of James M. Blythe
Department of History
University of Memphis
Mitchell Hall 100
Memphis, TN 38152
University web page: http://history.memphis.edu/jmblythe/
1999-present. Professor of History, University of Memphis. Full member of the Graduate Faculty, Coordinator of Graduate Studies for the History Department.
1996-1999. Associate Professor of History, University of Memphis. Full member of the Graduate Faculty, Coordinator of Graduate Studies for the History Department.
1992-1996.Assistant Professor of History, University of Memphis. Full member of the Graduate Faculty.
1989-1992. Assistant Professor of History, The Hobart and William Smith Colleges.
1987-1989. Acting Assistant Professor of History, Cornell University.
Ph.D., M.A. (Medieval History), Cornell University. While at Cornell I minored in Renaissance and Early Modern History and in Patristics and Medieval Latin, studying under Brian Tierney in my major field. Among other medieval topics, I have studied political theory and practice, women, millennialism, canon law, social and economic history, literature, art, spirituality, church and state relationships, ecclesiology, Franciscanism, monasticism, scholasticism, paleography, the Crusades, science and mathematics, and the Conciliar Movement. My dissertation, accepted in 1987, dealt with theories of mixed constitutionalism, 1250-1375.
B.S., M.A. (Mathematics), Pennsylvania State University. My master's thesis was entitled "Philosophy of the Brouwer School of Neo-Intuitionism in Mathematics." I specialized in foundations of mathematics, topology, algebra, and number theory.
Publications, Conferences, and Papers
The Life and Works of Tolomeo Fiadoni (Ptolemy of Lucca) (Brepols,
The Worldview and Thought of Tolomeo Fiadoni (Ptolemy of Lucca) (Brepols, 2009).
Le Gouvernement Idéal et la Constitution Mixte au Moyen Age (Fribourg: Academic Press Fribourg, 2005). A translation of my 1992 book.
Ptolemy of Lucca, On the Government of Rulers ("De Regimine Principum"), with portions attributed to Thomas Aquinas, trans. James M. Blythe (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1997). A translation of an important and radical medieval political treatise written around 1300. In addition I include a sixty-page introduction to the work and provide over 1200 footnotes that trace Ptolemy's sources, explain his references, and comment on the text, the translation, the context, and the significance.
Ideal Government and the Mixed Constitution in the Middle Age (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992). I trace the development of theories of ideal government from the Greeks through the Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Early Modern Period.
“Did Tolomeo Fiadoni (Ptolemy of Lucca) Insert 'Civic Humanist' Ideas into Thomas Aquinas's Treatise on Kingship? Reflections on a Newly-Discovered Manuscript of Hans Baron” (with John La Salle), in Florence and Beyond: Culture, Society, and Politics in Renaissance Italy, ed. David S. Peterson with Daniel E. Bornstein (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2008). This examines whether certain republican ideas originated with Aquinas, as usually believed, or with Ptolemy of Lucca.
“Was Ptolemy of Lucca a Civic Humanist? Reflections on a Newly-Discovered Manuscript of Hans Baron”(with John La Salle), History of Political Thought 26 (2005), 236–65. Baron's manuscript undercuts the arguments he himself made in his famous work.
"Aristotle's Politics and Ptolemy of Lucca," Vivarium 40 (2002), 103-36. This shows how Ptolemy's Aristotelian developed and matured over a twenty-year period.
"Women in the Military: Scholastic Arguments and Medieval Images of Female Warriors," History of Political Thought 22 (2001), 242-269. I discuss a medieval disputation, instigated by Aristotle's mention of Plato's support of military training for women. Also available at http://www.imprint.co.uk/blythe/.
"'Civic Humanism' and Medieval Political Thought," in James Hankins, ed. Renaissance Civic Humanism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 30-74. A greatly revised version of a paper written for the Harvard Conference on Civic Humanism, Boulder (1995), see below, for a volume including some of the participants and other invited contributors.
"Renaissance Republicanism and Ptolemy of Lucca," Proceedings of the American Political Science Association (1998) I discuss the anticipation of Renaissance republicanism in the works of Ptolemy of Lucca.
"The Mixed Constitution and the Distinction Between Regal and Political Power in the Work of Thomas Aquinas," in John Dunn and Ian Harris, eds., Great Political Thinkers: Aquinas, 2 vols. (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing, 1997), v. 1, # 18. A solicited version of the 1986 paper below.
"The Crusades Game," Medieval and Renaissance Education. (1993, with Sarah Pratt). We discussed a simulation game that we designed.
"Family, Government, and the Medieval Aristotelians," History of Political Thought 10 (1989), 1-16. I analyzed uses of family relationships as analogues of and justifications for varieties of government.
