Edward Schoolman, assistant professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, is spending a month in the CESCM as a visiting scholar. Specialist of Late Antique Italy and hagiography, he is now working on a new reserach project on Italian noble families.
Why are you here at the CESCM?
I was invited by Vincent Debiais to take part in a workshop “Inscriptions et reliquaires” which he has organized with Elisa Pallotini (University of Utrecht), and further to spend some time at the CESCM to prepare my work on funerary culture. Vincent and I were members at the Institute for Advanced Study together in 2014-2015, where we discovered we had overlapping interests in the meaning and significance behind the display of inscriptions (although from different disciplinary perspectives). Because of the strengths of the CESCM and its scholarship, Poitiers has proved to be a wonderful place to spend a month to complete some of my research and writing in preparation for the workshop and the further develop a project on elements of secular funerary culture in the early Middle Ages, and in particular to move geographical beyond Italy into examples from France. I am very much looking forward to feedback on my paper, “Texts, Bodies and Tombs: Secular Funerary Culture in Early Medieval Italy and Gaul,” which seeks to define and examine the long survival of secular (or non-Christian) practices and language connected to sarcophagi and commemoration.
Tell us about your teaching and other research activities?
I have been an assistant professor in the department of history at the University of Nevada, Reno (USA) since 2011, where I teach a range of courses on Roman, medieval and Byzantine history. Last year, I also taught two seminars, one on monasticism and the other on the transformation of elite status in Late Antiquity; my courses draw not only from literary evidence, but also from material culture. Both of these aspects relate to my own research interests in the history of northern and central Italy, following a number of interrelated avenues of new ways to consider the transformation of the early medieval world with respect to religion and its various roles in society, through the lenses of identity and funerary culture, and in the surviving monuments, documents, and documentary records. This work began with my thesis “Civic Transformation of the Mediterranean City: Ravenna and Antioch, 300-800 CE” which I completed at UCLA under the direction of Claudia Rapp in 2010, but has developed beyond the confines of the seventh century and those specific cities.
You have a forthcoming book?
Yes. My first book, “Rediscovering Sainthood in Italy: Hagiography and the Late Antique Past in Medieval Ravenna,”1 will appear in September 2016 from Palgrave in the New Middle Ages series. Central to the book is the vita of Barbatianus, a holy man, monk, and confessor to the empress Galla Placidia in Ravenna. First written in the tenth century and derived from a number of other sources, the vita appropriates the late antique history of the city and its importance as capital of the Western Roman Empire as relevant to the city’s changing status within the empire of the Ottonians. Using the cult of Barbatianus as a lens, the book tries to balance the varying forces at play in the city in the tenth century and the nature of Ravenna’s hagiographic landscape, and traces its development of the cult from its origins to the early modern period. Although the book was very different in scope from the projects I am pursuing now, I think that funerary commemoration, the practices of veneration, and their cultural impact are all closely connected.
What are your expectations for this stay?
I have already received such generous hospitality from the members and staff of the CESCM, and I am looking forward to getting to know them better and make new contacts with possible future collaborators. I will also continue to use the center’s resources, including the library, for the rest of my stay, but I am most grateful for the help and support I have already received.