Medieval Matters: Week 1

On behalf of everyone here at OMS, I’d like to wish you a huge welcome (or welcome back) to Oxford Medieval Studies! Whether you are returning from your vac, or joining us for the first time, we are thrilled to have you here. This newsletter, and the medieval booklet (attached as a reduced-sized pdf to this week’s email, or viewable in full glory online here) will serve as your guide to all things medieval happening in and around Oxford.

In 2023/24, I will be taking the opportunity to feature extracts of letters from the Epistolae project, headed by Professor Joan Ferrante and based at Columbia University. Epistolae catalogues letters to and from medieval women. This open-access work was pioneering in digital humanities, feminist scholarship and open-access dissemination. In 2022, Epistolae was preserved as a static project and is now published by Columbia University Libraries. Featuring quotations from these letters is intended not only to link Oxford’s medievalists to an exciting resource outside of Oxford, but also to provide an inspirational and aspirational model for exciting interdisciplinary, boundary-pushing, open-access and digital humanities work. The values of the project align strongly with what OMS is trying to achieve as an international and interdisciplinary community invested in digital outreach, and I hope you enjoy reading the weekly quotations as much as I have enjoyed selecting them.  To learn more about the Epistolae project, see this youtube video.

On the same note, but turning closer to home: in 2023/24 each email will be accompanied by an image from the extremely newly digitised St John’s College MS 61, which is now available thanks to hard work by Sophie Bacchus-Waterman (Special Collections Photographer) and the Bodleian Digital Library Systems and Service.

Over the past ten years, OMS has become one of the largest communities of medievalists worldwide. There is a phenomenal breadth and diversity of research taking place at Oxford, and a wide range of exciting creative practice and public engagement activities. This year at OMS, we are hoping to feature one blog post each week to highlight the range of work going on, and to draw attention to the range of work that goes on here. We have a range of exciting blog posts coming up for you in future weeks, but this week we are starting with a blog post on blogging itself! Have a look for lots of helpful tips on using blogging to share your medieval research with a broader audience.

Please see below for the week’s announcements, events, and opportunities:


  • Meet the Medievalists: Join us on Tuesday 10th October at 5pm at Wellbeloved Room, Harris Manchester College for a social start to the year! This will include an announcement for the
  • OMS Small Grants scheme MT23 which 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. For full details, see our blog post or meet us at Meet the Medievalists to see what small grant recipients did last year!
  • New Journal: We are pleased to announce the publication of a new journal, Manuscript and Text Cultures, from the Centre for Manuscript and Text Cultures, Oxford. The Centre is an academic hub for interdisciplinary activities related to the study of pre-modern manuscript and epigraphic traditions from around the world. Issues 1 & 2 of the journal are now available. Issue 2, Navigating the Text: Textual Articulation and Division in Pre-Modern Cultures can be read online at
  • New Book Publication: Jane Bliss is pleased to announce the publication of Douglas Gray’s last book From Fingal’s Cave to Camelot. Jane writes: ‘After Gray’s death, I was given access to his files and, since I knew what he was working on, produced two books. The first, Make We Merry More and Less, is available from Open Book Publishers in the normal way. This one was published by me privately.’ For the pdf, please contact ( Print copies are also available: Jane will send a copy on receipt of 17 pounds plus postage (to cover the printing costs).


Monday 9th October:

  • The Medieval Latin Manuscript Reading Group meets at 1-2pm on Teams. A friendly venue to practice your Latin and palaeography on a range of texts and scripts over the year. Sign up to the mailing list to receive weekly updates and Teams invites.
  • The Medieval History Seminar meets at 5pm in the Wharton Room, All Souls College. This week’s speaker will be Andrew Jotischky (RHUL) ‘Graze, Forage, Cook: authenticity and authority in medieval monastic reform‘. The seminar will also be available 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). Alternatively, it can be accessed via this link. If you have any difficulties please email:

Tuesday 10th October:

  • The Medieval English Research Seminar will meet at 12.15 in Lecture Theatre 2. This week’s speaker will be David Wallace (University of Pennsylvania), National Epics []: The Elusive Case of England. There will be a sandwich lunch provided afterwards. All welcome!
  • The Medieval Church and Culture Seminar meets at 5pm at Wellbeloved Room, Harris Manchester College. This week is ‘Meet the Medievalists’ – a special social event, with introduction to Oxford Medieval Studies (OMS). Come for a cuppa and hear what’s in store with OMS this term. All are welcome!
  • The Medieval French Research Seminar will meet at the Maison Francaise d’Oxford on Norham Road. Drinks will be available from 5pm; presentations start at 5.15pm. This week’s speaker will be Laura Endress (Zurich) ‘Missing links or contaminated witnesses? Exploring the manuscript tradition of the Suite-Vulgate du Merlin‘. All are welcome! For more information or to be added to the seminar maillist, please contact

Wednesday 11th October:

