About the seminar: Founded in 1970/1, the London Society for Medieval Studies seeks to foster knowledge of, and dialogue about, the Middle Ages (c.500–c.1500 CE) among both scholars and the wider public in London. Organised by postgraduates and early career academics, our fortnightly seminars showcase the latest advances in all areas of medieval studies, including history, art, politics, economics, literature and archaeology. All are welcome.
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.
The activity should take place between April 2021 and October 2021. The closing date for applications is Friday of Week 1 of Trinity Term 2021.
Grants are normally in the region of £100–250. Recipients will be required to supply a report after the event for the TORCH Medieval Studies blog. Recipients of awards will also be invited to present on their events at the Medieval Roadshow in 1st week of Michaelmas Term 2021.
Applicants will be responsible for all administrative aspects of the activity, including formulating the theme and intellectual rationale, devising the format, and, depending on the type of event, inviting speakers and/or issuing a Call for Papers, organising the schedule, and managing the budget, promotion and advertising. Some administrative and organisational support may be available through TORCH subject to availability.
OMS Trinity Term Lecture by Jim Harris (Ashmolean Museum)
Tuesday, 27 April 2021, 5-6pm BST, live streamed from the Ashmolean
The medieval collections of the Ashmolean Museum are rich in diversity and dazzling in quality, and using them in the service of the university curriculum has made it possible to explore the wide range of what we consider ‘medieval’ actually is.In this lecture, Teaching Curator Dr Jim Harris will discuss teaching with the Ashmolean’s medieval collections, asking questions not only about the objects themselves but about the extent to which they reveal the Museum itself to be as much a medieval construct as it is a so-called ‘product of the Enlightenment’.
Everybody welcome to join on youtube! Image: Travelling Games Board, Venice, 15th century; WA1964.14; Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford.
On the 500th anniversary of the death of Sebastian Brant, this show-and-tell session brings together a multilingual array of his European bestseller, the Ship of Fools, live from the Bodleian Library, the British Library and the Staatsbibliothek Bamberg.
For more information contact Henrike Lähnemann (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Presenters: Alexandra Franklin (Bodleian Library) Susan Reed (British Library) Bettina Wagner (StaatsbibliothekBamberg) Alyssa Steiner (Bamberg / Oxford Henrike Lähnemann (Oxford)
Sebastian Brant: Narrenschiff. Basel: Johann Bergmann von Olpe, 12.II.1499.4° (GW 5047) Copy of the third edition of Sebastian Brant’s ‘Narrenschiff’London BL, IA.37957and Bamberg SB.
Sebastian Brant: Das neue Narrenschiff. Augsburg: Johann Schönsperger, 28.V.1498 (GW 5052)
Copy of an Augsburg reprint of the Strasburg interpolation of the Ship of Fools.Oxford Bod., Auct. 7Q 5.20
Sebastian Brant: Das Narrenschiff, Middle Low German. Lübeck [Mohnkopfdrucker (Hans van Ghetelen)], 1497. 4° (GW 5053) One of two extantcopies of the Middle Low German translation of the Ship of Fools.London BL, IA.9927
Sebastian Brant: Das Narrenschiff, Latin by Jacobus Locher Philomusus. Basel: Johann Bergmann von Olpe. 1.III.1497. 4° (GW5054) Copy of the edition princeps of the highly influential Latintranslation Oxford Bod., Douce 70
Sebastian Brant: Das Narrenschiff, Latin by Jacobus Locher Philomusus. With additions by Thomas Beccadelli. Basel: Johann Bergmann von Olpe, 1.VIII.1497.4°.Bamberg SB
Welcome back to Trinity Term! As usual, it’s going to be a splendid term of seminars, events, and reading groups to keep you entertained and informed.
Without further ado, I present this term’s Medieval Booklet. Peruse and enjoy! Please take particular note of this term’s OMS Lecture, given by our own Jim Harris, Mellon Foundation Teaching Curator at the Ashmolean Museum. Jim will be speaking on ‘Museum in the Middle: Medieval Things in a (Still) Medieval University’ and presenting from the Ashmolean’s collections. You don’t want to miss this, so be sure to hop on the OMS YouTube channel on Tuesday 27 April at 5 pm! The direct link is here.
A few important announcements:
The Invisible East Project is hosting three (3!) amazing events this week. Tomorrow, Tuesday 20 April, at 5 pm on Zoom, will be the book launch for Faḍā’il-i Balkh or the Merits of Balkh, an annotated translation of the oldest surviving history of Balkh in Afghanistan. Register here. On Wednesday 21 April at 5 pm, the Marburg Museum of Religions is holding a special exhibition on the scholar Annemarie Schimmel; the flyer with the QR code to register is attached. And on Thursday 22 April at 5 pm, Oxford’s Arezou Azad will be speaking on ‘The Unheard Voices from Eastern Iran and the Eastern Islamicate World’ as part of the British Institute of Persian Studies’ 2021 webinar series. Register here.
