Medieval Matters: Week 3

Spooky happenings to report this week – not only is it, terrifyingly, Week 3 already, but we are also approaching Allhallowtide, with Sunday being All Saints’ Eve / Halloween! For this scariest of weeks, some seasonal wisdom regarding hand-standing, head-walking witches from the Old English Durham Proverbs:

Ne swa þeah treowde þeah þu teala eode, cwæþ se þe geseah hægtessan æfter heafde geongan.
[“I wouldn’t trust you even if you walked properly!” said he who saw a witch walking on her head]

We have many wonderful events this week. In particular, may I draw your attention to the Church Monuments Society Lecture Series, which kicks off this Sunday 31st with a lecture by Dr Roger Bowdler, talking about charnel depictions on tombs. Spooky indeed! But don’t be afraid: we also have plenty of less scary medievalist treats to enjoy this week, all laid out below for your perusal.



Monday 25th October:

  • The Byzantine Graduate Seminar meets at 12.15-2pm on Teams. This week’s speaker is Sofia Simões Coelho (Oxford) ‘Holy Fools in Fifteenth- and Sixteenth-Century Rus’. To register, please contact the organiser at or visit the eventbrite page.
  • The Medieval Latin Manuscript Reading Group meets at 1-2pm on Teams. Contact Matthew Holford, Andrew Dunning or Tuija Ainonen to be added to the Teams call.
  • The Medieval History Seminar meets at 5pm on Teams and in the Wharton Room. Attendance at the Wharton Room is by advance booking only as the room has a strict Covid-19 capacity limit. Bookings can be made at This week’s speaker is Stephen Spencer (KCL) ‘Rewriting History: The Evolution and Impact of Ralph of Coggeshall’s Account of the Third Crusade

Tuesday 26th October:

  • The Islamicate Manuscripts and Texts Reading Colloquium 2021 meets at 3pm on Zoom. This week’s speaker is Jamie O’Connell, Department of Near Eastern Studies, Princeton University, ‘Zoroastrian Calendar Controversies in the 17th and 18th centuries: Passages from the Persian Rivāyats and Related Texts’.
  • The Medieval Book Club meets at 3.30pm in Magdalen College, Old Law Library. This week’s topic is ‘Ghosts and Revenants’.
  • The Early Slavonic Webinar meets at 5pm on Zoom. This week’s speaker is Neven Isailović (The Institute of History Belgrade), ‘Identity and Identificationin Late Medieval Western Balkans‘.
  • The Medieval Church and Culture Seminar meets at 5pm in Old Dining Hall, Harris Manchester College. This week’s speaker is Sumner Braund (Bodleian Library), ‘Martyred Princesses? Sanctity and monastic reform in 10thc. English nunneries
  • The Medieval French Research Seminar meets at 5pm at Maison française d’Oxford. This week’s speaker is Dr Henry Ravenhall (University of Cambridge), ‘Feeling Medieval French Literature: Touch, Experience, Materiality’.

Wednesday 27th October:

  • The Medieval German Seminar meets at 11.15-12.45 in New Powell Room, Somerville College. If you are interested to be added to the mailing list for the seminar, write to Linus Ubl.
  • The Oxford Numismatic Society Seminar meets at 5pm in the Outreach Room at the Ioannou Centre for Classical and Byzantine Studies. This week’s speaker is Dr. Martin Allen (Fitzwilliam Museum / Wolfson College, University of Cambridge): ‘Finding the Past: EMC and Early Medieval Coin Finds‘.
  • The Medieval English Research Seminar meets at 5.15pm in Lecture Theatre 2, Faculty of English. This week’s speaker will be Kathleen Kennedy (Bristol), ‘On Killdeer and Codicology: The Provenance of the Corpus Troilus’. For further information, contact
  • The Late Antique and Byzantine Seminar meets at 7pm at Corpus Christi College for drinks. (Please note that there is no speaker this week).

