Early Modern Studies Concentration for Graduate Students
in the Departments of English, History, Modern Languages and Literatures

The Early Modern Studies Concentration is an interdisciplinary concentration to be earned in conjunction with the individual Ph.D. requirements for the departments of English, History, and Modern Languages and Literatures (Romance Studies, Spanish and French). Graduate students will continue to be housed in any one of the three departments and must fulfill the requirements of their discipline.  To qualify for the Concentration, students must successfully complete a minimum of two courses (6 credit hours) in one or both of the other two departments, substituting for courses within their department; and a minimum of two courses (6 credit hours) in early modern studies within their department.

Elena Bonmati's essay has been awarded the 2017 Early Modern Essay Award. In selecting her essay, the Graduate Essay Award Committee wrote the following:

The essay “Colón y el arte de navegar: el barco como lugar de enunciación epistemológica en el Primer viaje de Cristóbal Colón” offers an original new reading of Columbus’s “first letter” to argue that the Western concept of the known world was changed not only by the geographical knowledge gained through mapping new lands, but also by what was learned and theorized from the actual act of navigation. Expanding on current postcolonial scholarship, the essay investigates the influence of Columbus’s voyages on the increasing importance of maritime occupations and on his own perceptions of Amerindians in his role as both navigator and cartographer. The Prize Committee was impressed by the essay’s originality and thorough research, and is pleased to select it as the winner of the 2017 Early Modern Studies Essay Award.

Why an Early Modern Studies Concentration?
Support for Early Modern Studies at the University of Miami
Library Resources
CAS Faculty in the Early Modern Period
Early Modern Graduate Courses


Why an Early Modern Studies Concentration?

The University of Miami’s strength in early modern, transatlantic, and Caribbean studies translates into dynamic learning experiences for our graduate students. In conceptualizing the early modern period in both interdisciplinary and transnational terms, this concentration will better prepare our graduate students as scholars and teachers. As an example, students interested in the early modern English world can take advantage of classes that focus on literature as well as the histories of political and religious thought both in England and its colonies. Likewise, with our faculty’s wide-ranging coverage of the Spanish world, students can draw on literary analyses of the Golden Age as well as histories of Spanish-indigenous encounters, the Spanish colonial system in Latin America, and the Inquisition. The same can be said for students with interests in French colonial systems, given our faculty’s collective strengths in the French Caribbean. With the Early Modern Studies Concentration, students will:

• gain transcultural and interdisciplinary knowledge for stronger intellectual coherence within their program of study;
• enroll in courses with various faculty across the College of Arts and Sciences and interact with graduate students in other departments;
• apply their coursework in selected courses to their language requirements within their home department;
• gain the competency to design and teach interdisciplinary courses or comparative courses in one or more disciplines once graduated;
• be more competitive on the academic job market and in government and international positions. 

Support for Early Modern Studies at the University of Miami

The Department of English enjoys considerable strength in the study of literature and culture of the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries. Scholars who teach and write about this period of English literary history are engaged in exciting and innovative work, particularly in the following areas: Women’s Writing, Gender Studies, and Sexuality; Race, Religion, Ethnicity, and the Transnational; Popular Culture and Cultural Studies; Genre Studies.  The department’s strengths in Caribbean, colonial, and trans-Atlantic studies further complement the courses and research by faculty in the early modern period, fostering a rich climate for the study of early modern European literature and culture in a truly transnational context.

The Department of History has strong representation in the early modern era, with faculty working on colonial Latin America, the Caribbean, and North America as well as England, Germany, the Netherlands, and Italy. As this listing suggests, we conceptualize the early modern world broadly, employing transnational approaches to the study of this era. The History Department, moreover, has particular complementary concentrations in cultural, political, and religious history.

The Department of Modern Languages and Literatures hosts a biannual Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque symposium that invites distinguished faculty as keynote speakers, and attracts from 60 to 80 participants from across the United States and other countries. Several publications have resulted from papers read at the meetings. Its faculty teaches courses in Renaissance and Baroque Spanish and Colonial Studies as well as 17th and 18th century French. 

