*Keynote Speakers: Prof. Miri Rubin (Queen Mary University, London); Prof. Roser Salicrú i Lluch (Institució Milà i Fontanals,CSIC,Barcelona); Prof. Teresa Shawcross (Princeton University)
Life in the central and late Middle Ages was characterised by high levels of mobility and migration. Shifts in political, economic, cultural and religious life encouraged and sometimes forced individuals and groups to move ‘abroad’ permanently or temporarily, to places nearby or further afield.
The position and impact of these ‘foreigners’in societieshas been widely discussed. However, what isless consideredis how theyunderstood and (re)presented themselves. Ourconference aimsto explorethe construction, expression, and practical significance of different forms of social identity among individuals and groups living ‘abroad’ in Europe and the Mediterranean in the period between the eleventh andfifteenth centuries.
We invite proposals for 20-minute papers from graduate and early career researchers working across all relevant disciplinesin the Humanities and Social Sciences. By bringing together a variety of different perspectives, the conference not only aims to consider how ‘identity abroad’ functioned in specific contexts, but also to emphasise developments, patterns, and divergences. Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:
• Individuals and groups living ‘abroad’, such as merchants, artisans, pilgrims, scholars, diplomats, soldiers, exiles, ethnic and religious minorities, and captives and enslaved people
The first workshop and initial meeting of the Medieval Commentary Network will take place at Christ Church, Oxford, on 9 October 2021, from 9am – 5pm. A buffet lunch will be provided. The workshop is free of charge for all participants. This will take place as an in-person workshop (unless government regulations change). Unfortunately we are unable to live-stream the event, but we are hoping to make recordings of some talks available online after the event (subject to speaker approval).
Speakers include Alastair Minnis, Andrew Kraebel, Edit Lukacs, Audrey Southgate, Elizabeth Doherty, Malena Ratzke, Zachary Guiliano, Bond West, Rachel Cresswell, and others. The full conference programme will be available at https://medievalcommentary.network/ by the end of July.
We recognise that the current situation brings with it a great deal of uncertainty regarding travel; if you find you are no longer able to attend, please let us know as soon as possible.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions and for further information.
Building on the success of Gregorian chant workshops with manuscripts from the Bodleian Library, a group of Oxford medievalists are offering insights into working with manuscripts during lockdown. Meet some of the manuscripts from the Abbey of Medingen, recently digitized through the Polonsky German project, and sing along to chants from the Easter period. A special focus was on the ‘Exsultet’ which attracted some of the most colourful illumination of the manuscripts as well as detailed devotional instructions in Latin and Low German on how to sing it both out aloud and “on the harp strings of the soul”. Read more on Savouring the Exultet at Medingen in this blog post by Innocent Smith OP for the Polonsky German manuscript digitisation project.
Andrew Dunning, R.W. Hunt Curator of Medieval Manuscripts, showed the Medingen manuscripts at the Bodleian Library live via visualiser from the Weston Library; Zachary Guiliano, Chaplain of St Edmund Hall, Henrike Lähnemann, Professor of Medieval German Literature and Linguistics, and Nick Swarbrick, Gregorian chant instructor, and Connor Wood, Organ Scholar at St Edmund Hall, formed a Schola in the Crypt of St-Peter-in-the-East, the library of St Edmund Hall, and commented on the manuscripts, the music, and their theological significance. Two graduate students working on the Easter prayer books, Carolin Gluchowski and Marlene Schilling, pointed out some of the special nuntastic features of the manuscripts.
This was part of the IMC Leeds Fringe Events but open to all manuscript and music enthusiasts! Music downloads for the event: Nunc dimittis (audience sings the ‘repetitio’ Lumen ad revelacionem gencium as congregational responses); Exultet (audience sings the congregational responses); Victime paschali laudes (audience sings the ‘Christ ist erstanden’ as congregational response and the question of the disciples Dic nobis Maria…)
Unbelievably, here we are at the end of Trinity Term! The end of the year always flies by. Best wishes to all the Masters students turning in dissertations in the next few weeks.
