CEMERS Bernardo Lecture Series



HOLLY FLORA, Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs, Tulane University

  • Thursday, November 9, 2023
  • Admissions Building: Room 189
  • 4:30 p.m. Reception | 5:30 p.m. Lecture

Scholars have long recognized the importance of female lay readers to the development of the genre of the Book of Hours in the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance in northern Europe. In Italian contexts, where Books of Hours are relatively rare, other texts became adapted for devotional use in illustrated manuscripts, reflecting an eclectic urban religious culture. A little-known illuminated manuscript of the Legenda maior made for an unnamed laywoman in Milan ca. 1350 (MS 411 at the Biblioteca Nazionale Vittorio Emanuele II in Rome) is an example of this kind of adaptation.

In this paper, I will examine the way that MS 411 emphasizes the side wound of Christ or of Francis (which is of course Christ’s wound, also acquired via Francis’ stigmatization) as a focal point for the manuscript’s female reader. In MS 411’s highly personalized image cycle, the female devotee appears four times kneeling before either Christ or Francis, who expose their side wounds. The wound in Christ’s side, which can take on the appearance also of a vagina, is sometimes depicted on its own in Books of Hours; examples of the side wound as a singular devotional image occur in manuscripts made for lay women, such as in the Psalter-Hours of Bonne of Luxembourg in the Met Cloisters. I will argue that in MS 411, the privileging of the side wound as an object of the reader’s prayer was key to this manuscript’s re-imagining of the Legenda maior as a devotional text.

The Bernardo Lecture Series in the Humanities honors an esteemed colleague, the late Professor Aldo Bernardo, who taught Romance Languages at Binghamton for many years and co-founded the Center for Medieval & Renaissance Studies with Bernard Huppé in 1966.

The series offers annual lectures by distinguished scholars on topics related to Prof. Bernardo’s fields of interest—medieval and Renaissance history and culture—with a particular focus on Italian literature and intellectual history. Most of the lectures have subsequently been published as individual booklets in a series of occasional papers sponsored by SUNY Press.

  • Past Bernardo Lectures
    • Robert Hollander, Dante and Paul’s “Five Words with Understanding” (1990)
    •  Joan M. Ferrante, Dante’s Beatrice: Priest of an Androgynous God (1991)
    • Ciriaco Morón Arroyo, Celestina and Castilian Humanism at the End of the Fifteenth Century (1992)
    • Thomas M. Greene, Besieging the Castle of Ladies (1993)
    • Peter K. Marshall, Servius and Commentary of Virgil (1994)
    • John Freccero, Dante’s Cosmos (1995)
    • Sara Sturm-Maddox, Dante and Petrarch: The Earthy Paradise Revisited (1996)
    • Teodolinda Barolini, Desire and Death, or Francesca and Guido Cavalcanti: Inferno 5 in its Lyric Context (1997)
    • William J. Kennedy, Totems for Defense and Illustrations of Taboo: Sites of Petrarchism in Renaissance Europe (1998)
    • Maria Rosa Menocal, Writing Without Footnotes: The Role of the Medievalist in Contemporary Intellectual Life (1999)
    • Giuseppe Mazzotta, Dante Between Philosophers and Theologians: Paradiso X-XIII (2000)
    • Luce López-Baralt, A Renaissance Kama Sutra: A Spanish Love Treatise in the Islamic Tradition (2001)
    • Victoria Kirkham, Dante the Book Glutton, Or, Food for Thought from Italian Poets (2002)
    • Rachel Jacoff, Dante and the Jewish Question (2003)
    • Christopher Kleinhenz, Movement and Meaning in the Divine Comedy (2004)
    • Nancy Regalado, The Reader in the World: Democratizing Interpretation in Medieval French Literature (2005)
    • William Cook and Ronald B Herzman, A Dual Perspective on Dante (2006)
    • Deborah Parker, From Experience to Expression: Representations of Captivity in Michelangelo’s Art, Poetry, and Letters (2007)
    • Dino Cervigni, From Divine to Human: Dante’s Circle vs. Boccaccio’s Parodic Centers (2008)
    • Albert Russell Ascoli, “Favola fui”: Petrarch Writes his Readers (2009)
    • Sara Kay, Troubadour Songs and the Cultural Geography of Europe (2010)
    • Lino Pertile, Dante’s Inferno, Auschwitz, and Poetry (2011)
    • Zygmunt Baranski, Inferno XVIII: Language as Sin and Salvation (2013)
    • Edward W. Muir, Jr. “To Trust is Good, But Not to Trust is Better”: The Italian Paradox (2014)
    • Mary J. Carruthers, Terror, Horror, and the Fear of God (2015)
    • Ronald L. Martinez, Cleansing the Temple: Dante, Defender of the Church (2016)
    • Margo Fassler, Cosmos and Creation in the Twelfth Century: Hildegard’s Visions with Excerpts from her Compositions (2017)
    • Carol Lansing, Forgotten Models; the Lost Worlds of Medieval Rome and its Region (2018)
    • Alison Cornish, Dante and the Legibility of the Universe: Facts and Narratives (2019)
    • Geraldine Heng, Teaching the Literatures of the Global Middle Ages (2020)