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SBU’s Franciscan Institute appoints Research Fellow for Poor Clare studies

Apr 23, 2024

The Franciscan Institute at St. Bonaventure University has announced the appointment of Michael Shane Harless as its 2024-2025 Research Fellow.

Harless is completing his doctoral studies in Art History at Rice University in Houston. He will graduate in May with a dissertation focused on Poor Clare spirituality, “Veiled Epiphanies: Encountering the Body of Christ within the Art and Architecture of the Poor Clares of Central Italy (ca. 1212-1350).”

In announcing the awarding of this prestigious research fellowship, Fr. David B. Couturier, O.F.M. Cap., executive director of the Franciscan Institute, reflected on Harless’ scholarship.

“For the past several years, Michael has been researching the unique art and architecture of early Poor Clare monasteries,” Couturier said. “He comes to this research position to extend our knowledge of and appreciation for early Poor Clare foundations. We have been waiting for this distinctive approach to Franciscan scholarship and we are very excited to have him working with us.”

In accepting this position, Harless expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to work for the Franciscan Institute.

“I’m honored to be appointed as a research fellow of the Franciscan Institute at St. Bonaventure,” he said. “The collection of resources housed within the Franciscan Institute is unparalleled in North America and will enhance my research on the art, architecture, and spirituality of the Poor Clares in late medieval and early Renaissance Italy.

“Collaborative conversations with the distinguished faculty in the Department of Theology and Franciscan Studies, the Institute’s leadership team, and the research advisory council will imbue my work with an interdisciplinary approach necessary for impactful scholarship, generating new avenues of inquiry for future projects.”

Harless also holds a Master of Arts degree in Art History from Tulane University and a Master of Theological Studies degree from Vanderbilt University. He and his wife, Mary Katherine, live in Birmingham, Alabama. His appointment begins on Sept. 1 and runs to August 31, 2025.


About the University: The nation’s first Franciscan university, St. Bonaventure University is a community committed to transforming the lives of our students inside and outside the classroom, inspiring in them a lifelong commitment to service and citizenship. Out of 167 regional universities in the North, St. Bonaventure was ranked #6 for value and #14 for innovation by U.S. News and World Report (2024).