‘The iconography of the Mass of St Gregory in England’: Prof. Julian Luxford at Oxford Medieval Visual Culture Seminar

When: Thursday 1 December at 5 pm 

Where: St Catherine’s college, Bernard Sunley Building Room D (It is better to ask the St Catherine’s lodge porters for directions because this room is at the other end of the college!)

Julian Luxford, Professor at the School of Art History, University of St Andrews, will present on The iconography of the Mass of St Gregory in England .

The talk will be followed by drinks reception and a communal dinner at Gino’s (at attendee’s own expense). Everyone is welcome!

With any questions, please write to Elena Lichmanova elena.lichmanova@merton.ox.ac.uk

Digital Humanities and Sensory Heritage (DHSH): Jean-Philippe Échard (Paris)

Materiality-driven digital approaches to music museum artefacts: from spectro-imaging and CT scans, to photogrammetry

When: Thursday 1 December 2022, 4.30pm

Where: Linbury Room, Worcester College, Oxford

Speaker: Jean-Philippe Échard (Paris)

In the last three decades, the digitalisation of techniques for the analysis of cultural heritage artefacts has profoundly modified the ways of working with and interpreting data. Through a series of examples of projects conducted on the collection of historical musical instruments at the Musée de la Musique (Cité de la Musique – Philharmonie de Paris, Paris France), this talk will explore this major change, and highlight the value of these new approaches today. The characterisation of pigments in paintings decorating 17th-c. Flemish harpsichords sheds light on the painting techniques used and on the smalt trade. X-ray spectro-imaging proves to be key for identifying royal coats of arms, in painted emblems on 16th-century violins made by Andrea Amati, and to identify parchments from a single 14th-c. book of hours that were found in three instruments by Antonio Stradivari. CT-scans and photogrammetry techniques produce 3D digital models of musical instruments, used to better understand their material history or their vibrational behaviour, or to 3D-print instruments. The potentials of such techniques to improve the readability of these material historical sources can be hugely valuable stimulating for historians.

Jean-Philippe Échard is Curator of Stringed Instruments at the Musée de la Musique in Paris (Cité de la musique – Philharmonie de Paris, France) since 2014. He trained as a chemist, with a degree from the École Nationale Supérieure de Chimie, Paris (1998) and a doctorate from the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle (2010) on 16th-18th-c. varnishing techniques in instrument-making. He conducted research as conservation scientist on musical instruments in the laboratory of the Musée de la Musique (1999-2004 ; 2006-2013) and on easel paintings at the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, USA (2004-2005). He is the author of two books Le violon Sarasate, stradivarius des virtuoses (2018), and Stradivarius et la lutherie de Crémone (2022) as well as numerous papers and articles.

Find out more about the Digital Humanities and Sensory Heritage Network here. 

Book At Lunchtime: All Men Must Die

When: 12.30pm (Lunch), 1-2pm (Discussion) on Wednesday, 9 November 2022

Where: Radcliffe Humanities Seminar Room

Winter is indeed coming and Book at Lunchtime focuses on Professor Carolyne Larrington’s All Men Must Die.

‘All men must die’: or ‘Valar Morghulis’, as the traditional Essos greeting is rendered in High Valyrian. And die they do – in prodigious numbers; in imaginatively varied and gruesome ways; and often in terror within the viciously unpredictable world that is HBO’s sensational evocation of Game of Thrones. Epic in scope and in imaginative breadth, the stories that are brought to life tell of the dramatic rise and fall of nations, the brutal sweeping away of old orders and the advent of new autarchs in the eternal quest for dominion.

Yet, as this book reveals, many potent and intimate narratives of love and passion can be found within these grand landscapes of heroism, honour and death. They focus on strong relationships between women and family, as well as among the anti-heroes, the ‘cripples, bastards and broken things’. In this vital follow-up to Winter Is Coming (2015), acclaimed medievalist Professor Carolyne Larrington (St John’s College) explores themes of power, blood-kin, lust and sex in order to draw entirely fresh meanings out of the show of the century.

Professor Larrington is joined by panellists Dr Katherine Olley (English) and Dr Laura Varnam (English) discuss the themes and narratives of her latest book.

Book your place here.

Lecture: ‘Old Frisian, a Gem of Old Germanic Studies’ by Dr Anne Popkema

In his lecture on Wednesday 9th November, 5.15 pm, at the Taylor Institution Library Room 2, Dr Anne Popkema, Groningen University, covered linguistic aspects of Old Frisian in comparison with other Old Germanic Languages, especially Old English, an overview of Old Frisian manuscript sources, and the history of Frisia after the Anglo-Saxon conquest.

Header image: A map and an image of the First Hunsingo Manuscript (ca.1300).

P.S. The lecture is also a taster session for the Old Frisian Summer School which will run in July 2023 in St Edmund Hall:

Old French Reading Group

When: Thursdays at 4 pm. Weeks 4, 6, 8

Where: St Hilda’s College

The Old French Reading Group will meet fortnightly to read aloud and discuss Old French texts together. Readers of Old French of all abilities are invited to attend; the group will provide an opportunity to collaboratively enhance reading proficiency in a relaxed environment (with refreshments provided)!

