Friday, January 25, 2008

Upcoming Event: Laura Smoller

"The Saint and the Chopped-Up Baby: Shaping the Image of St. Vincent Ferrer"
Laura Smoller
University of Arkansas at Little Rock

Friday, February 15, 2008, 7:30 PM
CUNY Graduate Center (365 Fifth Ave. @ 34th St.),
Room 4406.
Reception, with wine and cheese, follows.

In 1453, a woman testifying about the miracles of Dominican preacher Vincent Ferrer reported that the potential saint's intercession had restored a baby who had been cut to pieces by his meat-craving, pregnant mother. Even at that point, the story had something of a folkloric life of its own. After Vincent's 1455 canonization, this miracle was frequently depicted in art and hagiography. In this talk, Smoller explores how this single, bizarre miracle tale became crucial to the emerging image of the new saint, addressing nagging doubts about the holy preacher's career and loyalties.

Laura Smoller received her Ph.D. in History from Harvard University in 1991 and subsequently taught 6 years at Stanford University before returning to her native Arkansas to join the faculty at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. She is the author of History, Prophecy, and the Stars: The Christian Astrology of Pierre d’Ailly as well as numerous articles on late medieval astrology, eschatology, and miracles. She is currently working on a book entitled The Saint and the Chopped-Up Baby: The Cult of Vincent Ferrer and the Religious Life of the Later Middle Ages, work that has been supported by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. A future book project, Astrology and the Sibyls: Routes to Religious Truth in Medieval and Renaissance Europe, arises from work she did on the Bolognese lawyer and amateur astrologer John of Legnano in 2003-06 in conjunction with the research group “Knowledge and Belief” sponsored by the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin.