Medieval Matters: Week 2

I hope everyone is now settled back into the rhythm of term and is enjoying the start of the new academic year. Thank you to all who came to Meet the Medievalists last week: it was lovely to see so many of you in person. A letter from the Epistolae project highlights the difficulty of finding friends, and the joys that finally finding them can provoke:

Diu quaesivimus. Et confidimus, quia invenimus in te illum amicum, quem cupivimus et optavimus et speravimus.
[Long have we sought, and now we believe that we have found in you the friend whom we have wished, prayed, and hoped for.]
A letter (719-22) from Eangyth, abbess

If the past week has whetted your appetite for more medieval social events, or if you are still searching for the medievalist friend / colleague / collaborator you have been wishing and hoping for, you are in luck: this week features both the Oxford Medieval Society Welcome Drinks and Pub Quiz (Thursday) and the Medieval Coffee Morning (Friday). We hope to see many of you there!

This week’s blog post is written by Professor Elizabeth Eva Leach (Faculty of Music), on her new book, Medieval Sex Lives. The book is not only by an Oxford academic, but focuses on an Oxford manuscript, Bodleian Library MS Douce 308. To discover what the book is about, what inspired Prof. Leach to write it, and to find a discount code for 30% off, please view the blog post here. Prof. Leach also recently recorded a 1-hour programme on BBC R3 which aired on Guillaume de Machaut – it’s available on BBC sounds for the rest of October via

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


  • For the latest booklet updates, please consult the online copy here, which will be updated throughout the term. Please note in particular that the Medieval Archeology Seminar was omitted from the pdf copy of the booklet distributed last week. The seminar takes place on Mondays of even weeks at 3pm, Institute of Archaeology, Lecture Room. The Centre for Manuscript and Text Cultures is also hosting events, in weeks 3 and 5, that now appear in the booklet. And the link to sign up for the Seminars in Medieval and Renaissance Music has now been included.
  • The Impact Report of the Oxford School of Rare Jewish Languages (OSRJL) is online – a fascinating overview of now two years of studying languages from Judaeo-Arabic to Yiddish.
  • Form and Function in Medieval Manuscripts: The Medieval Church and Culture seminar meets on Tuesday of 2nd week, 5pm, Bodleian Library, for a session with Dr Martin Kauffmann, Head of Early and Rare Collections.  Numbers are limited, so we all get close to the manuscripts, but there are still a few places left.  Email
  • New Dante Reading Group: Wednesdays, 17:30-19:00. Whether you are a dedicated Dante scholar or someone who has never gotten round to picking up the Comedy, the new Dante Reading Group is for you! Each week, we will be reading through and discussing a canto of the Divine Comedy in a relaxed and informal setting, delving into Dante’s language and imagination in manageable chunks. It is open to those with or without a knowledge of Italian, the reading being sent out in the original and in translation. Refreshments, both alcoholic and otherwise, will be provided! To register or ask any any questions, please email 
  • Oxford Medieval Society invites you to an evening of Welcome Drinks and a Pub Quiz! Join us at 6pm on Thursday 19th October, at the Old Law Library, All Souls College. Entry is £5, which includes not only drinks and nibbles, but also membership of the Society. Come and meet fellow medievalists and test your medieval trivia!”


Monday 16th 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. 
  • Queer and Trans Medievalisms: A Reading and Research Group meets at 3pm at Univ. All extremely welcome! This week’s discussion will centre Transpoetics. (Jos Charles’ feeld (2018) and Julian Talamantez Brolaski’s Of Mongrelitude (2017) with medieval lyrics(13th-15th c)). To join the mailing list and get texts in advance, or if you have any questions, email
  • The Medieval Archeology Seminar meets at 3pm at the Institute of Archaeology, Lecture Room. This week’s speaker will be John Blair, ‘Powerful women, dangerous women: female ritual equipment in England and the Rhineland, 550-700‘.
  • The Medieval History Seminar meets at 5pm in the Wharton Room, All Souls College. This week’s speaker will be Sumner Braund (History of Science Museum, Oxford) ‘A Measure of Monastic Reform? New saints, ancient saints, and the re-forming of monastic communities in late 10th-century England‘. 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:
  • The Old Norse Reading Group meets at 5.30-7pm. We’ll be translating a range of exciting Old Norse texts! To join the mailing list, email

Tuesday 17th October:

  • The Medieval English Research Seminar will meet at 12.15 in Lecture Theatre 2. This week’s speaker will be Victoria MacKenzie, ‘Imagining Margery and Julian: a reading and Q and A. There will be a sandwich lunch provided afterwards. All welcome!
  • The Medieval Church and Culture Seminar meets at 5pm at The Weston Library. This week is a special Manuscript Showcase at the Weston Library. Please note that numbers are limited to a maximum of 20; please email Lesley Smith ( to take part.

