Medieval Matters: Week 4

This week marks All Hallows’ Eve! As if this wasn’t scary enough, we are now half way through term – what a frightening thought! If you are feeling terrified by all of the things you told yourself you would have achieved by this stage of the year, here is a snippet of eleventh-century solidarity from the Epistolae project:

Conscientia mea terret me peius omni larua omnique imagine
[My conscience terrifies me worse than any ghost or apparition!]
A letter (April 1062) from Agnes of Poitiers, empress

In more serious news, this is a frightening time for Oxford’s Medieval Meadows. The UK has lost 97% of its meadows since World War II. This week’s blog post is written by Jocelyn Wogan-Browne, and addresses the threat posed to Hinksey meadow. Hinksey Meadow is first on record in a grant by Henry I to Abingdon Abbey 1102 x 1110, and it’s still there, in West Oxford in walking distance of Oxford Railway Station, one of the rarest, most species-rich meadows in Britain. But this wonderful meadow is under threat. To read about the importance of this medieval site, and what we can do to help save it, please read Jocelyn Wogan-Browne’s blog post here.

It may be Halloween this week, but you will find only treats in this week’s line up: see below!


  • Columbia University Seminar on Religion & Writing will take place on zoom on Wednesday, 8 Nov, 5-7pm GMT. Our own Andrew Dunning, R.W. Hunt Curator of Western Manuscripts at the Bodleian, will discuss the origins of the twelfth-century cult of St. Frideswide. Please register by filling out this form before November 7th. If you have any questions or concerns, please write to Heidi Hansen.  
  • The 50th anniversary Tolkien Lecture Series: Although there is an online booking system that now states that all these lectures are full, there have been many no-shows at these seminars and the organizers have said that anyone can come along now (without booking) and there should be room to fit everyone in. For those who cannot make it (due to teaching commitments, lectures, tutorials etc.), the talks will be recorded on a case-by-case basis (depending on the permission of each speaker). If there are any questions about this, contact Stuart Lee. For full details, please see here.
  • Church Monuments Society Spring online lectures 2022: ‘The Stories Monuments Tell’: The Church Monuments Society is for everyone who is interested in the art of commemoration – early incised stones, medieval effigies, ledgerstones, brasses, modern gravestones. The Society was founded in 1979 to encourage the appreciation, study and conservation of church monuments both in the UK and abroad. The Spring series of online lectures will be on the topic of ‘The Stories Monuments Tell’. All lectures will take place via Zoom, and begin at 5pm GMT. For full information, please see our blog here.


Monday 30th 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.
  • Early-Printed Books from Ukraine: Treasures from the Bodleian will take place at 1-2pm, in Sir Victor Blank Lecture Theatre, Weston Library. This public talk is programmed in partnership with the Oxford University Ukrainian Society. A selection of the Bodleian’s holdings of early-printed books from Ukraine, including the oldest Ukrainian book, the Apostolos of 1574. All welcome, and entry is free, but booking is required. To book a place, visit:
  • Queer and Trans Medievalisms: A Reading and Research Group meets at 3pm at Univ. All extremely welcome! This week’s discussion will centre Transing knighthood (kari edwards’ dôNrm’-lä-püsl (2017) with the trial of Joan of Arc (1431)). To join the mailing list and get texts in advance, or if you have any questions, email Rowan Wilson.
  • The Medieval Archeology Seminar meets at 3pm at the Institute of Archaeology, Lecture Room. This week’s speakers will be Rory Naismith & Jane Kershaw, ‘The provenance of silver in north-west European coinage (c. 660–820)‘.
  • The Medieval History Seminar meets at 5pm in the Wharton Room, All Souls College. This week’s speaker will be Meia Walravens (Trinity), ‘Networked Diplomacy: the Bahmani Sultanate in the Islamic world (ca. 1475),. 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 Ashley Castelino.

Tuesday 31st October:

  • The Medieval English Research Seminar will meet at 12.15 in Lecture Theatre 2. This week’s speaker will be Rachel A. Burns (Hertford), ‘Hidden Things: A Biblical Context for the Exeter Book Riddles’. There will be a sandwich lunch provided afterwards. All welcome!
  • The Medieval Church and Culture Seminar meets at Wellbeloved Room, Harris Manchester College. Tea & coffee from 5pm; papers begin at 5.15pm. This week’s speaker is Stephen Johnston (History of Science Museum), ‘Working and Reworking the Astrolabe: astronomy and astrology as material culture‘. Everyone is welcome at this informal and friendly graduate seminar!

