Professor: Medieval Europe, Mediterranean, Horn of Africa
Ph.D., Northwestern, 1998
B.A., Yale, 1989
At Rutgers Since 1999
105 Van Dyck Hall
Trained as a historian of medieval Europe with a particular interest in Italian politics and culture, Samantha Kelly’s current research examines the relations between Europe and the Christian kingdom of Ethiopia in the pre-modern era. Her 2003 book, The New Solomon: Robert of Anjou (1309-1343) and Fourteenth-Century Kingship (winner of the Marraro Prize of the American Catholic Historical Association) examined the ruling strategies and image-making of a monarch who juggled the responsibilities of his several Mediterranean territories and who cultivated an image of erudition and piety that attracted the attention of contemporary luminaries like Petrarch and Dante. In 2011 she published The ‘Cronaca to Partenope’: An Introduction to and Critical Edition of the First Vernacular History of Naples, examining the dating, authorship, sources, historical context and later influence of a text that was a landmark in Neapolitan communal identity and foundational to many later histories of the city and kingdom. In articles and invited lectures in the U.S. and Europe she has explored aspects of medieval historiography including the geographical mapping of group identity, the fluid boundary between “civic” and “royal” history, and the role of physical objects and spaces in the activation and preservation of memory.
With the help of a Mellon New Directions Fellowship awarded in 2011, Kelly began studying Ge’ez, the literary language of medieval Ethiopia, and is embarked on projects addressing Ethio-European relations from the perspective of both sides. In addition to essays on the Ethiopian presence at the Council of Florence in 1441 and the evolution of European linguistic notions of Ge’ez in the sixteenth century, she is engaged in two larger projects: a study of the Ethiopian Orthodox monastery in Rome in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries as approached through its surviving Ge’ez manuscripts, and a study of Europeans’ and Ethiopians’ conceptions of and strategies toward each other from the twelfth to the seventeenth century.
In addition to the Mellon Foundation, Kelly’s research has been funded by the American Academy in Rome, the Istituto Italiano di Studi Storici in Naples, The École française de Rome, and Villa I Tatti. In 2005 she received a Distinguished Teaching Award from Rutgers University for her contributions to undergraduate education, and is also active in the training of graduate students. She currently serves on the Council of the Medieval Academy of America.
COURSES REGULARLY TAUGHT
- 510:101 Development of Europe, Part I
- 508:220 Ancient Africa
- 510:317 The Renaissance
- 510:337 Medieval Kings & Queens
- 510:615/616 European research seminar (2 semesters)
- 510:595 Colloquium in Medieval History (rotating topics include medieval Italy, medieval religion, texts and interpretation)
- “The Curious Case of Ethiopian Chaldean: Fraud, Philology and Cultural (Mis)-Understanding in European Conceptions of Ethiopia.” Renaissance Quarterly 68, 4 (Winter 2015).
- “The Neapolitan Giovanni Villani.” In Renaissance Studies in Honor of Joe Connors, ed. M. Israels and L. Waldman. Florence: Olschki, 2013.
- "Medieval Influence in Early Modern Neapolitan Historiography: The Fortunes of the Cronaca di Partenope, 1350-1680." California Italian Studies 3 (2012).
- The ‘Cronaca di Partenope’: An Introduction to and Critical Edition of the First Vernacular History of Naples (c. 1350). Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers, 2011.
- “Intercultural Identity and the Local Vernacular: Neapolitan History as Articulated in the Cronaca di Partenope (c. 1350).” Medieval History Journal, 14,2 (2011): 259-84.
- “The Library of Santo Stefano degli Abissini, Rome: History, Culture, and Intercultural Contact.” Invited lecture, Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures, Universität Hamburg (Germany), December 2015.
- “The Ethiopian Delegation to the Council of Florence (1441) and Religious Conditions in Mid-Fifteenth-Century Ethiopia.” International Conference of Ethiopian Studies, Warsaw (Poland), August 2015.
- “The Ethiopian Codices of Santo Stefano degli Abissini (16th c.).” Early Book Society conference, Oxford University (England), July 2015.
- “Black Africans of Medieval Italy.” Delaware Valley Medieval Association conference, Drew University, NJ, April 2014.
- "Beyond Prester John: Ethiopia and Europe in the Middle Ages." Invited lecture, Binghamton University, NY, March 2012.
- "Civic Religion in Naples." American Historical Association annual conference, Chicago, IL, January 2012.