Immersive Global Middle Ages


An “insitute” is more than a name and an agenda of activities — it is the formation of a collaborative community of scholars committed to investigating and creating a panoramic understanding of culture and history. We are pleased to share the biographies of our wonderfully diverse community.

Institute Directors and Staff

Dr. Roger Martinez-Davila is the project co-director who will manage the day-to-day tasks of the Institute and deliver virtual workshop technical instruction and mentoring of participants. He will coordinate and deliver a 4-day in-person workshop at UCCS during July 2022. As co-director, Dr. Lynn Ramey will deliver virtual workshop instruction, feedback, and mentoring to participants, coordinate the invited lecturers for the monthly virtual workshops, and coordinate a 4-day in-person workshop at Vanderbilt University during July 2023.

Roger L. Martinez-Davila
University of Colorado Colorado Springs

Roger is a professor of History, with an emphasis on the Spanish Middle Ages and digital humanities, at the University of Colorado. He is the author of Creating Conversos: The Carvajal-Santa María Family in Early Modern Spain (2018) and “Telling Stories: Historical Narratives in Virtual Reality” (2017).

Lynn Ramey
Vanderbilt University

Lynn is a professor of French and faculty director of the Center for Digital Humanities at Vanderbilt University. Ramey is the author of Black Legacies: Race and the European Middle Ages (2014) and Christian, Saracen and Genre in Medieval French Literature (2001). Co-director of the Global Middle Ages Project, she is in charge of the digital portal.

Gavin Rogers
IGMA Graduate Research Assistant
University of Colorado Colorado Springs

Gavin is a master’s degree candidate at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, and he is the research assistant for the Institute of the Immersive Global Middle Ages. He has a background in military and civilian journalism, and he is interested in global connections of minority communities.

Bryant White
IGMA Graduate Research Assistant
Vanderbilt University

Bryant White is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of French and Italian at Vanderbilt University. His dissertation research focuses on the development of religious parody throughout the Middle Ages, looking especially at its proliferation in several genres of late medieval secular drama in France, including farces, sotties, and sermons joyeux. In this connection, he is currently at work on a project that involves Natural Language Processing (NLP), teaching an AI transformer model to understand medieval varieties of French and training it to sort out humorous, parody texts from their non-humorous source material.

Greg Williams
IGMA Technical Adviser
University of Colorado Colorado Springs

Greg is the Director of IT Operations at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs.  He oversees the day to day running of IT and is particularly involved in research.  He has also taught Computer Science for the past 8 years for the university as well contributed to many funded research grants and proposals.

Expert Speakers

To provide participants with the opportunity to garner the expertise and constructive feedback of international scholarly thought leaders, we are inviting fourteen speakers to participate in our series of virtual workshops (one speaker for each workshop). We have confirmed the participation of all speakers. These experts represent key individuals who research and teach the Global Middle Ages, emerging trends in medieval studies, digital storytelling, immersive world-building, digital archeology and patrimony, “serious” game design, gender and race dynamics as they relate to immersive technologies, spatial issues in immersive worlds, and digital project management. Our confirmed virtual workshop (VW) speakers include:

Geraldine Heng (University of Texas at Austin) – Heng is the founder and director of the Global Middle Ages Project and Professor of English. Her work envisioning the Middle Ages as a global field of study is recognized by the Medieval Academy of America and international institutions. She will orient participants early in the Institute.

Lisa Fagin Davis (Medieval Academy of America) – Davis is a visionary who calls for greater diversity and champions digital projects. Fagin will discuss medieval studies at the intersection of diversity and technology.

David Charles Fredrick (University of Arkansas) – Fredrick is an Associate Professor in Classical Studies at the University of Arkansas, where he also directs the Tesseract Center for Game Design. His research interests include space and artwork in Pompeii, intersectionality in video games, and video games as platforms for teaching culture and language. Tesseract’s serious games using WebGL and VR include a 14th-century Native (Caddo) World Renewal ceremony. Fredrick will lead a session on working with students and best practices for humanities laboratories.

Jaime Molina Vidal (Universidad de Alicante, Spain) – Molina Vidal is a Professor of Ancient History and director of the digital patrimony and archeology program at the university. He will prompt participants to contemplate how historical memory (and the biases embedded within it) frame what we create in immersive worlds.

Sean Perrone (St. Anselm College, New Hampshire) – Perrone is a Professor of History and Government who collaborates with Martinez-Davila on storytelling in virtual environments. He will guide participants in a discussion of how to implement a digital story using a historical setting, objects, and avatars.

