Medieval Matters: Week 1

On behalf of OMS, welcome back to Oxford, and to this term’s Medieval Matters newsletter! I hope you are all feeling well rested and ready for a busy term of medieval events. Oxford always feels very quiet in the first week of January, and this extract from the Epistolae project summarises the feeling of waiting for the medievalists to return for the new term:

Revertere […] ut […] in tuo reditu laetitia redeat universis
[Return […] so that […] by your return, happiness may return to all]
A letter from Rotrud of Rouen, archibishop, to Eleanor of Aquitane

It’s a delight and a happiness to welcome you all back. To bring further happiness, I come bearing New Year’s Gifts in the form of the Medieval Booklet, which lists all of the events, seminars and reading groups happening this term, alongside a whole host of opportunities, from CFPs to micro-internships. Click here to view the booklet. A final version will be attached to next week’s email as a pdf. New year, though, is a time for fresh things as well as old ones, and inside the booklet will find the return of many old favourites, but also some brand new groups and events joining us for the new year. A particularly warm welcome to the brand new Middle Welsh Reading Group, Oxford Medieval Studies Greek and Latin Reading Group, and Oxford Medieval Manuscripts Group!

A further happiness and New Year’s Gift can be found on our blog. To herald the new year, poet and DPhil student, Clare Mulley, recounts her experience of interpreting, translating and performing one of the most famous poems in the Old Norse canon for the Old Norse Poetry in Performance 2023. Read Clare’s wonderful account on our blog here.

We have so much in store for you this term, and I for one am excited for it all to begin. In particular, please save the date for our termly OMS lecture, in which Peregrine Horden (All Souls) will speak on ‘Healthy Crusading in the Age of Frederick II:  the puzzle of Adam of Cremona‘. The lecture will take place on Tuesday 5th March (8th Week), 5pm: mark it in your diaries and calendars! For now, here is this week’s roundup:


  • Save the Date: Oxford Medieval Society. Thurs 29 Feb / 7th week : “The hooly blisful martir for to seke: Manuscripts with Chaucer’s pilgrims”. Oxford Medieval Society talk and manuscript session with Andrew Dunning (Bodleian, Jesus) and Alison Ray (St Peter’s, All Souls). Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales tell the story of pilgrims ‘from every shires ende / Of Engelond to Caunterbury they wende’. Experience these journeys, both real and imagined, at 15:00–16:30 at the Weston Library Lecture Theatre, where we’ll explore the Chaucer Here and Now exhibition at the Bodleian Library and enjoy a private showing of manuscripts relating to pilgrimage and Thomas Becket. Please register your attendance at Oxford Medieval Society.
  • Recordings of the Tolkien 50th Anniversary Seminars held in Michaelmas Term in Exeter College are now available here:


Monday 15th January:

  • The Medieval French Palaeography Reading Group meets at 10.30-12 in the Weston Library. This group is open to anyone with an interest in Old French, Middle French and Anglo-Norman manuscripts. We study and read manuscripts from the 12th century to the late 15th century. If you are interested in joining the group or would like more information, please write to:
  • The Medieval History Seminar meets at 5pm in the Wharton Room, All Souls College. This week’s speaker will be Conor O’Brien (Oxford), ‘The Rise of Christian Kingship and the De-Secularization of the Latin West’. 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 16th January:

  • The Europe in the Later Middle Ages Seminar meets at 2-3.30pm in the Dolphin Seminar Room, St John’s College. Tea and coffee available from 1.45pm. Undergraduates welcome. This week will be a discussion session.
  • 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 Emma-Catherine Wilson (Hertford), ‘Crying Rich Folks’ Lauds: the social status of heralds in the late Middle Ages‘. Everyone is welcome at this informal and friendly graduate seminar!
  • The Old Occitan Literature Workshop meets at 5-6pm at Taylor Institution, Hall. In Hilary term, we will read and translate extracts from texts written in Old Occitan. All welcome! Please email the address below for details of the texts we will be working on. Interested members will be invited to translate short passages which we will then workshop in meetings 2 and 3. To sign up, or for any other queries, email Kate Travers