The Center for the Humanities sponsors a thriving interdisciplinary Early Modern Studies Research Group.  Organized by Professors Maria Stampino (MLL) and Karl Gunther (History), and drawing paricipants and presenters from universities across south Florida, the group meets monthly during the academic year to discuss pre-circulated work-in-progress over lunch.  The group provides an excellent forum for gradute students to participate in the vibrant intellectual community of early modernists in Miami and workshop dissertation chapters and conference papers.

The University of Miami’s Lowe Art Museum is in possession of a permanent collection with impressive strengths in Renaissance and Baroque paintings, housed in its Kress Gallery, by artists including Lippo Vanni, Guidoccio Cozzarelli, Bernardino Fungai, Battista Dossi, Sofonisba Anguissola, Jacob Jordaens, Nicolaes van Galen, El Greco, Jusepe de Ribera, Thomas Gainsborough, Leonardo Carlo Coccorante, and numerous others.

Graduate students who have completed at least two courses in early modern studies may submit an essay for the yearly $1,000 Essay Award in Early Modern Studies.  Past award winners include 

  • Anne Schmalstig, "'To Our Owne Benefits': Strategic Humility and Redemption in Aemilia Lanyer's Salve Deus" (2016)

  • Francesca Aguiló Mora, "Bilingüismo léxico por sujetos biculturales en los Comentarios reales del Inca Garcilaso y en la Primer nueva corónica y buen gobierno de Felipe Guamán Poma de Ayala" (2015)

  •  Simonetta Marin, "A New Image for a New Devotion: The Fleshy Heart of Jesus" (2014)

Library Resources

The Special Collections at the University of Miami’s Richter Library has particular strengths in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Spanish literature and drama; seventeenth-century British political and constitutional history and in eighteenth-century Caribbean cultural and political history. Access to important electronic resources is available through the University of Miami Library website.  Resources include Early English Books Online (EEBO), Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO), the Brown Women Writers Project, Perdita Manuscripts: Women Writers 1500-1700; Iter: Gateway to the Middle Ages and Renaissance; the Digital Library of Classic Protestant Texts; the Digital Library of the Catholic Reformation; Early American Imprints (Series I, Evans); and the Chadwyck-Healey Individual Literature Collections. The Dr. and Mrs. Ralph Kirsch Rare Book Room at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine Campus preserves 3,000 books dating from 1496 to 1900, including the first German textbook on ophthalmology written in 1583, a rare second edition published 100 years later, and a 1613 book on depth perception with drawings by Peter Paul Rubens, as well as books on optics by Johann Kepler (1611), René Descartes (1664), and Sir Isaac Newton (1704).

The Cuban Theater Digital Archive (CTDA) includes materials digitized and filmed in Cuba and outside the island as well as resources and information related to Cuban theater, with a special focus on theater produced by Cuban communities in the United States. Plays staged by Cuban theater repertoires and archived play scripts include those by early modern playwrights such as Calderón de la Barca, Carlo Goldoni, Lope de Vega, Molière, and Shakespeare.

CAS Faculty in the Early Modern Period

Art and Art History
Karen Mathews  Medieval art, Islamic art.
Perri Lee Roberts – Italian Renaissance.

English Department
Anthony Barthelemy  Renaissance literature, race and sexuality, Shakespeare’s Italy, intersections of politics and form. 
Tassie Gwilliam  Restoration and eighteenth-century popular culture and elite literature, sexuality and gender, medicine and literature.
Pamela Hammons  Renaissance and medieval literature, especially poetry; women’s writing; property and material culture; manuscript studies; literary theories, especially feminisms and queer theory.
Frank Palmeri  Comparative eighteenth- and nineteenth-century (including historiography, philosophy, and the visual arts), narrative theory, satire, postmodernism.
Jessica Rosenberg  Early modern English literature and culture, the history of science (especially of practical knowledge), the history of the book and of material texts; literary and critical theory, including science studies and poetics.
Mihoko Suzuki  Renaissance and early modern studies, English and continental; gender and authorship; early modern political thought and historiography; the classical tradition.
Susanne Woods  Renaissance literature, Milton, women writers, versification, literary feminisms, gender and authorship.

