Medieval Matters: Week 5

The end of the teaching year is fast approaching! We’ve had such a busy and exciting year that I’m sure many of us are feeling rather exhausted – especially when it’s so warm outside! But there are still four more weeks of official term, and a medievalist’s work is never truly done – if you need some inspiration, heed this advice from Aldhelm, taken from the  Epistolae project

carissimi, si quamlibet parum a vestra bona consuetudine aliquando vel semel sentitis declinare: gravem casum gemendo vos incurrisse iudicate.
[dearest friends, if you ever feel that you are slipping occasionally or even once, from your good habits, however little it may be, consider with groans that you have incurred a serious fall.]
A letter (1102) from Anselm, archbishop of Canterbury to Edith

I take this to mean “no slacking in fifth week”! If you’re feeling weary and in need of perking up as we approach the end of the year, our blog post this week is sure to raise your spirits. The blog post about the first of three 12th Century Study Days at Iffley gives a fantastic insight into local history and sainthood, and a wonderful sense of our Medievalist community’s work outside of the University walls! To watch recordings of the talks by Andrew Dunning and Anne E. Bailey, read about future events from Living Stones, and sign up for the Pilgrimage walk along St Frideswide’s Way (26-29 June 2024), please visit the blog post here.

It’s also easier to keep up your “good habits” when you’re surrounded by such a wonderful community of medievalists – please see below for the week’s opportunities to keep up the good work:


  • On 25 May, there will be a workshop on The Reading and Reception of the Homeric Poems and the Nibelungenlied in Germany and Europe from the Eighteenth Century to the Present, at the Taylorian and the Bodleian; papers in the morning, manuscript sessions and an exhibition opening in the afternoon. The workshop is open to all with no attendance fee. The papers will also be livestreamed. Please register your interest before Thursday night by emailing John Butcher; for online attendance, a link will be sent out 24 hours in advance. A selection of the papers and the two guided tours will also later be made available as podcasts. The exhibition Epic! Homer and Nibelungenlied in Translation to coincide with the workshop will be open just for a week, so make sure to catch it between 22 and 29 May and / or download the exhibition catalogue which comes out as an open access publication as part of the ‘Cultural Memory’ series by Taylor Editions.
  • All are welcome to a new Latin palaeography group, organised by William Little and Rebecca Menmuir with the Societas Ovidiana. Our aim is to transcribe previously unedited material from a range of medieval manuscripts, beginning with a 12th-century commentary of Ovid’s Heroides 12 (Medea to Jason). This will be a friendly and informal group open to everyone interested in improving (or maintaining) their Latin and palaeography skills, encountering a range of medieval manuscripts, or learning more about classical reception. We will meet on Zoom every Wednesday, 10am EDT / 3pm BST / 4pm CEST, beginning Wednesday 29th May. Please email Rebecca Menmuir for more information and a joining link.
  • OCHJS: Concert – Blind Far Out at Sea: Eran Tzur in Conversation and Concert: 4th of June 2024, 18:00-20:00, Maison Française d’Oxford, 2 Norham Rd, Oxford. Tzur will reunite with his old friend, Elad Uzan, a member of Oxford’s Faculty of Philosophy. Together, they will explore the connection between the Hebrew language, medieval texts and musical expression, and the art of composing poetry, playing together from different periods of Tzur’s artistic catalogue. Register for Tickets here. The event is free, but space is limited, so book your tickets soon. For further information, please click here.


Monday 20th May:

  • 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. We will read a very entertaining account of the legendary foundation of Cambridge University by the Carmelite friar Nicholas Cantlow. Sign up to the mailing list to receive weekly updates and Teams invites.
  • The Tolkien 50th Anniversary Seminar Series meets at 5pm in the T. S. Eliot Theatre, Merton College. This week’s speaker will be Will Sherwood (University of Glasgow), “I am a link in the chain”: Victorian Transformations of British Romanticism and their Influence on Tolkien. For more information, please see
  • The Medieval History Seminar meets at 5pm in the Old Library, All Souls College and on 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, you can use this link. If you have any difficulties please email: This week’s speakers will be Charles West (Edinburgh), Helen Gittos (Balliol) and Mirela Ivanova (Sheffield), in discussion:  Inventing Slavonic Cultures of Writing Between Rome and Constantinople. Please note the change of room.