Victor R. Schinazi (Bond University, Australia) – Schinazi is an Assistant Professor of Psychology. His research combines real-world and laboratory experiments to investigate various topics in spatial cognition, environmental health, and the development of immersive virtual environments that can mimic real-world situations. He will explore with participants how real-world experiences can be mimicked in immersive environments.

Amy N. Fredeen (Cook Inlet Tribal Council, WA) – Fredeen serves as the Executive Vice President of Cook Inlet Tribal Council. Fredeen helped form a partnership with E-line Media, an industry leader for impact games, that created the first video game made with an entire indigenous community called Never Alone. She will work with participants on best practices for collaborating on cultural heritage and immersive environments.

Dorothy Kim (Brandeis University) – Kim is Assistant Professor of English who instructs students on text-based digital humanities projects. Much of her work has been at the intersection of identity, particularly racial and gender, and she will lead the group in an exploration of issues of access and diversity that emerge when working with digital and immersive projects.

Ángel D. Nieves (Northeastern University) – Nieves is Professor of Africana Studies, History, and Digital Humanities. Nieves’s digital book project, Apartheid Heritages: A Spatial History of South Africa’s Townships brings together 3D modeling, immersive technologies, and digital ethnography. Nieves has expertise in the theory and practice of creating avatars of diverse populations and will speak about best practices for human representation.

Tracy Fullerton (University of Southern California) – Fullerton is a Professor of Interactive Media and Games and the principal architect of the award-winning NEH-funded immersive experience, Walden, A Game. She will counsel participants in the choreography of users’ exploration of immersive environments.

Madeleine Casad (Vanderbilt University) – Casad was instrumental in developing Vanderbilt University’s Center for Digital Humanities, where she serves as Executive Director. A former digital humanities librarian and Ph.D. in Comparative Literature, Casad has expertise in all aspects of digital humanities projects, from conception to grantmaking to data management. She will conduct a session on project management.

David Neville (Grinnell College) – Neville is a medievalist and Director of Grinnell’s Immersive Technologies Laboratory. He has extensive experience and publications related to creating student learning experiences in XR and game-based learning.

Lisa Snyder (University of California at Los Angeles) – Snyder is the Director of the Research Technology Group at the Institute for Digital Research and Education. She developed a reconstruction model of the medieval Temple Mount in Jerusalem that illustrates the structures on site and that was installed in 2001 in the Davidson Center in the Jerusalem Archaeological Park. She will advise participants on the best practices for digital documentation of historical urban environments.

Catherine Holmes (Oxford University, UK) – Holmes is a Professor of Medieval History and one of the pioneers of the scholarship of the Global Middle Ages in the international arena. She will guide participants in a discussion of the developments in the field, as well as prompt participants about their roles in shaping its future.

Institute Participants

Courtney Luckhardt
University of Southern Mississippi

Courtney Luckhardt received her Ph.D. in Medieval Studies from the University of Notre Dame. Her research focuses on the religious and cultural history of the early Middle Ages (ca. 400 – 1000 AD), seeking to understand ideas about power, holiness, identity, and mobility during the transformation of the Roman world in the global Middle Ages.

Her first book, The Charisma of Distant Places: Travel and Religion in the Early Middle Ages (London: Routledge, 2019), explored migration through an examination of religious movement to reveal the diversity of religious travel, from the voluntary journeys of pilgrims to the forced travel of Christian slaves. Her current project focuses on the complex cultural history of the region that encompasses what is now southern France (medieval Septimania) and northern Spain (medieval Catalonia), particularly the way that the local inhabitants interacted with the new migrants who settled in the region.

Nahir I. Otaño Gracia
University of New Mexico

Nahir I. Otaño Gracia is an Assistant Professor of English and Medieval Studies at the University of New Mexico and a member at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, NJ. Her theoretical frameworks include critical identity studies, translation theory and practice, and the global North Atlantic—extending the North Atlantic to include the Iberian Peninsula and Africa. She has published several articles on literatures written in Middle English, Old Castilian, Old Catalan, Old Irish, and Old Norse-Icelandic, and they have appeared in journals such as Comitatus, Enarratio, Literature Compass, and English Language Notes. Her current projects include a monograph entitled The Other Faces of Arthur: Medieval Arthurian Texts from the Global North Atlantic. Her co-edited volume, Women’s Lives: Self-Representation, Reception, and Appropriation in the Middle Ages, will be coming out in early 2022 with the University of Wales Press.