"The Mixed Constitution and the Distinction Between Regal and Political Power in the Work of Thomas Aquinas," Journal of the History of Ideas 47 (1986), 547-65.
Papers and Other Conference Participation
“Tolomeo Fiadoni (Ptolemy of Lucca) and the Controversy over the Reception of Aristotle's Politics,” 43rd International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo (2008).
Chair of a session, “Making It Stick: The Curse of Knowledge and Teaching World Civilization,” Tennessee Conference of Historians, Jackson, TN (2007).
“Equal or Inferior to Men? Ptolemy of Lucca's Ambivalence about Women,” 42nd International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo (2007).
Chair of a session, “Broadening the Cloister: Reconstructing Monastic Dialogue about the Feminine” at the 42nd International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo (2007).
“Did Tolomeo Fiadoni Insert Civic Humanist Ideas into Thomas Aquinas's Treatise on Kingship,” New College Conference on Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Sarasota, FL (2006).
Organizer of and presenter at a session, "Medieval Italian Republicanism: New Studies on the Legacy of Hans Baron"" at the 39th International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo (2004).
Chair of a session, "Rome, Parma, Venice" at the 38th International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo (2003).
"The Hexamera of Ptolemy of Lucca and Giles of Rome," 35th International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo (May 2000). I compare their respective Hexamera, placing them in the medieval hexameral tradition, and show how they reflect different different visions of human society.
"Renaissance Republicanism and Ptolemy of Lucca," invited participant at the annual convention of the American Political Science Association (September, 1998).
I was invited and paid a stipend to attend a colloquium to discuss the works of William of Ockham with about fifteen other scholars, including many of the most influential scholars in the study of Ockham and late medieval political thought (June 1998).
"Nicole Oresme and the Roman Empire," 32nd International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo (1997). I showed how Oresme's uncompromisingly pragmatic evaluation of the Roman Empire opened up the possibility for a more relativistic approach to evaluating governments, in the Church as well as the secular world.
Chair of a session, "Medieval Theology and the Image of the Body" at the 32nd International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo (1997).
"Teleology, Government, and the Medieval World View: A Reevaluation," Twelfth Annual Ohio Valley History Conference (1996). I argue that medieval writers did not stress teleological explanations for government as much as is generally thought.
"Medieval Secular Views of the Roman Empire and the Baron Thesis," 31st International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo (1996). I show that the Renaissance secular view of the Empire was anticipated in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.
"'Civic Humanism' and Medieval Political Thought," The fifteen invited participants in this conference each prepared their papers for advance distribution and group discussion in working sessions.
"Plato's Argument about the Education of Women in Medieval Political Thought," Third Meeting of the International Society for the Classical Tradition (1995). I discussed medieval adaptations of Plato's argument for the education of women.
"Women in the Military: a Medieval Debate," 30th International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo (1995).
Chair of session on Jewish Philosophy at a conference on Popular Religion and Philosophical Religion at the University of Memphis (1995).
Chair of session on classical and medieval philosophy at the Third Meeting of the International Society for the Classical Tradition (1995).
"The Crusades Game: the Uses of a Historical Simulation," 29th International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo (1994).
"All Kings Are Tyrants: the Political Thought of Ptolemy of Lucca," Ohio Valley History Conference (1993). I analyzed Ptolemy's ambivalent attitude toward kingship.
Moderator of Session, "The Case Method and Discussion Teaching in World History," Tennessee Conference of Historians (1993).
"Less Bread! More Taxes! Italian City-States and 'Voodoo Economics,'" Hobart and William Smith Colleges and University of Memphis (1992). I spoke on analogies between medieval and Renaissance and modern American theories of taxation.
"The Last Days of the World," keynote address, Symposium on Millennialism, Hobart and William Smith Colleges (1991). I spoke on the nature of millennialism in the Bible, in the Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Reformation, and in the twentieth century.
"Medieval Influence on Renaissance and Early Modern Mixed Constitutionalism," 26th International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo (1991).
"Ideal Government and the Medieval Political Order," 15th Annual ACTA Conference (1988). I spoke on the influence of actual governments on medieval political theory.
Other Professional and Educational Activities
I am a founding member of Politicas, an organization to promote the study of medieval political thought.
I have written book reviews for Speculum, The Journal of Church and State, and Parergon.
I have reviewed Political Thought in Early Fourteenth-Century England: Treatises by Walter of Milemete, William of Pagula and William of Ockham for The Medieval and Renaissance Text Society; "Dominium regale et politicum: Sir John Fortescue's Response to the Problem ofTyranny as Presented by Thomas Aquinas and Ptolemy of Lucca" for Mediaeval Studies; and Richard Kay's Dante's "Monarchia" for the Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies in Toronto.
