Medieval Matters: Week 2

Term is now well underway! Thank you to everyone who organised, gave papers, or attended any of our wonderful events last week. In the words of Alcuin:

Totius sapientiae decus et salutaris eruditionis ornatus per vestrae nobilitatis industriam renovari incipit
[The glory of all wisdom and the honour of beneficial learning are beginning to be revived by the efforts of your excellence, Ep. 112]

The Oxford Medieval community certainly feels revived and full of life. In fact, we were such a large crowd that the Bodleian ran out of mugs for us to drink from at the Coffee Morning on Friday – a real testament to the phenomenal size of our community! It was lovely to meet so many of you there. Please do continue to join throughout the term for a well-earned break. If you missed the coffee morning, you can see the presentation of manuscripts by Dr Andrew Dunning here on youtube – huge thanks to Andrew and the Bodleian conservation team for all of your hard work on this! You can also meet the team here and put faces to all of our names.

Now, without further ado, please peruse the glorious wisdom and beneficial learning on offer this week:


  • Palaeography Self-Help Groups: Students in the history and MML faculties are working together on two palaeography groups, one every week of term, alternating between French and Iberian palaeography. They are both student run, collaborative groups where people can bring something they’re working on to get help from others and work through things together, and improve their skills. We also share resources and course recommendations. If you’d like to be involved please email Clare Burgess at, and state which group (or both!) you’re interested in. Full details on our blog.
  • Save the Date: St John’s Film Club presents two new short films on Love, Hope, Death and Eternity on Wednesday 26th October, 5-6.30pm at St John’s College, the Mark Bedingham Room (located in St John’s Library). The first of these films, Complete Surrender (dir. Louise Nelstrop) will be of particular interest to Medievalists: it follows five celebrated Belgian artists and three religious sisters as they engage with the erotic mysticism of the female medieval mystics Hadewijch and Marguerite Porete. For full details, see our blog.
  • Save the Date: Professor Antje Richter will give a talk on the narrative role of silence in the Buddhist scripture Vimalakīrti-nirdeśa-sūtra at Pembroke College on December 1st, 2022, 14:00-16:00. Please see our blog for more information. 


Monday 17th October:

  • The Medieval Archaeology Seminar takes place at 3pm in the Institute of Archaeology, Lecture Room. This week’s speaker will be Claus Kropp, ‘Of droughts, ‘internal climates’ and the mouldboard plough. Experimental Archaeology and the Study of the Early Middle Ages‘.
  • The Queer and Trans Medievalisms Reading Group meets at 3pm at Univ College. This week’s theme is Queer longings for God. All extremely welcome! To join the mailing list and get texts in advance, or if you have any questions, email    
  • The Medieval History Seminar takes place at 5pm in the Wharton Room, All Souls College and on Teams (Teams link here). This week’s speaker will be Christian Liddy (Durham), ‘The city and the household: Towards a social history of politics in the late medieval town‘. 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: 
  • The Old English Reading Group takes place at 5.30-7.30pm. Please email for more information and to be added to the mailing list.

Tuesday 18th October:

  • The Medieval English Research Seminar takes place at 12.15pm in Lecture Theatre 2, English Faculty. This week’s speaker will be Harriet Soper (Oxford), ‘Twists, Turns, and Jumping the Riverbed: The Life Course in Old English Poetry’. The paper will be followed by lunch with the speaker. All welcome.
  • GLARE (Greek and Latin Reading Group) takes place at 4-5pm at Harold Wilson Room, Jesus College. Please meet at Jesus College Lodge. This week’s text will be Seneca, Thyestes. All welcome to attend any and all sessions. For more details and specific readings each week, or to be added to the mailing list, email or
  • The Medieval Church and Culture Seminar takes place at 5pm at Charles Wellbeloved Room, Harris Manchester College. The theme for this term is ‘Women’. This week’s speaker will be Emily Winkler (SEH): The Many Griefs of Merlin. Everyone is welcome at this informal and friendly graduate seminar.

Wednesday 19th October:

  • The Medieval German Graduate Seminar meets for a paper by Annette Volfing on Arthurian elements in ‘Dietrichs Flucht’ at 11:15am in Somerville College – ask at the Lodge for directions. If you want to be added to the medieval German mailing list, please contact Henrike Lähnemann.
  • The Early Textual Cultures Seminar will be held at Corpus Christi College Seminar Room at 2–3pm. This week’s speaker will be Katherine S. Beard (Oxford), The Chieftain at Reykholt: Snorri Sturluson’s Impact on Old Norse/Icelandic Studies. To join remotely, please register here.
  • The Medieval Latin Document Reading Group meets on Teams at 4-5pm. We are currently focusing on medieval documents from New College’s archive as part of the cataloguing work being carried out there, so there will be a variety of hands, dates and types. A document is sent out in advance but homework is not expected. Contact Michael Stansfield ( for further details and the Teams link.
  • The Late Antique and Byzantine Seminar takes place at 5pm at the Ioannou Centre for Classical and Byzantine Studies, 66 St Giles. This week’s speaker will be Alberto Ravani (Oxford), “Manuscripts don’t burn”: Composition and story of the text of John Tzetzes’ Homeric Allegories.

Thursday 20th October:

  • The Celtic Seminar will take place at 5pm via Zoom. This week’s speaker will be Elena Parina (Bonn): ”Dysgeidiaeth Cristnoges o ferch’ in Aberystwyth, NLW, Peniarth 403 and its sources‘. Please contact for the link.
  • The Oxford Medieval Visual Culture Seminar will take place at 5pm in St Catherine’s College, Arumugam Building. This week’s speaker will be Sandy Heslop, University of East Anglia: Reconfiguring the Cloisters Cross: art and crusading in Cnut VI’s Denmark.

Friday 21st October:

  • The Medievalist Coffee Morning takes place at 10:30-11.30am in the Visiting Scholars Centre in the Weston Library (access via the Readers Entrance on Museum Road: straight ahead and up two floors!).


  • Oxford Bibliographical Society Photography Competition: Libraries of Oxford and Oxfordshire. The Oxford Bibliographical Society marks its 100th anniversary with a photography competition celebrating libraries connected with Oxford and Oxfordshire, in 2022. Qualifying entries should depict any library, whether public, private, personal, large or small, static or mobile, old or new. The photographs may show the contents of the library, its architecture, or the library’s users. Categories & Prizes: Adult – first prize £150, second prize £100, third prize £70; Under 18 – first prize £100, second prize £50, third prize £30. For full details click here.

Finally, some wisdom from Alcuin on the importance of teachers:

Locus sine doctoribus aut non, aut vix salvus fieri poterit
[a place without teachers cannot be safe, or can scarcely be, Ep. 105]

Given the incredible number of teachers we have here at Oxford, I think that by this metric we may be able to claim to be one of the safest places on earth! Wishing you all a week of productive study and comfort in the knowledge that you are surrounded by such a large and wonderful community of Medievalists.

[A hoard of Medievalists are informed that the cups have run out at the coffee morning…]
Ashmole Bestiary, Bodleian Library MS. Ashmole 1511, f. 9 r.
Viewable in full at Digital Bodleian

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