Wednesday 17th January:

  • The Medieval German Seminar meets at 11.15, at St Edmund Hall, Old Library. This week we will have a shorter organisational meeting. In Hilary Term, we are going to discuss the writings by ‘Frau Ava’, the first women author whose name we know, transmitted in the Vorau Manuscript. We will work with the edition by Maike Claußnitzer and Kassandra Sperl. We will meet in the Old Library in St Edmund Hall. Tea and coffee are provided but please bring your own mug! 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 Christian Sahner (University of Oxford) – ‘How Zoroastrians Debated Muslims in the Early Islamic Period‘.
  • The Medieval English Research Seminar will meet at 5.15pm in Lecture Theatre 2, St Cross Building. Today’s speakers will be Jasmine Jones (Oxford), ‘Monasticism, Mystery and the Mind: The Vernacular Theology of the Old English Daniel’ and Charlotte Ross (Oxford), ‘Manuscripts and Readers of Thomas Hoccleve’s The Regiment of Princes. The seminar will be followed by a wine reception. All welcome!
  • Dante Reading Group meets at 5.30-7pm in St Anne’s College, Seminar Room 11. 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. 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 questions, please email Charles West (Sponsored by TORCH).

Thursday 18th January:

  • The Late Roman Seminar will meet at 4pm in the Seminar Room, Corpus Christi College. This week’s speaker will be Ana Dias, ‘‘May the voice of the faithful resound’: colophons in early Iberian manuscripts’.
  • The Ethics of Textual Criticism Seminar meets at 10-12 in Harris Seminar Room, Oriel College. This week’s speaker will be Tristan Franklinos (Oxford) – ‘On whose authority? Editing ancient and medieval Latin texts – some examples’.
  • The Middle Welsh Reading Group meets at 2-4pm in Jesus College, Habakuk Room. No previous knowledge of Middle Welsh is assumed. Translations will be provided with plenty of time to ask questions at the end. We’ll read a selection of early and late Middle Welsh prose and poetry to offer everyone a chance to experience the richness of Middle Welsh and its literary tradition. This week Svetlana will be waiting at the porters’ lodge by the Turl Street entrance until about 2:05pm. For any late comers, please email the address below. Please email to register your interest so that Svetlana knows how many people to expect: Svetlana Ó Siochfhradha Prešern.

Friday 19th January:

  • The Ethics of Textual Criticism Seminar meets at 12-3.30 in Ioannou Centre, 66 St Giles. This week’s speaker will be Irene Peirano Garrison (Harvard) – ‘Latin grammar in the Age of Philology’.
  • The Late Antique Latin Reading Group meets at 12-1pm, in the Hovenden Room, All Souls College, and is open to anyone engaged in research on the late antique world. Though prior knowledge of Latin is required, we welcome people with a range of abilities. We particularly welcome graduate students and early career academics. If you would like to attend, or you have any questions, feel free to contact either of the convenors. Please do RSVP if you intend to attend, so that we can gauge numbers and circulate the readings. Contact: David Addison and Alison John.
  • Exploring Medieval Oxford through Lincoln Archives meets at 2-3pm, in Seminar Room 2, EPA Centre, Museum Road. Anyone interested in analyzing primary sources and conducting a comprehensive examination of the documents are welcome to attend. Those who are interested can contact Lindsay McCormack and Laure Miolo via email: and
  • The Tolkien 50th Anniversary Seminar Series meets at 4-5pm in Merton College T.S. Eliot Lecture Theatre. This week’s speaker will be Mark Atherton (University of Oxford), ‘The Arkenstone and the Ring: wilful objects in Tolkien’s The Hobbit’’ Free access (no need to book). Please email Julia Walworth if you need step-free access.
  • The Oxford Medieval Manuscripts Group (OMMG) meets at 5pm at Merton College, Hawkins Room. This week’s seminar will be Reading and discussion of Elina Gertsman, The Absent Image: Lacunae in Medieval Books (Pennsylvania State University Press, 2021). All welcome. Write to the email below if you do not have access to the online version of this book. To subscribe to our mailing list, participate in library visits, propose a presentation of your research for work in progress meetings, or submit any queries, please write to Elena Lichmanova.
  • The Anglo-Norman Reading Group meets at 5-6.30pm, at St Hilda’s College, and on Zoom. Please let us know if you would like to attend, either in person or on Zoom. The text – some Jousting Letters from Edingburgh – will be provided via Padlet, and refreshments as usual to help us along. All welcome, at any level of Medieval French! Please contact Stephanie Hathaway Stephanie Hathaway or Jane Bliss for further details.


