Medieval Matters: Week 5

We are now half way through Trinity Term! Though it is one of the busiest times of year, we also get to enjoy how beautiful Oxford looks in the sunshine. The fact that everything just looks better in the summer is acknowledged in the Old English Seafarer:

Bearwas blostmum nimað, byrig fægriað,
wongas wlitigað

[The groves begin blossoming, the cities grow fair, the plains become beautiful]

Even if it’s not sunny outside, we can still enjoy some nature today: if you would like a break from work, New College Library has a one-day exhibition in lecture room 4 from 11-4pm, showing rare books and manuscripts from the library’s fabulous collections relating to Botany and Zoology, including a 13th-century manuscript of Pliny’s Historia naturalis! Though not all of our offerings this week are so nature-inspired, they will nonetheless bring plenty of joy, and make Oxford feel brighter, whether you’re frantically finishing your MSt dissertation or marking exams:


  • Registration open: Oxford conference on Julian of Norwich. “New Visions of Julian of Norwich” is a conference which will take place at Somerville College, Oxford, on Friday 15th-Saturday 16th July 2022, bringing together old and new voices on the work of the medieval visionary, theologian, and writer Julian of Norwich. The conference is organized by Antje E. Chan (Lincoln College, Oxford), Godelinde Gertrude Perk (Somerville, Oxford), Raphaela Rohrhofer (Somerville, Oxford), Alicia Smith (English Faculty, Oxford). To see the programme, please visit the conference website here. Click here to book: in-person bookings available till 29th June, online bookings open till 11th July.
  • The Faculty of History and Oxford Medieval Studies are pleased to invite you to an informal meet and greet coffee morning with William Chester Jordan (Professor of Medieval History, Princeton University) on the occasion of his reception of an honorary degree of the University of Oxford, on Thursday 23rd June, 10.30am-12 noon, at the garden of Harris Manchester College. For catering purposes, please register your attendance here by 14th June. NB: Bill Jordan’s lecture for OMS “A Thirteenth-Century Polymath Considers the Jews” from last year is available to watch online.
  • Small grants are open once again! Send in applications for small grants to support conferences, workshops, and other forms of collaborative research activity organised by researchers at postgraduate (whether MSt or DPhil) or early-career level from across the Humanities Division at the University of Oxford.
  • Postponed: Oxford Medieval Commentary Network Lecture Series. Due to speaker illness the convenors have had to postpone the next lecture, originally planned for 23 May. They will aim to reschedule this for another week later this term. The lecture series will continue on 30 May (Week 6), 4pm, with Audrey Southgate’s lecture on ‘Experiments in Openness: Reading the Wycliffite Interpretations of the Psalms’.


Monday 23rd May:

  • Botany and Zoology Treasures of New College Library: As part of New College Library’s series of subject-themed exhibitions, on Monday, 23 May we shall have on display for you rare books and manuscripts from the library’s fabulous collections relating to Botany and Zoology. From 11 am till 4 pm on Monday in New College’s Lecture Room 4, we shall be exhibiting for you—with explanatory captions—some of our Botany and Zoology treasures. Please do come along—and enjoy our exhibition.
  • The Oxford Byzantine Graduate Seminar will take place on Zoom at 12.30-2pm. This week’s speaker is Tiffany VanWinkoop (Wisconsin-Madison), ‘Blueprints of Power: Roman Statecraft and Politics in Konstantinos VII’s ‘Book of Ceremonies. To register, please contact the organiser at Please note that there is no need to register if you have previously subscribed to the seminar mailing list.
  • The Medieval Latin Manuscript Reading Group meets at 1-2pm on Teams. Sign up here for the mailing list to receive details of each week’s sessions: Contact Matthew Holford, Andrew Dunning Tuiija Ainonen for further details.
  • The Medieval History Seminar meets at 5pm at The Wharton Room, All Souls College and online on Teams. This week’s speaker is Giles Gasper (Durham), ‘Comets, Elements, and Pastoral Care: Framing Medieval Science in Collaborative Working’. The Teams session can be accessed by logging in to Teams with your account and joining the group “Medieval History Research Seminar” (team code rmppucs). If you have any difficulties please email:

Tuesday 24th May:

  • The Medieval Book Club meets at 3.30-4.30pm at the Old Law Library in Magdalen College. We will be reading on Women Writers: Medical and Scientific.
  • The Medieval Church and Culture Seminar meets at 5pm in Warrington Room, Harris Manchester College. This week’s speakers are Catriona Dowden (Oriel), ‘The Mappa Mundi and Medieval Visions of Pilgrimage‘, Kelli Anderson (Somerville), ‘The Gate to Heaven: the use of spiralling strigillations as a framing technique in early medieval art & architecture‘, and Gabrielle Samra (St John’s), ‘Anthropophagous Predation: An Examination of the Middle English Richard Coer de Lyon in the Framework of Medieval Anti-Jewish Blood Libels‘. Please note that the line-up has slightly changed due to speaker illness last week.

