Genealogies of Modernity: Medieval and Early Modern

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How do genealogies of modernity inform literary and historical traditions, shape emerging media, and modulate our ideas about human flourishing? Spanning the medieval and early modern eras, GenMod supports inquiries into religion and secularism, ethics, gender and sexuality, and comparative media during the “age of reform” (roughly 1300-1650).

Graduate students in the area benefit from:

  • A dynamic interdisciplinary program in Medieval and Renaissance Studies that brings leading scholars to campus and offers grants to support travel for research, conferences, and seminars at the Newberry Library in Chicago and the Folger Library in Washington, D.C.
  • Close collaboration with the Departments of French and Italian Languages and Literatures, Music, History, History of Art and Architecture, and History and Philosophy of Science, and ample opportunities for course work in supporting disciplines
  • Strong support for trans-Reformation research in multiple media in partnership with the Media and Material Practices focal area. 
  • Collaborative relations with the other focal areas in literary studies, Children’s Literature and Childhood Studies, and Race, Poetics, Empire, and a strong partnership with area universities through the Pittsburgh Consortium for Medieval and Renaissance Studies.


To learn more about which members of the graduate faculty work in GenMod and related areas, see the Graduate Faculty Areas page

Upcoming and Ongoing Programming

  • An ongoing faculty-graduate student Latin translation group
  • Joining the Department of English for the 2016-17 academic year will be William Rhodes, a postdoctoral fellow through the Dietrich School. For more information on Rhodes, his interests, and his colleagues in the Humanities Center, please visit here.
  • Programming provided by the interdisciplinary Medieval and Renaissance Studies Program, which this fall included or will include presentations by William Rhodes, Jason Moore, Renate Blumenfeld-Kosinski, and Laura J. Snyder: 

-Joint Book Celebration for Ryan McDermott & Hannah Johnson, October 14, 2016, with guest respondent Chancellor’s Professor Steven Justice (UC Berkeley), “Historicism (A Eulogy)” — 4:00 PM, 501 Cathedral of Learning

-Workshop conducted by Humanities Center Visiting Fellow: Laura J. Snyder (St. John’s University), October 19, 2016, “Writing Intellectual Biographies: Bringing Thinkers and Their Ideas to Life” — 12:30 PM, Humanities Center, 602 CL. This workshop will be followed up by her lecture, “Eye of the Beholder: Johannes Vermeer, Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, and the Reinvention of Seeing,” October 20, 2016 — 6:00 PM, Carnegie Museum of Art Theatre 

-Lorraine Daston (Dietrich School Humanities Center Visiting Fellow) Colloquium, November 8, 2016, “The Premodern Rule: History of an Epistemic Category,” 12:30 PM, Humanities Center, 602 CL, and her lecture, “Modernity and the History of Science” — 5:00 PM, University Club, Ballroom A 

For more information visit: or contact You may also visit the complete Medieval & Renaissance Studies Fall 2016 Events schedule here.

 Past Events

  • Presentations which brought Valerie Forman, Carlos Cañete, Kim Phillips, Shirin Fozi, Carmen Nocentelli, Dorothy Kim, and Lauren Benton to campus during the 2015-16 academic year.
  • The William Rhodes (Dietrich School Humanities Center Postdoctoral Fellow) Colloquium, “Labors of Reform: The Political Ecology of English Reformation Literature,” with responses Pitt faculty members Ryan McDermott and Jennifer Waldron, was offered in September, 2016.

  • September 2016 also featured Jason Moore (SUNY Binghamton), where he gave his lecture, “The Origins of Ecological Crisis: Work, Power, and Nature in the Rise of Capitalism," as well as a lunch seminar titled "Value in the Capitalocene." His visit was hosted by Carnegie Mellon University.
  • The month of September concluded with the Annual Provost's Advisory Committee on Women's Concerns (PACWC) Lecture and Reception for Women Faculty,  "Medieval Holy Women as Political Strategists," led by Renate Blumenfeld-Kosinski (French and Italian Laguages and Literatures).

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