.

Caesarius and the Jews of Arles: A Hostile Relationship

This paper argues that Caesarius, one of the more prominent bishops of sixth-century Gaul, was extremely hostile towards the Jews of Arles. It further makes the case that his views as well as his actions were rooted in his beliefs in the Augustinian doctrines of divine predestination, grace, and human depravity. It was ultimately this set of ideological priors and their promulgation that heavily inclined the bishop to frame an innocent Jew for the crime of treason in the early sixth century.

lorraine madway

Professor and associate dean of special collections at University of Alabama

Lorraine Madway received her PhD in history from Yale University and archival training at Simmons University. Her scholarly work focuses on rituals and the politics of display, particularly in early modern British and Iberian history and in medieval and early modern Jewish history. Several of her publications examine representations of royal power of Charles II of Great Britain (1660-85) and her current project deals with the queenship of his consort, Catherine of Braganza of Portugal. For over a decade she was the archivist and curator of special collections at Wichita State University, and she recently retired as a professor and associate dean of special collections at the University of Alabama. Her study of Rashi began in rabbinic school in New York and benefits from learning in traditional Jewish settings.

Paper: Rashi’s overall approach in his biblical commentary encompasses an array of substantive and rhetorical strategies: pedagogical, homiletical, apologetical, and polemical, frequently combining one or more of them depending on the needs of a particular verse, phrase, or word. In the increasingly tense years leading up to the First Crusade of 1096 and the nine years afterwards until his death in c. 1105, he transmitted to the small yet engaged communities of Jews in the Frankish orbit the unity of biblical text and rabbinic commentary to reinforce that their religious and communal struggles were as central to the divine plan for the Jewish people as those of their biblical ancestors. Rashi gave Frankish Jews a blueprint not just for survival but for resilience in their striving to understand and practice Jewish observance in their daily lives.

andrew romig

Professor of European medieval studies

Andrew J. Romig is a professor of European medieval studies, specializing in the transformations of culture and society during the Carolingian late-eighth, ninth, and early-tenth centuries.

Protest Embodied: the Case of Bodo/Eleazar”

Masculinity has historically been a site of conservative anxiety during moments of political and social crisis. This paper explores the conversion to Judaism of the Saxon noble, Bodo, in the year 839, as one Carolingian example among many of this broader historical phenomenon.

Amélie Sagasse

paolo squatriti

Teacher of medieval European history at the University of Michigan

Paolo Squatriti teaches medieval European history at the University of Michigan. His research has focused on environmental aspects of the early Middle Ages. His Weeds and the Carolingians appeared in 2022. He is now working on the early medieval history of the eucharist as an environmental phenomenon.

Paper: in the eighth and ninth century Frankish Christian scholars and biblical exegetes developed a body of knowledge about ancient Hebrew practices because they thought them relevant context for earliest Christian history. Carolingian texts therefore show a growing understanding and appreciation for Passover rituals, in particular those current at the time of Jesus’ death. Such erudition was neither neutral nor dispassionate, but rather informed the first eucharistic controversies in Latin Christendom. One important issue within these controversies was the material eucharist, or what should and should not go into the fabrication of the bread that became God at the altar of Christian churches. This paper analyzes Carolingian discourse around the Passover within the context of Frankish debates about the right recipe for a pure liturgical bread, and whether additives such as leavening were appropriate. The paper shows that Carolingian clergy thought it mattered for the original eucharistic meal in Jerusalem to have observed Hebrew dietary laws and involved unleavened materials. Some proposed that Christian eucharistic practices should conform more closely to those of first-century Judaism.

UARK ROME CENTER – Palazzo Taverna – Via di Monte Giordano, 36 – 00186 Roma

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