News

Features

American Academy in Rome Appoints Christopher Celenza its 21st Director

December 13, 2009

Historian and Latinist Christopher S. Celenza, FAAR'94, has been named the 21st Director of the American Academy in Rome, it was announced today by Academy President Adele Chatfield-Taylor, FAAR'84. Professor Celenza's 3-year tenure begins in July of 2010. He succeeds Professor Carmela Vircillo Franklin, FAAR'85, RAAR'02, who will step down during the summer of 2010 after a five-year tenure, to return to Columbia University and teaching.

"Chris Celenza will bring wonderful breadth and vigor to the role of Director," said Ms. Chatfield-Taylor. "He is enormously intelligent, with a wide ranging understanding of European history, and great warmth and generosity as a person. Carmela Franklin is a well-known and much-admired presence in Rome, and this long lead time will provide for an in-depth transition; Chris will be nicely in place in time to welcome our new class of Fellows in September of 2010. This is the 115th year of the Academy's existence. When the 30 Rome Prize winners embark on their Roman adventure, they will find him an inspiring and stimulating presence."

The Trustee Search Committee for the new Director was chaired by Paul LeClerc, Vice Chairman, Board of Trustees of the AAR, and President of the New York Public Library, and included John A. Pinto, FAAR'75, RAAR'06, Michael Rock, FAAR'00, C. Brian Rose, FAAR'92, Billie Tsien, RAAR'00, and, ex-officio, Adele Chatfield-Taylor, FAAR'84, President, Jessie H. Price, Chairman of the Executive Committee, and William B. Hart, Chairman of the Board.

Christopher S. Celenza, FAAR'94, works on European intellectual history and the history of the classical tradition. He holds two doctoral degrees, a PhD in History (Duke University, 1995) and a DrPhil in Classics and Neo-Latin Literature (University of Hamburg, 2001), as well as a BA (1988) and MA (1989) in History from SUNY-Albany. He is a professor in the Department of German and Romance Languages and Literatures at Johns Hopkins University, where he has been since 2005. Before that he taught for nine years in the History Department at Michigan State University. At Johns Hopkins University he holds secondary appointments in the History Department, the Department of Classics, and the Humanities Center. He is the founding Director of the Singleton Center for the Study of Premodern Europe at Johns Hopkins University.

His books include: The Lost Italian Renaissance: Humanists, Historians, and Latin's Legacy (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004), which won the Gordan Prize of the Renaissance Society of America and was named a CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title, 2006; Piety and Pythagoras in Renaissance Florence: The Symbolum Nesianum (Leiden: Brill, 2001); and Renaissance Humanism and the Papal Curia: Lapo da Castiglionchio the Younger's De curiae commodis (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1999). With Kenneth Gouwens, Celenza co-edited Humanism and Creativity: Essays in Honor of Ronald G. Witt (Leiden: Brill, 2006). His articles have appeared in Renaissance Quarterly, the Journal of Religious History, the Journal of the History of Ideas, Medioevo e Rinascimento, Accademia, Illinois Classical Studies, Traditio, the Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies, as well as in a number of edited collections. He has held fellowships from the ACLS (Burckhart Fellowship for Recently Tenured Scholars, 2003-04), Villa I Tatti (the Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies, 1999-2000), the American Academy in Rome (1993-94), and the Fulbright Foundation (1992-93). Most recently, he was awarded a fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation for 2008-09. From 2002-2005 he served as Director of the Summer Program in Applied Palaeography at the American Academy in Rome.

Prof. Celenza made this comment: "I am honored to be able to serve the American Academy in Rome, an institution I, like many others, deeply admire. Its integration of the arts and humanities, its central place in what has long been one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world, and its rich tradition of fostering the work of Americans abroad fill me with inspiration. My own fellowship year changed my life: it helped form not only the scholar that I am, but also the person. For these and many more reasons, I am delighted to return. I look forward to continuing the work of the Directors who have come before me, to collaborating with the Academy's President Adele Chatfield-Taylor and its outstanding Trustees, and to working with the Academy's staff in Rome and New York, all toward the shared end of helping this wonderfully unique community continue to thrive."

The Director-designate's wife, Anna Harwell Celenza, is Chair and Music Program Director, and Thomas E Caestecker Associate Professor of Music, Department of Performing Arts at Georgetown University.

The American Academy in Rome

The American Academy in Rome is one of the leading American overseas centers for independent study and advanced research in the fine arts and the humanities. It is the only privately funded academy of the 30 academies in Rome.

Inspired by their comradeship in designing the site for the World's Columbian Exhibition in 1893, a group including architects Charles Follen McKim and Daniel Burnham, painters John La Farge and Francis Millet, and sculptors Augustus Saint-Gaudens and Daniel Chester French, set out to create a center for Americans to immerse themselves in the classical tradition of ancient Rome, saying "with the architectural and sculptural monuments and mural paintings…no other city offers such a field for study…"

In 1894, with the support of Andrew Carnegie, J.P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., William K. Vanderbilt and Henry Clay Frick, the new American School of Architecture was founded in Rome. A year later the American School of Classical Studies in Rome was formed by the Archaeological Institute of America. In 1913, a union between the two Schools became what is now the American Academy in Rome.

Through its annual Rome Prize competition, the Academy supports up to 30 individual Fellows who are working in ancient, medieval, Renaissance and early modern studies and modern Italian studies, as well as in architecture, design arts, historic preservation and conservation, landscape architecture, literature, musical composition, and visual arts. The fields in which the Fellows work have evolved greatly since the early days. Academy Fellows now embody the contemporary arts and contemporary scholarship.

Rome Prize winners are chosen by juries of their peers. The Rome Prize is a 6-11 month award, consisting of room and board, a stipend and a studio or study; each Rome Prize has a value of approximately $100,000. The Academy community also includes Residents, distinguished artists and scholars who are invited by the Director to stay for 2-4 months, and selected Affiliated Fellows who are chosen from cultural institutions from around the world. In June and July, the Academy convenes such programs as the Classical Summer School, National Endowment for the Humanities Seminars, and training programs in archaeology.

The resources of the Academy include a library strong in the history, archaeology and art of Rome and Italy, a photographic archive, and an archaeological study collection. The Academy annually publishes the Memoirs, and periodic Papers and Monographs (University of Michigan Press and others). Academy events include concerts, symposia, readings and exhibitions, which take place in Rome and in the U. S. and are open to the public. For more information, see www.aarome.org.