Visions of the Crusades

Rossell Hope Robbins Library hosts a conversation on two powerful medieval women in an edition of the Helen Ann Mins Robbins Lecture Series
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Book cover for "Images of Sainthood in Medieval Europe" showing a saint speaking to others

In early December, the Rossell Hope Robbins Library welcomed Renate Blumenfeld-Kosinski, distinguished professor of French at the University of Pittsburgh, to campus as the Helen Ann Mins Robbins speaker. Founded in 1993, this endowed lecture series is the annual highlight of the Robbins Library’s programming, notable medievalists who have made extraordinary contributions to their field through their scholarship and teaching. With 17 monographs and editions, numerous articles, and involvement in major international medieval studies organizations, Dr. Blumenfeld-Kosinski has reshaped our understanding of medieval women, literature, and culture.

Dr. Laura Smoller (History) gave a spirited introduction to Blumenfeld-Kosinski before her December 6 lecture on “Visions of the Crusades: Saint Birgitta of Sweden and Saint Catherine of Siena.” The lecture explored how two powerful medieval women influenced – and condemned – rulers and religious leaders to participate in the Crusades for particular political and theological reasons. More than 40 people attended the lecture and the following reception, including undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, and members of the broader Rochester community. Before the lecture, Blumenfeld-Kosinski spent the afternoon in individual meetings with graduate students and faculty members to discuss their research; those conversations continued with a special graduate student seminar and lunch on Friday to discuss how to develop research and career paths.

“It was amazing to meet individually with a scholar whose work I have admired since undergrad,” says Kyle Huskin (PhD candidate, English). “I especially valued her insights into the struggles of graduate school, the translation process, and her own serendipitous research trajectory. I am also thrilled to have had the opportunity to show her how we at the Lazarus Project are editing texts recovered through multispectral imaging.”

Blumenfeld-Kosinski described the Robbins Library as “a paradise for medievalists,” and is already planning a return visit to our vibrant community.