CEMERS at 50
For half a century, the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (CEMERS) has been at the forefront of bringing scholars from different disciplines together to promote medieval and early-modern studies.
As the oldest organized research center at Binghamton University, CEMERS has enabled Harpur College faculty members and students in 14 departments to participate in internationally recognized conferences, lecture series and publications. The center has also helped to raise the University’s profile around the world.
CEMERS might not have gotten off the ground were it not for the vision of Aldo Bernardo, a founding faculty member of Harpur College who would go on to become distinguished service professor emeritus of Italian and comparative literature.
The annual CEMERS conferences, held since 1967, attract scholars from all over the United States and the world.
CEMERS’ impact was felt beyond its conferences and the publications that documented those events. The award-winning, interdisciplinary journal Mediaevalia began publishing in 1975. A grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities paved the way for a medieval studies program in 1977. In 1978, the center launched the Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies (MRTS) series. Led by the efforts of Mario DiCesare, distinguished professor emeritus of English, MRTS published 250 volumes through 1996.
Current director Marilynn Desmond, distinguished professor of English, attributes the success of CEMERS to the faculty members who have contributed to the center during the past 50 years.
Today, CEMERS has an executive council consisting of nine faculty members and one graduate student. There are 55 faculty fellows associated with the center, including 15 emeriti professors. But CEMERS also is focusing on new faculty members.
CEMERS recently published a double issue of Mediaevalia on the topic “Medieval Futures.” The special issue includes 12 essays by scholars affiliated with the center in disciplines such as art history, history, English, Italian, and French literatures.
“The legacy of CEMERS is that we have a proven record of producing high-quality research across the disciplines,” Desmond said. “CEMERS’ international profile contributes immeasurably to Binghamton University’s status as a premier research university.”