Keynote speakers Seeta Chaganti, Professor of English, University of California, Davis Mark Currie, Professor of Contemporary Literature, Queen Mary, University of London Carla Freccero, Distinguished Professor of Literature and History of Consciousness, University of California, Santa Cruz
Funded by Oxford Comparative Criticism and Translation (OCCT) Research Centre, University of Oxford
Organised by Joseph Hankinson, Career Development Lecturer in English, University of Oxford Gareth Lloyd Evans, Rebecca Marsland Lecturer in Medieval Literatures, University of Oxford
In recent years, comparison and comparability have generated thorough critical discussion within the fields of cultural and literary studies. But despite the popularity of comparison as a critical methodology, it is nevertheless the case, as Rita Felski notes, that ‘comparison across space—that is to say, across nations, cultures, or regions—has received far more attention in comparative literature than comparison across time.’ To some extent, existing disciplinary distinctions produce this uneven distribution of attention. Period boundaries impose an often arbitrary temporal delimitation of inquiry, which in turn lends weight to reified and institutionalised categories of thought. Consequently, cross-temporal work is, as Felski argues, habitually ‘seen as evidence of dilettantism or insufficient professionalization.’ But, we suggest, that which has been dismissed as dilettantism itself promises reinvigoration and expansion of the possibilities of literary criticism more generally. Xiaofan Amy Li’s work on the ‘three kinds of comparabilities’ associated with the conventions of ‘existing comparative literature’ (the ‘genealogical, temporal, and generic comparabilities’) has provided a vocabulary for understanding the ways comparative thought makes assumptions about how texts might relate across time (2015, 14). Like the ‘world’ of world literature, which can serve, as Karima Laachir, Sara Marzagora, and Francesca Orsini have argued, as ‘dominant explanatory grid’ (2018, 291-2), time in ‘existing comparative literature’ tends to be either reduced to lines of inheritance or treated as a static frame or macro-category that justifies comparability in advance. With this in mind, this conference seeks to provoke discussion of and experimentation with asynchronous encounters, to stage interactions between texts and fields of research routinely kept separate, and to develop collectively a theory of cross-temporal comparison.
Seeking to bring into discussion a wide variety of perspectives on the theory and practice of ‘cross-temporal comparison’, we invite proposals for papers of relevance to the subject of the conference, which might include considerations of:
Case-studies which stage encounters between texts and contexts from antiquity to the present day, without recourse to lines of influence and inheritance, or a shared cultural context.
Broader conceptual, philosophical, methodological considerations of the theory of cross-temporal comparison.
Examinations of the role that social, political, economic, and cultural contexts play in shaping the ways in which cross-temporal comparisons are made, and how can we account for these factors when making such comparisons.
Explorations of the pedagogical and institutional implications of any thinking-beyond the limits of periodisation.
The conference will be in-person at St Anne’s College, University of Oxford. We welcome (but do not require) joint proposals and innovative styles of presentation. To submit a proposal, please include in one document the following information: proposals for 20-minute papers (300 words), paper title, and participant(s) biography (100 words).
As we wrap up the year, we here at OMS have been reflecting on the amazing accomplishments of Oxford’s medievalists in the last year. 2022/23 saw even more seminars and reading groups than ever before, covering an extremely diverse range of languages, themes, and ideas. We have also seen a considerable number of publications, special lectures, and practice-as-research events, like the Medieval Crafternoon and Mystery Plays.
Beginning this year, we will be creating an annual record publication to sum up the year’s events and spotlight the wonderful achievements of Oxford’s Medievalist community. This will be a place to celebrate major publications, highlight new and ongoing seminars/reading groups, and remember the special events that were held in the academic year.
If you have something to celebrate, we would love to hear from you! Submissions on the following would be much appreciated:
Book publications (monographs or edited volumes) by Oxford Medievalists in 2022/23 with a short summary or abstract (no more than 250 words).
Write-ups of special lectures, conferences, or events hosted at Oxford. If you have pictures of your event in progress, these would be particularly gratefully received! (no more than 500 words).
A paragraph about your reading group / seminar series, and what you did in 2022/23. We are particularly keen to hear from those who started new reading groups/seminars in the academic year 2022/23 (no more than 250 words).
Please send submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org. All submissions must be received by August 20th 2023. The OMS Record will be completed in time for the new academic year, both online and in (limited) print format.
