Rice Unconventional Wisdom

Medieval and Early Modern StudiesMedieval and Early Modern Studies


Pollnitz_AyshaAysha Pollnitz has recently rejoined Rice University as an Assistant Professor of History. She is a scholar of the political and religious thought of early modern Europe and particularly interested in the transmission of knowledge. Her first book, Princely Education in Early Modern Britain (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015), examined the impact of liberal education on the political culture of the British Isles between 1422 and 1649. Early sixteenth-century humanists argued that prioritizing the pen over the sword would deter rulers from vainglorious warfare and over-mighty monarchy. In practice, however, Dr. Pollnitz shows that the study of classical languages, texts, and scripture gave Tudor and Stuart princes the skills and impetus to assert their power over subjects’ souls as well as their bodies. In 2016 Princely Education was awarded the Royal Historical Society’s Whitfield Prize for the best book in British or Irish History.

Dr. Pollnitz is currently researching the translation of liberal education to the Americas in the sixteenth and seventeenth century. She is particularly interested in the classical schooling of indigenous elites in New England and New Spain and the contribution of the liberal arts and sciences to discourses of empire and social mobility in the New World. In 2016-2017, Dr. Pollnitz’s research will be supported by fellowships from the John Carter Brown Library and the Newberry Library in Chicago.

She is looking forward to teaching undergraduate courses on “Tudors and Stuarts, 1485-1707”, “The Renaissance and Reformation”, “Pre-Modern Political Thought”, “Sex, Gender, and Family in Europe, 1300-1700”, and “Making Knowledge in Early Modern Europe” at Rice University.




March 24, 2017 - 4:00 pm  | O'Brien MDEM Faculty Speaker Series "Stone, Bone and Text: Anti-Jewish Violence in Tàrrega, 1348."   Location: 117 Humanities Building

In July of 1348 a large number of Jews in Tàrrega (Catalonia, Spain) were murdered during an uprising by Christians who blamed the Jews for the spread of the Black Death. Dr. Einbinder’s talk explores new and old sources related to the attack on the Jewish call (quarter) in Tàrrega after the arrival of the plague. The sources range from a well-known Hebrew chronicle excerpt to a previously unknown Hebrew lament, archival sources, and the forensic analysis of mass graves of the victims uncovered in 2007.

             Speaker:  Dr. Susan Einbinder, Professor of Hebrew & Judaic Studies and Comparative Literature at the University of Connecticut


April 22, 2017 - Time: TBA  | O'Brien MDEM Undergraduate Conference Location: 117 Humanities Building

             Featured Speaker:  Dr. Brian Levack, John. E. Green Regents Professor of History at the University of Texas at Austin