History Department
Karl Gunther  Early modern Britain, Reformation, politics
Mary Lindemann  Early modern Europe, Germany, history of medicine
Martin Nesvig  Latin America, Colonial Mexico, the Inquisition
Guido Ruggiero  Italian Renaissance, gender, sexuality, literature, microhistory.
Hugh Thomas  Medieval England
Ashli White  Atlantic world, slavery, revolutions, and material culture.

Modern Languages and Literatures
Susanna Allés-Torrent – Iberian medieval, digital humanities
Viviana Díaz Balsera – Early modern Spanish and Colonial Latin American literatures, cultures, and postcolonial studies.
Logan J. Connors – Eighteenth-Century French Theater, Theater and Performance Studies, Cultural Polemics, History of the Emotions, Early Modern European Literature
Laura Giannetti – Renaissance Italian, literature and culture, Renaissance drama, gender and sexuality, women's studies.
Ralph Heyndels – Classical, modern and contemporary French and comparative literature, critical theory, philosophy, postcolonial cultural studies, gay studies.
Maria Galli Stampino – Italian and French Renaissance and Baroque Literatures and cultures, performance studies

Early Modern Graduate Courses

Students in the early modern concentration may chose from a variety of courses offered each semester.  Some recent course offerings include:

  • Logan Connors (MLL), “Controversy and Creation: a polemical history of French Classical Theater”
  • Pamela Hammons (English), "Queering Early English Literary History"
  • Karl Gunther (History), "The Tudors" and "Field Seminar in Early Modern European History"
  • Mary Lindemann (History), “The Early Modern Urban Experience” and "Science, Magic, and Medicine"
  • Martin Nesvig (History), "New Conquest History"
  • Guido Ruggiero (History), "Fiction and Friction in History" and "Rethinking Machiavelli"
  • Mihoko Suzuki (English), "Gender and Authorship in Early Modern England" and "Order and Disorder in Seventeenth-Century England"

 Courses offered in Fall 2017:

 Courses Day Description

ENG 624: Gender and Authorship In Seventeenth-Century Literature

 Professor Mihoko Suzuki

3:30pm - 6:00pm
Ashe Room 427

This seminar will place in historical context issues concerning gender and authorship in late sixteenth- to seventeenth-century England. In the beginning of this period, women were generally enjoined from becoming authors because the “publicity” of authorship—i.e., the circulation of texts—was considered tantamount to the circulation of bodies. Thus a more acceptable form of authorship—for aristocratic males, as well as for women—was in manuscript, whose circulation among a coterie readership could be controlled. Those who did venture into print generally avoided naming themselves on the title page or used pseudonyms. Certain modes of writing and topics were also deemed more acceptable for women: translations and religious subjects. Yet a number of women were able to assert their autonomy—and address political subjects—even within these modes that apparently entailed the author’s subordination to a master text or in treating topics that were assumed to emphasize devotion and privacy. The reign of Elizabeth—who was an accomplished author, in her own right, of speeches to Parliament and poetry circulated in manuscript—produced an “Elizabeth effect” that encouraged women during and following her reign to become published authors. In the mid-seventeenth century, during the English Civil Wars and Commonwealth (1640–59), the tumultuous upheaval of the social order encouraged middle-class women to break a number of earlier taboos concerning female authorship: they collectively authored, presented, and published petitions to Parliament, and published advice to or criticism of the Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell. After the Restoration of Charles II (1660), women continued to publish on political subjects; others began to write plays for the public theatre for the first time as actresses were newly permitted on the stage. In addition to tracing this trajectory of women’s increasing boldness as authors during this century-long period, the seminar will call attention to the historically specific conditions of authorship that women negotiated according to their rank and position in the social hierarchy.

Authors and texts: Elizabeth I, Mary Sidney, Aemilia Lanyer, Elizabeth Cary, civil war and Restoration petitions and tracts, Anne Bradstreet, Katherine Philips, Margaret Cavendish, Lucy Hutchinson, Aphra Behn.

Requirements: Weekly Blackboard posts; two shorter (2500-3000 words) papers OR one shorter and one longer (5000-6000 words) paper, the second of which can be a revision/expansion of the first.

