Associate Professor, History
M.A., Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles
A.B., Harvard University
Go to Dr. Beneš's personal homepage
Professor Beneš is a cultural historian specializing in late medieval Italy. Her main research interests involve intellectual networks and the construction of history as a means to identity: specifically, how people throughout history have used and manipulated the past to suit their own ends. Her first book, Urban Legends: Italian Civic Identity & the Classical Past, 1250–1350 (2011) explores the use of the classical Roman past as political propaganda in the medieval Italian city-states; she is presently at work on a second book on the changing role of the classical SPQR abbreviation in the politics, ideology, and iconography of medieval and Renaissance Italy. Her other academic interests include book history (palaeography, codicology, illumination, and the history of libraries), Italian humanism, the history and historiography of the Renaissance, urban history, and the plague; course offerings encompass these subjects as well as general surveys of the medieval, Renaissance, and early modern periods. She has received numerous professional honors, including most recently (2008–9) a Mellon Foundation Post-Doctoral Rome Prize at the American Academy in Rome, Italy.
Norman Conquests of the Medieval World
Renaissance & Reformation Europe
The Black Death
Honors and Awards
Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Post-Doctoral Rome Prize 2008-2009
Urban Legends: Civic Identity & the Classical Past, 1250-1350 (Pennsylvania State University Press, 2011).
Ancient and Most Noble: Catalogues of City Foundation in Fourteenth-Century Italy,” in Medieval Manuscripts, Their Makers and Users: Essays in Honor of Richard and Mary Rouse, ed. C. Baswell, C. Dutschke, and S. Hindman (Brepols, 2011).
“Whose SPQR? Sovereignty and Semiotics in Medieval Rome” Speculum 84 (2009), 874–904.
“Ancient and Most Noble: Catalogues of City Foundation in Fourteenth-Century Italy,” in Medieval Manuscripts, Their Makers and Users: Essays in Honor of Richard and Mary Rouse, ed. C. Baswell, C. Dutschke, and S. Hindman (forthcoming in 2010).
“Many Januses in Search of Unity: Defining Civic Identity in Genoa, 1257-1312.” Studies in Medieval and Renaissance History, 3rd Ser., 6 (2009), 53-92.
“Mapping a Roman Legend: The House of Cola di Rienzo from Piranesi to Baedeker.” Italian Culture 26 (2008), 53-83.
“Debunking the Dinosaur Myth: A Case for Palaeography and the Undergraduate Curriculum.” Medieval Academy News 158 (Fall 2007), 10.
“The Appearance and Spread of the E-Cedilla.” Manuscripta 43/44 (1999-2000), 1-43.
“Cola di Rienzo and the Lex Regia.” Viator 30 (1999), 231-252.