I have a Ph.D. in History. Before becoming a journalist in 2016, I specialized in the history of early modern Europe. My research focused on Renaissance Italy, collective memory, race, and politics. See my C.V. for all the details.
I’m currently the Director of Meetings, Fellowships, and Grants of the Renaissance Society of America (RSA). At RSA, I manage the logistics of the Annual Meeting (2,000-3,200 attendees and ca. 650 sessions), day-to-day finances, and giving scholars money.
I’m now focused on journalism and I have no immediate plans to teach or produce new academic writing, so this is just a way to share the things I’ve written (on a site that is not sketchy af academia dot edu).
Duke Alessandro de’ Medici (1512-1537, r. 1531-1537) was the victim of a previously unknown and far-reaching conspiracy to condemn him in posthumous histories and erase him from the archives of Florence. This cast Duke Alessandro for the past 500 years as a tyrant, murderer, and rapist of nuns. The case study of how later dukes, historians, and archivists defamed Alessandro de’ Medici’s memory illustrates the ways people made and destroyed collective memory in sixteenth-century Florence. More broadly, this dissertation shows the previously overlooked and fundamental differences in the way pre-modern societies conceived of collective memory that could change how scholars see their sources and the people who made them.
“Damnatio memoriae: The Rebirth of Condemnation of Memory in Renaissance Italy,” Renaissance and Reformation/Renaissance et Réforme 36, no. 3 (2013): 5-32.
In this article I argue that the ancient practice of damnatio memoriae, or condemnation of memory, reappeared in Florence during the Renaissance. Scholars usually associate damnatio memoriae with classical Rome, yet Renaissance Florentines patterned the extra-legal destruction of memory on the ancient example. Florentine damnatio memoriae resulted in the destruction of homes; the erasure and alteration of images, documents, and symbols; and even violent cannibalism. I also argue that changes in the political structure and in ideas concerning fame resulted in significant shifts in the way Florentines condemned memory between the late-thirteenth century and the Medici principate of the sixteenth century. Additionally, I contend that damnatio memoriae is not only an overlooked practice, but a methodological complication that affects the primary sources used by many scholars in our field—awareness of which can alter and enrich interpretations.
I taught college from 2006 to 2013 at Queens College, Hunter College, The New School, and LaGuardia Community College. I wrote a bit about the experience of teaching for Racked in 2017. I also served as a Writing Fellow at the College of Staten Island from 2009 to 2011, where I worked with their Office of Disability Services on student and faculty writing initiatives.