UMass Boston

Elizabeth McCahill

Associate Professor
McCormack Hall Floor 04


Associate Professor McCahill continues to research and publish on classical scholarship in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. At present, I am revising an article on the letters of Poggio Bracciolini to Niccolò Niccoli; the article examines the ways in which Poggio uses Cicero’s letters to Atticus as a model for his correspondence.

Area of Expertise

Professor McCahill’s research interests include the medieval and Renaissance reception of the classical legacy, early modern cultural and religious history, patronage and institutional history, humanism, and the city of Rome. She teaches undergraduate courses on Western Civilization, the Renaissance, Women in Medieval and Early Modern Europe, and Early Modern European Cities, as well as two upper level seminars “Saints, Witches and Heretics” and “The Society and the Individual in Premodern Europe.” In the graduate program, she teaches History 600 and 605 and will soon be offering a seminar on the Italian Renaissance.


PhD, Princeton University

BA, Yale University

Professional Publications & Contributions

Additional Information

My first book, Reviving the Eternal City, explored the relationship between Rome and the Papal Court in the aftermath of the Western Schism and Avignon exile. With my second book project, Rome in the Age of the Lion, I am moving into the 16th century and analyzing the process of papal image making during the pontificate of Leo X (1513-1521). Drawing on anthropological and literary work on ritual, this book will explain how patronage, scholarship, and political realities all contributed to papal pageantry. It will also examine the ways in which Leo and his court used ceremony to express their lofty goals: peace throughout Italy and Europe, crusade to curtail or end the Turkish menace, and religious reform of both the clergy and the laity. Although Leo did not manage to carry out his ambitious program, his ceremonies established rhetorical, artistic, and performative norms that continue to influence European and American representations of authority.

Cicero’s prestige helps Poggio both to craft a professional persona and to negotiate his relationship with his ornery friend. I am also revising a book chapter “Humanism between Medieval and Renaissance” in an edited volume, New Horizons for Early Modern Europe. The volume is an offshoot of a 2015 conference, Polymaths and Proofreaders: A Conference in Honor of Anthony Grafton on his 65th Birthday, of which I was one of the co-organizers. I am an active member of many scholarly organizations, including the Renaissance Society of America, Roma nel Rinascimento, and Sixteenth Century Studies. In the summer of 2016, I was an invited lecturer at Rome and the Jubilee, 1300-2015: An International Summer Seminar. Notre Dame's Rome Global Gateway, June 9-24, 2016.

Professor McCahill's CV