Medieval Matters: Week 5

This week is, of course, the dreaded fifth week: the most notorious week of the Oxford term. The days are getting darker, workloads are building, and at this point in term many people may be feeling a little frazzled! If you feel in need of some cheering up, we have a stellar roundup of delights to offer you this week, starting with this week’s blogpost, by Ryan Mealiffe, on pigs and piggy banks. Have you ever wondered “who made the first piggy banks?”, or “how global is the piggy bank?”. For answers to these questions and many, many more, accompanied by an abundance of delightful images of rotund, puffy-cheeked pigs and piggy banks (many of which are held at Oxford’s own Ashmolean museum), check out Ryan’s blog post here. It’s sure to both raise a smile and give you new insight into global environmental history!

All of this is to say that despite this being Oxford’s most infamous week of the term, there is plenty of joy within our community to smile about! In the words of Clare of Assisi, from the Epistolae project:

Quis ergo de tantis mirandis gaudiis dicat me non gaudere?
[Who, then, would tell me not to rejoice about such great and marvellous joys?]
A letter (1238) from Clare of Assisi to Agnes of Prague

For a full list of this week’s great and marvellous joys, please see below:


  • David Wiles (Emeritus Professor of Drama, University of Exeter)  is looking for participants in a production of the pseudo-Senecan Octavia put together for the annual conference of the Classical Association in Warwick on March 24th. You may have seen his previous productions in the garden of St Edmund Hall – last year, Mary Magdalene Play from the Carmina Burana. He will be exploring the exuberant rhetorical language of the 1561 translation. Rehearsing in Oxford on Monday evenings in the Hilary term. If interested, please contact
  • Medieval Archaeology Seminar: Change of Line-up The talk originally planned for the 27th Nov. has been moved forward to 20th November, and a new talk slotted in on the 27th. The new schedule is as follows: Wk 7 (20 Nov.) Elisabeth Lorans, University of Tours, Transformation of Roman capital cities in Gaul between the 4th and 10th centuries; Wk 8 (27 Nov). Sarah Semple, Durham University, People and place in the early medieval kingdom of Northumbria. New fieldwork.


Monday 6th November:

  • 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 Queer anachronisms (Robert Glück’s Margery Kempe (1994) with The Book of Margery Kempe (early 15th c)). To join the mailing list and get texts in advance, or if you have any questions, email
  • The Medieval History Seminar meets at 5pm in the Wharton Room, All Souls College. This week’s speaker will be Alison Ray (St Peter’s College and Bodleian Library) ‘The Pecia System and the Medieval Oxford Book Trade‘. 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 7th November:

  • The Medieval English Research Seminar will meet at 12.15 in Lecture Theatre 2. Today’s speakers will be Sigrid Koerner (Jesus College), Christ’s Burial on the Late Medieval Stage and Shelley Williams (Jesus College), “Hevenysh Revoluciouns”: The Complaint of Mars in motion. There will be a sandwich lunch provided afterwards. All welcome!
  • The Centre for Manuscript and Text Cultures: Work in Progress Seminar meets at 3.30pm in the Memorial Room, The Queen’s College. This term’s speakers will be Anthony Ellis (University of Bern): ‘Greek’ in the Medieval Latin manuscripts of Josephus:  reconstructing the philological workings of a late antique translator, and Sara de Martin (Oxford): Reassessing the transmission of Strato com. fr. 1 K. A.
  • 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 Andrew Honey (Bodleian Library Conservation) ‘Binding, if remarkable’: approaches to cataloguing medieval bookbindings at the Bodleian Library‘. Everyone is welcome at this informal and friendly graduate seminar!
  • 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 Luke Sunderland (Durham) ‘They travel together like knights”: Social Animals in Medieval French Encyclopaedias’. All are welcome! For more information or to be added to the seminar maillist, please contact

Wednesday 8th November:

