A Message from the Director, 2017-18

Published: October 11, 2017

Click here to download the CMRS 2017-18 Annual Booklet.

As the new academic year begins, I am happy to report that the Center, which is now in its 55th year, is as strong and vibrant as ever. We’re looking forward to a full and intellectually-stimulating series of conferences, lectures, and other events in 2017-18. I am also happy to report that I have accepted the invitation from our Dean to continue as Director of CMRS for two more years, and that I have asked Sharon Gerstel, Professor of Byzantine Art and Architecture in UCLA’s Department of Art History and a world-renowned scholar, to join me as Associate Director of the Center. I am delighted that Sharon has accepted and am looking forward to working closely with her.

We have also had a change in the Center’s staff. After more than 20 years of serving as CMRS’s principal editor and publications director, Blair Sullivan retired last May. CMRS’s publications—which include the journals Viator and Comitatus, and the book series Cursor Mundi—are internationally recognized. The scope of our publications program grew prodigiously under Blair’s guidance. While we wish Blair a happy and well-earned retirement, we’ll miss the experience and skill she’s brought to the Center. After an extensive job search, we are very fortunate to have hired Heather Sottong as CMRS’s new Publications Manager. Heather began working for CMRS in July. Please join me in welcoming her to the CMRS team. (For more about Heather, see page 15.)

In our quest to increase student support, this year we are adding a new award for graduate students. “CMRS Research and Study Travel Grants” will provide funding for travel for research in any area of Medieval and Renaissance Studies or to attend an educational program or class directly related to the student’s academic study in the field of Medieval and Renaissance Studies. We will continue to offer the highly successful “CMRS Travel Grants”—now called “CMRS Conference Travel Grants”—that help cover travel expenses for students attending conferences to present papers.

Our calendar begins with our open house on October 3 and rapidly moves into full gear. In addition to our regular mid-day CMRS Roundtable talks—which, by the way, have been moved from Wednesday to Monday—we are presenting many notable events. I will mention just a few here. On October 20-21, we will present the first conference of the academic year, “Dante and Modernity.” On October 27, the first “CMRS Emerging Scholars Conference” will take place. Organized by CMRS Associate Director Sharon Gerstel, this one-day gathering will allow a number of our graduate students to present research papers relevant to Medieval and Renaissance Studies. Then for November 17-18, Professor Gerstel has organized a conference on “Sound and the Sacred.” The yearly CMRS Ahmanson Conference, which this year will be organized in conjunction with the J. Paul Getty Museum, takes place on January 26-27, 2018; “The Power of Arts, the Power of Fame” will commemorate the 600th anniversary of the birth of one of the most renowned lords and condottieri of the Italian Renaissance, Sigismondo Pandolofo Malatesta. In keeping with our continuing interest in Medical Humanities, on January 30, CMRS Distinguished Visiting Scholar Francis Wells, MD, will give a public lecture on “Artists, Anatomists, and Medicine. Understanding, Healing, and Communicating the Body in the pre-Vesalian World”; on May 4-5, we will present a conference on “The Representations of Disease in Medieval and early Modern European Art and Literature”; and on June 1-2 we are sponsoring the conference “First Do No Harm: On the Interplay of Folklore, Myth, and Medicine from the Ancient World to the Renaissance and Beyond,” organized by CMRS Affiliate Dr. Sara Burdorff, Professor Stephanie Jamison, and Professor Olga Yokoyama. Our popular film series also continues. The first screening of the year is scheduled for October 31st when to celebrate Halloween we’ll be showing the silent movie Häxan. This 1922 Swedish-Danish documentary-style film follows the evolution of witchcraft through the ages. The film will be shown with live piano accompaniment provided by Cliff Retallick. The list of this year’s events is just too long to mention them all here. You can read about them in this booklet or on our website at cmrs.ucla.edu. I look forward to seeing you soon!

Massimo Ciavolella
Franklin D. Murphy Chair in Italian Renaissance Studies
Director, CMRS