The Bodleian Libraries would like to remind you that Bodleian acquisitions for 2020–21 must be delivered by the end of the financial year in July, and they aim to conclude their orders for the year by mid-May. If you have missed any books in the libraries this year, please complete the purchase request form or contact the relevant subject librarian. The librarians also welcome donations of any titles that the Bodleian does not currently hold.
The upcoming Communities and Networks in Late Medieval Europe (c. 1300-1500) Conference seeks your papers. Hosted at St Catharine’s College Cambridge on 9-10 September, the conference aims to build on and contribute to the expanding field of ‘networks’ research by investigating the internal and external dynamics of communities in the last two centuries of the European Middle Ages. Junior researchers (doctoral and postdoctoral) are especially welcome. Topics include but are not limited to: networks and the development of communities; networks in conflict and conflict resolution; oral and written communication networks; literacy and bureaucratization; development of infrastructure; warfare; possibilities and drawbacks of social network analysis as a methodological approach to medieval studies. Send your 300-word abstracts, along with a short author biography, to email@example.com by 7 June.
Speaking of CfPs, the annual Norse in the North Conference has extended its deadline until 26 April. Durham University will host the conference online on Saturday 12 June, on the theme ‘Transformation and Preservation in Old Norse Studies’. This year’s keynote will be Ármann Jakobsson, ‘Till Undeath Do Us Part: Some Norse Non-Transformations’. Learn more here and email your 300-word abstract to firstname.lastname@example.org.
As you will see from the booklet, the Oxford Medieval Book Club wants your input! This friendly and informal group is inviting members of the OMS community to guide the group through readings they’ve discovered on the topic of Medieval Legends in weeks 4-7. Possible topics include but are not limited to folk legends, founding myths, legendary places and creatures, the Grail legend, tall tales, false identities, and imposters. Send your suggestions to email@example.com.
Go forth, check out the medieval booklet, and get your calendars filled! It looks to be a brilliant term. This time last year we were embarking on our first term in lockdown, our first term of digital seminars. This year has been longer and harder than we were told to expect, but the difference between Trinity Term 2020 and Trinity Term 2021 — the number and range of exciting seminars, the quality, ease, and attendance levels of our online events — is something we should be collectively proud of. And now we can, quite genuinely, look forward to being back in lecture theatres and seminar rooms with one another soon.
At four thematic panels, the graduate students will discuss with international guests and Oxford-based editors from OCTET and Digital Humanities methodological issues arising from the digital launches and the digital public engagement they undertook for their projects.
3:00pm – Expanding Unicode: Challenges of non-standardised features (A)
3:30pm – Expanding Taylor Editions: Making advanced use of the platform’s functionalities (B)
4:00pm – Expanding Versions: Challenges of linking up with existing editions and translations (C)
4:30pm – Expanding Access: Challenges of Digital Public Engagement (D)
6pm – Open Air Drinks for Oxford participants in St Edmund Hall
Panelists for A (abbreviations / unicode / encoding damage):
Katie Bastiman and Holly Abrahamson: Dante Ante-Purgatorio (MS. Canon.Ital. 108)
Josephine Bewerunge, Molly Ford, Sam Heywood, Caroline Lehnert, Molly Lewis, Marlene Schilling: A collective edition of a German devotional miscellany (MS. Germ. e. 5) [or split the group across different panels]
Panelists for B (Taylor editions):
Eva Neufeind and Agnes Hilger: Arnold von Harff (MS. Bodley 972)
Alexandra Hertlein & Dennis Pulina: Jacob Locher Panegyricus (Inc. e. G7.1497.2./Douce 73)
Edmund Wareham and Alyssa Steiner: Reformation Pamphlets
Sam Griffiths and Christian Tofte: Marginalia in Plutarch’s Vidas Paralelas (1491)
Panelists for C (other editions):
Sebastian Dows-Miller: Re-awakening Merton’s Beasts (Merton College, MS. 249)
Gabriel O’Regan: Le Roman de Renart (Bodleian Library, MS. Douce 360)
Javaria Abbasi: Pedro de Medina’s Libro de cosmographia (1538), (MS. Canon. Ital. 243)
Giuseppe Nanfitò: Boccaccio, Filocolo (MS. Canon. Ital. 85)
Panelists for D (digital engagement):
Mary Newman: The oldest Tupi manuscript (MS. Bodley 617)
Lois Williams: Cân o Senn iw Hên Feistr TOBACCO (1718), NLW. North PRINT W.s. 156
Danielle Apodaca: Le Roman de Flamenca DH project across editions and translations
Carrie Heusinkveld: Reconsidering the Metamorphoses by Clément Marot (MS. Douce 117)
Image from the Rushall Psalter, Nottingham, Me LM 1, f. 20v
Nottingham Medieval Studies is the UK’s longest running medieval studies journal. Published by Brepols, NMS is an interdisciplinary journal for the study of European history and literature from Late Antiquity through the Reformation. It also features articles in related fields such as archaeology, art history, linguistics, musicology and philosophy. It is flexible in publishing scholarly editions of texts and longer articles. Proposals for special issues based on conference proceedings or specific themes which fit the general remit of the journal are welcomed.