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 the beginning of Trinity term 2023 and end of the summer vacation. The closing date for applications is Friday of Week 5 of Trinity Term = 26 May); decisions will be made promptly after the closing date.
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 next Medieval Roadshow.
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.
Workshop 3: Victorine and Augustinian Influences in the North-East.
Aula Magna, Stockholm University, 25–26 May 2023.
Hosted by the Stockholm University Centre for Medieval Studies Arranged by Prof. Roger Andersson, Stockholm University and Prof. Samu Niskanen, University of Helsinki. Open to interested subject to availability. Register interest by contacting email@example.com.
Thursday 25 May
SESSION 1: 10:30–12:00
Welcome address and general introduction (Roger Andersson & Samu Niskanen)
Christian Etheridge, National Museum, Stockholm: ”The Abbey of St. Victor and Medieval Science”
Micol Long, University of Padova: ”Mind, Body and the Environment in some Twelfth Century Augustinian Authors From Paris to Scandinavia”
LUNCH: 12:00–13:30 Fakultetsklubben, SU
SESSION 2: 13:30–15:00
Sanna Supponen, University of Helsinki: ”Influence of Victorine Authorities on Magister Mathias’s Alphabetum Disctinccionum”
Biörn Tjällén, Mid Sweden University, Sundsvall: ” Hugh of St Victor, Ericus Olai and the Chronica regni Gothorum”
Fredrik Öberg, University of Helsinki: ”Using Saint Augustine as a Way to Legitimize Katarina Ulfsdotter as a Saint”
SESSION 3: 15:30–16:30
Jaakko Tahkokallio University of Helsinki: ‘Victorine texts and St Victor in Sweden. A conspectus of the evidence in the fragments of the National Archives’.
Olle Ferm, Stockholm University: ”Swedish Connections with Paris 1150–1250”
DINNER 19:00 Den Gyldene Freden, Österlånggatan 51, Old Town
Friday 26 May
SESSION 4: 10:00–11:00
Anna Minara Ciardi, Catholic Diocese of Stockholm, Lund University: “Augustinian Movement in the North: Reform or Resistance? The Archdiocese of Lund in the Twelfth Century”
Kurt Villads Jensen, Stockholm University: ”The Victorines and the Danish Flag from Heaven”
LUNCH: 12:30–13:30 Fakultetsklubben, SU
EXHIBITIONS OF MANUSCRIPTS: 14:00–15:00 National Library of Sweden (for speakers)
EXHIBITION OF ALTAR PANELS: 15:30–16:30 The Historical Museum (for speakers)
This conference will address the notion of “first generations” in relation to the medieval Norman conquests in England, Wales, Ireland, southern Italy, Sicily, and the Crusader states. Focusing on the conquerors’ departure from their places of origin, the papers will explore the rhythms, modalities, reasons and objectives for leaving.
The conference aims at:
1/ Determining how relevant the notion of “first generations of the conquest” is. All these movements were phenomena that took place over several generations and featured different kind of protagonists – soldiers, mercenaries, pilgrims, merchants, clerics and monks.
2/ Considering the horizons of those who departed, while avoiding teleological and unilinear assumptions. These horizons require an analysis of diverse dynamics and “push and pull” factors: political motivations, economic grounds, social mechanisms, acculturation processes, social and political creativity.
3/ Exploring the documentation, approaches, and tools that help to answer these questions. Our documentation was often produced in the regions where the conquerors settled, and it focuses on their new status; it must be compared retroactively with sources from Normandy (and more broadly speaking from northern France) to enlighten the dynamics that led to the mobility of these people.
0:00:34 Prologue 0:02:50 O quanta qualia (St Edmund Hall Choir) Latin 0:06:18 Extracts from Piers Plowman (Swonken ful harde) Middle English 0:35:40 The Nativity and Salutation (English Faculty) Middle English 1:07:13 The Innocents (Les perles innocentes) 16th-century French 1:30:19 The Passion (Sorores Sanctae Hildae) Latin and German 1:54:03 The Harrowing of Hell (Medieval Germanists) Middle High German 2:08:08 The Last Judgement (Past and Present Teddy Students) Modern English
Welcome to the third incarnation of the Oxford Medieval Mystery Cycle! As in 2019 and 2022, this highlight of the Oxford medieval calendar offers a variety of plays in different medieval and modern languages, staged at several stations in the beautiful grounds of St Edmund Hall. Cycles of plays retelling stories from the Bible were a popular form of entertainment in the Middle Ages, which we are only too happy to revive for modern audiences. Admission is free and you are welcome to turn up at any time.
