Medieval Matters: Week 6

The academic year is now well underway, and I am sure that everyone is feeling extremely busy. The days are getting very dark and cold, and at this point in term things can feel rather overwhelming. Here is some solidarity from the Epistolae project to remind us that even the greatest minds in history sometimes struggled to find their motivation and energy:

Sed utinam tantum mihi sapientia et potestas quae competit suppeterent
[If only enough wisdom and vigour as I need would come to me]
A letter (1102-03) from Anselm, archbishop of Canterbury to Matilda of Scotland

I’m afraid that bringing sufficient amounts of wisdom and vigour to you all lies outside of my remit as communications officer, but I can offer you a wonderful schedule, full of exciting papers and lectures, that are sure to inspire plenty of thought, and reinvigorate you during these cold, dark days. Please see below for the full round-up.

This week’s blog spot, by Luise Morawetz, explores times when manuscripts hold much more information than meets the eye, and grants a fascinating insight into the use of digital tools in manuscript work on the ARCHiOx project (ARCHiOx: research and development in imaging). In her blog post, Luise explains her use of the Selene scanner to investigate two puzzling glosses to the last words of bishop Cassius of Narnia in Bodleian Library, MS. Laud Misc. 429: ‘[…] braht’ and ‘upbraht’. To find out what these puzzling additions might have meant, learn about what they tell us about manuscript usage, and to see MS Laur Misc. 429 in ways you have never seen it before, visit Luise’s blog post here.

Please note the change in arrangements for this week’s Medieval Church and Culture Seminar: normal format to resume next week. Please also note that this week’s Medieval Archeology Seminar is cancelled due to illness.


  • Save the Date: Oxford Old English Work-in-Progress (WOOPIE) will meet at 5.15pm in St Cross Room, St Cross College on Thursday 29th February 2024, for a talk by Prof. Daniel Anlezark, (University of Sydney): ‘The Origins of Anglo-Saxon Chronicle in the eighth century’. The talk will be followed by a drinks reception.


Monday 13th 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 adaptations. (Alex Myers’ The Story of Silence (2020) with Le roman de silence (13th c)). To join the mailing list and get texts in advance, or if you have any questions, email Rowan Wilson.
  • The Medieval Archeology Seminar is cancelled due to illness.
  • The Medieval History Seminar meets at 5pm in the Wharton Room, All Souls College. This week’s speaker will be Liesbeth van Houts (Emmanuel, Cambridge) ‘Towards a New Biography of Empress Matilda: what can be known about the women around her?‘. 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 14th November:

  • The Medieval English Research Seminar will meet at 12.15 in Lecture Theatre 2. Today’s speaker will be Helen Fulton (University of Bristol), ‘Urban Humanism and Chaucer’s House of Fame’’. There will be a sandwich lunch provided afterwards. All welcome!

