Medieval Matters: Week 2

I do hope that everyone is enjoying being back in Oxford, and returning to seminars and reading groups. It’s lovely to see Oxford’s medievalists coming back together to think and talk about the middle ages: in all of its many facets and languages! We are so lucky to be able to collaborate across so many different faculties, and to discuss with colleagues from so many different disciplinary backgrounds. Here is some wisdom from the Epistolae project on the importance of community discussion:

Haec cogitate, haec inter vos die ac nocte, in secreto et in publico tractate.
[Consider these things, discuss them between yourselves day and night, in private and in public.]
A letter (1100) from Anselm, archbishop of Canterbury to Richeza

This week’s blog post, written by Prof. Marion Turner, also highlights the incredible diversity and variety of the “medieval”, and its potential to spark discussion across many different places and times. Prof. Turner writes about curating the ‘Chaucer Here and Now’ exhibition, which runs from 8 December 2023 to 28 April 2024 at the St Lee Gallery, Weston Library (Bodleian Libraries). The exhibition draws attention to the hugely diverse ways that Chaucer has been interpreted, imagined, and reimagined around the world. To read all about the fantastic exhibition and the rationale behind its curation, read Prof. Turner’s blog post here.

In the spirit of celebrating the plenitude of Oxford’s medieval offerings, we also have a second blog post this week! Elliot Vale explores the translation of Genesis B, the only verifiable example of a vernacular-to-vernacular translation from pre-conquest England. To learn more about the evolving relationship with the continental Saxons, read Elliot’s blog post here. Elliot will be exploring the translation of Genesis B in more detail at the first OCCT discussion group of Hilary Term: Monday 22nd February, 12.45–14.00, Seminar Room 10, St Anne’s College. Lunch provided.

Of course, nowhere is the diversity of Oxford’s medieval community more visible than in the Medieval Booklet! The finalised booklet is now available to view online here, in all of its glory. A reduced-quality pdf version is also attached to this week’s email, for your convenience. See below for the full list of events taking place this week.


Monday 22nd 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 Oxford Comparative Criticism and Translation (OCCT) meets at 12:45-2pm in Seminar Room 10, St Anne’s College. Elliot Vale (University of Oxford) will speak on The Saxon ‘Other’ and the Saxon ‘Self’ in the Translation of Genesis B.
  • The Medieval Archaeology Seminar meets at 3pm in the Institute of Archaeology, Lecture Room. This week’s speaker will be Brandon Fathy (University of Reading), Becoming Ipswich: A Story of Urban Emergence in the Early Middle Ages.
  • The Medieval History Seminar meets at 5pm in the Wharton Room, All Souls College. This week’s speaker will be John Merrington (Oxford), ‘Did Charlemagne Worry about his Body?’. 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 23rd January:

  • The Centre for Early Medieval Britain and Ireland Lecture takes place at 1pm at the Memorial Room, Worcester College. Today’s speaker will be Prof. Rory Naismith, University of Cambridge: ‘Silver Linings: Money, Plague and Economic Change in 7th and 8th c. England’. Any inquiries should be directed to Meredith Cutrer
  • 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’s speaker will be James Cogbill, Oxford, ‘A City of Dynasts? Patronage, Competition and Challenge in later medieval Constantinople‘.
  • The Old High German Reading Group will meet at 4pm in the Committee Room, 41 Wellington Square. If there is appetite amongst attendees, the group will migrate to the Lamb and Flag after the session. Handouts will be provided and no prior knowledge is required! This term the texts—with a different theme for each session—will be chosen from different sections of the Althochdeutsches Lesebuch (Braune 1994), alternating between verse and prose. This week will be Biblical (verse), Christus und die Samariterin (Braune XXXIV) – “Christ and the Samaritan Woman”.
  • 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 Ana Dias (History Faculty), ‘Scribes and Scripts:  the curious case of early medieval relic labels‘. Everyone is welcome at this informal and friendly graduate seminar!