There is only one announcement today: at the end of term, I’m departing my post as Communications Officer for Oxford Medieval Studies, as I’ll be headed off on postdoctoral adventures starting this autumn. I am, however, leaving you in the most capable of hands: the wonderful and brilliant Luisa Ostacchini will be taking over this job for the next academic year alongside her new role as Stipendiary Lecturer in Medieval English at St Edmund Hall.
It’s been an honour cluttering up your Monday inboxes. I’ve loved this job, and have deeply appreciated your hard work and enthusiasm in organizing these events and seminars; your promptness with announcements and reminders; your friendly corrections; and your kind missives about my relentless butchering of medieval texts for laughs. In the words of dear old Geoffrey: Min be the travaille, and thin be the glorie.
Hwæt, we Oxnaforda in ær-dagum / leorning-cnihta ond lareowa cræft gefrunon, / hu þa searo-monnas seminara fremedon. [Lo, we have heard of the skill of students and teachers of Oxford in the current times, how those clever people made seminars.] – A recently discovered Old English poem that will no doubt revolutionize the field
Onward to the seminars!
MONDAY 14 JUNE
The Oxford Byzantine Graduate Seminar meets at 12:30 pm on Zoom. Please register in advance by contacting email@example.com. This week’s speaker is Kyriakos Fragkoulis (University of Birmingham), ‘(Re)contextualising a Late Antique City Through the Ceramic Record: The Case of Dion in Macedonia (Pieria, Greece)’.
The Medieval History Seminar meets at 5 pm on Teams. This week we hear from another exciting panel of speakers: Tom McAuliffe, Richard Schlag, Ellie Birch, and Laura Rosenheim on ‘Politics and Power Plays, c. 1000-1500’.
Forgotten Christianities meets at 5 pm on Zoom. This week’s speakers are Joseph Glynias (Princeton), ‘Ibrahim the Protospatharios, the Melkites of Antioch, and Local Autonomy under Byzantine Rule’, and Kyle Brunner (NYU/ISAW), ‘Creation and Maintenance of Communal Boundaries Real and Imagined in Syriac Hagiography during the Early Islamic Period’. Register here.
The Early Slavonic Seminar meets at 5 pm on Zoom. Register here. This week’s speaker is Kati Parppei (University of Eastern Finland), ‘Between East and West: Assumptions and Interpretations Concerning Medieval Karelia’.
WEDNESDAY 16 JUNE
Digital Editions Live returns from 3-5 pm on Teams (join the meeting here). This week’s seminar is a book launch; Edmund Wareham presents the newest book in the Reformation Pamphlet series, speaking on ‘500 Years Passional Christi und Antichristi’.
The Late Antique and Byzantine Seminar meets at 5 pm on Google Meet (link here). This week’s speaker is Michiel Op de Coul (Tilburg), ‘Theodore Prodromos: Towards an Edition of his Letters and Speeches’.
THURSDAY 17 JUNE
The Early Text Cultures Astronomy and Astrology Seminar meets at 3 pm on Zoom. Fill out this Google form to receive the link. This week’s speakers are Vilius Bartninkas (Vilnius) and Federico Valenti (Independent Scholar), on ‘Naming and Nomenclature: Ancient Greek and Early Chinese Astronomical Terminology’.
In place of the Aquinas Seminar Series, Bernd Goebel (Faculty of Theology, Fulda) will offer a reading session on Ralph of Battle at 4:30 pm on Zoom, focusing on an extract (§§37-46) from Meditatio cuiusdam Christiani de fide. Register here.
The Celtic Seminar meets at 5:15 pm on Teams. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for the link. This week’s speaker is Joshua Byron Smith (University of Arkansas), ‘Madog of Edeirnion’s Strenua cunctorum: A Welsh-Latin Poem in Praise of Geoffrey of Monmouth’.