Join us, then, on this merry multilingual journey featuring plays dating from between the 12th and the 16th century! When the chapel bell rings at midday, the choir of St Edmund Hall will open the Cycle with a performance in front of the Old Dining Hall. We then start with an allegorical vision of Piers the Plowman before running through episodes of the New Testament, with the Christmas cycle unfolding in the Front Quad, followed by the Easter cycle in the churchyard around St Peter-in-the-East and – last but not least – the Last Judgement closing with the sound of the trumpet from the tower of St-Peter-in-the-East.
A special thank you goes to all the actors, directors, singers and other enthusiasts who have made these performances possible, to Professor Lesley Smith and Professor Henrike Lähnemann, co-directors of Oxford Medieval Studies, the driving force behind the Mystery Cycle, and to the Fellows and Principal of St Edmund Hall, for once again agreeing to host our medieval madness!
Jim Harris is Teaching Curator at the Ashmolean Museum, a career he came to having trained as an actor at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and worked for over a decade in theatre, television and radio before deciding there was more to life than castings for shower gel commercials. “Some people would describe this as the role of a lifetime. Me, I’m just glad I don’t have to actually learn the lines.”
David Maskell specialises in both the academic and practical aspects of theatre in Classical and Modern Languages. He is an experienced creative writer, and he also created the verses linking the plays for last year’s Mystery Cycle.
The Mystery Cycle will be opened by a performance of Peter Abelard’s ‘O quanta qualia’ by the Choir of St Edmund Hall. Afterwards, our plays will be accompanied by the heavenly choir of the Turba Angelorum, composed of the ‘Harrowing of Hell’ angels.
The Mystery Cycle is managed by Henrike Lähnemann, Co-Director of Oxford Medieval Studies and Professorial Fellow at St Edmund Hall, and Michael Angerer, Graduate Convenor for the Medieval Mystery Cycle and a DPhil student in medieval English.
While our complete play follows a man named Will, who falls asleep beside a stream on a May morning in Malvern Hills with a succession of dreams, we begin with the deadly sins. We then find Piers Plowman, taking only momentary repose from his plough to guide the field of folk towards Truth, although his directions are very confusing. He agrees to take the folk himself as long as they assist him in ploughing the half-acre. However, he finds many of the folk, including pickpockets, knights, common women, wafer-sellers, pardoners, to be wasters! Piers calls Hunger to encourage them to work however, after the acre has been ploughed, Hunger refuses to leave until he has consumed the best food and wine! Truth intercedes and sends Piers a pardon however it is discovered to not be a true pardon at all so Piers, in scandalous fashion, tears it asunder! Watch a full performance of Piers Plowman on the OMS Youtube channel.
Group: English Faculty. Language: Middle English. Director: Rachel Burns
In this play from the 15th-century Chester Mystery Cycle, witness the wonder of Jesus’ birth, the prophecy of the Sybil, the magnificent humility of Emperor Octavian, and the discomfiture of the midwives!
Group: Les perles innocentes. Language: 16th-century French. Director: Elisabeth Dutton. Read a report on the play.
Marguerite de Navarre (1492-1549) was wife of King Henry II of Navarre, sister to Francis I, King of France, and ancestress of the Bourbon kings of France. With her brother she made the French court a celebrated intellectual and cultural centre; having received an excellent classical education, she became an author and patron of humanists and reformers. Her salon was internationally famous as the ‘New Parnassus’. She wrote poems, a collection of short stories called the Heptameron,and the intense mystical poem Miroir de l’âme pécheresse. She also wrote a number of plays: today we present her dramatization of the narrative of King Herod’s Slaughter of the Innocents.