HIS 652: The Inquisition

Professor Martin Nesvig

2:00pm - 4:30pm
Ashe Room 621

This course is a reading-intensive seminar which examines the 7-century long history of inquisitions.  The most notorious inquisition was the national Spanish Inquisition, launched in the 1470s, but there had been various medieval inquisitions and inquisitors in Germany, France, Italy and Catalonia dating from the 1230s.  This course examines the long history of inquisitions and related debates surrounding them as institutions, as cultural phenomena, and about the peoples investigated by inquisitional powers.  Regionally, the course focuses on four core areas in specific time periods: 13th-14th century France; early-modern Spain; early-modern Italy; and colonial Latin America (especially Mexico and Brazil).  Topically, the course analyzes issues such as inquisitional law, scholastic theology, Roman jurisprudence, torture, heresy, blasphemy, Judaism, popular religion, Lutheranism, witchcraft, homosexuality, and censorship.  Methodologically, the course exposes students to major debates concerning the use of sources, microhistory, intellectual history, the sociology of religion, linguistics, and the nature of dissent.  Students can expect to read widely and deeply in primary sources and in relevant secondary literature and should have the ability to conduct research in at least one of the following languages: Latin, Spanish, Italian, French, Catalan, or Portuguese. 


 Courses offered in Spring 2018:

 Courses Day Description

Seminar in Comparative Medieval Studies   

Professor Susanna Alles Torrent

5:00pm - 7:30pm
Location TBA

In this seminar we will study the main topics in the Literature of the Middle Ages in Western Europe, approximately from 800 to 1500 CE. We will discuss general questions such as the beginnings of romance writing in the different areas, the duality among orality vs writing, or the places of knowledge (courts, universities). We will privilege three main genres and analyze their evolution diachronically and geographically. Epics and the chanson de geste will offer us a field of exploration: which are the values shared by the Chançon de Roland and the Cantar de Mio Cid, or why the great French hero Roland turns into the madly in love and raging Orlando of Ariosto. Our attention will then be put on Medieval romance, especially on the courtly love and poetry, analyzing differences between Spaniards and French troubadours and the poets of the Italian Dolce Stil Novo. Afterwards, we will pay particular attention to the form of story-telling analyzing the French roman and lai, and the short narrative of the Decameron; we will finally analyze the main ingredients of the chivalric romance and why Miguel de Cervantes burlesqued them in his Don Quixote. The seminar will be taught in English and will be conducted by discussions of primary and secondary materials. The readings of primary sources will be given in the original language (French, Spanish, Italian, or Catalan) and in translation. Special care will be given to digital tools and resources related within the field of Medieval Studies, and there will be several digital assignments.

HIS 638
The History of Early Modern Emotions

Professor Guido Ruggiero

Office: 627B Ashe

In the last decade the history of emotions has become a new field of intense controversy especially for cultural historians.  Even as neurobiologists and psychologists have been making important discoveries about the nature and endurance over long periods of time of human and primate “emotions,” a very active group of scholars especially in Australia and England have been arguing that emotions have a limited endurance in a historical time frame and, in fact, a significant history as a cultural construct that can be traced in premodern history.  These findings have added fuel to the growing number of psychologists who argue against theories of biological determinism that hold that very little in the way of human emotions are pre-cognitive and thus “hard-wired” or fixed without a history at least in any recorded time frame.  Looking at emotions in pre-modern Europe (and briefly more broadly in the world) as a seminar we will evaluate whether texts from the past (with an emphasis on early modern Europe) indicate that emotions and their nature have changed for humans over time.  In this context we will also look more closely at how premodern Europe understood emotions both in their functioning and in their “nature.”  To consider these questions this seminar will focus on extensive reading of both prescriptive literature and literary texts as well as intensive seminar discussion; intensive because this is a field of history and scientific inquiry where the answers are very much in flux and debate. In additional we will sample a few of the more cutting edge historical works that consider these issues.  And while we may not be able to answer these debates, we can definitely add to them a more articulated historical dimension.  A willingness to read extensively and discuss analytically the often controversial issues involved in seminar is required.