M. Christina Bruno
Fordham University

M. Christina Bruno has served as Associate Director of the Center for Medieval Studies at Fordham University since completing her PhD in History at Fordham in 2018. Her research focuses on fifteenth-century Italian Observant Franciscans as legal practitioners and administrators. She is co-director of the Center for Medieval Studies’ Medieval New York Project, and also teaches a course and study tour on the Camino de Santiago at Fordham.

Sierra Lomuto
Rowan University

Sierra Lomuto is currently an Assistant Professor of English and Global Medieval Literatures at Rowan University. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 2018. Prior to that, she received her M.A. and B.A. from Mills College as a transfer student, having previously studied at the Peralta Community Colleges, City College of San Francisco, and UC Santa Cruz. She spent two years (2018-2020) at Macalester College as a Consortium for Faculty Diversity Postdoctoral Fellow, where she developed courses on the Global Middle Ages, Race and Medieval Literature, Chaucer and Adaptation, and Travel Literature. Her book-in-progress, Exotic Allies: The Racial Formation of Mongols in Medieval Literature, explores the relation between global contact histories and the discursive production of racial ideologies in medieval literature. Dr. Lomuto’s peer-reviewed articles have been published in the journals Exemplaria and postmedieval, and the edited collection Rethinking Medieval Margins and Marginality (Routledge); and she has published public essays at In the MiddlePublic Books, and Medievalists of Color. She has forthcoming work in The Chaucer Encyclopedia (Wiley), Medieval Travel Writing: A Global History (Cambridge), and Approaches to Teaching the Arthurian Tradition (MLA).

Hadeer Aboelnagah
Prince Sultan University

Prof. Hadeer Aboelnagah, is a Professor of English and Translation at the College of Humanities and Sciences, PSU in Riyadh. She is the Director of the university Translation and Authoring Center. She is a Principal fellow at the Higher Education Academy UK, She was awarded Fulbright International Scholar award twice on 2006 and 2009. Her research interests address areas of overlapping between humanities and other fields of knowledge like technology. She authored a series of 9 English books introducing the culture of the Middle East to the readers of English, she translated 7 books including, The Quranic Anthropology 2018, The Sirah of the Prophet 2016, and others. and has published numerous scholarly articles. Aboelnagah was a guest speaker at the World Forum of Humanities in South Korea on November, 2018 and a speaker at “Food For Thought” TV series for diversity in Education in Netherlands on June 2018. Her recent book chapter “Beyond Religion; Food, Decoration and Songs of Egyptian Feasts” in Everyday Life and Leisure in Africa, with the translation of Egyptian folk songs, Ohio University Press, was awarded the best Book of African content award for 2020.

Katherina Fostano
Fordham University

Katherina Fostano is an educator, curator, and interdisciplinary researcher with ten years of experience working in cultural heritage and higher education. She holds Master’s degrees in both Art History and Library and Information Science. Her interests lie in the visual polemic of the early modern period and digital humanities research methods and pedagogy. Katherina has worked at Fordham for the last seven years as the Visual and Digital Resources Curator for the Art History and Music Department and the Center for Medieval Studies. She is part of several digital humanities projects including, Dr. Maryanne Kowaleski’s Medieval Londoners Project and Dr. Barbara Mundy’s seminal digital platform, Vistas: Visual Culture in Spanish America 1520-1820. Katherina is currently a doctoral student in Innovation in Curriculum and Instruction at Fordham’s Graduate School of Education. 

Curtis Dean Smith
California State University, Sacramento

Curtis Dean Smith (Ph.D. in Chinese Language, Literature, and Philosophy from the National Taiwan University) is Professor of Chinese Language and Literature and Chair of the Department of World Languages and Literatures at California State University, Sacramento. His areas of specialization include Su Shi (1037–1101), classical and medieval Chinese Literature and Philosophy, Daoism, and literary translation.  He also enjoys Chinese tea ceremony and playing the gu-qin.

Publications of note are Tra il cielo e la terra: poesie nel cinese classico, in inglese e in italiano / A Voyage Between Heaven and Earth: Poems in Classical Chinese, English and Italian}, with Barbara Carle    (Milan: La Vita Felice, 2017), Classical Chinese Writers of the Pre-Tang Period, Dictionary of Literary Biography Vol. 358 (Detroit: Gale, 2011), and 李白 Li Bai (a bilingual edition in Chinese and English of critical biographies on Chinese thinkers) (Nanjing, China: Nanjing University Press, 2010), and “Su Shi (1037-1101)” Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism. Vol. 139 (Detroit: Gale, Cengage Learning, 2012. 73-274).