God/Herod/1st Woman: Aurélie Blanc
1st Angel/1st Tyrant: Coraline Vuarnoz
2nd Angel/Captain: Helene Wigginton
3rd Angel/2nd Tyrant: Carmen Vigneswaren-Smith
Mary/1st Doctor of the Law/Nurse of Herod’s Son/1st Soul: Felicitas Harris
Joseph/2nd Doctor of the Law/2nd Woman, Rachel/2nd Soul: Elisa Pagliaro
Group: Sorores Sanctae Hildae (unter Beteiligung einiger Bauern aus Iftelei). Language: Latin and slightly modernized Middle High German. Director: David Wiles. Stage manager: Isabel Schwörer
Mary Magdalene is a courtesan who repents her life of sin and pleasure. When she anoints Christ’s feet with expensive ointment, Judas is outraged, and betrays his master for thirty pieces of silver. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus begs for the cup to be taken from him, before accepting God’s will. Mary his mother suffers at the foot of the cross, and takes John as a replacement for the son she is losing. The juxtaposition of the two Maries is a striking feature of the play from which our extract is taken. The text originates in 12th-century Bavaria. The performance was repeated in Iffley churchyard on the following day.
Group: Medieval Germanists. Language: Middle High German. Director: Luise Morawetz.
In the Harrowing of Hell you can follow the battle between Christ and Lucifer – good and evil – from Lucifer’s perspective. Imagine how Lucifer feels when Christ and his retinue of angels storm hell without difficulty and rush off with his most precious captured souls, Adam and Eve! No wonder he overreacts and tries to make up for quality with quantity by sending his faithful servant Satanas on the hunt for as many lost souls as possible. Watch out, or they might get you too!
The script is based on the ‘Innsbruck Easterplay’ edition by Nigel F. Palmer & Henrike Lähnemann, with modern English narration by Haley Flower.
Lucifer: Montgomery Powell
Satan: Freya Hoult
Jesus: Timothy Powell
Adam: Alyssa Steiner
Eve: Nicholas Champness
Narrator: Evgeny Gurin
Lost souls: Lena Vosding, Godelinde Perk, Anja Peters, Justin Vyvyan-Jones, Julia Brusa, Felix Clayton McClure, Elizabeth Hogermeer, Georgia Macfarlane
Angels: Andrew Dunning, Travis Fuchs, Cosima Gillhammer, Nicole Jedrzejko, Henrike Lähnemann, Oliver Riordan
Group: Past and Present Teddy Students (and Friends). Director: Amy Hemsworth. Assistant Director: Aili Channer
Language: Modern English
A modern take on the final play of the Towneley Cycle by Amy Hemsworth and Alex Gunn, featuring a very confused John of Patmos, an exasperated Angel, and their best attempts to make sense of the Book of Revelation. For a full account of the story behind the script, read the blog post on the 2019 Medieval Mystery Play website.
‘Barons’ and the Public Good in Medieval Afro-Eurasia (10th-14th Centuries)
Conference and Call for Associate Membership
This network is a forum for the re-evaluation of ‘baronial’ government and the common good between the tenth and fourteenth centuries across different Afro-Eurasian polities. By bringing together emerging and established international scholars, it challenges the traditionally Eurocentric approach to this problem and uses new methodologies to reassess our framework for studying the medieval period, leading to a fundamental reappraisal of the teleological narrative that has previously explained the rise of modern states.
The story of the medieval barons is commonly a negative one. Because aristocracies have been almost universally eclipsed by centralised states in the modern world, they are often cast as regressive forces whose self-interest held back ‘progress’. Nor is this exclusively a European narrative, though the historiographical attention paid to the ‘rise of the State’ has privileged the Latin Christian experience of political formation and shaped the way in which non-royal élites are seen in other historical contexts. As a result, ‘private’ rulers such as lords, amirs, kshatriya, and samurai are often assumed to have been at odds with the needs of the wider society.
This network is challenging this understanding of the role of ‘barons’ in their relation to public good in two important and complementary ways. First, we are exploring case studies of how these non-royal élites conceived and implemented responsible government, whether for themselves or for others. Second, we are comparing these case studies in a bold transnational framework, reaching from western Europe to China, that spans the collapse of major centralised imperial projects in the ninth century to the destabilising experience of the Great Death in the fourteenth.
We have brought together international scholars in two online working groups, followed by an international conference in order to discuss, debate, and disseminate interpretations of the ‘public’ role of the baron in an Afro-Eurasian Middle Ages. The two working groups are organised two major axes of research: ‘Barons and the Public Good in a Transnational Context’ and ‘Minority Élites and Government in a Transnational Context’ which will work separately before uniting in a three-day conference in 2023 to share their findings.
