As we prepare for the new semester and the new academic year, MEST has also welcomed several new staff members. We’re excited to introduce you to our current staff:
JEREMY SCHOTT, Director
Jeremy has been on the MEST faculty since arriving at Indiana in 2013. During the past few years, he has served on our executive committee; this year, he steps into the role of Director. Jeremy is excited about the directorship because he enjoys supporting the research and teaching of pre-modernity. He writes, “Indiana’s Medieval Studies Institute has a long history of excellence, and in recent years we’ve seen the remit of the Institute expand to encompass a truly ‘global’ Middle Ages, with faculty from across the College contributing programming and contributing to new directions in Medieval Studies.”
Jeremy describes himself, as a teacher and scholar, as a “historian of literature, philosophy, and religion of the Mediterranean and Near East in the First Millenium.” When he is working on things like his current research project on Middle Byzantine (9-10th c.) manuscripts of early Christian texts, he is a “Byzantinist.” When he teaches courses on Augustine of Hippo, he is an “early Medievalist.” But as he notes, “the medieval Mediterranean and Near East was too culturally interconnected and continuities between classical, post-classical, and medieval cultural traditions too significant for [him] to stay within narrow disciplinary bounds.” As is the case with so many of us, Jeremy’s interest in the Middle Ages began as an undergraduate. While his work has moved away from those early introductions to Chaucer and Medieval English drama, he says that much of what interested him about the Middle Ages then—the compelling aesthetics, philosophies, and ways of knowing the world offered by medieval texts—remains the same.
As our new Director, Jeremy is looking forward to helping MEST host a successful Medieval Academy of America meeting in April 2021. In his words, “Being selected to host the MAA meeting reflects the excellence of Medieval Studies at Indiana, and will be a chance to showcase what we do for an international audience as well as for our colleagues across the campus.” As of now, Jeremy hopes for an in-person conference, but pragmatically plans to hold the conference virtually if necessary.
NATALIE LEVIN, Assistant to the Director
Natalie is a medievalist working on comparative empires in the tenth-century Mediterranean—how newly-established Christian and Muslim empires interacted with one another and defined their own imperial projects in relation to one another. She focuses in particular on the Umayyad Caliphate of Córdoba and the Ottoman Empire. She has been involved with MEST throughout her time as a graduate student at IU. Natalie serves MEST’s Graduate Student Advisory Committee (GSAC) as a representative for the History Department and has served on various committees to organize GSAC’s annual symposium—reading abstracts, arranging and moderating panels, putting together welcome packets, and co-organizing the Reader’s Circle. As the incoming Assistant to the Director, Natalie is now looking forward to being more involved in planning MEST events throughout the year and to working with the MAA in preparation for the spring meeting. Natalie hopes to build on ongoing efforts to make MEST more global in focus and to increase representation of scholars who work on non-European subjects.
KAYLA LUNT, Special Projects & Communications Assistant
Kayla served MEST’s Graduate Student Advisory Committee as Vice-President and President in 2018-19 and 2019-20, respectively. She has been MEST’s Special Projects and Communications Assistant since 2019—Kayla is behind the design of MEST’s newsletter, the flyers that promote our many events, our online calendar, website, and even this blog. She is a PhD candidate in Art History who is interested in medieval manuscripts, digital humanities, and reading practices both medieval and modern. She focuses especially on what signs of reader engagement (rubbed images, dirty pages, noted texts) can reveal about readers’ intellectual and devotional experiences of liturgical manuscripts. She is most excited to help promote and support MEST and the interests of medieval studies faculty and students as we all balance working online with the importance of maintaining our community in the coming year.
WILL SMITH, Academic Advisor
Will holds a PhD in Religious Studies from IU, in which he focused on medieval and early modern Christianity. He has been MEST’s Academic Advisor since 2017. The Institute is committed to supporting and encouraging undergraduate involvement, and Will embodies this as he emphasizes his role as a resource for MEST’s undergraduates. As he writes, he particularly enjoys helping students “navigate their academic journey.”
JENNIFER LOPATIN, Journals Initiatives Assistant
Jennifer is a PhD candidate in the English Department with a minor in Medieval Studies whose dissertation focuses on prophesying wild men in the woods in primarily twelfth-century narratives. She served as GSAC’s Treasurer from 2018-19. This will be her first year as a member of MEST’s Staff, where she will be the Journal Initiatives Assistant for the Institute, primarily supporting The Medieval Review. Jennifer is thrilled to learn more about scholarly publications and writes that, although it will look different than we’d all anticipated, she is excited for our year ahead!