The Medieval Trade Reading Group also returns this week at 7 pm on Teams. To be added to the team and have access to the reading materials, email email@example.com.
A few seminars this term will continue into WEEK 9:
The Medieval History seminar will meet on Monday 21 June at 5 pm on Teams, as usual. Another exciting panel: Mary Hitchman, John Merrington, James Miller, and Elena Rossi, speaking on ‘Minds, Morals, and Martyrs in Medieval Communities’ (you have to love that alliteration).
Forgotten Christianities will meet on both Monday 21 June and Monday 28 June at 5 pm on Zoom. On the 21st, the speakers will be Augustine Dickinson (Hamburg), ‘Martyrs of God and Pillars of Faith: Literature and Identity in the Stephanite Movement’, and Nevsky Everett (SOAS), ‘The Ark of the Covenant and the Cross in Isaac of Nineveh and the Adversus Judaeos Tradition’. Register here. On the 28th, the speakers will be Emily Chesley (Princeton), ‘“I am going to go beyond the bounds”: Creating Miaphysite Community through a Woman’s Biographical Mimro’, and Samuel Noble (KU Leuven), ‘Abdallāh ibn al-Faḍl’s Conception of Philosophy: Byzantine Falsafa’. Register here.
The Early Text Cultures Astronomy and Astrology Seminar will meet on FRIDAY (note the time change) 25 June at 3 pm on Zoom. Fill out this Google form to receive the link. Massimiliano Franci (CAMNES, Firenze) and Cristian Tolsa (Barcelona) will speak on ‘Cultural Vistas: Ancient Egyptian and Graeco-Roman Culture’.
The Anglo-Norman Reading Group will meet on Friday of Week 9 at its usual time of Friday 5 pm.
Thanks to you all for brightening a trying year with such an incredible array of events, and maintaining our academic community even in times of plague. With all best wishes for a lovely end to term and a (hopefully) covid-free summer,
Anyone who has strolled through Oxford and paused to look up at a college window or church tower will have noticed that the city abounds in medievalist architecture. Oxford’s Gothic Revival buildings are not the only material witnesses testifying to nineteenth-century fascination with medieval-inspired styles and with debates harking back to the medieval period. Textile arts also evince how the Victorians read their own age through past ages, and vice versa. Few textiles exemplify this knitting together of past and present as attractively as the textile treasures in the archive of Pusey House, which was established to commemorate Edward Bouverie Pusey (1800-1882), one of the leaders of the Oxford Movement, Regius Professor of Hebrew and Canon of Christ Church.
(The Oxford Movement was a mid-nineteenth century movement within the Church of England that sought to revive an interest in patristics, the sacraments, and ritual, and generally to restore what they saw as pre-Reformation ideals (another instance of medievalism!)).
Several months ago, the librarian of Pusey House, Jessica Woodward, and Godelinde Gertrude Perk, a researcher at the Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages, were discussing textiles, both of us being interested in historical embroidery and other fibre arts. Jessica pointed out that the Pusey House archive holds many textiles, several of which are connected to the Pusey family, but also associated with some of the first Anglican nuns. We agreed that it was a pity these textiles were so little known, not only because they were quite expertly made, but also in the light of their historical importance: the Sisters of St Margaret (who owned the book with the sample) and the Sisters of the Holy and Undivided Trinity (one of whom made the corporal) were among the first nuns in the Church of England since the Reformation. Central figures in the Oxford Movement supported this Anglican revival of monasticism.
Jessica and Godelinde brainstormed a little about an exhibition and reached out to a fellow academic at the Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages, Natascha Domeisen for a first look at the textiles, and finally to the textile conservators of the Ashmolean Museum, who generously offered conservation advice and help displaying the objects. The exhibition would never have been possible without the expertise of Clare Hills-Nova, Sue Stanton, and Sebastian Blue Pin; Sebastian came over several times, analysed the fibres, and displayed the objects beautifully.
