Congratulations to our recent PhD Candidates

October 1, 2019 by Communications

Congratulations to our PhD students Bogdan Smarandache, Matthew Mattingly, and Morris B. Tichenor who defended their theses in September 2019:


Bogdan Smarandache

“Frankish-Muslim Diplomatic Relations and the Shared Minority Discourse in the Eastern Mediterranean, 517-692 AH/1123-1293 AD”

This dissertation examines the special link between Christian-Muslim diplomatic relations and the conditions of confessional minorities in the medieval Eastern Mediterranean. It begins with a preliminary analysis of the legal and ideological frameworks that guided Christian and Muslim rulers in their policies towards minorities. It then surveys how these rulers involved minorities in their negotiations, upholding or challenging these frameworks, from the earliest Christian-Muslim encounters in the first/seventh century to the Norman and Seljuk invasions of Sicily and Anatolia in the fourth/eleventh century. The dissertation then shifts focus towards the Frankish Coastal Plain (Arabic: al-Sāḥil; Old French: Outremer) and Islamic Greater Syria (Arabic: Bilād al-Shām; Latin: Majora Syria) from the First Crusade (488-492/1095-1099) to the conquest of the last Frankish stronghold of Acre by the Mamlūk sultan al-Ashraf Khalīl (689-693/1290-1293) in 690/1291. This dissertation offers a new analysis of Christian-Muslim relations that considers post-crusade developments in diplomatic practices as part of a continuum originating with relations between Byzantine emperors and Umayyad caliphs and their concerns over the welfare of minorities. It shows how rulers projected their authority by including minorities in their negotiations and how changes in the relations between rulers directly brought about the improvement or worsening of minority conditions throughout Mediterranean history. It also argues that the expressive (or symbolic) actions used to target minorities, or challenge the ability of rulers to protect them, were mutually intelligible across confessional divides. Thus, Frankish and Muslim rulers shared a common language of diplomacy that involved diplomatic conventions, such as gift-exchange, and they also shared a common conceptualization of authority tied to their treatment of minorities and their ability to protect minorities that evolved out of earlier discourses.

Matthew Mattingly

“Living Reliquaries: Monasticism and the cult of the saints in the Age of Louis the Pious”

At the genesis of this dissertation is the observation that numerous Carolingian monasteries of the ninth century were more than just enclaves for a spiritual elite following the Rule of St. Benedict but also functioned as popular religious shrines. These communities almost invariably identified with a patron saint particular to their institutions, whose bodily remains they protected and memorialized, and whose cults they actively promoted. This contrasts sharply with the early Merovingian period when monasteries and the shrines of the saints were mostly separate endeavors. My study aims to understand how and why this development came about, and what, if anything, the cult of the saints and their relics had to do with the monastic life and its ideals. It also serves to complicate the prevailing view that Carolingian monasteries were essentially “Benedictine” and functioned foremost as “powerhouses of prayer” for the aristocratic society that supported them.

A preliminary chapter provides historical context and introduces key themes by analyzing Queen Balthild’s decision, ca. 650, to organize the premier saints’ shrines of the Frankish realm as monasteries. The remaining chapters are then devoted to detailed case studies of the iii monastery-shrines of Saint-Wandrille, Saint-Denis, and Saint Gall, and are based on close readings of hagiographical works composed during the early decades of the ninth century in the midst of major institutional transformations. While scholars have previously focused on the adoption of the Rule of St. Benedict by these communities in the context of an imperially sponsored monastic reform, the changes are shown here to have been much more comprehensive, entailing large-scale building projects, artistic enhancements, liturgical renewal, and the production of new hagiographic literature. The larger aim, it is argued, was to create integrated complexes of sacred space, more worthy of the relics housed within, as the basis for Christian communities that comprised more than just their monks. The reformed monasteries themselves are represented, in effect, as living reliquaries, whose sacred duty was to protect, honor, and mediate the power of the relics entrusted to their care.

Morris B. Tichenor

“Cicero’s Incomplete Orator: The Transmission and Reception of the Mutilus Text”

This dissertation traces the tradition of Orator, Cicero’s late work on oratorical style, through the Middle Ages. During that time and due to mechanical losses, the text circulated in a reduced or mutilus form consisting of only the middle half and tail-end of the treatise. An early chapter (1) covers the tradition of the text as fragmentary quotations in other Classical and Late Antique authors. The core of my project, however, is a full codicological examination and catalogue (Appendix C) of the fifty-six surviving manuscript witnesses to this mutilus text. Proceeding from that research, I present the stemmatic relationships of the manuscripts, the geographic and chronological spread of the text, and the creation of two separate vulgate versions by early Italian humanists (Chapters 2 and 3). I present an edition of and commentary on a version of the text created by the early 15th c. schoolmaster Gasparino Barzizza, whose conjectures have long been praised by editors (Appendix A). I edit and classify the marginal and paratextual additions made by medieval readers to show how and why they read the text (Appendix B). Beyond the obvious contributions to textual criticism and the history of rhetoric, my dissertation demonstrates, through the lens of a single text, many of the various Ciceronianisms and Ciceros that existed in Latin intellectual history in the over millennium and a half following his death.