  • Oxford Medieval Manuscripts Group (OMMG): To sign up for the Weston library visit (Week 3) or to present work at the WIP meeting (Week 5), please email Elena Lichmanova by 21/01/2024.
  • CFP: Bristol Centre For Medieval Studies Graduate Conference DEADLINE: 22 January 2024. We encourage abstracts from postgraduates and early-career researchers, exploring aspects and approaches to bodies and boundaries in all relevant disciplines pertaining to the medieval period, broadly construed c.500- c.1500. Abstracts are 300 words for 20-minute papers. This year’s conference will be a hybrid event, taking place both online and on the campus of the University of Bristol. For full details see here.
  • CFP: Brut in Bristol, Thursday 27 June – Saturday 29 June 2024: The Centre for Medieval Studies at Bristol is very excited at the prospect of hosting the International Brut Conference, Thursday 27th – Saturday 29th June 2024. We invite proposals for 20-minute papers in English or French on the wider Brut tradition from all angles and disciplines, including medieval and Early Modern languages and literatures, and art, book, cultural, intellectual, political, religious, or any other kind of history. Proposals are welcome from academics at all career stages and from independent scholars. For more information contact:
  • CFP: COLSONOEL: After a four-year hiatus, we are excited to announce the rebirth of the Cambridge, Oxford and London Symposium for Old Norse, Old English and Latin! This symposium will take place on Friday 3 May at St. Hilda’s College, University of Oxford. We invite abstracts from postgraduates, both masters and PhDs, currently undertaking degrees or recently graduated from the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, and from the London group. Papers will be twenty minutes in length and followed by questions. Please submit abstracts of no more than 250 words with a short biography to Deadline for abstract submissions is 31st January 2024.
  • CFP: International Courtly Literature Society British and Irish Branch Conference 2024: Court Cultures: Texts and Contexts, Trinity College, the University of Dublin, 18-19 June 2024. We invite proposals in English or in French (maximum 200 words) for either 20-minute papers or full panels of three papers (each of 20 minutes duration) to be submitted by 5 p.m. on Friday 16 February 2024 to Dr Sarah Alyn Stacey ( and Dr Thomas Hinton ( ). Acceptance of papers will be confirmed by Friday 1 March 2024.
  • Heritage Pathway Training Programme: Heritage Pathway is a series of training and engagement activities which run termly. Heritage Pathway is designed and delivered by Alice Purkiss and Dr Rachel Delman and organised through the Humanities Researcher Training and Development Programme. Sign up to this term’s sessions, which are open to all students and ECRs with an Oxford SSO, here: Heritage Pathway | TORCH | The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities.

If you have forgotten to submit your Medieval Booklet entries, please do not worry: we will send a finalised version next week. Here is some final wisdom, which was almost certainly written with ‘Medieval Matters: Addendum’ emails in mind:

Miraculorum quaedam vel oblivioni tradita vel antea incognita nunc vero comperta notitiae vestrae praesentare cupio.
[ I desire to present to your notice certain miracles either forgotten or hitherto unknown which have truly now been discovered.] 
A letter from Ubaldo, bishop of Mantova, to Matilda of Tuscany

I look forward to presenting you all with forgotten or hitherto unknown reading groups and seminars next week! In the meantime, may you have a week filled with productive research and welcoming back friends and colleagues!

[A Medievalist realises that they forgot to submit their contribution to the HT Booklet…]
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

Leave a Reply

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