Tuesday 21st May:

  • The Medieval English Research Seminar meets at 12.15pm in Lecture Room 2, English Faculty. This week’s speakers will be Alicia Smith (Corpus Christi College, Cambridge), Negotiating shame through the ‘harlot saint’ Thais and Nancy Jiang (University of Warwick) Medieval Penitential Piety and the Virtues of Debt Suretyship. Seminars followed by a sandwich lunch. All welcome!
  • Francesco Zimei (University of Trento): The Italian Lauda: Origins, Features, Connections (Digital Humanities and Sensory Heritage (DHSH) – Seminar  Series), St Edmund Hall, Old Dining Hall, 4.30pm 
  • CMTC presents — “Work in Progress” Colloquium (Trinity Term 2024) 5.15–6.45pm Memorial Room, The Queen’s College: Carolin Gluchowski (New College, Oxford), ‘Revising Devotion: Exploring Church Reform through Prayerbook MS. Lat. liturg. f. 4’ and Paola Rea (Scuola Superiore Meridionale, Napoli / Universitat de València), ‘Non ti maravigliare che io non mi distenda nelo scrivere: Female Autographs and Kinship in an Early-Modern Italian Epistolary Corpus’. Abstracts on
  • The Medieval Church and Culture Seminar meets at 5.15pm in the Wellbeloved Room, Harris Manchester College. This week’s speakers will be Alex Still (BNC), Hrothgar’s horse:  the evidence for an interconnected elite across the North Sea world and Elizabeth Williams (LMH), Heavenly Sensations:  multisensory encounters with the liturgy in medieval Jerusalem’s Holy Sepulchre, c. 1099-1215. Everyone is welcome at this informal and friendly graduate seminar.

Wednesday 22nd May:

  • The Medieval German Graduate Seminar meets at 11.15am in Oriel College King Edward Street 7 (Annette Volfing’s office; press the intercom buzzer to be let in). The topic for this term is Konrad von Würzburg: ‘Der Schwanritter’. Open access edition here. If you are interested to be added to the teams group for updates, please contact 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 5.15pm at Auditorium, Corpus Christi College, and online via Teams. Teams link: This week’s speakers will be Maximilien Durand (Musée du Louvre) and Jannic Durand (Musée du Louvre)   – ‘Creating the Louvre’s New Department of Byzantine and Eastern Christian Art: Issues and Challenges in a Turbulent World’. Please note the change in venue and start time!
  • The Book launch of Siân E. Grønlie’s The Old Testament in Medieval Icelandic Texts. Translation, Exegesis and Storytelling takes place at 5.30-7pm in Seminar Room 9, St Anne’s College. We celebrate the launch of the book (Boydell and Brewer, 2024), with a panel discussion with Prof Heather O’Donoghue, Prof Henrike Laehnemann, and Dr Rachel Burns, followed by a drinks reception. For further details, please see here.

Thursday 23rd May:

  • The All Souls Seminar in Medieval and Early Modern Science meets at 2– 3pm in the Hovenden Room, All Souls College. This week’s speaker will be Michael Hunter (Birkbeck, University of London), Robert Boyle’s Strange Reports: From the Outlandish to the Supernatural. To be added to our mailing list please email Dan Haywood

Friday 24th May:

  • Recording Oxford’s Medieval Lives. A Mise en Perspective of Lincoln Documents takes place from 10am-7pm at Lincoln College. The conference will include academic papers and presentations by students and participants in the year-long seminar ‘Exploring medieval Oxford through Lincoln Archives’. They will be presenting their work and discoveries at the conference alongside papers by David d’Avray (UL/Jesus College), Philippa Hoskin (CCC, Cambridge), Richard Allen (Magdalene College), Michael Stansfield (New College) and Alison Ray (St Peter’s and All Souls). Anyone with an interest in the history of medieval Oxford and medieval documents more generally is welcome to attend and can register by writing to Laure Miolo and Lindsay McCormack.
  • 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. This week, Thea Gomelauri will present medieval Hebrew manuscripts.
  • The Anglo-Norman Reading Group will meets at 5-6.30pm at the Julia Mann Room in St Hilda’s College, with the option to join remotely online. Those attending in person please be at the Lodge BY 5.00, where we will meet you and take you to the room in South Building. The texts, together with supplementary material, can be found on TT Padlet Please ensure you print the text (or bring it electronically), as we do not provide paper copies. Wine and soft drinks are available as usual!

Saturday 25th May:

Finally, for further inspiration to keep working hard through this last stretch of the teaching year, here is some further advice from Anselm:

Nullus enim potest vitare defectum, nisi qui se semper extendit ad profectum. 
[For nobody can avoid falling back except one who always strains towards progress.] 
A letter (1094/1095) from Anselm, archbishop of Canterbury to Nun M.

The sun should help to ward off any fifth week blues, and to ensure no “falling back” happens, but if you need further assistance, please do come along to the very friendly medievalists coffee morning. In the meantime, I wish you all a week of research and teaching progress!

[Medievalists diligently striving towards progress together…]
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 *