Medieval Matters: Week 2

Happy May Morning! The May Morning celebrations in Oxford traditionally mark the official arrival of Spring. If you were up early celebrating at Magdalen Bridge, I hope that you had a wonderful time. Here is some wisdom from Alcuin regarding mornings, whether literal or more metaphorical:

Mane, florentibus per aetatem studiis, seminavi in Brittania
[In the morning of my life, with my spirit flowering during that time, I sowed the seeds of learning in Britain. Ep. 8]

May your May Morning be filled with the seeds of learning! To help you along the way, here are some wonderful events happening this week:


Monday 1st May:

  • The Byzantine Graduate Seminar will meet at 12:30-14:00 via Zoom. This week’s speaker will be Paul Ulishney (University of Oxford), The Crisis of the Chalcedonian Episcopate in Egypt, c. 652-c. 710. To register, please contact
  • The Medieval Latin Manuscript Reading Group led by Matthew Holford and Andrew Dunning is meeting as usual via Teams from 1-2pm. This term we will read some satirical poetry from a thirteenth-century manuscript, the so-called ‘Bekyngton anthology’ (Bodl. MS. Add. A. 44). Sign up for the mailing list to receive updates and the Teams invite, or contact or for more information.
  • The Queer and Trans Medievalisms Reading and Research Group meets at 3pm at Univ College, 12 Merton St Room 2. This week’s theme is Creaturely lais: Marie de France, Bisclavret and Yonec. All extremely welcome! To join the mailing list and get texts in advance, or if you have any questions, email
  •  The Medieval History Seminar meets at 5pm at the Wharton Room, All Souls College. This week’s speaker will be Tom Johnson (York) ‘Reckoning and Economic Life in Late-Medieval England‘. The seminar will also be available remotely via Teams. 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 2nd May:

  • The Medieval English Research Seminar will meet at 12:00 in Lecture Theatre 2, St Cross Building. This week’s speaker will be Jeremy Smith (University of Glasgow), Reinventing medieval English liturgy: the lives and afterlives of The Lay Folks’ Mass Book.
  • The Medieval Church and Culture Seminar meets at the Wellbeloved Room, Harris Manchester College, with tea & coffee from 5pm; papers begin at 5.15pm. This week’s speaker will be Virginia Bainbridge (freelance researcher), ‘Taking advantage? Syon Abbey and regime change in the Wars of the Roses’. Everyone is welcome at this informal and friendly graduate seminar!

Wednesday 3rd May:

  • The Medieval German Seminar will meet at 11:15-12.45pm at St Edmund Hall Old Library. In Trinity Term, we are continuing to discuss Heinrich von Neustadt’s texts, focussing on ‘Von Gottes Zukunft’. We will meet in person in the Old Library of St Edmund Hall. This week we will be discussing the prologue. Further information and reading recommendations via the teams channel; if you want to be added to that: please email Henrike Lähnemann.
  • The Old High German Reading Group at 11-12 in 41 Wellington Square, 2nd floor (Henrike Lähnemann’s office). It will be an opportunity to read and analyse some simpler OHG texts and give people the chance to read the oldest form of German if they’ve not been exposed to it before. It will be very informal, and all are welcome. Led by William Thurlwell – contact him for updates
  • 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 meets at 5pm at Ioannou Centre for Classical and Byzantine Studies, 66 St. Giles. This week’s speaker will be Nikolas Vryzidis (Aristoteleio Panepistimio, Thessaloniki), ‘Transitional threads: Textiles in the late medieval Balkans, 14th-16th centuries’.

Thursday 4th May:

  • The Environmental History Group meets at 12-2pm in the Rees Davies Room, History Faculty. This week’s speaker will be Jake Hatton, “‘Land for Improvement’: extraction and ecosystem in mid-18th century Nova Scotia”. We try to keep discussions informal, and we encourage anyone at all interested in these kinds of approaches to join our meetings, regardless of research specialism or presumed existing knowledge. For those interested in joining the group, you can join our mailing list by getting in touch with us at
  • The Searobend Masterclass and Focus Group for Linked Metadata for English Language Texts, 1000-1300 will take place at 2-5pm at the Weston Library. This event will showcase the project’s sources and methods, including a masterclass on Bodley 340+342, and an introduction to linked open data, knowledge graphs, and metadata structure. It aims to gather feedback from undergraduates, postgraduates, and early career researchers, which will influence the size, structure and scope of the project’s final website interface, scheduled to launch in July 2024. Tea and coffee break will be provided. Participants will need to bring a laptop. To register, sign up on EventBrite: For more information, please contact Matthew Holford (, Colleen Curran (, or Mark Faulkner (
  • The Medieval Women’s Writing Reading Group meets at 3-4pm at Lincoln College: meet at the lodge. This week’s theme will be Female foremothers: imitating and building on the authority of past women. Please email to be added to the mailing list and get texts in advance, or to find out more.
  • Simon Horobin is leading this week’s Piers Plowman in Context discussion group, which meets in the Butler Room at Univ (please note the change of college room) from 4:30-5:30pm. This week’s session will be on Passus V of the B-text, which we’ll be discussing in relation to the following short contexts: the section on ‘Sloth’ from the Book of Vices and Virtues; sermon 11A from Lollard Sermons; and the section ‘De Invidia’ from Chaucer’s Parson’s Tale; all available through this link: All welcome! Email with any questions.
  • The Medieval Visual Culture Seminar meets at 5.15-6.45pm at St Catherine’s College, Arumugam Building. This week’s speaker will be Richard Gameson (Durham University), British Medieval Illuminators’ Blues. For further information, contact Elena Lichmanova (
  • The Oxford Medieval Studies Trinity Term Lecture will take place at 5:30-6:30pm in St Edmund Hall, Old Library. Alison Ray (Archivist at St Peter’s) and Heather Barr (Library Trainee at St Edmund Hall) will be speaking on “GLAMorous work: Medievalist Pathways in Archives and Libraries”. Join us for a careers talk with a twist and with coffee and cake PLUS the chance to see an exhibition in the Old Library and handle some of the special collections!

Friday 5th May:

  • The Medieval Coffee Morning meets as usual 10:30am in the Visiting Scholars Centre of the Weston Library (instructions how to find it) with presentation of items from the special collections, coffee and the chance to see the view from the 5th floor terrace.

Of course, whilst being up at 5am to welcome in the seeds of learning is all very well and good, there’s also a lot to be said for enjoying a bank-holiday lie-in! Alcuin, of course, also has some wisdom for those less inclined towards early mornings:

pia compassione fessum concedat requiescere
[With compassionate sympathy, let the tired rest, Ep. 198]

Wishing you all a week of rest and learning in equal measure!

[A Medievalist feeling rather tired after waking up early for May Morning]
Ashmole Bestiary, Bodleian Library MS. Ashmole 1511, f. 62 r.
Viewable in full at Digital Bodleian

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