Advisor: Dyan Elliott
Melissa Vise is a historian of medieval Europe with a special interest in the religious and political history of the Italian peninsula. Her current research focuses on the seemingly sudden and potentially counter-intuitive interest of both political and religious leaders in regulating speech in the urban republics of Northern Italy in the later Middle Ages. Drawing from inquisition records, criminal court cases, statutory law, ethical treatises, sermons and pastoral manuals, her dissertation asks why the bridling of the tongue occurred when it did and in the way that it did. Her dissertation, "The Threat of the Tongue: Illicit Speech in Late Medieval Italy, 1250-1450" argues that these developments requires attention not only to the thoroughly sacralized political geography of the republican communes but also to the relationship between speech and violence in the thought and practice of the day.