Wednesday 18th October:

  • The Medieval German Seminar meets at 11.15, at Somerville College. We are discussing Konrad Fleck’s ‘Flore und Blancheflur’, starting with an introduction to the prologue by Marlene Schilling and a presentation on the Trier Floyis fragment by Nikolaus Ruge. Further information via the teams channel; if you want to be added to that: please email Henrike Lähnemann.
  • 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 is a special OCBR lecture. This week’s speaker will be Adrian Jusupovic (The Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw), ‘Byzantine Princess Ruling Rus‘.
  • The Medieval Visual Culture Seminar meets at 5pm in St Catherine’s College, Arumugam Building. This week’s speaker will be Giosuè Fabiano (Courtauld Institute of Art), ”Illuminavit hunc diem’: Natural Lighting, Liturgical Time and Frescoes in late Medieval Italian Churches’. For queries, contact Elena Lichmanova (
  • Dante Reading Group meets at 5.30-7pm in St Anne’s College, Seminar Room 11. The group is open to those with or without a knowledge of Italian, the reading being sent out in the original and in translation. Refreshments, both alcoholic and otherwise, will be provided! To register or ask any any questions, please email 

Thursday 19th 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 this reading group 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
  • As part of the Oxford International Song Festival, Henrike Lähnemann will present a programme of singing from Bodleian medieval manuscripts at St Edmund Hall, including a visit to the Norman crypt under St-Peter-in-the-East, 10am and 11:15am; both slots are currently sold out but we hope to record it.
  • The Environmental History Working Group meets at 12.30-2pm, in the History Faculty, Gerry Marton Room. This week’s speaker will be Ryan Mealiffe, “Clay Accumulators (Pigs and Piggy Banks): Intersections of Material Culture, Environment, and Symbolism in Majapahit Java and the Early Medieval West”. For further information, please contact
  • The Digital Editions Community of Practice Group meets at 1-2pm in the Taylor Institution Library Room 2. Each session will include a brief talk, followed by an opportunity for discussion. Hot water, tea, coffee, milk and biscuits will be provided. Please feel free to bring your own lunch (and a mug for the hot drinks!). This week’s speaker will be Lucian Shepherd, The Digital Documentation Process initiative.
  • The Medieval Women’s Writing Reading Group meets at 3-4pm in Lincoln College Lower Lecture Room. This week’s reading will be Epistolary networks around Hildegard of Bingen. Please email to be added to the mailing list and get texts in advance, or to find out more.
  • The Seminar in Medieval and Renaissance Music meets at 5-7pm, online via Zoom. This week’s speaker will be Sam Barrett (University of Cambridge): ‘Newly Discovered Aquitanian Polyphony from c. 1100’. The discussants will be Andreas Haug (University of Würzburg) and Margot Fassler (University of Notre Dame). 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 an email to Please note, this address will now be the main point of contact for these seminars.
  • The Celtic Seminar meets at 5.15pm, in the History of the Book Room, English Faculty, and online via Teams. Please contact if you need a link to join online. This week’s speaker will be Chantal Kobel (DIAS), ‘Secret writing and abstruse language in medieval Irish lawyers’ books’.
  • Oxford Medieval Society Welcome Drinks and Pub Quiz take place at 6pm in the Old Law Library, All Souls. Entry is £5 on the door, which includes the cost of drinks.

Friday 20th 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.

Saturday 21st October:

  • Gifts and Books Day at the Weston library. Come to a special day celebrating the Gifts and Books Exhibition! Entrance is free, just drop in between 10.30-3.30pm. Highlights include a tour of Gifts and Books with exhibition curator, Dr Nicholas Perkins, discover how books transform lives with charity Give a Book: Prison Reading Groups, and enjoy 10% discount on the Gifts and Books exhibition book on the day in the Bodleian shop.


  • Master Class: Digital Scholarly Editing (#mcdse2024) The master class takes place from 19th to 23rd February 2024 in Saarbrücken, at Saarland University. Participation is free of charge. The master class will provide you with theoretical and practical knowledge on digital scholarly editing und gives you the opportunity to discuss your own (digital) scholarly edition with peers and known experts. The language of instruction is English. Please check the school page ( for further details.
  • Assistant Professor of English (Medieval Literature): The Department of English at Middle Tennessee State University is seeking applicants for a full-time, tenure-track faculty position (#123400) in Medieval Literature (Old and Middle English) at the rank of assistant professor. The start date for this position is August 1, 2024.The successful candidate is expected to teach general education courses in composition and literature, undergraduate courses in medieval British Literature, and graduate courses in Old and Middle English and other medieval topics. Research specialization may be in either period. To see the full listing, go to:

I hope you are enjoying the return of all of our seminars and reading groups. It has been such a joy to see so many old and new faces! Here is some appropriate wisdom from the Epistolae project on the joys of medievalist community:

ut dicitur: quid dulcius est, quam habeas illum, cum quo omnia possis loqui ut tecum?
[As is said: “What is sweeter than to have some one with whom you can talk of everything as with yourself?”]
A letter (719-22) from Eangyth, abbess
With apologies to Eangyth, I can certainly think of something sweeter than having “some one”: namely, having a whole community “with whom you can talk of everything as with yourself”! It is easy to forget just how lucky we are at Oxford to have such a huge collection of medievalists. I wish you a week of community, shared talks, and collaborative joy!

[Medievalists suitably excited by their colleague’s latest research discovery: one of the many advantages of having medievalist friends!]
St John’s College MS. 61, f. 37 v. 
By permission of the President and Fellows of St John’s College, Oxford
Viewable in full at Digital Bodleian

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *