Department of History

Samantha Kelly
Professor of History
Degree: Ph.D., Northwestern, 1998
Additional Degree(s): B.A., Yale, 1989
Rutgers : At Rutgers Since 1999
Specialty: Medieval and Renaissance Europe and Africa: History of Italy and Ethiopia
Office: 105 Van Dyck Hall
Phone: 848-932-8259


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 di 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.

With the help of a Mellon New Directions Fellowship, Kelly began studyingGǝ‘ǝz, the literary language of medieval Ethiopia, in 2012-13 in order to study Ethiopian-European relations from the perspective of both sides. Her current projects include editing the Companion to Medieval Ethiopia, a collection of essays by twenty scholars; a database of the manuscripts and printed books once belonging to the Ethiopian pilgrim hostel in Rome, Santo Stefano degli Abissini; and a monograph, Crucible of Christian Cultures, centered on Ethiopian-European intellectual collaboration in the age of reformation, for which she was awarded a fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies in 2017.

In addition to the Mellon Foundation and the ACLS, 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. She has served as director of Rutgers’ Program in Medieval Studies (2008-11), Associate Chair of the Rutgers History department (2016-17), and Councillor of the Medieval Academy of America (2014-17).



  • 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)


  • “The Two Yoḥannǝses of Santo Stefano degli Abissini, Rome: Reconstructing Biography and Cross-Cultural Encounter through Manuscript Evidence” (co-authored with Denis Nosnitsin). Manuscript Studies 2, 2 (Fall 2017). In press.
  • “Biondo Flavio on Ethiopia: Processes of Knowledge Production in the Renaissance.” In William Caferro, ed., The Routledge History of the Renaissance (London and New York, 2017), 167-182.
  • Ewosṭateans at the Council of Florence (1441): Diplomatic Implications between Ethiopia, Europe, Jerusalem and Cairo.” Afriques: débats, méthodes et terrains d’histoire [en ligne], Varia, 29 June 2016.
  • “The Curious Case of Ethiopian Chaldean: Fraud, Philology and Cultural (Mis)-Understanding in European Conceptions of Ethiopia.” Renaissance Quarterly 68, 4 (Winter 2015), 1227-1264.


  • “The Ethiopians of Renaissance Europe.” At “Medieval Ethiopia: A Colloquium in Honor of Michael Gervers,” University of Toronto, Canada, March 2017.
  • “Ethiopian scholars in 16th-century Rome: Two Lives.” Delaware Valley Medieval Association, Princeton University, NJ, December 2016.
  • “La bibliothèque de Santo Stefano degli Abissini: Contacts interculturels d’un monastère éthiopien à Rome.” At the journée d’études “Éthiopie et Occident: representations, circulations, saviors (époques médiévale et moderne),” CNRS, Paris, France, March 2016.
  • “Between Two Worlds: The Ethiopian Monastic Community of S. Stefano dei Mori (Rome) in the 15th and 16th Centuries.” Medieval Academy of America annual conference, Boston, MA, February 2016.
  • “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.

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