My name is Aidan Valente, and I am currently a junior at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia. As a double-major in Medieval & Renaissance Studies and Art History, I love studying European history and the beautiful art it inspired and produced. I also plan to add a Classics minor shortly, and I have participated in the Mellon Undergraduate Fellowship for Digital Humanities since Fall 2016.
I am a contributor to Professor George Bent’s new digital humanities project Florence As It Was. I spent six weeks in Florence over the summer of 2017 working on the porject, and will continue to do so until I graduate. I also expect, by then, to have finished a digital edition of the Commissione of Gerolimo Morosini, a 17th-century Venetian manuscript in Washington and Lee’s Special Collections.
I have experience working in Special Collections with other various rare books and early print pieces, as well as archiving practices such as cataloging and database managment. I have a wide range of academic interests, primarily revolving around Catholic art, history, and spirituality, as well as Medieval music and literature.
Click here for a copy of my resume.
The following are short abstracts of some of my college papers and essays so far. If you would like to read them in their entirety, please contact me and I will provide you with a full copy (with the understanding that you do not share, publish, or reproduce my work without permission).
Taming the Knights Templar: from Fighting Frescoes to Marian Murals—
This paper compares two image cycles in the Templar chapels of Cressac and Coulommiers, France. The former contains imagery related to the order’s militaristic mission in the Holy Land, while the latter, produced several decades later, emphasizes the Virgin Mary and scenes from her life. The difference in narratives parallels the evolution of the nature of the Templars over the course of their short but storied existence.
Presented at Longwood University’s Meeting in the Middle Conference 2017
Siena’s Water and Romana Mater: Sienese Civic Identity and the Fonte Gaia—
An analysis of the Fonte Gaia in Siena, a masterful example of the transition in sculpture between the Late Gothic and Early Renaissance periods. The imagery of Jacopo della Quercia’s fountain connects themes of motherhood, civic and pious charity, and Siena’s claim to Roman succession. I re-contextualize the now-removed statues of Acca Larenzia and Rea Silvia and explain their connection to the rest of the fountain’s iconography.
Eucharistic Mystic: Juliana of Liege and the Sensory Experience of Corpus Christi
Although more strongly associated now with St. Thomas Aquinas thanks to his popular hymns, the origins of this characteristically Catholic feast ultimately derive from the mystical and visionary experiences of the 13th century. I examine the larger socio-religious context surrounding Juliana in the Bishopric of Liege and the Medieval understanding of the senses in rlation to the mystical experience.
The Musical Mysticism of Love in Caravaggio’s Rest on the Flight into Egypt
Here I examine the complex intersection of several distinct themes in one of Caravaggio’s most beautiful and unique paintings. I argue that the artist, under the patronage of the well-educated Cardinal del Monte, painted an emotionally charged scene that references the Song of Songs and the interplay between love and music in the mysticism that normally accompanies the Song.
All You Need Is An Onion—
A short paper examining the Induction of The Taming of the Shrew and its importance in setting up the remainder of the play. Because it opens the play so uniquely but never resolves, the Induction introduces themes that affect the viewer’s perception of the play. The play-within-a-play framing device and contemporary views on women and acting imply that the typically misogynist messages of The Taming of the Shrew, when viewed in light of the Induction, may not apply so well to the play after all.