While we (Jessica, Sebastian, and Godelinde) studied the textiles in order to select the ones to display (the display case being rather moderate in size), we made several unexpected discoveries: we found a handwritten note sewn onto a cloth, which stated that the set of altar linens had been made by Mother Marian Hughes in 1846, the first Englishwoman since the Reformation to become an Anglican professed religious. According to the note, Dr Pusey had used the set when celebrating mass at home. We then discovered an altar cloth from the same set was still in daily use in the Pusey House chapel, despite it being 175 years old. The letters were also quite illuminating, shedding light upon attitudes about embroidery at that time. Godelinde, for one, was also quite delighted to find that a familiarity with medieval religious iconography will stand you in good stead when deciphering Victorian religious art. However, we were most impressed by the skill of the textile artists and their thematic complexity, as emblematized by the corporal and the sermon case.
This blogpost serves as the online version of the exhibition, but if possible, you are warmly invited to visit the exhibition “Threads of Devotion: Textile Treasures from the Pusey House Archive” which can be seen from the 17th of June to the 9th of July 2021. The exhibition is open Monday to Friday, 9:30-17:25 – you can book a viewing slot at https://tinyurl DOT com/puseyhouselib .
1. Wedding veil
Pusey House Archive, PUS/Veil
Vertical maximum 117 cm, horizontal maximum 122 cm
Lace veil of a cream mercerised cotton ground featuring scalloped edges that frame an embroidered border of repeat pattern wheat and floral motifs. The central field displays clusters of larger floral motifs and singular embroidered flowers. This veil is believed to have been worn by Dr Pusey’s wife, Maria Catherine née Barker (1801–1839), at her wedding in 1828, although the tulle seems more characteristic of the early 20th century. It was presented to Pusey House in 1947 by Mrs Edith McCausland née Brine, Dr Pusey’s last surviving grandchild, who claimed it to be Mrs Pusey’s possession.
2. Letter from Edward Bouverie Pusey to his goddaughter, Clara Maria Hole (later Sr Clara Maria), transcribed by Henry Parry Liddon
Pusey House Archive, LBV 125
Originally written on 3 February 1875 at Christ Church, Oxford
The first page reads:
“There is a large proportion of embroidery in your distribution of time … but, I suppose, that, after the illness which you had some time ago, the quietness of needle work would be very good for the brain. I would only say on this, ‘Do not work against time,’ for this would produce an excitement and hurry which would undo the good of a quiet employment.”
Dr Pusey then goes on to recommend reciting psalms or hymns to prevent overtaxing the brain, but concludes his letter with a more optimistic conceptualization of art, presenting God as carving the artwork of the soul by way of trials: “a block of rough stone would not … mind the blows which indented, in view of the beauty of form which it was to acquire hereafter. And the form which we are to have traced in us, is the image of God.” The goddaughter’s crafting should be as deliberate and careful as God’s is.
Dr Pusey’s anxieties about too much embroidery contrast strikingly with Maria Pusey sending a workbox to her goddaughter and wholeheartedly recommending embroidery. This workbox and its accompanying letter can be seen in the cabinet outside the Pusey House Chapel.
According to the caption, the second page of the letter, now hidden by the first page, recounts how Mrs Pusey ‘had learnt to value needlework when she was ill and was pleased that her goddaughter had asked for the workbox as a present’.
3. Sermon case made for Dr Pusey by an anonymous embroiderer
Pusey House Archive, Object 15
32.5 cm by 25.5 cm
Obverse cover: folded card covered in burgundy silk velvet, edged with twisted braid of metal threads and secured with a whip stitch. The centre of each face bears a cross motif, possibly of palm wood, that is overworked with basket weave type embroidery (replicating cross repetitions) in metal threads, creating a raised emblem. Interior: ground fabric of cream dyed silk embroidered with polychrome silk threads in a floral, foliate and fruit design. The Lord’s Prayer, the blessing and the dedication have been worked in embroidered stitches.