Wednesday 15th 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’. This week Patrick Leuenberger will talk on christians and heathens. 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 Invisible East Group meets at 4-6pm in Basement Teaching Room 1, Asian and Middle Eastern Studies Faculty, for a talk by Dr Rocco Rante (Louvre Museum, Paris): The Dynamics of Human Occupation during the First Millennium CE in Khorasan.
  • 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 Mike Humphries (Oxford University), ‘Punitive Mutilation in Byzantine Law: The case of nose amputation in Byzantium and beyond’.
  • The Medieval Church and Culture Seminar meets at 5.30pm at The Bodleian Library Printing Press. This week is a special session on the printint press, and numbers are limited to a maximum of 12; please email Sumner Braund ( to take part.
  • 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 16th 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 Jennifer Oliver, “Mineral Matters: Materials, Making, and Early Modern French Literature”. For further information, please contact Ryan Mealiffe.
  • The Centre for Gender, Identity, and Subjectivity (CGIS) meets at 1pm in the Merze Tate room of the History Faculty. Professor Hannah Skoda (St John’s) will be speaking on ‘Gendering nostalgia: fourteenth-century longing for the good old days‘. (Please note that this is different from the term card which states that Hannah is speaking on 23rd).
  • 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 T.J. Reed, Thomas Mann.
  • The Medieval Women’s Writing Reading Group meets at 3-4pm in Lincoln College Lower Lecture Room. This week’s reading will be The Epistole of Catherine of Siena. Please email Katherine Smith to be added to the mailing list and get texts in advance, or to find out more.
  • The Medieval Visual Culture Seminar meets at 5pm in St Catherine’s College, Arumugam Building. This week’s speaker will be Liz James (University of Sussex), ‘The Remembrance of God’: Theologising Wall Mosaics’. For queries, contact Elena Lichmanova (
  • The Eastern Christianity in Interfaith Contexts reading group will meet at 5-6pm, online via Zoom This week will be led by Dr Lisa Agaiby, Academic Dean at St Athanasius College, and Senior Lecturer in Coptic Studies at the University of Divinity, Australia. Dr Agaiby will be speaking on ‘The Manuscript Project at the Coptic Monastery of St Paul the Hermit at the Red Sea, Egypt‘. To register, please click here.
  • The Celtic Seminar meets at 5.15pm, online via Teams. Please contact if you need a link to join online. This week’s speaker will be Myriah Williams (Berkeley), ‘Beginnings and endings: Moli Duw yn Nechrau a Diwedd and Cyntefin Ceinaf Amser’.
  • The WOOPIE (Oxford Old English Work in Progress) Seminar will meeet at 5.30pm in the Ian Skipper Room, St Cross College. This term’s speaker will be Simon Heller (University of Oxford), ‘Reclaiming Beowulf in the United States, from Nixon to Reagan’. All welcome! If you would like to attend, please contact

Friday 17th 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 via email: Lindsay McCormack and Laure Miolo


  • Job advert: Departmental Lecturer in Medieval History: This is an opportunity to join our thriving History community and gain valuable teaching experience at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Although this is primarily a teaching role, you will also engage in advanced study and conduct independent research and play an active role in the interdisciplinary College community. The post is intended to fill a gap in our teaching coverage while Dr Benjamin Thompson is on leave following secondment as Associate Head of the Humanities Division. You will be based between the Faculty of History, George St, and Somerville College, Woodstock Road, Oxford. The deadline for applications is 12.00 noon on Monday 27th November 2023. Only applications submitted online through the University e-recruitment system and received before noon Monday 27th November 2023 can be considered. Committed to equality and valuing diversity. For full details, please click here.
  • Postdoc or PhD Opportunity: Historian (postdoc or Ph.D. candidate) or Latinist wanted in DISSINET (, an ERC-funded digital project on medieval inquisition and dissidence based in Brno, Czech Republic. Specific knowledge of the field or digital methods not needed, we only need Latin and a computer-friendly mindset. Deadline for applications: 4 December 2023. Expected start: 1 February 2024 (negotiable). Expected duration: 31 August 2026 Find out more:
  • Call for Applications for 2024-2025 Predoctoral Research Residencies at the Center for the Art and Architectural History of Port Cities “La Capraia”: a collaboration between the Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History, the Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte, the Amici di Capodimonte, and Franklin University Switzerland. We would be grateful if you would share the Call with colleagues and potentially interested PhD students in the earlier stages of the dissertation. We welcome applications from doctoral students in art and architectural history (as well as archaeology, history, musicology, cultural heritage, the digital humanities, and related fields) who work on periods from antiquity to the present and who will make meaningful use of research materials in Naples and southern Italy. full details.

Finally, here is some wisdom from the Epistolae project to remind us all that struggling to meet deadlines was a medieval problem too:

peccatis meis indulgere habes, quia propter instantes labores et itinera continua adhuc perfecte conscriptum, quod rogasti, non habeam
[you must excuse my remissness, for I have been prevented by pressure of work and by my continual travels from completing the book you ask for.]
A letter (before 738) from Boniface to Bugga

For everyone struggling to meet deadlines, or trying to carve out some research time in the middle of a busy teaching term: I wish you a week of productive and successful research!

[A medievalist is chased down by the two greatest enemies of research: Pressure of Work and Teaching Obligation]
St John’s College MS. 61, f. 12 v.
By permission of the President and Fellows of St John’s College, Oxford
Viewable in full at Digital Bodleian

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