Please join us for two online talks hosted by the Centre for Manuscript and Text Cultures at The Queen’s College in the University of Oxford. Our centre promotes inter-disciplinary discussion among scholars and students interested in manuscripts and material culture in the premodern world. So your participation is most welcome regardless of your field of specialty.
We are meeting on Zoom on Tuesday 8th February at 12:30-2:00pm (GMT).
Eleanor Baker (St John’s College, Oxford)
“Lydgate’s Defamiliarizing Material Texts”
‘Defamiliarization’ refers to the technique of depicting everyday objects in a way that differs from their usual presentation to provoke a more nuanced understanding of the familiar. The material text is often defamiliarized in late medieval Middle English lyrics. The images of the material text used in religious lyrics render its constituent parts alien to the reader or listener: ink becomes blood, pens become spears, letters become his wounds, and parchment or paper sheets become anything from tree leaves to body parts. The material text, once familiar, becomes strange. Conversely, the holy figures these books represent or interact with become, if not less strange, at least more comprehensible through their apparent similarities with the material text. Whilst others have stressed how John Lydgate (c.1370-1451) brings images and texts into conversation with one another, I will consider how he represents material texts, objects which are, by their very nature, textual and imagistic. In this paper, I argue that Lydgate’s depictions of material texts are often defamiliarizing, and that this defamiliarizing effect often promotes a meditative response that renders the reader’s engagement with devotional material both affective and intellectualised.
Thomas Laver (St John’s College, Cambridge)
“Commercially active monasticism in the papyrus archives from Byzantine Aphrodito”
The papyrus archive of Dioskoros of Aphrodito is well-known amongst Byzantinists as an important record of village life in 6th century Egypt, containing administrative documents, letters, and poems written in Greek, Coptic and Latin by and to the local notable Dioskoros, his wife Sophia, and father Apollos. Monasteries and monks often appear in the Coptic and Greek documentation from this archive, leading some scholars to delve into the secular activities of monks in rural Egypt, including their social and economic interactions with various groups in the village. This presentation will highlight some novel analyses that I have made of particular documents from the Dioskoros archive, which I believe demonstrate that the monks and monasteries of the village were much more commercially active and entrepreneurial than has previously been suggested by other papyrological analysis of the Dioskoros (or any other) archive.
Here is a link to the sign-up form. Attendance is free of charge but sign-up is mandatory. We will send a Zoom link to all participants the day before the talk.