With its raised cross with metal embellishment, the sermon case recalls opus anglicanum, medieval religious embroidery produced in England. Victorians believed these medieval embroideries to be the handiwork of nuns, although they were actually predominantly produced in professional workshops in London. We do not know who made this particular gift for Dr Pusey, but Mother Marian Rebecca Hughes (1817–1912), the first Anglican Sister to take vows since the Reformation, is one likely candidate. She was a friend of Dr Pusey’s who made several embroideries for him during the 1840s (see item 4). If she is the artist, the medieval echoes in this embroidery present her as part of a long lineage of female monastics: she restores a tradition disrupted during the Reformation.
4. Corporal made by Mother Marian Rebecca Hughes (1817–1912) for Dr Pusey
Pusey House Archive, PUS/Lin/1
25 cm by 25 cm
Ground of plain weave mercerised cotton embroidered with red and blue silks. The outer border exhibits Neo-Gothic text and large Greek crosses worked in raised stumpwork to create a dimensional effect. The central field dedicates patterning to fleurs-de-lis and small Greek crosses executed in a chain stitch which frame the monogram of the Holy Name (IHC, Jesus Christ), again in raised stumpwork technique.
A corporal is a square linen cloth onto which the chalice with wine, the paten (silver plate) with bread, and the ciborium (a container for additional hosts) are placed during the consecration of the bread and wine. This particular corporal gives material expression to Tractarian understandings of the Real Presence in the sacrament. The border reads Hoc est corpus meum quod pro vobis traditur (“This is my body, which is given for you”), the words of the consecration of the Eucharist as given in the first Epistle to the Corinthians (11:24) and recited by the celebrant. The circle surrounding the monogram recalls the host, and the monogram itself also draws attention to the presence of the Incarnate Christ in the sacrament. The fleurs-de-lis (lilies) in Marian blue are a traditional attribute of the Virgin Mary, likewise alluding to the mystery of the Incarnation; the red circles signify Christ’s five wounds and, by extension, his Passion.
This corporal forms part of a set that is now 175 years old. A hand-written note, possibly by Henry Parry Liddon (1829–1890), sewn onto an altar cloth states that the entire set was given by Mother Marian Hughes to Dr Pusey, who would use it when celebrating mass privately. A second, larger cloth is still in use in the Pusey House Chapel, literally threading together Dr Pusey’s devotion and that of the House.
5. Sample card from Liberty’s, inserted (by publisher) into Designs for Church Embroidery by A.R and Alathea Wiel. Chapman and Hall, 1894.
Pusey House Archive, SSM 40/298
Samples of polychrome silk floss embroidery thread (Liberty’s) wound around card. This book was the property of the convent of the Society of Saint Margaret, an Anglican order, in East Grinstead, Sussex. The convent also ran a School of Ecclesiastical Embroidery in London, but the library stamp indicates that this copy of the book was kept in the convent. The Victorian era saw an upsurge of interest in the creation of medievalist vestments and church hangings, which women particularly were encouraged to create. These textiles furnished Gothic Revival churches (omnipresent in Oxford!). The faint pencil markings and numbers signal that the nuns were particularly interested in various shades of gold, frequently found in Victorian church embroideries. This use of colour also harks back to opus anglicanum, once again suggesting that the nuns perceive themselves as stitching together past and present.
Photos by Jessica Woodward, Sebastian Blue Pin, and Godelinde Gertrude Perk. Blog introduction by Godelinde Gertrude Perk, captions by Sebastian Blue Pin and Godelinde Gertrude Perk.
Exhibition credits: Conservation Advice: Sue Stanton, Sebastian Blue Pin, and Clare Hills-Nova Captions: Godelinde Gertrude Perk and Sebastian Blue Pin Display & Publicity: Jessica Woodward
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.
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