I evaluated various professors at other universities for tenure and promotion.
Ihave reviewed a number of books, including Antony Black's Medieval political thought, 1250-1450, Cary Nederman's Community and Consent: The Secular Political Theory of Marsiglio of Padua's"Defensor Pacis," Arthur P. Monahan's From Personal Duties towards Personal Rights. Late Medieval and Early Modern Political Thought 1300-1600, and Thomas N. Bisson's Cutures of Power: Lordship, Status, and Process in Twelfth-Century Europe.
At the University of Memphis I am currently directing five Ph.D. students and serve and have served on the committees of many others. I have also supervised and served on the committees of many master's students.
At the University of Memphis I have directed honors' courses in world history on three occasions.
I organized and conducted "Apocalypse Then and Now," a symposium on millennialism (May 1991), Hobart and William Smith. Well-known scholars spoke on topics from medieval art and literature to the millennial aspects of the White Supremacist movement.
Together with a William Smith student I developed and conducted a historical role-playing game representing the major figures and cultures of the Third Crusade (1990-1991).
In 1991-92 I supervised two honors students, each of whose work included a thesis of about one hundred pages, a written exam, andan oral exam by an independent committee. I also served on the honors committee of two William Smith students, one in biology and the other in economics.
I directed a public performance of a medieval play by Hrotswitha of Gandersheim (1990).
Several years I have presented a medieval film festival.
Awards and Grants
Professional Development Assignment, University of Memphis, Fall 2004.
Faculty Research Grant, University of Memphis, 2001-2002.
Professional Development Assignment, University of Memphis, Fall 1997.
Faculty Research Grant, University of Memphis, 1996-1997.
Choice Award. Choice magazine selected Ideal Government and the Mixed Constitution in the Middle Ages as one of the "Outstanding Academic Books" for 1992. Only about one in ten Princeton books receives this distinction. Choice calls it "excellent… his detailed and elegant account of the various medieval theories about the mixed constitution. Essential for students, teachers, and researchers concerned with medieval politics and history and for university libraries."
Messenger-Chalmers Prize, Cornell University (1987). Awarded for the Cornell dissertation from any department that "gives evidence of the best research and most fruitful thought in the field of human progress and the evolution of civilization during some period in human history or during human history as a whole."
Seven Graduate fellowships, Cornell University. This includes two whole-year fellowships, one one-semester fellowship, and four summer fellowships.
Department, College, and University Service
Coordinator of the history department's graduate program and chair of the Graduate Studies Committee (1996-present).
Member of the College of Arts and Science Graduate Council (1996-1998, 2001-present).Member of the History Department Advisory Committee, which assists the chair in department affairs (1998-present)
Member of the Tenure and Promotion subcommittee for the tenure and promotion of Daniel Unowsky and Jonahan Judaken (2004)
Member of the History Tenure and Promotion subcommittee for the promotion of Janann Sherman (2003)
Chair of the History Tenure and Promotion subcommittee for the tenure and promotion of D'Ann Penner (2002)
Member of the committee for the promotion of Steven Benin of Bornblum Judaic Studies (2002)
Chair of the History Tenure and Promotion subcommittee for the promotion of L.-K. Sun (2001)
Member of the University Review Committee for the Faculty Research Grant (2002-2003)
Member of the University Tenure and Promotion Appeals Committee (2000-2003).
Member (1998-2000, 2001-2004) and secretary of the Senate Library Committee (1998-2000).
Member of the College Distinguished Research Awards Subcommittee (1996-97, 2001-2003).
I helped prepare the Graduate Student Conference in European History (2000-2002) and arranged for the keynote speaker (March 2002).
Member of the Ancient History Search Committee (2001-2002).
Supervisor of the graduate instructors of World Civilization, meeting with them and visiting their classes (1996-present).
I presented a talk, "Student Activism in the 1960s" to the High School Scholars (April 2002 and 2004)
Member of the Library Dean Search Committee (1999-2000)
Member of the College of Arts and Sciences Tenure and Promotion Committee (1999-2001).
Chair of the European History Search Committee, which hired two new tenure-track faculty members (1998-99).
Member of the Faculty Senate (1996-1998).
Chair of the University of Memphis Department of History Honors Committee (1995-1998).
Member of the Faculty Senate Financial Affairs Subcommittee (1996-1998).
Member of the Marcus Orr Center for the Humanities program committee (1996-97).
Member of the College Teaching Assistant Awards Subcommittee (1997-98).
Member of the History Department World Civilization Committee (1992-present).
Member of the History Department Public Relations Committee (1997-1998).