  • All Souls Library Open Day for Oxford Students will be held at 10-12 and 1-5pm at All Souls, Catte Street Entrance. Come and see the Library and apply to be a Reader. No food and drink, but for today only, photography is allowed! No booking needed, but you will need to bring your University Card to get in through the entrance.
  • The Medieval German Seminar meets at 11.15am, at Somerville College. In Michaelmas Term, we are going to discuss the forthcoming study edition by Christine Putzo of Konrad Fleck’s ‘Flore und Blancheflur’. We will meet in Almut Suerbaum’s office in Somerville College. Further information and reading recommendations via the teams channel; if you want to be added to that: please email Henrike Lähnemann. This week we will have a shorter organisational meeting.
  • The Medieval Latin Document Reading Group meets at 4-5pm on Teams. A document is sent out in advance but homework is not expected. Please contact Michael Stansfield ( for further details and the Teams link.
  • The Late Antique and Byzantine Seminar meets at 5pm at The Ioannou Centre for Classical and Byzantine Studies 66 St Giles and online via Microsoft Teams by clicking here. This week’s speaker will be Stratis Papaioannou (National Hellenic Research Foundation, Athens), ‘Portraits of the Reader during the Middle Byzantine Period’.

Thursday 12th October:

  • The Medieval Hebrew Reading Group meets at 10-11am in Catherine Lewis Lecture Theatre, Clarendon Institute, and online via Zoom. In order to attend via Zoom, please register here. This reading group is an opportunity to practice reading directly from images of medieval Hebrew manuscripts in an informal setting. All skill levels are welcome! There will be coffee, tea and cake afterwards in the Common Room of the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies for those attending in person. For further information, please email
  • The Germanic Reading Group meets at 4pm, online via Zoom. Please contact Howard Jones to request the handouts and to be added to the list. This week’s reading will be OHG Otfrid extracts (Howard Jones leading).
  • The Celtic Seminar meets at 5pm, online via Zoom. Please contact for the link. This week’s speaker will be Martin Crampin (CAWCS), ‘Emblems of the Past: saints, stained glass and early medieval antiquitie’.
  • The Oxford Bibliographical Society meets for a lecture at 5.15pm in the Weston Library lecture theatre. This week’s speaker will be  William P. Stoneman (formerly Curator of Early Books and Manuscripts at Harvard University’s Houghton Library), ‘A Golden Collector of the Golden Age’: Charles Walker Clark (1871-1933) and his library of incunables’. The talk is hosted jointly with the Bodleian’s Centre for the Study of the Book. We will also be streaming the talk on Zoom; if you would like to get the link, do please get in touch with
  • The Old Occitan Literature Workshop meets at 5-6pm at St Hugh’s College, 74 Woodstock Road, Office A4. The topic of this week’s meeting will be ‘Is this… Fin’amor?’ (Jaufre Rudel (1125-48): Vida, “Lanquand li jorn son loc en mai”; Bernart de Ventadorn (1147-70): Vida, “Can vei la lauzeta mover”). To sign up, or for any other queries, email Kate Travers:

Friday 13th October:

  • 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 Anglo-Norman Reading Group meets at 5-6.30pm, in the Julia Mann Room, St Hilda’s College, and Zoom. Please let us know if you would like to attend, either in person or on Zoom; reminders including the Zoom link will be sent to those who have expressed interest. To register interest, or for more information, please contact Jane Bliss and/or Stephanie


  • Codicology Workshops: 25 October, 15 November and 29 November, 1:30-3pm, Horton Seminar Room, Weston Library. This series of workshops using the Bodleian Special Collections is aimed at Oxford University postgraduate students who wish to learn more about the history of the book, with a particular focus on its construction and materiality. Sessions will cover various aspects of medieval and early modern codicology, from ink to binding, from page to provenance. The originality of this series lies in the fact that the sessions are taught by Bodleian curators, researchers and conservators, bringing together their expertise and different approaches to the book. Sessions focus on inks and pigments, writing surfaces, bindings, decoration and provenance, and are offered in Medieval Studies, History and English. For more information and to register:
  • Teaching with manuscripts. Monday 4 Dec. (week 9), Horton Room, Weston Library, 2-3.30pm. This workshop is for anyone involved in small-group teaching who is considering incorporating medieval manuscript material in their classes. We will cover the practicalities of arranging classes and selecting material and explore what works and doesn’t work in the classroom. Contact or to register.
  • Call for Social Media Contributions: Are you passionate about medieval studies and public engagement? Would you like to share your research with a wider audience? Oxford Medieval Studies is looking for volunteers at any and all career stages to share fun medieval facts and stories or the most interesting parts of their research in one-minute video clips that will be posted across all our social media channels. Get in touch with for more details.

It is always such a joy to welcome everyone back to Oxford, but also see new faces. Whether you have been here many years or just a few days, here is some wisdom from the Epistolae project as we start the term (and year):

quamdiu vigilatis, aut lectione aut […] aliqua utili cogitatione sive intentione sit occupatum
[as long as you are awake, keep your heart busy always and everywhere with reading or […] some useful reflection or intention]
A letter (1094) from Anselm, archbishop of Canterbury to Matilda of Wilton

I wish you all a productive and reflective term, and look forward to appearing in your inboxes every week with the latest Medievalist happenings. May you have a week filled with reading and / or useful reflection, and may your heart be ‘busy always’ during this academic year!

[A busy Medievalist always keeps their copy of the Medieval Booklet close to hand]
St John’s College MS. 61, f. 40 r. 
By permission of the President and Fellows of St John’s College, Oxford
Viewable in full at Digital Bodleian

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