Edward Holt
Grambling State University

Dr. Edward L. Holt is an Assistant Professor of History and the co-director of the Digital Humanities Initiative at Grambling State University. He is a historian of the pre-modern Mediterranean, centered on medieval Iberia, whose research focuses on cultural, liturgical, and political articulations of leadership through comparative and transregional perspectives. He is the co-editor of The Sword and the Cross: Castile-León in the Era of Fernando III (Brill, 2020). His peer-reviewed articles on medieval Iberian liturgy, kingship, crusade, and geospatial analyses of power have received the Best Early Career Article Prize from Association of Spanish and Portuguese Historical Studies, as well as the Bernard Hamilton Essay Prize from the Society for the Study of the Crusades and the Latin East. He is currently working on a history of leadership and political liturgy in medieval Iberia, which explores how the royal court and ecclesiastical hierarchies of Castile-León articulated conceptions of rulership as well as how various subject groups mediated these claims of legitimacy. His research has been supported by multiple organizations, including the American Philosophical Society, the Madrid Institute for Advanced Study, the Hill Manuscript and Museum Library, and the American Academy of Research Historians of Medieval Spain.

Elizabeth J. West
Georgia State University

Professor of English and Co-Director of The Center for Studies on Africa and Its Diaspora at Georgia State University, Elizabeth J. West focuses on interdisciplinary approaches to studies of early African American and African Diaspora Literatures of the Americas. Her work also explores spirituality and gender from early to contemporary African Diasporic Literatures of the Americas. Her current book project, Francis: A Narrative of Enslavement, Forced Migration, and the “Single Black Mother,” explores through biography the impact of slaving and forced migration on black family and kinship formations in the U.S. South. She is author of African Spirituality in Black Women’s Fiction (2011), and the coedited anthology, Literary Expressions of African Spirituality (2013). Her essays and shorter works have been published across a range of critical anthologies and journals such as MELUS, JTASAmerikastudienCLAJ, PALARA, Religions, Womanist, Black MagnoliasSouth Atlantic Review, and South Central Review. Among her edited projects is the co-edited section, “Religion and Spirituality,” in the Routledge Reader of African American Rhetoric (2018). She co-edits the Roman & Littlefield/Lexington book series, Black Diasporic Worlds: Origins and Evolutions from New World Slaving. She is a member on the Advisory Board of The Obama Institute for Transnational American Studies (Johannes Gutenberg University), and member of The University of Mississippi Medical Center’s Asylum Hill Research Consortium. She is PI for “Intersectionality in the American South,” a Mellon Foundation Grant award for the promotion of cross institutional collectives in Intersectionality Studies. 

Matthew Herbst
University of California San Diego

Matthew Herbst is the director of the Making of the Modern World at UC San Diego and serves as faculty co-director of Study Abroad. He was an inaugural faculty of the university’s Global Seminars in 2008 and has led eleven programs abroad in Asia, Europe, Oceania, and North America.  He offered other experiential programs in the American Southwest and in Turkey, as well as 23 environmental humanities seminars in the California wilderness.   Prof. Herbst created academic and co-curricular undergraduate projects working with community-based organizations and was a founding faculty member of the First Year Experience and Transfer Year Experience courses, designed to facilitate student transition to the university. To foster links between pre-collegiate and higher education, he tutors middle and high school students, offers teacher trainings, and previously served as a ​public-school board member, a director for NEH Summer Institutes for teachers, and a content expert for the CA Department of Education’s review of new history curricula.   His academic interests include early Christianity, Byzantium, disability, environmental humanities, and world wisdom traditions.    

Blair Apgar
Independent Researcher

Blair (they/them) is an independent researcher currently working as an adjunct professor at Caldwell University. They are also working as an instructor with the RISE program to bring Art History to incarcerated people within the New Jersey Department of Corrections. Their latest research touches on their life-long interest in video games and a passion to make art history more accessible. They have forthcoming publications on the historiographic development of Matilda of Canossa and its relation to her depiction in the game series Crusader Kings, as well as the utilization of three-dimensional architecture within video games as instructional tools. They are also interested in gender nonconforming people in the middle ages and detangling social gender characteristics from implicitly held ideas of sex and gender. 

