Medieval Matters: Week 5

Last weekend medievalists from around the world gathered at Oxford to celebrate the life and scholarship of Nigel F. Palmer (1946-2022), Emeritus Professor of German Medieval Literary and Linguistic  Studies . Many thanks to all who came along, gave papers, and organised the wonderful library exhibition. As part of the proceedings, Dr Alan Coates gave a special presentation on Nigel Palmer’s Books in the Bodleian at the Weston medievalists’ coffee morning. If you missed the presentation, you can view this on our blog here and further contributions on the programme of the symposium. Here is some wisdom from Alcuin on the importance of remembering those who teach and inspire us:

numquam eruditionis vestrae […] obliviscimini magistrum
[Never forget the teacher of your wisdom Ep. 34]

We have many wonderful opportunities this week to be taught and to teach wisdom. See below for the full programme:


  • The OMS Small Grants Application for Trinity Term ’23 is now open! The TORCH Oxford Medieval Studies Programme invites 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. The activity should take place between the beginning of Trinity term 2023 and end of the summer vacation. The closing date for applications is Friday of Week 5 of Trinity Term (= 26 May); decisions will be made promptly after the closing date. For more details and the application form, click here.


Monday 22nd May:

  •  The Byzantine Graduate Seminar will meet at 12:30-14:00 via Zoom. This week’s speaker will be Emily Chesley (Princeton University), Collateral Damage: Eastern Women’s Experiences in the Roman-Persian Wars, 4th-6th c. To register, please contact  
  • No Medieval Latin Manuscript Reading Group this week!  
  •  The Medieval History Seminar meets at 5pm at the Wharton Room, All Souls College. This week’s speaker will be Lucy Parker (Wadham) ‘Monks, martyrs, and masculinity: authority and gender in early Islamic Palestine’. 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:
  • The Oxford Interfaith Forum meets online via Zoom at 6pm. Rabbi Joshua Stanton, Director of the Leadership Formation at the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, and Rabbi of East End Temple in Manhattan, NY, USA, will be leading this session of the Psalms in Interfaith Contexts Reading Group. To register, please click here.

Tuesday 23rd May:

  • The Medieval English Research Seminar will meet at 12:00 in Lecture Theatre 2, St Cross Building. This week’s speaker will be Peter Buchanan (University of Cambridge), ‘Medieval Multiversality: Modalities in 14th Century Poetry‘.
  • The Centre for Manuscript and Text Cultures (CMTC) at The Queen’s College (Oxford) is hosting a “Work in progress” colloquium at 3.30–5pm in the Memorial Room, The Queen’s College and online via Zoom. The speakers will be Marius Del Core (Pisa/Oxford), ‘Omitti possunt. Evidence for abridgement and athetesis in Plautine manuscripts‘ and Stefano Milonia (Scuola Superiore Meridionale, Naples), ‘Super and Contra. Conversion and resemantisation of mediaeval French lyric in the Ludus super Anticlaudianum’. Please register here (whether you are planning to attend in person or online).
  • 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 Julia Schroeder (Lincoln), ‘Bokes Unbrad’:  ecclesiastical court records in late medieval England. Everyone is welcome at this informal and friendly graduate seminar!
  • The Medieval French Research Seminar will meet at 5pm for drinks, with the presentation starting at 5:15pm, at the Maison Francaise d’Oxford on Norham Road. This week’s speakers will be Micah Mackay and Anna Wilmore, ‘Song? Poem? Both?: The Late Medieval Lyric in Context’. For more information, to be added to the seminar maillist, or for the Teams link to join a seminar remotely, contact

Wednesday 24th 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 tradition of the 15 signs of the Last Judgement within the text led by Anja Peters and Timothy Powell. Further information and reading recommendations via the teams channel; if you want to be added to that: please email 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 meets at 5pm at Ioannou Centre for Classical and Byzantine Studies, 66 St. Giles. This week’s speaker will be Jean-Claude Cheynet (emeritus, Sorbonne Université), ‘Women’s Seals in Byzantium’. You can also join the seminar remotely via Teams, click here.

Thursday 25th May:

  • Wendy Scase from Birmingham is leading this week’s Piers Plowman in Context discussion group, which meets in the Main Quad Boardroom at Univ from 4:30-5:30. This week’s session will be on Passus XIII of the B-text, which we’ll be discussing in relation to Richard Fitzralph’s Defensio Curatorum, available through this link. Attendees are encouraged to choose a brief section of the Defensio to talk about. All welcome! Email Jacob Ridley ( with any questions.

Friday 26th 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.
  • The Germanic Reading Group meets at 4pm on Zoom. To receive the materials and be added to the mailing list, please contact
  • The Anglo-Norman Reading Group meets at 5-6.30pm at the Julia Mann room, St Hilda’s College and online. This term we are reading extracts from Hue de Rotelands’s Protheselaus. Please contact Jane Bliss and/or Stephanie Hathaway to let us know if you can come in person (so we know whom to expect), also to obtain copies of the texts, and for the Zoom invitations.

Fifth week is notorious in Oxford for being the point in the term when everyone feels rather tired and low in spirits. Hopefully the sun is helping to keep everyone’s spirits high: Oxford does look beautiful in the sun! As for the tiredness, Alcuin has a prescription for us all:

fessae mentis acumen levioris lectionis interpositio saepe reficit
[The interposition of lighter reading often restores the sharpness of a tired mind, Ep. 300]

In addition to this advice, I offer that the interposition of Medievalist socialising may also prove restorative: please do come along to our coffee mornings if the sharpness of your mind is in need of some restoration! In the meantime, I wish you all a week of lighter reading and sunshine.

[Medievalist feeling a little flat in Week 5]
Ashmole Bestiary, Bodleian Library MS. Ashmole 1511, f. 36 r.
Viewable in full at Digital Bodleian

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