  • The Medieval German Seminar meets at 11.15, 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’. 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 speakers will be Georgi Parpulov (Göttingen Academy of Sciences and Humanities), and Dimitris Skrekas (University of London/Oxford University), Positions of Considerable Emolument: Cataloguing Greek Manuscripts in Oxford.
  • Columbia University Seminar on Religion & Writing will take place on zoom on 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 TODAY. If you have any questions, please write to Heidi Hansen.  
  • 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 9th 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
  • 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 The Old English Riming Poem (Morgan leading).
  • The Medieval Women’s Writing Research Seminar meets at 5-6.30pm at Lincoln College, Lower Lecture Room. This week’s speaker is Mary Hitchman, Wolfson College, Tracing Women’s Correspondence in Late Antiquity. Please email to be added to the mailing list or to find out more.
  • The Celtic Seminar meets at 5pm, online via Zoom. Please contact for the link. This week CAWCS and the National Library of Wales present an evening of talks, readings and performances to mark the tercentenary of Richard Price, Llangeinor – one of Wales’s most radical and influential thinkers.
  • 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 Sad! Songs for Disappointed Men (Raimbaut D’Aurenga (1147-173), Vida, “Ar resplan la flors enversa”; Peirol (1188-1222) — Vida, “Per dan que d’amor mi veigna”). To sign up, or for any other queries, email Kate Travers
  • ‘No Jew Shall Have a Freehold’: The Prohibition on Landholding in the Statutum de Judeis of King Henry III (1271): As part of the David Patterson lecture series at the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies (OCHJS), Emily Rose will be speaking about English legislation from the time of King Henry III at 6pm in the Lecture Theatre, Clarendon Institute, Walton Street and online. Zoom link to register:

Friday 10th 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
  • 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


  • CFP: Oxford Medieval Graduate Conference 2024: ‘Signs and Scripts.’ The conference will be held in person on the 8th and 9th of April, 2024. We invite proposals relating to all aspects of the broad topic ‘Signs and Scripts’ in the medieval world. Submissions are welcome from all disciplinary perspectives, whether historical, literary, archaeological, linguistic, or interdisciplinary. Please send abstracts of 250 words to by 17th December, 2023. For full details, please see the Call for Papers
  • Call for SSD EDI Associates 2023/24: We are seeking individuals from across the Division with a passionate commitment to advancing equality, diversity and inclusion, to join us as EDI Associates this year. We are seeking members of academic, research, or professional services staff, and DPhil students – each EDI Associate will receive a grant of up to £1,000 to be used towards their own research, training and development. Each EDI Associate would need to be able to commit approximately 35-40 hours over Hilary and Trinity terms, with the approval of their line manager/supervisor – but precise timings will be flexible, and can fit around EDI Associates’ other commitments. Please complete an Expression of Interest form by 24th November 2023. For further details, and EOI form, see: 2023/24 Call for EDI Associates | Social Sciences Division (
  • Funded PhD Opportunity: The University of Cambridge and British Library are inviting applicants to propose a topic within the broader field of ‘Reading and Writing in Medieval Women’s Religious Communities’. The start date would be early October 2024, and the application deadline is 4 January 2024. This would be a wonderful chance for a student to work intensively with the BL’s collections—so if you know any prospective students who might be interested, please do pass this notice along! Here’s the full notice, with both intellectual and practical details:

Finally, here is some wisdom from the Epistolae project for this most notorious of Oxford weeks:

Tristitiae quippe nebulis quibus obvolvebar expulsis, verborum vestrorum me rivulus, tamquam novae lucis radius, perlustravit
[after the clouds of sadness in which I was wrapped were driven away, the stream of your words broke through to me like a ray of new light]
A letter (1104) from Matilda of Scotland, queen of the English to Anselm

I hope that the words of medievalist colleagues and the stream of seminars and reading group activity break through any clouds of sadness which you may be feeling this week!

[A Medievalist catches the fifth week blues…]
St John’s College MS. 61, f. 46 v. 
By permission of the President and Fellows of St John’s College, Oxford
Viewable in full at Digital Bodleian

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