Wednesday 25th May:

  • The Medieval German Seminar meets at 11.15-12.45 in St Edmund Hall, Old Library. We are going to discuss Seuse’s ‘Büchlein der ewigen Weisheit’, this week Anna Wilmore will introduce Suso as mystical troubadour. For more information, please email
  • The Late Antique and Byzantine Seminar meets at 5pm at Ioannou Centre for Classical and Byzantine Studies, 66 St. Giles. This week’s speaker is Priscilla Ralli (French school of Archaeology, Athens) – ‘Architecture and Sculpture in the Early Byzantine Peloponnese: Defining a Regional Context’.
  • The Medieval English Research Seminar meets at 5.15pm in Lecture Theatre 2, Faculty of English. This week’s speaker will be Helen Barr, Cosima Gillhammer, Vincent Gillespie, Elizabeth Solopova and Annie Sutherland, ‘On the work of the late Anne Hudson (1938-2021)’ (chaired by Kantik Ghosh). For further information, contact

Thursday 26th May:

  • The Middle High German Reading Group meets at 10am at Somerville College Productivity Room (Margery Fry). This term’s topic is ‘Maeren’. If you have any questions or want to participate, please send an e-mail to
  • Marriages, Unmarriages, and Subjectivities: A Roundtable Discussion with Professors Sara McDougall and Hannah Skoda. The Oxford Medieval Society invites all interested parties to attend the event on Thursday 26th May at 1-2.30, in the New Seminar Room in St. John’s College. Participants will be able to ask questions and engage in discussion with Professor McDougall and Professor Skoda on a shared area of their research, Marriages, Unmarriages, and Subjectivities.
  • The Greek and Latin Reading Group meets at 4pm in Harold Wilson Room, Jesus College – meet at Jesus lodge. This week’s text is Ovid, Heroides 10.1-59. Contact John Colley or Jenyth Evans to be added to the mailing list.
  • The After Rome and Further East Seminar takes place at Trinity College (Levine Room 5) at 5pm. This week’s speaker is Lucy Parker (Oxford) ‘Holy Men and the End of Antiquity’. Follow the link to the Zoom meeting.
  • The Old English Reading Group takes place at 5.30pm. For more information and to receive the text in advance email

Friday 27th May:

  • The Medievalist Coffee Morning takes place at 10.30pm in the Visiting Scholars Centre in the Weston Library (access via the Readers Entrance on Museum Road: straight ahead and up two floors!)
  • The Anglo-Norman Reading Group meets at 5pm in Taylorian Room 2 and on Zoom. This term, Luca Crisma (EPHE, Paris) will lead reading of the Anglo-Norman Letter of Prester John. For texts, joining instructions, and further information, please email Stephanie Hathaway or Jane Bliss.


  • The Society for Medieval Archaeology Annual Conference is taking place next month in Oxford AND online. From June 24-26, the Society for Medieval Archaeology annual conference will bring together an international group of scholars at Rewley House, Oxford to talk about early medieval migrations, present new DNA data and discuss how such data should be interpreted in terms of the wider cultural implications of migration and mobility. Please visit the following page for more details.
  • PGR/ECR Scholarships to attend the Harlaxton Medieval Symposium: Applications for the Dobson Scholarships are welcome until Tuesday 31st May. These cover conference fees for two PGRs or ECRs working on any aspect of medieval death and dying, and are an excellent opportunity for emerging historians to meet academics and experts and to share their research. Even if you are not eligible for the scholarships, please do pass on the information to anyone you think might be interested: for full information, click here.
  • This year’s conference organised by the Society for the Study of the Crusades and the Latin East (SSCLE) will be held at Royal Holloway, University of London, from 27 June to 1 July 2022. It will feature a large number of exciting papers detailing the latest research being carried out by scholars of crusading and the Latin East, with several plenary presentations by international historians, as well as a trip to medieval sites and plenty of opportunities to meet other scholars. You can attend the conference in person (in Egham, UK) or online. Find out more about this event by visiting and click here to register.
  • Two Associate Lectureships in Art History pre-1800 at the University of St Andrews for semester one (1 September to 15 January). The deadline is 27 May (next Friday) and the details are here:

Finally, some further wisdom on good weather from Maxims I:

Seoc se biþ þe to seldan ieteð þeah hine mon on sunnan læde,
ne mæg he be þy wedre wesan

[The one who eats too seldom will be sick; although someone should lead him into the sun, he cannot exist on the weather]

I take this to mean: we must enjoy the good weather, but not be too tempted to sit in the parks all day long and forget to do any work! I hope that your week is filled with sun and intellectual nourishment.

[A Medievalist enjoying the sun in uni parks]
Merton College, MS 249, f. 7v.
View image and text in the Taylor Edition by Sebastian Dows-Miller

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