Spotlight on Emily Michelson
May 10, 2013 Leave a comment
Dr Emily Michelson is a transplant from the United States, and has previously lived in Italy, Jerusalem, Salt Lake City, Manhattan, and other parts of the US East Coast. She received her undergraduate degree from Harvard University in 1995 in History and Literature of the Renaissance and Reformation. Despite vowing never to go to graduate school, and taking a few years off after university to pursue other interests, she returned to the field to earn a PhD from Yale in 2006 in History and Renaissance Studies.
Emily is a cultural historian of the Reformation era, with a focus on Italy. She is especially interested in how religious change affects standards of behavior for individuals and for groups, and the tensions between external social norms and internal experience. Her recent book, The Pulpit and the Press in Reformation Italy (Harvard University Press, 2013), examines the role of Italian preachers during religious crisis and schism. The book credits preachers with keeping Italy Catholic when the region’s religious future seemed uncertain, and with creating a new religious culture that would survive in an unprecedented atmosphere of competition and religious choice. She is also the co-editor of A Linking of Heaven and Earth: Studies in Religious and Cultural History in Honor of Carlos M.N. Eire (Ashgate, 2012); among other topics, the book tackles head-on the question of how to study miracles in an age of skepticism. Emily currently runs a project, funded by the British Academy, studying how people heard (or misheard) sermons in the Reformation era, and whether audience behavior links to growing religious differences. From 2010-2012 she was interim director of the Reformation Studies Institute.
Emily’s new research examines the social and theological significance of Roman Jews in the Catholic Reformation. This project has brought her speaking engagements in Edinburgh, Tel Aviv, Rome, and Dublin. She will be spending the 2013-2014 academic year in Florence as the Robert Lehman Fellow at Villa I Tatti (the Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies), where she plans to complete the bulk of the research for this project.
Before coming to St Andrews, Emily was assistant professor at the beautiful University of Utah, where she learned to ski and appreciate good coffee. As one of very few Europeanists on the faculty, she taught everything from Ancient Mesopotamia to Introduction to Judaism, in addition to her own fields. At St Andrews, she especially values the chance to meet and collaborate with other specialists, both in research and in teaching. Emily teaches honours modules on Venice, Rome, print culture, and the Italian Renaissance, a special subject on Catholic Reform, and various postgraduate modules. She recently took a group of students to Rome; they visited the Palazzo Barberini, the Vatican, and Counter-reformation churches, and ate a lot of gelato.
Emily and her husband are lay chaplains to the St Andrews JSoc and the parents of three young children. Emily is on the staff of the St Andrews Institute of Mediaeval Studies, and a member the School of History’s Harry Haggis Relay Teams in the Edinburgh marathon.