• Portrait (head shot photo)
  • Samantha Kelly
  • Professor of History; and Associate Department Chair
  • 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
  • Email:
  • 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 studying Gǝ‘ǝz, the literary and liturgical language of medieval Ethiopia, in 2012-13. Since then she has published a half-dozen articles on aspects of Ethiopian-European relations, and edited a volume, Companion to Medieval Ethiopia and Eritrea (a Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2020) that offers an introduction to the current state of the field of Ethiopian Studies from the seventh to the mid-sixteenth century. As a member of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton (2020-21) she is co-organizing the Ethiopian Studies webinar series and working on a monograph on the Ethiopian pilgrim hostel-monastery of Santo Stefano in Rome and the Ethiopian-European intellectual collaborations it fostered, tentatively entitled Transplants of the Faith.

In addition to the Mellon Foundation and the Institute for Advanced Studies, Kelly’s research has been supported by the American Academy in Rome, the Istituto Italiano di Studi Storici (Naples), the École française de Rome, Villa I Tatti (Florence), and the American Council of Learned Societies. 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 and Queens


  • 510:615/616 European research seminar (2 semesters)
  • 510:541 Colloquium in World History: Race in the Medieval Mediterranean


  • “Ethiopia and Ethiopian Languages in Renaissance Italy.” In Alessandra Petrocchi and Joshua Brown, eds., Languages of Renaissance Italy. Turnhout: Brepols, forthcoming in 2021.
  • “Medieval Ethiopian Diasporas.” In Samantha Kelly, ed., Companion to Medieval Ethiopia and Eritrea (Leiden: Brill, 2020), 425-453.
  • “Heretics, Allies, Exemplary Christians: Latin Views of Ethiopian Orthodox in the Later Middle Ages.” In Michael D. Bailey and Sean L. Field, eds., Late Medieval Heresy: New Perspectives. Studies in Honor of Robert E. Lerner (Woodbridge: York Medieval Press/Boydell & Brewer, 2018), 195-214.
  • “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.


  • “Connected Histories: Ethiopia and the Global Middle Ages.” Invited lecture, Harvard University, April 2019.
  • “Brothers and Others: Ethiopian-European Relations in the Later Middle Ages.” Invited lecture, Northwestern University, April 2018.
  • “Gǝ‘ǝz Manuscripts as Vectors of and Witnesses to the Exchange of Catholic and Ethiopian Orthodox Religious Knowledge  in 16th-century Rome,” at 10th Annual Schoenberg Symposium, “Intertwined Worlds,” University of Pennsylvania, November 2017.
  • “The Ethiopians of Renaissance Europe.” At “Medieval Ethiopia: A Colloquium in Honor of Michael Gervers,” University of Toronto, Canada, March 2017.
  • “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.