Thursday 28th October:

  • The Archives de l’Athos reading group meets at 3-4pm at Corpus Christi College. All interested in Byzantine history, non-Latin diplomatics, Greek palaeography or diplomatic edition are welcome. Contact or to sign up and receive the texts in advance.
  • The Greek and Latin Reading Group meets at 4pm in St Edmund Hall. Room TBC: contact John Colley or Jenyth Evans to be added to the mailing list. This week’s text will be Virgil, Eclogue 4.4-52, 60-4.
  • The Seminar in Medieval and Renaissance Music meets at 4.30pm on Zoom, with the presentation beginning at 5pm. If you are planning to attend, please register using this form: Those who have registered will receive an email with the Zoom invitation, instructions for joining the call, and further materials for the seminar. This week’s speaker is Margot Fassler (Keough-Hesburgh Professor of Music and Liturgy, University of Notre Dame; Tangeman Professor of Music History Emerita, Yale University), ‘The Restoration of Anima in Hildegard of Bingen’s Sung Play the Ordo Virtutum‘, and the discussants are Alison Altstatt (University of Northern Iowa) and Barbara Newman (Northwestern University).
  • The Celtic Seminar meets at 5.15pm in the History of the Book Room, English Faculty and on Teams. For Teams link, contact David Willis. This week’s speaker is Georgia Henley (Saint Anselm College), ‘Reading Geoffrey of Monmouth in south Wales and the Marches‘.
  • The Old English Reading Group meets at 5.30-7pm. For more information and to be added to the mailing list please email Eugenia Vorobeva.

Friday 29th October:

  • The MedievalWiki: Training Workshop and Social Editing Session takes place at 1.30-3.30pm on Zoom. This workshop is for brand new and experienced Wikipedia editors who are interested in improving Wikipedia according to the aims of MedievalWiki, which is specifically dedicated to making and editing articles with citations to medieval scholars whose work is indebted to or develops feminist, queer, and critical race studies methods and theories. The event is free, but booking is required: please sign up here.
  • The Anglo-Norman Reading Group meets at 5pm on Zoom. For texts, joining instructions, and further information, please email Stephanie Hathaway or Jane Bliss.
  • The Reformation Pamphlets Launch will take place at 5pm with a Presentation of the pamphlets at the Weston Library, Horton Room, followed, at 6:15pm, by Reformation Evensong in St Edmund Hall Chapel. Anybody welcome to without the need to book!

Sunday 31st October:

  • The Church Monuments Society Lecture Series: Whose Dead in Vaulted Arches Lie kicks off at 5pm on Zoom with macabre tombs expert, Dr Roger Bowdler, talking about grisly depictions of charnel on tombs! This series of five lectures will cover macabre monuments, death depictions in churchyards, what lies in burial vaults, inside the world of gravedigging and curious cadaver effigies and macabre art…! Attendance is free, but places must be booked via Eventbrite.


  • The Oxford Medieval Society is looking for people to join their committee! If you would like to get involved in organising medieval-centric events (from friendly community-building events to talks with high profile speakers) please register your interest with No prior experience on committees is required.
  • The Faculty of English Language and Literature at Oxford University, in association with Pembroke College, is seeking to appoint a fixed-term Lecturer in English Language. For full details, please see here. Applications, which should include a CV and supporting statement, should be made online via the link above by 12 noon on Monday 8 November 2021.

Finally, some more Halloween-themed Old English wisdom from the Durham Proverbs:

Ne sceal man to ær forht ne to ær fægen.
[One should not be too soon fearful nor too soon joyful]

In other words, do not rejoice too quickly at treats, nor be over-fearful of tricks! That said, I hope that your week contains more treats than tricks!

A manuscript illumination of monkeys acting like humans
Medievalists examine and commend a colleague’s Halloween costume: Merton College, MS 249, f. 7v.
View image and text in the Taylor Edition by Sebastian Dows-Miller

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