Medieval Matters: Week 3

The weather is slowly warming up, and this week marks the arrival of February: term is well and truly underway! Of course, research goes on all year round, and term time is above all about teaching. Here, then, is some fitting wisdom from the Epistolae project on the work of the teacher:

Proinde quaestiunculas quasdam discipulae doctori, filiae patri destinantes, supplicando rogamus, rogando supplicamus, quatenus his solvendis intendere non dedigneris
[As pupils to their teacher, daughters to their father, we are sending you some small questions, asking you as supplicants, supplicating as petitioners, that you will not disdain the task of answering them.] 
A letter (716-20) from Egburg

This week’s blog post is something a little bit different: we have a call for Small Grants applications! The TORCH Oxford Medieval Studies Programme invites applications for small grants to support conferences, workshops, and other forms of collaborative research activity organised by researchers at postgraduate (whether MSt or DPhil) or early-career level from across the Humanities Division at the University of Oxford. Past small grants have supported reading groups, conferences, and creative-critical events! For full details, see the blog post here.

See below for this week’s roundup:


  • We invite applications for small grants (normally £100-250) to support collaborative activities by researchers at postgraduate or early-career level, taking place between the beginning of Hilary term 2024 and the end of Trinity term. Closing date for applications is 9 February. Full advertisement and application form.


Monday 29th January:

  • The Medieval Church and Culture Seminar meets at Bodleian Weston Library at 3.30-4.30pm for a special session on Exploring astronomical instruments and manuscripts. Please NB the different meeting time. Places limited: please email Lesley Smith to sign on.
  • The Medieval History Seminar meets at 5pm in the Wharton Room, All Souls College. This week’s speaker will be Andrew Wathey (TNA/All Souls), ‘Philippe de Vitry in Clement VI’s Avignon’. 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: medieval history.
  • The Sacred Literature in Interfaith Contexts Reading Group will meet at 6pm, online via Zoom. This week will be led by Professor Aaron Koller, Professor of Near Eastern Studies at Yeshiva University, USA. Prof. Koller will be speaking on ‘The Talmud among Victorian Christians: Polemics and Humanism in Interfaith Encounters‘. To register, please click here.

Tuesday 30th 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’s speaker will be Jose Andres Porras, Oxford, ‘Florentine Orphans and their Parents‘.
  • 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 Professor Sarah Kay (NYU), ‘Nature and the landscape of adventure in Erec et Enide, a Macrobian perspective’ All are welcome! For more information or to be added to the seminar maillist, please contact Helen Swift
  • The Oxford Medieval Society Latin and Ancient Greek Reading Group meets at 5-6pm, in the ground floor lecture room 2 at 47 Wellington Square. Ancient Greek will be read in odd weeks, and Latin in even weeks. We hope to expand our understanding of these languages for the betterment of our own medieval studies by reading texts that are referenced or known of in the medieval world; please note that this is not a strict rule. Anyone from any background is welcome to attend. To register your interest, or for more information, please contact the society at Oxford Medieval Society.

Wednesday 31st January:

  • The Medieval German Seminar meets at 11.15, at St Edmund Hall, Old Library. In Hilary Term, we are going to discuss the writings by ‘Frau Ava’, the first women author whose name we know, this week reading the Last Judgement. We are meeting in the Principal’s Lodgings 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 Michael Shenkar (the Hebrew University of Jerusalem) – ‘The ‘Timeless Empire’:
    Sasanian Iconography as a Historical Source
  • The Medieval English Research Seminar will meet at 5.15pm in Lecture Theatre 2, St Cross Building. Today’s speaker will be Elizabeth Archibald (Durham), ‘Bathing for Health and Pleasure in the Middle Ages – Literary and Social Attitudes’. 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 1st February:

  • The Ethics of Textual Criticism Seminar meets at 10-12 in Harris Seminar Room, Oriel College. This week’s speaker will be Harald Samuel (Oxford) – ‘Textual criticism of Hebrew texts in different textual cultures’.
  • 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: Svetlana Ó Siochfhradha Prešern.
  • The Late Roman Seminar will meet at 4pm in the Seminar Room, Corpus Christi College. This week’s speaker will be Bryan Ward-Perkins ‘Why saints were seen much more often in the late antique East than in the West’.
  • The Medieval Women’s Writing Research Seminar meets at 5-6.30pm at the Main Hall of the Taylorian. This week’s speaker is Sophie Bacchus-Waterman (St John’s College Library, Oxford), ‘The French Psalter of Anne Boleyn‘. Stay up to date with events by joining our mailing list or following us on X @MedievalWomenOx. Funded by the “TORCH Critical-Thinking Communities” fund.
  • The Celtic Seminar meets at 5pm, online via Zoom. Please contact for the link. This week’s speaker will be Nathan Abrams (Prifysgol Bangor), ‘Capturing and preserving north Wales’s Jewish history’.

Friday 2nd February:

  • 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 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.
  • The Oxford Medieval Manuscripts Group (OMMG) meets at 2pm at The Weston Library. This week’s seminar will be a study and discussion of illuminated manuscripts. Limited spaces, write to the email below. First come first served basis. 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 Crafting Documents Project Launch will take place at 3-4pm in the Memorial Room, Queen’s College. The speakers will be Professor Julia Smith (All Souls’ College), Professor Ira Rabin (BAM, Berlin), Dr Ana de Oliveira Dias (Faculty of History), and Dr José Andrés Porras (Wadham College). To read more about the project, please click here.
  • Chaucer Now, with Patience Agbabi and Creation Theatre Company will take place at 6pm in the Weston Library. The prize-winning poet Patience Agbabi performs some of her versions of the tales, iand these poems are interspersed with excerpts from The Wife of Willesden, Zadie Smith’s 2021 version of The Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale. The performances will be framed by an introduction and a Q&A. After the performance, the exhibition Chaucer Here and Now will be open for viewing with curator Marion Turner. Attendance is free but booking is essential: to book, and for further information, click here.
  • The Tolkien 50th Anniversary Seminar Series meets at 4-5pm in Merton College T.S. Eliot Lecture Theatre. This week’s speaker will be Bond West (University of Oxford), ‘Mr. Underhill: Topography and the Ring’s Temptation’. Free access (no need to book). Please email Julia Walworth if you need step-free access.
  • 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 <> or Jane Bliss <>for further details.

Finally, some more wisdom on the importance of teaching and teachers:

non volvitur dies neque nox elabitur ulla sine memoria magisterii tui. 
[Not a day nor a night goes by without some remembrance of your instruction.] 
A letter (716-20) from Egburg

Whether you are teaching or being taught this week (and of course, we all do both to some degree!) I wish you a fruitful week. May all of your instruction be memorable!

[Medievalists exchanging memorable instruction]
St John’s College MS. 61, f. 103 v. 
By permission of the President and Fellows of St John’s College, Oxford
Viewable in full at Digital Bodleian

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