We invite submissions of articles of around 8,000 words in length in any of the above.
Deadline for submissions: 31 July 2021
NMS 65 (2021) will also feature a prize-winning article composed by a postgraduate or early career graduate. The deadline for next year’s competition, the winner of which will be published in the 2021 volume, is 1 February 2021.
Please send articles, preferably by email attachment, to the editors at
Following the success of the first Teaching the Codex colloquium in February 2016, which was attended by over one hundred international graduates and scholars, it became clear that there were a number of areas of palaeography and codicology which we had not been able to explore owing to the constraints of time. The intention of Teaching the Codex II was to continue the conversations started at the first colloquium, and to extend them into areas which will complement and supplement earlier discussions.
In order to facilitate more focused engagement, we structured the day a little differently from Teaching the Codex I, which involved panellists addressing all the delegates on their pedagogical approaches to palaeography and codicology, followed by some general discussion. Instead, morning and afternoon sessions each consisted of two panels running concurrently on particular topics (1.5 hrs) followed by a plenary session (1 hr) in which the members of the two panels were asked to report and comment on the panel session to all of the delegates, and facilitate further discussion.
The four panels were the result of suggestions from various colleagues who attended the first colloquium, and of consultation of our followers on Twitter. Each panel had four members of whom one was the panel chair. Each panel member offered a ten-fifteen minute presentation on the topic in question before the discussion was opened up to the delegates who had chosen to attend a particular panel. Dr Teresa Webber (Cambridge) offered closing remarks. The panels were as follows:
I: Continental and Anglophone approaches to teaching palaeography and codicology
Dr Irene Ceccherini (Oxford) (Chair)
Dr Marigold Norbye (UCL)
Dr Daniel Sawyer (Oxford)
Dr Raphaële Mouren (Warburg Institute)
II: Pedagogical approaches to musical manuscripts
Dr Henry Hope (Bern) (Chair)
Dr Margaret Bent (Oxford)
Dr Eleanor Giraud (Limerick)
Dr Christian Leitmeir (Oxford)
III: Approaches to teaching art history and manuscript studies
Dr Emily Guerry (Kent) (Chair)
Dr Spike Bucklow (Cambridge)
Dr Kathryn Rudy (St Andrews)
Emily Savage (St Andrews)
IV: Taking palaeography further: schools, outreach, and the general public
Dr Pauline Souleau (Oxford) (Chair)
Anna Boeles Rowland (Oxford)
Sarah Laseke (Leiden)
Sian Witherden (Oxford)
As with the first Teaching the Codex event, this event was made possible by the generous support of Dr Julia Walworth, Fellow Librarian at Merton College. The colloquium was attended by around seventy participants, and each panel was well-attended, and triggered substantial and wide-ranging discussion. Much of the day was live-tweeted, and one of our attendees, Dr Colleen Curran produced a Storify [https://storify.com/cmcurran21/teaching-the-codex-ii] from our official hashtag, #teachingcodex
Teaching the Codex has various continuing strands:
Our blog [http://www.teachingthecodex.com/] is testament to the continued interest in the questions surrounding pedagogy in palaeographical and codicological studies, and to the wider impact and outreach that can be achieved across various disciplines in the humanities through the use of manuscripts and incunabula. Monthly blog-posts are offered by graduates and academics on their experiences of Teaching the Codex to various audiences, and on the potential impact of palaeography, codicology, and the history of the book, on specialist and non-specialist alike. We also have periodical ‘Teachable Features’ which draw attention to (aspects of) particular manuscripts which may be of pedagogical use in illustrating particular features of palaeography and codicology to students.
We have been asked by various participants to consider organising a further Teaching the Codex colloquium, and we are in the process of considering fruitful ways in which we might broaden our remit. One possibility is to expand our focus beyond western palaeography, and Jessica Rahardjo has offered to take a lead in this area.