Wednesday 24th January:

  • The Medieval German Seminar meets at 11.15, at St Edmund Hall. 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. This will be a close reading session led by Dr Anna Wilmore and Dr Linus Ubl. 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 Natalija Ristovska (University of Oxford) – ‘The Byzantine Craft of Enamelling and its Links with Islamic Metalwork, c. 800-1204’.
  • The Medieval English Research Seminar will meet at 5.15pm in Lecture Theatre 2, St Cross Building. Today’s speaker will be Miri Rubi (QMUL), ‘Black/Beautiful: the History of Song of Songs 1:5’. The seminar will be followed by a wine reception. All welcome! 
  • The London Old and Middle English Research Seminar (LOMERS) takes place at 5.30-7.30pm at Senate House, London (Room 102) and online via Teams. Professor Francis Leneghan will speak on the topic of his new project, ‘Towards a New Literary History of Old English Prose’. To register, please visit:
  • 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 (Sponsored by TORCH).

Thursday 25th January:

  • The Ethics of Textual Criticism Seminar meets at 10-12 in Harris Seminar Room, Oriel College. This week’s speaker will be Alison Salvesen (Oxford) – ‘Hebrew authority, textual criticism, and translation technique: Symmachus and the Megillot’.
  • The Environmental History Working Group meets at 12.30-2pm, in the History Faculty. For further information, please contact Ryan Mealiffe.
  • 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. Please email to register your interest so that Svetlana knows how many people to expect:
  • The Late Roman Seminar will meet at 4pm in the Seminar Room, Corpus Christi College. This week’s speakers will be David Addison, Martina Carandino, and John Merrington, ‘Soul and Embodiment in the Late Antique World: Three Case-Studies’
  • The Seminar in Medieval and Renaissance Music meets at 5pm via Zoom. 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 This week’s presenter will be Susan Forscher Weiss (Peabody Institute and the Johns Hopkins University), ‘Roman de Volvelles: A Story of Revolving Diagrams in Early Modern Quadrivial Texts’, and the discussants will be Mary Carruthers (Oxford and New York University) and Michael Dodds (North Carolina School for the Arts).
  • The Medieval Visual Culture Seminar meets at 5pm in St Catherine’s College, Arumagam Building. This week’s speaker will be Emily Guerry (University of Kent), ‘Diplomacy and Devotion in the Gothic Wall Paintings of Angers Cathedral.
  • The Medieval Women’s Writing Reading Group meets at 5-6.30pm in Lincoln College Lower Lecture Room. This week’s reading will be Frau Ava’s Poetry. Stay up to date with events by joining our mailing list or following us on X @MedievalWomenOx. Texts for the reading group are shared on the mailing list.
  • The Celtic Seminar meets at 5.15pm, in Memorial Room, Jesus College, and online via Teams. Please contact if you need a link to join online. This week’s speaker will be Caitlyn Brinkman-Schwartz (University of Oxford), Race, Revival and Revolution: Defining the Irish ‘Celt’.

Friday 26th January:

  • 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 Corpus Christi College Auditorium. This week’s speaker will be Elena Vermeer (University of Oxford), ‘Tolkien’s ‘Sellic Spell’ and Beowulfian Poetics: the Artist and the Critic‘. Free access (no need to book).


Finally, a little piece of wisdom to help us all cope with the horribly cold weather that we’ve been having this past week:

ex grandine pretiosi lapides procreentur
[precious gems may be generated from a hailstone]
A letter (1156-57) from Osbert of Clare to Adelidis of Barking

It’s true that the beauty of Oxford’s colleges in January, when the winter light hits them, almost makes up for the cold and rain! I hope that your week contains more precious gems than hailstones, and that you find joys even in unlikely places!

[Medievalists find it easier to enjoy the ‘precious gemstone’ of Oxford in winter from the safety of indoors, where no hailstones can reach…]
St John’s College MS. 61, f. 2 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 *