Member of the History Department Conference Planning Committee (1997-1998).
Member of the History Department Self-Study Committee and was the principal author of the portion on the graduate program. (1996-97).
Participant in the University Fund Drive (1992-1996).
Member of the Russian History Search Committee in the History Department and interviewed candidates for this position at the American Historical Association's annual convention (1996-97).
Coordinator of a faculty forum for the discussion of new work by faculty, and of a historical film and discussion series (1995-97), and am once again coordinatorof a faculty forum (1999-present)
Coordinator of a interdepartmental faculty forum for the discussion of new work by faculty (1994-95).
Coordinator of publicity for history faculty activity in University publications (1995-97).
Coordinator of the High School Scholars program, which brings high school students to several programs per semester to hear lectures from university professors (1995-96).
Judge in the University Scholars Program (1995).
Judge for the Tennessee History Day competition for high school students (1993-present).
Visitor for Content Area Supervision for the College of Education (1995).
Member of the University Food Service Committee (1996-97).
Graduate course in Global History, University of Memphis
Graduate seminar in medieval women's history, University of Memphis.
Graduate seminar in medieval Latin paleography and medieval Latin, University of Memphis
Graduate seminar in medieval and other millennial and apocalyptic movements, University of Memphis.
Graduate seminar in modern scholarship and methods in medieval history, University of Memphis.
Graduate seminar in medieval political, religious, and scholastic thought, University of Memphis.
Graduate research seminar in medieval and Renaissance millennial and apocalyptic movements, University of Memphis.
Graduate research seminar in medieval women's history, University of Memphis.
Graduate research seminar in medieval history, University of Memphis.
Colloquium for Graduate Assistants, University of Memphis.
Survey course in medieval history, Cornell and Hobart and William Smith.
Survey course in medieval and Renaissance history, University of Memphis
Early Middle Ages, University of Memphis.
High Middle Ages, University of Memphis.
Renaissance Europe, Hobart and William Smith and University of Memphis.
Reformation Europe, Hobart and William Smith.
Two term survey course in World History from the beginning to the present, University of Memphis. I have also taught Honors' World Civilization, University of Memphis.
Medieval and Renaissance Women, Hobart and William Smith and University of Memphis.
The Crusades, Hobart and William Smith and University of Memphis.
Millennial movements and apocalyptic spirituality, Cornell and Hobart and William Smith.
Medieval politics and political theory, Hobart and William Smith.
Church and state in the Middle Ages, Cornell and Hobart and William Smith.
General education course for first year students, University of Memphis. This course is geared to introducing students to the opportunities, facilities, and problems of university life. Emphasis is on writing, study skills, cultural events, and critical thinking.
General education/writing course for first year students, Hobart and William Smith. It explored ways of acquiring knowledge in natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities.
Co-teacher of a course treating the origins of the modern world and the roles of European, Asian, African, and Amerindian cultures, Hobart and William Smith.
A two-semester course in Western Civilization from its origin to the present, Cornell University (two years as a teaching assistant).
First Year Seminar, "Religion and Politics in the Middle Ages and Beyond," Cornell University (two years as a graduate student). This stressed the teaching of expository and argumentative writing.
Various mathematics courses, Cornell University and Penn State (as a graduate student).
Numerous directed readings courses in specialized areas, Hobart and William Smith and University of Memphis.
Lexicographer, Wordsmyth, an Ithaca, New York company. I defined words for a new dictionary of the English language.
Teacher, New York City Public Schools. I taught mathematics at the Junior High School level.
Computer programmer, Actuary, and underwriter, Union Labor Life Insurance Company. I designed, developed, programmed, implemented, and wrote a manual for the first comprehensive computerized underwriting package for group life and health insurance.
Co-owner, small trucking and antique business.
Photography: I am a serious amateur photographer, and my work has been exhibited in many group shows, plus a recent large exhibit with the painter Gail Buckman at the Jack Robinson Gallery in downtown Memphis and two joint exhibits with my spouse, Sheila Martin, a painter, novelist, and photographer, entitled "Watercolors and Photographs of Mexico" in Ithaca, NY and "Morikami Park Up Close" at the Memphis Botanic Garden. I now specialize in abstract color photography. I was selected for the Juried Show at Arts in the Park in Memphis, 2002, the River Arts Festival, 2007, and one photograph is in a permanent installation at the FedEx Forum. Some of my pictures from my recent show at the Jack Robinson Gallery are at http://www.flickr.com/photos/jimblythe/collections/72157615507829382/.
Cooking: I have long been developing recipes for Chinese, Indian, Mexican, Italian, Spanish, Thai, and other cuisines adapted for a healthy diet, and I have written an unpublished cookbook.