Our first meeting will take place at St Hilda’s College, 4pm Thursday 3rd November. We hope to see you there.

Please direct any questions about the group to Alice (alice.hawkins@st-hildas.ox.ac.uk) or Irina (irina.boeru@st-hildas.ox.ac.uk).

Header image: La Chanson de Roland, Bodleian Library MS. Digby 23, Part 2, fol. 12r

Medievalists Coffee Mornings!

When: Fridays, 10.30-11.30 am

Where: Visiting Scholars Centre in the Weston Library
How to get there: via the Readers Entrance on Museum Road, 2nd floor via the staircase/elevator just straight ahead from the readers entrance (stick to the concrete part, do not use the ornamental staircase or you will land in the Conservation Department which is also nice but where no coffee is allowed)

All medievalists working in Oxford are welcome! Join us for coffee, conversations, and many insights into the Bodleian collections, cf. the playlist ‘Coffee Morning’:

OMS Lecture: Prof. Ardis Butterfield (Yale), ‘Do We Mean Lyric or Song?’

When: Monday 31 October, 5.15pm

Where: Lecture Theatre 2, English Faculty (St Cross Building)

What: Michaelmas Medieval Studies Lecture by Professor Ardis Butterfield (Yale University) as Astor Visiting Lecturer

Ardis Butterfield is Marie Boroff Professor of English and (by courtesy) Professor of French and Music at Yale University. Her many published works investigate medieval literature and music across languages and national boundaries. Her books include Poetry and Music in Medieval France, and The Familiar Enemy: Chaucer, Language and the Nation in the Hundred Years War. She is currently completing a major new edition of medieval English lyrics.

Do we mean lyric or song? Modern lyric theory in history

 Is ‘lyric’ something that has always existed as a category of poetry or music, or has it been created through a process of study and academic debate from the nineteenth century onwards – a process that Virginia Jackson has called ‘lyricization’? If that’s the case, where does medieval lyric fit in?

This lecture argued that medieval lyric is not on the edge of that debate, but at its centre. It does this by investigating the missing ingredient in many literary discussions of lyrics: their music. Thinking about the music for medieval lyrics (which in so many cases has not survived) can have an impact on modern theoretical discussions of poetry, requiring all of us to rethink our categories and assumptions.

Featured manuscripts (in order of appearance):
Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Rawlinson C. 670, f.148v
British Library, Harley MS 978, f.11v
British Library, Arundel MS 248, f.154r
Oxford, Bodleian Library, Douce 302, f.24r (John Audelay’s book)
Edinburgh, National Library of Scotland, Advocates MS 18.7.21,ff. 116r-121v (John of Grimestone’s preaching book)

Professor Butterfield also gave a manuscripts masterclass in the Weston Library’s Sir Victor Blank Lecture Theatre, 2–4pm on Tuesday 1 November: ‘Manuscripts of medieval lyric and song in the Bodleian Library’

Special Event. Library Lates: Sensational Books

When: 7 – 9.30pm on Friday, 21 October 2022

Where: Blackwell Hall, Weston Library

The event is free but booking is required. When you have booked your place, the ticketing system will send you an automated confirmation.

About the event

Join us in October at the Weston Library for a Library Late celebrating our exhibition Sensational Books.

From ‘living books’ and historic scents to conductive ink and tactile pages, enjoy taster talks, discussions, hands-on activities and live music to engage the five senses of sight, sound, taste, smell, touch and beyond.

Drop-in activities7 – 9.30pm, Blackwell Hall

Meet the Guide Dogs team of handlers and guide dogs and try simulation activities to explore the impact of sight loss.

Write beautiful calligraphy with a sensory twist.

Try embossing natural patterns and your initials in Gothic font.

Make a mini concertina book full of colour to explore the senses.

Print a ‘sensational’ keepsake to take away.

Senses in Conservation: discover tools and techniques using the senses with Bodleian Conservation.

Go on a scent journey with Dr Alexy Karenowska (Department of Physics, University of Oxford)

Meet artist Sam Skinner and discover how touch can make text speak

Discover Lit Hits and get a literary prescription with a sensory flavour.

