Medieval Matters: Week 7

This coming Saturday brings us to Oxmas: Merry Oxmas to one and all! For those new to Oxford, ‘Oxmas’ refers to Christmas at Oxford, which takes place on 25 November – exactly one month before Christmas day. Here is some seasonal advice from the Epistolae project:

Libenter nanque atque gratanter vestrae salutationis munuscula suscepimus […] isdem digna reconpensare disideramus
[Willingly and gratefully we received the little gifts of your greeting and […] we desire to repay them worthily]
A letter (729-44) from Cuneburg, Cuneburga/Cuniburg to Coengils of Glastonbury

Of course, your seminar papers, reading group organisation, and participation are always willingly and gratefully received. What a wide array of gifts we have on offer, this week and every week! We have a particularly wonderful line-up this week, including a special guest lecture from Professor Miri Rubin (QMUL), organised by the newly re-established Oxford Medieval Society – this Thursday at 5pm.

Speaking of gifts, this week, our blog spot is a CFP for the Oxford Medieval Graduate Conference. This has long been an important event in the Oxford Medievalist calendar, and is a wonderful opportunity for our youngest and newest medievalists to meet each other and also medievalists outside of Oxford: please do disseminate this widely! For a taster of the kind of excitement that might lie in store, see the write-up from last year’s conference, by OMS’ own Ashley Castlino.


  • In Memoriam: The community will be sorry to learn of the death (in her mid-nineties) of Pauline Matarasso, medievalist, literary scholar, translator, poet, Benedictine Oblate, on Nov 15, 2023, at Sobell Hospice. Although she had been ill for some time she was alert and working until the end. She was a singularly gracious, grace-filled woman and had many friends from various walks of life. The funeral will be at the Oratory, but the details and date have yet to be announced.
  • Oxford Medieval Society invites you to their Michaelmas lecture at 5pm on Thursday, in the Old Law Library, All Souls CollegeProfessor Miri Rubin (QMUL) will be exploring medieval race, beauty, and biblical exegesis in her lecture: “Black/Beautiful: Song of Songs 1:5, A Verse with a Difference”, followed by a wine reception.


Monday 20th 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 blood, saints, leprosy, AIDS (The medievalisms of Derek Jarman (1942-1994)). 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 Elisabeth Lorans (University of Tours), ‘Transformation of Roman capital cities in Gaul between the 4th and 10th centuries‘.
  • The Medieval History Seminar meets at 5pm in the Wharton Room, All Souls College. This week’s speaker will be Nadine Viermann (Durham) ‘Translating Holiness: Relics and the Dynamics of Empire in the Late Antique Mediterranean‘. 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 21st November:

  • 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 Charlotte Wood (Univ), ‘Combs and Inhumations: the presence of combs in burials c. 700-1000‘. 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 Miranda Griffin (Cambridge): ‘Don’t look now: missing images and prohibited vision in Bodley 445‘. All are welcome! For more information or to be added to the seminar maillist, please contact

Wednesday 22nd 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 the figure of Charlemagne with Karen Wenzel and Kira Kohlgrüber. Please also consider which text we should discuss next term! Further information and reading recommendations via the teams channel; if you want to be added to that: please email Henrike Lähnemann.
  • TORCH Book at Lunchtime meets at 12.30pm for lunch, 1pm- 2pm discussion in Seminar room, Radcliffe Humanities Building, Woodstock Road, Oxford. TORCH welcomes Nicholas Perkins, Professor of Medieval Literature and Fellow of St Hugh’s College to discuss his book The Gift of Narrative in Medieval England. The book places medieval narratives in dialogue with theories and practices of gift and exchange. Join Professor Perkins and an expert panel including Professor Helen Swift (Medieval French Studies, Faculty of Medieval & Modern Languages) and Dr Lucy Brookes (Fitzjames Research Fellow, Medieval English Language and Literature) to discuss The Gift of Narrative in Medieval England.
  • 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 Paolo Sachet (L’Institut d’histoire de la Réformation, Geneva), ‘The Greek Fathers in Print: the AGAPE Database and the Early Modern Patristic Editions.
  • 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 23rd 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 Environmental History Working Group meets at 12.30-2pm, in the History Faculty, Gerry Marton Room. This week will be a discussion with Venus Bivar, Associate Professor of Environmental History post-1750. For further information, please contact
  • 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 Thor poetry in Norse (Nelson Goering leading).
  • The Oxford Medieval Society Lecture takes place at 5pm at All Souls College, Old Library. The lecture will be given by Prof. Miri Rubin (QMUL), speaking on ‘Black/Beautiful: Song of Songs 1:5, A Verse with a Difference’.
  • The Celtic Seminar meets at 5pm, online via Zoom. Please contact for the link. This week’s speaker will be Sara Elin Roberts (Chester), ‘”O’r llyvrev gorev a kavas”: Cynnull y Llyfrau Cyfraith’.
  • 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 Making a Tradition: Celebration and Satire (Peire d’Alvernhe (1149-68): Vida, “Cantarai d’aqestz trobadors”; Lo Monge de Montaudon (1193-1210): Vida, “Pus Peire d’Alvernh’ a cantat”). To sign up, or for any other queries, email Kate Travers:

Friday 24th 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
  • Guest lecture by Julia Frick Zürich) ‘The Bible in Three Songs’, 3-4pm, Taylor Institution Library, Room 2 (part of Henrike Lähnemann’s lecture series ‘Poetry 1400-1600’). All welcome!
  • 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


  • We are pleased to announce that the 26th Biennial SASMARS Conference will be held from 1 to 4 August 2024 at the Mont Fleur Conference Venue in Stellenbosch, South Africa. Papers may cover any time period within the Middle Ages and Renaissance, and deal with any area of interest or discipline that could be relevant to the topic “What Lies Beneath”. For full details, please click here.
  • The Society for the Study of Medieval Languages and Literature warmly welcomes entries to the 2024 Medium Aevum Essay Prize. Please note that this year the deadline is on Monday 4 December 2023. For more information see 
  • Neil Ker Memorial Fund 2023-2024: The object of this fund is to promote the study of western medieval manuscripts, in particular those of British interest. Applications are invited from early career and established scholars of any nationality, engaged on original research intended to produce monographs, editions or studies of documents, texts or illustrations, that include the analysis of the material features of original manuscripts. Applicants should be of postdoctoral status or have comparable experience. For full details, please click here.
  • St John’s College, Oxford, 5th-7th September 2024
  • CFP: The Fifteenth Century Conference 2024. This annual meeting brings together established scholars and new researchers in the field, acting as a showcase for current research and a forum for encouraging new directions of enquiry. We invite proposals for research papers on any subject relating to the history of the long fifteenth century in the British Isles, Ireland, or in the French territories of the English monarchy. Proposals on all kinds of history are welcome, as are interdisciplinary ones. For full details, please click here.

Finally, some advice from the Epistolae project ahead of this weekend’s festivities:

Nos tamen sanae ieiunamus cottidie praeter dies dominicos et Natalis.
[Those of us who are healthy fast every day except Sundays and Christmas.]
A letter (1238) from Clare of Assisi

I take this to mean: no work is so important that we cannot take at least a small break for Oxmas celebrations! I hope everyone takes this as a chance to rest, recuperate, and celebrate with our community before we go into the last week of term.

[A Medievalist leaves their work desk for some festive celebrations]
St John’s College MS. 61, f. 15 v. 
By permission of the President and Fellows of St John’s College, Oxford
Viewable in full at Digital Bodleian

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