Assistant Professor of History and International Studies
Fellow of the American Academy in Rome
Office: McKee 203B
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My research and teaching interests lie in the cultural, religious, and intellectual history of Renaissance Italy and the early modern Mediterranean. In particular, I am interested in cultural exchange and its impact on individual and collective conceptions of belonging and difference, what I call the intellectual history of cross-cultural interaction.
My first book, A Jewish Jesuit in the Eastern Mediterranean: Early Modern Conversion, Mission, and the Construction of Identity, is forthcoming with Cambridge University Press. A Jewish Jesuit explores the personal letters, official correspondence, and autobiography of Giovanni Battista Eliano, a sixteenth-century Jewish-born Jesuit priest. By tracing the ways that Eliano confronted the entanglement of his Jewish past and Catholic identity, this book illuminates what it was like to be a convert and in turn nuances our understanding of the ways in which individuals both constructed and performed richer senses of themselves and became agents of change in the early modern Mediterranean.
My second book project, currently in progress, is entitled Ancient Others: Barbarians in the Italian Renaissance. It explores Italians' representations of their pan-Mediterranean political and religious rivals as the descendants of the peoples whom the ancient Greeks and Romans labeled barbarians. Ancient Others will illustrate that these depictions were in response to a series of cultural crises such as the lack of an Italian nation-state, pan-Mediterranean imperial rivalries, global exploration, the loss of political independence in the sixteenth century, and the Protestant Reformation. Beyond its contribution to Italian Renaissance intellectual history, this book will demonstrate that early modern Mediterranean identities were not split into East-West or Christian-non-Christian dichotomies, but were instead fluid, situational, and spectral.
I am also working on several articles. I am finishing the draft of an essay that explores
translation and generic manipulation in Dante's love poetry as a critique of Florentine
magnate culture as well as French cultural and political hegemony in late Duecento
and early Trecento Italy. I am currently developing an essay entitled "Renaissance
Hannibals," which interrogates Italians' use of the Carthaginian invasion of Italy
during the Second Punic War (218BC–201BC) as a metaphor for early modern Mediterranean
geopolitics. This essay posits that, through depictions of their compatriots as either
allies of the Carthaginians or as Roman heroes such as Scipio Africanus, Italians
saw pan-Italian unity as essential to combatting early modern Italy's foreign enemies.
Another article in development, "The Ruined Sea," examines the ways in which Italian
humanists depicted Roman ruins not as relics of a bygone ancient past but as living
depositories of historical knowledge of Mediterranean pasts in need of preservation
in the face of seemingly contradictory yet deeply entangled threats such as the rise
of the Ottomans or local spoliation for new construction in Renaissance Europe.
I am also the co-investigator of an interdisciplinary project on the place of ancient ruins in Rome's urban ecologies (c. 1300-1900), in collaboration with Kristi Cheramie, Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture at The Ohio State University. Through a study of literary, archival, archaeological, ecological, botanical, and cartographic evidence, this project aims to create museum exhibitions, essays, and a peer-reviewed monograph that investigate the dialectic between early modern Rome's lost urban ecologies and the people who experienced them.