Past Event

CANCELED Columbia Medieval Studies Seminar: Sean Field "Dangerous Devotions: The Life of Clare of Rimini."

March 9, 2020
5:30 PM - 8:30 PM
Columbia University Faculty House

It is a pleasure to announce that the next meeting for the Columbia University Seminar on Medieval Studies will take place on Monday, March 9 at 5:30pm in the Faculty House.  Dr. Sean L. Field will present "Dangerous Devotions: The Life of Clare of Rimini." Sean L. Field is a Professor of History at the University of Vermont. His work to date has focused on medieval Franciscan holy women, and Capetian sanctity. His third and latest monograph is titled Courting Sanctity: Holy Women and the Capetians (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2019). The abstract for his talk is below.

"This talk will focus on a fascinating, little-know woman, whose life is preserved in a fascinating, little-known text.  The woman, Clare, was born in the Italian city of Rimini around 1260 and died there between 1324 and 1329.  The text, La vita della beata Chiara da Rimino la quale fo exemplo a tucte le donne vane, or the Life of the Blessed Clare of Rimini, who was an Example for All Vain Ladies, was composed in Italian by an anonymous Franciscan of Rimini.  Although it is the earliest known work of hagiography written directly in Italian, and the rare vita to be written before its subject’s death, this text has received relatively little scholarly attention since Jacques Dalarun published a critical edition (1994) and ground-breaking study (1999). Clare’s Life tells the story of a difficult, controversial, uncompromising woman, set against the background of her roiling city, her star-crossed family, and the tumultuous political and religious landscape of her age.  Clare’s story loosely follows a “sinner to saint” model.  But rather than representing Clare as the perfect image of a docile holy woman, her hagiographer reveals all her scandals, her controversies, and her failures.  Both Clare and her Franciscan hagiographer show signs of adhering to spiritual currents condemned by the contemporary church, and the text explicitly details Clare’s denunciation by local preachers—hardly typical hagiographic fare.  Clare was a penitent who attracted like-minded followers, but she was never a nun.  She might be seen as a “suspect saint,” or even a “holy heretic” (to use terms from the title of Janine Larmon Peterson’s recent book).  And yet, she gained the support of a Dominican bishop, a Franciscan-leaning cardinal, and important inhabitants of Rimini and the surrounding area. This talk will look more closely at Clare’s dangerous devotions to suggest the overlooked importance of this text."


The event will be held in Faculty House, 64 Morningside Drive. The talk will be followed by dinner at Faculty House at 7:00pm. All those who wish to dine with Sean Field should contact Carly Quijano at by Tuesday, March 3 . Dinner is a fixed buffet menu, which costs $30 per person. Payment is only by check made out to “Columbia University.”

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