Maureen McGuire
University of California Santa Cruz

Maureen is a graduate student in Visual Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She researches the cultural matronage of Late Antique and Byzantine imperial women. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in art history and arts management certificate from Sweet Briar College and her Master’s degree in art history from the University of South Florida. Maureen has taught art history to undergraduates since 2011 and is very interested in exploring and expanding the pedagogical benefits of digital tools, like VR and digital reconstruction, in the classroom. These offer exciting ways for students to observe and analyze sites that may no longer stand or have been dramatically altered over time.

Claire Dillon
Columbia University

Claire Dillon is a PhD candidate in the Department of Art History & Archaeology at Columbia University. Her dissertation focuses on textile production in Norman Sicily, its historiography, and its significance in discourses ranging from Italian colonial culture to scholarship on the medieval Mediterranean and the global Middle Ages. Her digital humanities experience includes assisting with the documentation of at-risk cultural heritage in Iraqi Kurdistan through the Mapping Mesopotamian Monuments Project and facilitating experiential learning workshops for indigenous youth on Rapa Nui (Easter Island) with Terevaka Archaeological Outreach. In the realm of public art and scholarship, she co-founded the Medievalist Toolkit and has worked with the United Nations, Council on American-Islamic Relations, ART WORKS Projects, and Columbia’s Justice-in-Education Initiative, among other organizations. Her research has been supported by institutions including the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Social Science Research Council, and public history awards from Columbia. She was a Mitchell Scholar at Trinity College Dublin and a Mellon Mays Fellow at Northwestern University.

Jonathan Correa
The Pennsylvania State University

Jonathan F. Correa Reyes is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Comparative Literature at The Pennsylvania State University and a Pre-Doctoral Fellow of the Ford Foundation. His dissertation focuses on Middle English romances and ultimately contributes to ongoing efforts to excavate a pre-modern critical race theory. Beyond his work in Middle English literature, Jonathan also researches the literary productions in Old English, Spanish and Arabic (mainly from the Iberian Peninsula), and Old Norse/Icelandic. Concerning his public-facing work, he co-founded and produces The Multicultural Middle Ages podcast series (with Logan Quigley and Reed O’Mara) for the Medieval Academy of America. He has presented his research at meetings of the Medieval Academy of America, the Society for Classical Studies, the International Congress of Medieval Studies, the International Saga Conference, and the American Comparative Literature Association.

Anne McClanan
Portland State University

Anne McClanan is Professor of Art History at Portland State, where she teaches a range of courses in medieval art history and the digital humanities. For IGMA, she plans to develop resources to be used initially for the upcoming exhibition on Chertsey Abbey and Crusading movements, then available for ongoing wider use. The Chertsey project intersects with her work on a book about the representation of griffins, which will be published by Reaktion Books UK in late 2022/early 2023 with the support of a grant from Furthermore.

She earlier published a book analyzing images of early Byzantine empresses, edited an anthology on Iconoclasm (published as well in Chinese translation), and another anthology on the material culture of sex, procreation, and marriage in the premodern era.   This follows study at Harvard (Ph.D.), the Johns Hopkins (M.A.) and Columbia Universities (B.A.), and work at archeological sites in Turkey, Jordan, and Israel.

The University of Colorado – Colorado Springs (UCCS) plays a catalytic role in the Pikes Peak community and throughout southern Colorado. Designated as the growth campus of the University of Colorado System, the Fall 2020 enrollment is 10,706 undergraduate students and 2,101 graduate students. The university’s student population is both ethnically and economically diverse, with students of color comprising over 30% of the population and Pell grant recipients comprising 32% of the university’s undergraduate population. Almost 30% of UCCS undergraduates are the first in their family to seek a four-year degree. In 2019, the university was designated an R2 high research activity institution under the Carnegie Classification. The Department of History offers several digital humanities courses, directs two digital humanities projects (Augmented Reflections, Deciphering Secrets), and collaborates with the UCCS Archive to host a digital collection of medieval manuscripts. Our Institute will be supported by UCCS’ use and technical support of the Canvas learning management system and Zoom video conferencing.

Vanderbilt University (VU) is a private research university located in Nashville, Tennessee, with approximately 7,000 undergraduate and 6,500 graduate students. The Center for Digital Humanities, where Ramey serves as Faculty Director, will serve as host for the 2023 in-person meeting. The Center, founded in 2016 with a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, includes in its mission partnerships with several HBCUs and Berea College. These partnerships will be helpful in recruiting participants and speak to the Center’s commitment to sharing resources and promoting digital equity. Both institutions routinely host conferences and workshops, and our respective administrative staffs (UCCS Event Services, VU Conference Events and Services) will be involved with securing housing and meeting spaces for our in-person summer workshops.