The Manuscripts Outreach Network has been founded as a sister organisation by a group of primarily Oxford-based early-career scholars. Those currently involved are Dr Pauline Souleau, Anna Boeles Rowland, Sian Witherden, Naomi Gardom, and Henry Tann, Mary Boyle, Tristan Franklinos, and Alexander Peplow. This initiative would not be possible without the support of Dr Julia Walworth.
We are very grateful for the support we have been given by Oxford Medieval Studies, sponsored by the Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH) for our colloquia in both 2016 and 2017, as well as the support we have received from the Merton College History of the Book Group (2016, 2017); the Lancelyn Green Foundation Fund (2016, 2017); the Craven Committee (2016); and the Society for the Study of Medieval Languages and Literature (2017).
Moriaen is black, and so is his suit of armour. Like the Green Knight in the English tradition or Ither in Wolfram von Eschenbach’s Parzival, Moriaen’s most noticeable trait is the colour of his equipment, which matches his body. The Christian son of an Arthurian knight and a Moorish princess, Moriaen comes to Arthur’s court and surprises its members by demonstrating that he has all the qualities of an Arthurian knight, despite his unusual appearance.
But is this black knight necessarily Black? Should we understand the fearful reactions and the rejection he initially experiences as racist?
In the 13th century Middle Dutch text, Walewein, the Dutch equivalent of Gawain, encounters the eponymous hero Moriaen in full armour. Walewein’s first thought is that the fierce foreigner must be the Devil:
Figure 1 Historiated Initial representing the black knight Walewein by Astrid Anquetin, especially commissioned for this blog post – not to be reused without permission
‘Nochtan waende Walewein bet / Dat ware die duvel dan een man / Daer si waren comen an, / Maer dat hine horde nomen Gode / Men had hem niet mogen ontstriden ode / Hine ware die duvel oft sijn geselle / Ende ware comen uter hellen, / Omdat sijn ors was so groet, / Ende hi was merre dan Lanceloet, / Ende daertoe sward, alsict seide.’ (l.480-489)
‘Nevertheless [Walewein] deemed that this was a devil rather than a man whom they had come upon! Had they not heard him call upon God no man had dared face him, deeming that he was the devil or one of his fellows out of hell, for that his steed was so great, and he was taller even than Sir Lancelot, and black withal, as I said afore.’ (translation J. Weston)
Because of the focus on Moriaen’s looks in this and other descriptions, it is hard to tell whether his black skin is perceived as one part of his identity or whether it is racialised. Walewein’s association of a physical trait with a moral judgement seems to fit the common definition of race, and being so negatively charged, his reaction might be interpreted as racist – meaning that the racial type of the large black Moor is classified and compared to others. Of course, by using the image of the Devil, black could not be ranked lower, both symbolically and morally.
Yet Moriaen, regardless of the wordplay which links him to his country, does not represent the people of Moriane overall. On the contrary, both his story of disinheritance and isolation, and the absence of other black characters in the plot single him out as a lone wolf. While his skin colour certainly stands out in Arthur’s country, it doesn’t identify him as a representative of Moorish high society. Since the inhabitants and customs of Moriane are barely sketched, there is no opportunity for a collective stereotype to form on the basis of the black knight’s portrayal, either among the white characters or the tale’s readers.
On the other hand, Moriaen’s skills and his great physical strength, suggested by his tall figure in the above quotation, help him gain the other knights’ respect and the king’s praise. These chivalric qualities, inherited from his father, are more than enough to convince Walewein of Moriaen’s worth and to balance out the initial doubt provoked by the hero’s blackness. On several occasions, Moriaen is even favourably compared to Lanceloet, who is traditionally Arthur’s best knight.
Although dark skin is interpreted as hellish, the narrator insists on dissociating appearance and internal being: Moriaen’s skin colour and his more personal traits are dealt with separately, making him a supposedly ugly but no less powerful hero. Blackness is not essentialised, nor is it therefore racialised.
Where at first there seems to be a wide gap between ideal knighthood, as outlined in Arthurian romance, and Moriaen’s dark appearance, the narrator’s focus on action and courtly values fully restores the Black Knight’s potential to be accepted in Camelot. This is the tale of a knight who ultimately succeeds in his quest and receives great honour, just like any other.
Sophie Jordan completed the Master of Studies in German this summer, and she is now studying the anthropological aspects of the question of skin colour as difference at the University of Manchester.
Devisse, Jean, trans. William Granger Ryan. ‘Christians and Black.’ The Image of the Black in Western Art, Volume II, Part 1, ed. David Bindman and Henry Louis Gates Jr.. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2010. pp.31-72. A&AePortal, https://ezproxy-prd.bodleian.ox.ac.uk:3362/?id=-17117