Wednesday 1st November:

  • The Medieval German Seminar meets at 11.15, at Somerville College to discuss the forthcoming study edition by Christine Putzo of Konrad Fleck’s ‘Flore und Blancheflur’. This week Julia Lorenz and Tim Powell will talk on ‘Mai & Beaflur’. 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 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 Michael Hanaghan (Australian Catholic University) ‘Future Perfect? The Ontology of the Future in Sidonius’ Imperial Panegyrics’.
  • 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 2nd November:

  • 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 Joseph Ohara.
  • The Environmental History Working Group meets at 12.30-2pm, in the History Faculty, Gerry Marton Room. This week’s speaker will be Aryaman Gupta, “Ecology and nonhuman agency between ‘A Thousand Plateaus’ and Chernobyl”. For further information, please contact Ryan Mealiffe.
  • The Digital Editions Community of Practice Group meets at 1-2pm in the Taylor Institution Library Main Hall 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 speakers will be Lena Vosding and Karen Wenzel on Using Transkribus.
  • The Medieval Women’s Writing Reading Group meets at 3-4pm in Lincoln College Lower Lecture Room. This week’s reading will be Royal Networks and Letters in late medieval Iberia. Please email Katherine Smith to be added to the mailing list and get texts in advance, or to find out more.
  • The Merton History of the Book Group meets at 5pm in Merton College, T. S. Eliot Lecture Theatre. This term’s lecture will be by Professor Sarah McNamer, Georgetown University, on ‘A Book for a Boy? A New Look at the Bodley Alexander’. The talk will be followed by refreshments. All are welcome, but please RSVP to Julia Walworth.
  • The Seminar in Medieval and Renaissance Music meets at 5-7pm, online via Zoom. This week’s speaker will be Jane Bernstein (Tufts University): ‘Music Printing in Rome during the Long Sixteenth Century’. The discussants will be Bonnie J. Blackburn (Oxford) and Noel O’Regan (University of Edinburgh). 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
  • The Medieval Visual Culture Seminar meets at 5pm in St Catherine’s College, Arumugam Building. This week’s speaker will be John Munns (Cambridge University), ‘Topographical Realism in Winchester’s Holy Sepulchre’. For queries, contact Elena Lichmanova.
  • The Celtic Seminar meets at 5.15pm, in the History of the Book Room, English Faculty, and online via Teams. Please contact David Willis if you need a link to join online. This week’s speaker will be Stuart Dunmore (Edinburgh), ‘Language acquisition motivations and identity orientations among Scottish Gaelic diasporas in Nova Scotia and New England’.

Friday 3rd November:

  • 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 Byzantine Text Seminar meets at Ioannou Centre, Outreach Room, 10:00 – 11:30 a.m. We are reading passages from Medieval Greek historians. Intermediate knowledge of Greek is required.
  • The Lectures in Byzantine Literature take place in the Ioannou Centre, Seminar Room, 12:15 – 1:15 p.m. We are speaking about Byzantine education. No knowledge of Greek is required.
  • Exploring Medieval Oxford through Lincoln Archives meets at 2-3pm, Seminar Room 2, EPA Centre, Museum Road, OX1 3PX. Anyone interested in analyzing primary sources and conducting a comprehensive examination of the documents are welcome to attend. As well as collaborating on unpublished sources, attendees will gain experience in digitisation of sources and publish their analysis online. Students will prepare their item for exhibition, and a one-day workshop on these sources will be held in Trinity Term. Those who are interested can contact Lindsay McCormack and Laure Miolo via email: and


  • UCL Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (MARS) is now accepting applications for their MA in Medieval and Renaissance Studies for the academic year 2024-5.
  • The Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies invites applications for up to two Research Fellowships open to post-doctoral candidates in any area of the arts, humanities or social sciences which contribute to a more informed understanding of the Islamic world – its history, economy, politics, culture and contemporary life. Link to full job description

If, despite all of these treats, this week still seems frightening, here is more advice from Agnes of Poitiers, from the Epistolae project. After discussing the terror of her conscience, she writes:

Ideo fugio per sanctorum loca, quaerens latibulum a facie timoris huius
[So I flee to the places of the saints, seeking a hiding place from the face of this fear.]
A letter (April 1062) from Agnes of Poitiers, empress

I take this to mean that fleeing to the places of medieval community is always a good remedy for the anxieties of research! I hope that your week is filled with exciting research discoveries, that you encounter more treats than tricks, and that the delights of medieval events help to chase the terror away!

[Scary costume ideas: A Medievalist Flattened by Fifth Week]
St John’s College MS. 61, f. 50 r.
By permission of the President and Fellows of St John’s College, Oxford
Viewable in full at Digital Bodleian

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