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Current Projects

Mario Cossío Olavide

PhD student, Department of Spanish & Portuguese
His research focuses on 14th-century Castile, mainly on the Libro de buen amor, by Juan Ruiz, and the political life and literary career of the Infante Juan Manuel of Villena. His latest work focuses on studying the manifestations of Juan Manuel’s politics of convenience, and in a larger context, how Juan Manuel’s career is part of more extensive—and cross-confessional—Mediterranean network of power and knowledge.

Loren Cowdry

Graduate student, Department of History
Currently working on a dissertation in history, provisionally titled, “An Empire of Cities: Imperialism, Administration, and Cities in Mid-Republican Rome.” This project seeks to reconstruct the Roman Republic’s relationship with the cities of its empire during the period from the First Punic War until the death of Tiberius Gracchus in 133 BCE. It was during this period that the foundation for Rome’s governance of its empire was first laid. Starting in the fifth century BCE, Rome had used local cities and colonies to secure its position in Italy as it expanded across the peninsula. This approach to controlling space via cities was refined with Rome’s acquisition of overseas territory in Sicily and Iberia. Cities, such as Carthago Nova, Syracuse, Lilybaion, and Fregellae, facilitated local administration and, in the process, maintained Rome’s power in the area. Thus, it was the cities that maintained the Roman empire and shaped Roman imperialism. Understanding how Rome approached the task of maintaining its empire and power during the late third and second century is critical as these practices shaped how Rome governed its empire until the seventh century CE.

Matt King

PhD candidate, Department of History
His research focuses on interfaith relationships in the medieval Mediterranean during the era of the Crusades, specifically between the Norman rulers of Sicily and the Zirid emirs of North Africa. The working title for his dissertation is "The Norman Kingdom of Africa and the Medieval Mediterranean." He is excited to have the opportunity to teach a new course this fall semester called HIST 3960 History through Video Games, which aims to use video games as a lens through which to approach the study of the Middle Ages. When not slogging his way through Arabic chronicles or looking for innovative ways to engage undergraduate students, Matt can be found working on a number of campus outreach activities. He works part-time for the Minnesota Historical Society’s National History Day program, is social media coordinator for the Journal of Church History, leads the Center for Medieval Studies’ “Making a Medieval Book” outreach program, and is director of the 2018 Vagantes Conference for Medieval Studies.

Veronica Menaldi

PhD candidate, Department of Spanish & Portuguese
She has activity participated in international conferences and received funding through FLAS (2014–2015) and CLS (2016) for studies in Arabic, in addition to summer research grants. Her dissertation project explores magic, miracle, and medicine in Al-Andalus and Castile/Aragon by focusing on the literary representations of magic in a series of Castilian, Portuguese, and Arabic texts—and how they function in relation to contemporary practices found in surviving grimoires preserved in their original Arabic and Hebrew and later translations and adaptations into Latin, Romance, and Aljamiado.

Basit Hammad Qureshi

PhD candidate, Department of History
His research explores the impact of the crusading movement upon the political culture of Latin Christendom ca. 1090–1150. His dissertation is a case study in which he re-assesses how the phenomenon of crusading informed the rulership and ruling identity of one particular prince: Fulk V, count of the French principality of Anjou (r. 1109-1129) and monarch of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem (r. 1131–1143). As the only Latin prince who traveled to the Eastern Mediterranean on crusade, returned to Western Europe to rule, and then traveled again to the Eastern Mediterranean in order to accede to the very throne of Jerusalem, Fulk is a unique figure. For Fulk, as for many of his peers, crusading was neither a substrate nor an overlay but, rather, a central determinant of their rulership, transforming their performance of just governance. In order to rule effectively within the political-social environment of crusading, Fulk had to engage in a process of reformulating and systematizing administrative and other strategies of governance which had previously been utilized only inconsistently. These included the creation of bureaucratic functionaries to enforce justice at the local level as extensions of the sovereign’s office and the routinization of charter production as a means of affirming re-centralized public authority. The resulting body of formalized practices established the conceptual and logistical groundwork for the subsequent emergence of the medieval state. Since the medieval state, as such, appeared first under Fulk V’s immediate dynastic successors in Western Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean, Fulk’s two reigns therein offer a unique yet neglected opportunity to illuminate how crusading revolutionized rulership in ‘two worlds.’