Meet Our Faculty: Laura Smoller


Laura Smoller became the department’s Director of Undergraduate Studies last fall, also teaching two new undergraduate courses:  Visionaries, Mystics, and Saints in Medieval and Renaissance Europe; and The City:  Contested Spaces, an interdisciplinary course team-taught with Professors Peter Christensen (art history) and Llerena Searle (anthropology).  She gave several lectures at academic meetings, beginning with “Preacher, Pope, King, and Emperor:  Remembering Vincent Ferrer and Perpignan” at the colloquium Perpignan 1415: un sommet européen à l’époque des conciles, held in Perpignan, France, in September.  November saw her at the Southern Historical Association (they do have a European history section) talking on “Invented Histories of Astrology in Medieval Europe” in a session she organized on “Lies, Damned Lies, and Histories:  Falsehood in the Later Middle Ages.”  In February, she delivered a paper entitled “Written in the Stars: Medieval Astrology between Magic and Science” as part of the CARA plenary session at the annual meeting of the Medieval Academy of America, while in April she spoke on “Miracles as Sensory Experiences:  Examples from the Canonization of Vincent Ferrer” at a conference she co-organized at the Memorial Art Gallery entitled “Experiencing Devotion in Medieval and Renaissance Europe:  Sights, Sounds, Objects” (and for which she received funding from the Humanities Project).  She also gave several lectures for University of Rochester audiences, speaking at Meliora Weekend, for an alumni webinar, for the celebration “Performing History with Eastman’s Italian Baroque Organ” at the Memorial Art Gallery, and for the Board of Trustees’ annual retreat.  Appearing in print this year was her article “The Unstable Image of Vincent Ferrer in Manuscript and Print Vitae, 1455-1555,” in The Saint Between Manuscript and Print: Italy, 1400-1600, edited by Alison K. Frazier (Toronto, 2015).  And her 2014 monograph The Saint and the Chopped-Up Baby: The Cult of Vincent Ferrer in Medieval and Early Modern Europe received the La corónica International Book Award in May 2016.  She also served on the German history search committee in the department and on the search committee for the new dean of the Hajim School of Engineering.  She continues to serve as editor-in-chief of the journal History Compass.   In her spare time, she enjoys playing flute with the University of Rochester Symphony Orchestra and with Cordancia Chamber Orchestra.


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