Medieval Matters: Week 7

I don’t quite understand how it’s come around so quickly, but here we are in Week 7. For those who need a bit of a boost at this late stage in the term, some wisdom on the joys of (medieval) texts, taken from the  Epistolae  project:

In nullis nobis desit doctrina legendi,
Lectio sit nobis et liber omne quod est.
[Let us not miss reading’s lesson in any [languages];
Let everything there is be a book and a text for us.]
A poem from Baudri to Constance of Le Ronceray

As Oxford medievalists we are of course extremely lucky to be surrounded by so many opportunities to read and encounter literatures in various medieval languages. But we are also a highly interdisciplinary community, and this week we have a whole host of delights, including Eclipse prediction, Byzantine dining, 19th century manuscript scrapbooks, and an exhibition on medieval monsters!


  • The Medieval Women’s Writing Research Group Conference 2024 will be held on 18th June 2024 with the theme of “Exchanging Words” in Room 2 of the Taylor Institution Library both in person (presenters/attendees) and online (attendees). Free but registration required. All info, including the link to registration, can be found here:
  • A workshop on Reconsidering Contrafacts: Practices of Contrafacture in Monophonic Song (1150–1550) will take place on 20th June, 10am-7pm. Looking at different repertories of monophonic song between 1150 and 1550, the aim of this workshop is to explore different approaches to the widespread spectrum of practices and concepts of contrafacture: composing new texts for pre-existing melodies. If you want to attend or if you have questions, please email Philip Wetzler. To read more and see the schedule, please click here.
  • Oxford Translation Day 2024: Saturday, June 15, 2024, St Anne’s College. Every June, St Anne’s College runs Oxford Translation Day, a celebration of literary translation consisting of a vibrant range of workshops and talks. The day culminates in the award of the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize. The Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize is for book-length literary translations into English from any living European language. It aims to honour the craft of translation, and to recognise its cultural importance. It was founded by Lord Weidenfeld and is funded by New College, The Queen’s College, and St Anne’s College. The full programme is available on the Oxford Comparative Criticism and Translation (OCCT) Research Centre website, here: All Oxford Translation Day events are free, but require registration. Please register via the Eventbrite links provided on the Oxford Comparative Criticism and Translation (OCCT) Research Centre website.


Monday 3rd June:

  • The Tolkien 50th Anniversary Seminar Series meets at 5pm in the T. S. Eliot Theatre, Merton College. This week’s speaker will be Michael G.R. Tolkien (Poet and Critic), “A grandson’s reflections on J.R.R. 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 speaker will be Peregrine Horden (All Souls, Oxford) A room with a view: Chichele’s college’.

Tuesday 4th June:

  • The Mythical and Monstrous exhibition takes place from 12 noon–4pm, Lecture Room 6, New College, Oxford. Hunt for weird and wonderful beasts in items from our fabulous special collections, from dragons and unicorns, to centaurs, blemmyes, and merpeople. Among the wide variety of items on display will be a beautiful thirteenth-century Psalter, a fantastic fourteenth-century apocalypse manuscript, a famous fifteenth-century chronicle, and a spectacular sixteenth-century astronomical text. The exhibition is free and open to all. Signs will be in place to direct visitors to the exhibition from the Porters’ Lodge, located halfway down Holywell Street. If you have any questions, please email
  • The Medieval French Seminar meets at 5pm at the Maison Francaise. Drinks will be served from 5pm; the presentations will start at 5:15pm. All are welcome! This week’s speaker will be Jonathan Morton (Tulane University), ‘Integuments, Astral Magic, and Robots: Virgil and Medieval Technologies of Literature‘.
  • The Medieval Church and Culture Seminar meets at 5.15pm in the Wellbeloved Room, Harris Manchester College. This week’s speakers will be Charlie West (Regent’s), Cruising Hell:  seeing and writing Dante’s sodomites and Fergus Bovill (Merton), Cut and Paste: the album of illuminated manuscript cuttings in the 19thc. Everyone is welcome at this informal and friendly graduate seminar.

Wednesday 5th June:

  • 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’; this week we will discuss ‘human-animal interaction’Kampf & Körper’ with Julia Lorenz presenting. 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.

Thursday 6th June:

  • The All Souls Seminar in Medieval and Early Modern Science meets at 2-3.30pm in the Hovenden Room, All Souls College. This week’s speaker will be Laure Miolo (Lincoln College, University of Oxford), Eclipse Prediction in Late Fifteenth-century England: the Case of Lewis Caerleon.
  • The Medieval Visual Culture Seminar meets at 5pm at St Catherine’s College, Oxford, Arumugam Building. All welcome! This week’s speaker will be Lara Frentrop, University of Heidelberg, ‘Objects of Desire: The Byzantine Art of Dining as Social and Romantic Agents‘.

Friday 7th June:

  • 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 Oxford Medieval Manuscripts Group (OMMG) meets at 5pm in the Sir Howard Stringer Room, Merton College. Antonia Della Fratte, University of Padua will speak on Gustav F. Waagen Tours of Britain: Describing Illuminated MSS in Oxford.
  • The Anglo-Norman Reading Group will meets at 5-6.30pm. Please note that this final session of the will be Zoom ONLY, as our convenor is unable to attend for our final meeting of the academic year. We shall continue reading from Mandeville, and will also discuss plans for next term. If you wish to join us and are not already on our mailing-list, please contact Stephanie Hathaway or Jane Bliss to be sent the link.


  • Free books for medievalists! Professor Richard Sharpe (1954–2020) was Professor of Diplomatic in the University and one of the country’s foremost medievalists, whose research ranged from the early Irish church to Anglo-Norman royal acts to the transmission of medieval Latin texts and medieval books and libraries. He was also a large presence in the History Faculty and much involved in graduate tuition. Books from Professor Sharpe’s library are now being offered gratis to local medievalists – please see the list here. A great encourager of others, he would have been delighted to know that his books could be helping the next generation. For more information, please contact Elizabeth Champion to reserve books and arrange collection.
  • CFP: Unlocking the Exeter Book – New Perspectives: Paper proposals are invited for a conference to be held at The University of Oxford, on 16–17 April 2025. The Exeter Book or Exeter Anthology is a cornerstone of Old English poetry. From saints’ lives to wisdom poetry, lyrics and laments to riddles and prayers, this fascinating juxtaposition of genres, styles and themes invites constant re-reading and re-evaluation. The conference will bring together established scholars and new voices to bring fresh insights to this rich and enigmatic manuscript. Please send abstracts of no more than 150 words to Rachel Burns and Francis Leneghan by 1st August 2024

Finally, some more wisdom from the Epistolae Project, and from Baudri, on the joys of reading:

quaevis mundi littera nos doceat
[Every literature of the world teaches us.] 
A poem from Baudri to Constance of Le Ronceray

I of course take this broadly, in the spirit of this week’s first wisdom quotation, to mean that every facet of medieval studies teaches us! I wish you a week of productive reading, teaching and learning.

[A Medievalist who “missed reading’s lesson in Latin is now a little puzzled…]
St John’s College MS. 61, f. 10 r. 
By permission of the President and Fellows of St John’s College, Oxford
Viewable in full at Digital Bodleian

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