Medieval Studies

Alison K. Frazier

Associate ProfessorPh.D., 1997, Columbia University

Alison K. Frazier


  • Phone: 512-475-6375
  • Office: GAR 2.109
  • Office Hours: Spring 2016: M 2-3pm and Th 8-9am and by apptmt
  • Campus Mail Code: B7000


Medieval and Renaissance Europe, especially intellectual history, religion, hagiography, biblical exegesis, manuscripts and printing


MDV 392M • Saints' Lives As Hist Sources

40305 • Spring 2015
Meets F 900am-1200pm GAR 1.122
(also listed as HIS 397L, R S 390T)

Description. This graduate seminar covers 1.) some key primary sources for the study of premodern sanctity and 2.) a sampling of the range of methods that scholars have applied to those sources. Our progress through the semester will be both chronological and thematic. The focus is on Christianity to 1700, but students working later are welcome. Readings will cover precedents and analogies in other traditions, including Judaism and Islam. The two-track syllabus, addressing both primary and secondary sources, builds familiarity with rhetorical, historical, and theoretical aspects of the cult of the saints as a potent site of cultural work. Reading competence in at least one language other than English is encouraged.

*Expect changes to the syllabus depending on student interests.

*The course may be taken for reading or research credit.

Secondary Readings may include:

            Sainthood: Its Manifestations in the World Religions

            Delehaye, Legends of the Saints

            Brown, Cult of the Saints

            Bashir, Sufi Bodies

            Geary, Furta sacra

            Weinstein and Bell, Saints and Society

            Einbinder, Beautiful Death

            Schmitt, Holy Greyhound

            Harpham, Ascetic Imperative

            Hsia, Trent 1475

            Greer & Bilinkoff, Colonial Saints

            Hawley & Patton, Holy Tears

            Van Liere et al., Sacred History

MDV 392M • Italy Relig/Society: 1300-1500

40960 • Fall 2011
Meets TH 330pm-630pm GAR 1.122
(also listed as ITL 382, R S 390T, WGS 393)

This graduate reading course is designed to introduce new scholarship that has brought the study of religion on the Italian peninsula “out of the shadows” and into the mainstream. By examining topics ranging from institutional developments and civic practices to lived religion, students map the interaction of the new historiography with broader trends in the study of Gender, the State, the Papacy, the Emotions, Space/Place, Material Culture, Heresy & Crusading, Patronage, Intellectual History, and the Mediterranean World. Those interested will have opportunities to read primary sources in original languages and to work on paleography.  


Readings may include:

Articles by e.g. Bynum, Jenson, Rusconi, Zarri

Thompson, Cities of God

Muir, Civic Ritual

Miller, Bishop’s Palace

Bornstein, The Bianchi of 1399

Weinstein and Bell, Saints and Society


Requirements. Group-oriented participation in discussion is basic to this course (30%). Students write eight weekly 2 page analytic summaries of the hypotheses, methodologies, and sources relevant to readings (40%). In addition, students take turns introducing and summarizing discussion (20%), and presenting author and review reports (10%).   


Books & Articles

  • "Liturgical Humanism: Saints' Offices from the Italian Peninsula." For A.M. Busse Berger and J. Rodin, eds., Cambridge Companion to Fifteenth-Century Music. New York: Cambridge University Press.  2015. 310-329.
  • Ed., The Saint Between Manuscript and Print (Italy 1400-1600). Toronto: Center for Renaissance and Reformation Studies. 2015. Introduction;translation of five of the twelve articles.
  • Co-ed. with Patrick Nold. Essays in Renaissance Thought and Letters. In Honor of John Monfasani. Leiden: Brill Press, 2015. Introduction; translation of three articles.
  • “Biography as an Genre of Moral Philosophy” in D.A. Lines and S. Ebbersmeyer, eds., Rethinking Virtue, Reforming Society: New Directions in Renaissance Ethics (Turnhout: Brepols, 2013), 215-49.
  • Sub-ed., Renaissance Studies in Honor of Joseph Connors, ed. M. Israels and L. Waldman. Florence: Villa I Tatti-Harvard University/ Olschki, 2013. In charge of sixteen articles.
  • “Who Wrote the First Life of Lorenzo de’ Medici?” in Renaissance Studies in Honor of Joseph Connors, ed. M. Israels and L. Waldman (Florence: Villa I Tatti, Harvard University / Olschki, 2013).58-63.
  • “Humanist Lives of St. Catherine of Siena” in J. Hamburger and G. Signori, eds.,  Catherine of Siena: The Creation of a Cult (Medieval Women: Texts and Contexts) (Turnhout: Brepols, 2013), 109-34.
  • “Les Augustins patrons d’un humaniste laïc? Le cas de Giovanni Garzoni de Bologne” in C. Caby and R.M. Dessi, eds., Les Humanistes et l’Eglise. Pratiques culturelles et échanges entre les litterati laïcs et ecclésiastiques (Italie, début XIIIe-début XVIe siècle). Paris/Nice: CNRS, 2012.  Pp. 195-214.
  • A Layman’s Life of St. Augustine: Patronage and Polemic” with edited text and appendix. Traditio 65 (2010): 231-86.
  • “Luca della Robbia’s Narrative on the Deaths of Boscoli and Capponi.”  In The Art of Executing Well:  Rituals of Execution in Renaissance Italy, edited by N. Terpstra.  Kirksville, MO:  Truman State University Press, 2008.
  • “Machiavelli, Trauma, and the Scandal of The Prince:  An Essay in Speculative History.”  In History in the Comic Mode:  Medieval Communities and the Matter of Person, edited by R. Fulton and B. Holsinger.  New York:  Columbia University Press, 2007.
  • Possible Lives:  Authors and Saints in Renaissance Italy.  New York:  Columbia University Press, 2005.
    Winner of the 2006 Gordon Prize from the Renaissance Society of America for the best book in Renaissance Studies.
  • “The First Instructions on Writing about Saints:  Aurelio Brandolini (c.1454-97) and Raffaele Maffei (1455-1522).” Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome 48 (2003).
  • “Katherine’s Place in a Renaissance Collection:  Evidence from Antonio degli Agli (c. 1400-1477), De vitis et gestis sanctorum.”  In St. Katherine of Alexandria.  Texts and Contexts in Western Medieval Europe, edited by Jacqueline Jenkins and Katherine Lewis.  Brepols:  Turnhout, 2003.


The Death of Pietro Paolo Boscoli: In the Mirror of THE PRINCE. Annotated translation of Luca della Robbia’s Recitazione, with three introductory chapters and appendices. Toronto: CRRS, expected submission 2016.

“Latin / Vernacular, Manuscript / Print, Venice / Siena: The Life of St. Catherine of Siena [BHL 1706a] by Lay Professor of Humanities Niccolò Borghesi (1432-1500)” with an edition of the text. In preparation.


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