Medieval Matters: Week 8

Here we are at the end of term! Last Friday was Oxmas, traditionally celebrated one month before Christmas Day to allow us to spread some festive cheer before term ends. I’m sure this week will be filled with festive celebrations. If you are about to embark upon Christmas shopping, you might be struggling to find the perfect gift. Fear not: Alcuin also struggled with this dilemma…

Diu deliberans, quid mentis meae devotio ad splendorem imperialis potentiae vestrae atque augmentum opolentissimi thesauri vestri muneris condignum reperire potuisset – ne ingeniolum animi mei, aliis diversa divitiarum dona offerentibus, otio torpuisset inani, et vacuis manibus parvitatis meae missus ante faciem beatudinis vestrae venisset.
[I have long deliberated over what I might consider a worthy gift for the brilliance of your imperial power and for the increase of your most opulent treasury, lest my mind might have grown slothful through the holiday and through idleness, and my messenger appear before you with empty hands whilst others were offering various gifts of riches, Ep. 205]

I have been wondering long and hard what “gifts” to offer you at the end of term, and hope that this seasonal and lengthier than usual quotation might suffice! I didn’t want to come to your inbox empty-handed since others are offering various gifts of great riches this week, from a special lecture by Professor Gordon Noble on Tuesday, to the final chance to see the exhibition of Violent Victorian Medievalism in person in the Taylorian on Friday. See below for a round-up of all of the diversa divitiarum dona on offer this week.

And a reminder: We are still looking for takers for plays for the Medieval Mystery Cycle on 22 April 2023. Full information here on how to propose a play – and do get in contact with Michael Angerer or Henrike Lähnemann if you have any questions. There will be a workshop for anybody considering taking part in early Hilary Term!


  • Remember to sign up for the Medieval Mystery Cycle! As play proposals are starting to trickle in, don’t miss your chance to join this unique bit of medieval fun. We will be offering a workshop on cutting play scripts at St Edmund Hall on Friday 20 January 2023, open to all potential directors. You can find more information, as well as the sign-up link, on our blog post.


Monday 28th November:

  • The Byzantine Graduate Seminar takes place at 12.30-2pm online via Zoom. This week’s speaker will be İrem Kısacık (İstanbul Medeniyet University), Emotions in Late Antiquity. To register, please contact the organiser at
  • The Medieval Latin Manuscript Reading Group led by Matthew Holford, Andrew Dunning, and Tuija Ainonen is meeting as usual via Teams from 1-2pm.
  • The Medieval Archaeology Seminar takes place at 3pm in the Institute of Archaeology, Lecture Room. This week’s speaker will be Jane Kershaw, ‘A Viking winter camp in Northumberland? Ongoing work in the Coquet valley‘.
  • The Queer and Trans Medievalisms Reading Group meets at 3pm at Univ College, 12 Merton St Room 2. This week’s theme is The trial of Joan of Arc. 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 Robert Wiśniewski (Warsaw): ‘‘Avoid undue leaps’. Clerical career paths in Late Antiquity’. 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 29th November:

  • The Medieval English Research Seminar takes place at 12.15pm in Lecture Theatre 2, English Faculty. This week’s speaker will be Rhiannon Purdie (St Andrews),  ‘Synchronic histories of Older Scots Literature: the rewards and challenges of reconstruction’. 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 Pseudo-Seneca, Octavia. 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 Delfi Nieto-Isabel (Queen Mary University of London): Connecting the Dots:  heresy, inquisitors and invisible women. Everyone is welcome at this informal and friendly graduate seminar.
  • The Codicology and History of the Book Seminar is hosting a Welcome Evening for Oxford DPhil Students at 6-8pm, in the Blackwell Hall, Weston Library. For further details, email
  • The Early Medieval Britain and Ireland Network will host a lecture by Dr Gordon Noble, Professor of Archaeology at the University of Aberdeen. His talk, entitled ‘Discovering the Northern Picts,’ will discuss some of the significant discoveries of the award-winning Northern Picts excavations and what these findings mean for Pictish society ca 300-900 AD. The talk will take place at 7:00 PM at Worcester College in the Linbury Room. All are very welcome to attend. Any queries, please contact Meredith Cutrer at

Wednesday 30th November:

  • The Medieval German Graduate Seminar this week does not meet on Wednesday but rather on Friday, 3pm (see below) for a paper by Dr Pia Selmayr. If you want to be added to the medieval German mailing list, please contact Henrike Lähnemann.
  • 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 Michael Jeffreys (Oxford), Imperial ceremonies away from the Great Palace, 1148-1159: the evidence of Manganeios Prodromos.

Thursday 1st December:

  • The Old French Reading Group takes place at 4pm at St Hilda’s College (meet by the lodge) in association with Oxford Medieval Studies, sponsored by The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH). We welcome readers of Old French of all abilities. For further information, please email or
  • The Digital Humanities and Sensory Heritage (DHSH) – Seminar Series will meet at 4.30pm in the Linbury Room, Worcester College. The speaker will be Jean-Philippe Échard (Paris), Materiality-driven Digital Approaches to Music Museum Artefacts: from Spectro-imaging and CT Scans, to Photogrammetry. All welcome! For more information, click here.
  • The Seminar in Medieval and Renaissance Music will take place on Zoom at 5pm. This week’s speaker will be David Burn (University of Leuven): Sixteenth-Century Symbola. If you are planning to attend a seminar this term, please register using this form. For each seminar, those who have registered will receive an email with the Zoom invitation and any further materials a couple of days before the seminar. If you have questions, please just send me an email (
  • The Oxford Medieval Visual Culture Seminar will take place at 5pm in St Catherine’s College, Arumugam Building. This week’s speaker will be Julian Luxford University of St Andrews, The iconography of the Mass of St Gregory in England.
  • The Celtic Seminar will take place at 5pm, online via Zoom. This week’s speaker will be Dewi Alter, ‘Darllen y tir yn iawn: Mannau’r cof yn Drych y Prif Oesoedd‘. Please contact for the link.

Friday 2nd December:

  • 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!). This is a perfect opportunity to see treasures of the Bodleian, go up to the roof terrace, pick the brains of other medievalists and, of course, drink coffee.

Finally, some wisdom from Alcuin on the joy of gifts:

Licet nullius nunc mens mea desideret munuscula propter animi mei requiem, tua tamen mihi sunt semper dulcia.
[Although my mind now desires nothing because of the peace of my spirit, your gifts are always sweet to me, Ep. 189.]

In other words, no matter how peaceful your spirit, it’s always nice to get a present! I hope that your last week is filled with sweet gifts! I will be back in your inboxes briefly next week with a Christmas email to finish off the term.

[A Medievalist finds the perfect sweet gift for a friend]
Ashmole Bestiary, Bodleian Library MS. Ashmole 1511, f. 60 v.
Viewable in full at Digital Bodleian

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