Borrow a ‘living book’ from the Living Library to explore topics including:

  • Making Sense of Sound with Professor Andrew King (Neurophysiology, University of Oxford) and Dr Kerry Walker (Neuroscience, University of Oxford)
  • Books and Usa 2000 year relationship with Professor Emma Smith (Professor of Shakespeare Studies, University of Oxford)
  • Your Brain is not a Black Box with Professor Randy Bruno (Professor of Neuroscience, University of Oxford)
  • Learning to Read the Whole Book with Professor Michael Suarez (Professor and Director of Rare Book School, University of Virginia)
  • Touching the Alphabet with Dr Vaibhav Singh (Visiting Research Fellow in Typography & Graphic Communication, University of Reading)
  • Multisensory books: on the enduring appeal of analog with Professor Charles Spence (Professor in Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford)

Taster talks 

7.30 – 7.50pm: Multisensory books – on the enduring appeal of analog
Charles Spence, Professor in Experimental Psychology and author of Gastrophysics: The New Science of Eating

The predicted emergence of ebooks has not happened. And that is not just because the younger generations like an academic-looking backdrop to their social media posts. Books engage the senses in a way that is closely linked to nostalgia and memories. While the smell of books can be hugely evocative, the weight and feel of books, and even the sound of the pages turning have been shown to influence people’s perception of the contents. Books, then, are multisensory objects capable of stimulating the senses in ways that are both universal but also culturally-determined.


8.00 – 8.20pm: Senses and Sensibilities – approaches to bookbinding in recent accessions to the Bodleian Library
Andrew Honey, Book Conservator at the Bodleian Library

This taster talk will explore recent accessions to the Bodleian and the often-playful ways that book artists have approached concepts of both books and book bindings. It will also consider the challenges that these may pose for research libraries and conservators.


9.00 – 9.20pm: Sensory books – coming back to our senses to transform children’s digital reading
Natalia Kucirkova, Professor of Early Childhood Education and Development at the University of Stavanger, Norway

This taster talk will explore a cutting-edge project researching the power of smells and scents to transform children’s reading.  The project includes a scented adventure trail which engaged children’s sense of smell in their exploration of the story ‘The Three Little Pigs’.

More highlights

The Smell Archive
Dr Cecilia Bembibre Jacobo, UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage and Sarah McCartney, Perfumer
Space for Reading, 20-minute sessions at 7.15pm, 8.00pm and 8.45pm – sign up on arrival

After decades of engaging with history in museums and archives primarily through our eyes, we are rediscovering the value of a multi-sensory approach to cultural heritage. Smells, for example, are linked to aspects of heritage like traditions and tourism; they stand as symbols of a shared past and enhance visitors’ museum experience. In this session, we will share a framework to document scents and their meaning as personal or collective heritage. Sarah McCartney will provide creative context for the smell archival framework. Please join us for a nose-on evening, where we will develop an archive for a particular scent and explore its collective meanings and significance.


When Air Becomes Breath and Breath Becomes Spirit
Áine O’Dwyer and Hannah White, artist-performers
Blackwell Hall, 8.30pm – 8.45pm

Coupling the corporeal and ritual elements of mediaeval manuscript culture, and drawing from the agency of matter artist-performers, Áine O’Dwyer and Hannah White interpret the visual score element of Helen Frosi‘s installation, When Air Becomes Breath and Breath Becomes Spirit. Here, the body magics air into creative potential (inspiration), and the breath becomes a potent symbol of life itself.


B42 (Surrogate)
David Gauthier and Sam Skinner
Blackwell Hall, 7 – 9.30pm (drop-in)

Meet the artist Sam Skinner (Oxford Brookes University) and explore the leporello style book he produced in collaboration with David Gauthier (Utrecht University) which reproduces a section of the Gutenberg Bible using conductive ink, transforming the page into a capacitive sensor and enabling the reader’s touch to trigger recorded readings of the text.


Singing from the St Edmund Consort
Blackwell Hall, 7.30pm and 9pm

Palaeography Self-Help Groups

Students in the history and MML faculties are working together on two palaeography groups, one every week of term, alternating between French and Iberian palaeography. They are both student run, collaborative groups where people can bring something they’re working on to get help from others and work through things together, and improve their skills. We also share resources and course recommendations.

The Iberian Palaeography group will meet weeks 2, 4, 6, and 8, on Tuesdays at 5pm, via Teams.

We will be scheduling the French Palaeography group based on members’ availability.

If you’d like to be involved please email Clare Burgess at clare.burgess@univ.ox.ac.uk, and state which group (or both!) you’re interested in.

Header image: Livre de Merlin (Arras, 1310), Add MS 38117, f. 76r(Source: British Library)

Germanic Reading Group

Michaelmas: Fridays at 4 pm. Week 2, 4 — online. Week 6 — hybrid. Week 8 — in person (venue TBC).

Friday, 21 October. Old Dutch/Old Low Franconian — Johanneke Sytsema leading

Friday, 4 November. Old Saxon — Will Thurlwell leading

Thursday (!), 17 November. Gothic: ‘The linguistic relationship between the Gothic Bible and its Greek source’, by Professor Carla Falluomini (University of Perugia)
Where: Oxford Linguistics Faculty, Common Room / via Zoom

Friday, 2 December. Modern Bernese German (Bärndütsch) — Philomen Probert leading

To join the mailing list or receive the zoom-link, email howard.jones@sbs.ox.ac.uk.
The handouts will be circulated a few days before each meeting.

Header image: Page from the Codex Argenteus showing part of the Gothic (Wulfila) Bible (Source: Wikimedia Commons)