This conference will take place in Oxford between the 25th and the 27th May 2023 – 5th week of Trinity. We would like to welcome any who might be interested in our research to join, though spaces are limited. In order to express interest in attending, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. The full programme will be announced in the coming weeks, though all network members on the website will be giving a paper, and there will be a keynote speaker as well.
Call for Associate Members
In addition, we would like to open our network to associate members: this is especially aimed at early career academics or students interested in questions of governance, elites, and the common good in this period. Associate members will be invited to all future events, and they will be encouraged to share their research on our website and at these events. We intend to apply for further funding so that these associates can be made full members of the network in future.
Preference will be given to those whose research covers areas not already well covered by our network members, but even those with substantial cross-over will be considered. Any student or ECR interested in joining as an associate member should email email@example.com with a CV and short personal statement on their research and what they would contribute to the network.
We look forward in future to sharing our research at Leeds IMC 2023 and 2024 as well, and if any seminar organisers in Oxford would like to collaborate in order to invite these speakers again, or to keep them in the UK longer to give another talk, they should not hesitate to get in touch.
Monday 6 March 2023 (Week 8), 4.30–6pm, at St Edmund Hall, Pontigny Room
In this workshop, we will be offering voice projection exercises and practical advice for the Medieval Mystery Cycle. All actors and directors interested in taking part are invited to attend! Beyond general exercises, there will also be an opportunity to work out staging constellations on site at St Edmund Hall (as well as an opportunity to enjoy tea and cake).
The workshop will be led by Dr Jim Harris, the Medieval Mystery Cycle’s Master of Ceremonies and Teaching Curator at the Ashmolean Museum. Let us know if you’re able to join us by emailing Michael Angerer, the graduate convenor.
17-19 March 2023, Corpus Christi College & All Souls College, Oxford
The 54th Annual Spring Symposium in Byzantine Studies will be held in Oxford on the theme of Material Religion in Byzantium and Beyond. The Symposium brings together Byzantine studies with a series of innovative approaches to the material nature and realities of religion – foregrounding the methodological, historical and archaeological problems of studying religion through visual and material culture. Taking a broad geographical and chronological view of the Byzantine world, the Symposium will range across Afro-Eurasia and from Antiquity to the period after the fall of Constantinople. Sessions will be arranged around the themes of ‘Objects in motion’, ‘Religion in 3D’, ‘Religious landscapes’, ‘Things without context’, ‘Things and their context’ and ‘Spatial approaches to religion’.
Confirmed speakers include: Béatrice Caseau, Paroma Chatterjee, Francesca Dell’Acqua, Ivan Foletti, David Frankfurter, Ildar Garipzanov, Troels M. Kristensen, Anne Lester, Birgit Meyer, Brigitte Pitarakis, Myrto Veikou, and Anne-Marie Yasin.
The Symposium will be hybrid, taking place at Oxford – Corpus Christi College and All Souls College –, and on Zoom.
Fees and registration:
In person, for three days: Full: £130; Members of the SPBS: £110; Students/Unwaged: £60.
In person, for one day: Full: £65; Members of the SPBS: £55; Students/Unwaged: £30.
On-line: Full: £35; Members of the SPBS: £20; Students/Unwaged: £10
For more information, the Symposium programme and registration, please visit the Symposium website here.
This panel focuses on the use of linguistic norms in literature between Antiquity and the Middle Ages. From the idea of Hellenismos/Latinitas/ʿArabiyya until the development of the concept of ‘national language’, the promotion of language correctness and the imitation of canonical texts are elements of continuity in the endless compromise between norms and usage. At the same time, every literature has breakpoints in which canons are contested/complemented by new (literary and/or linguistic) models; consequently, the interfacing with norms changes.
Our aim is to study what happens when literature interfaces with norms; the following research questions are the foundation of our reflection:
To what extent do norms influence usage and vice versa? Does the use comply with the norm always and in the same way, or not?
How is the terminology of norms shaped and how does it change throughout time?
What is the relationship between literature and the formulation of linguistic norms? And which role does the idea of literary canon play in the formulation of grammatical norms?
What happens to customary norms and their use in literature when the canon changes? What is the reaction from contemporary voices?
The panel focuses on a period longer than Antiquity (323 BCE – 1453 CE) to understand if, when and how the use of norms changes throughout time. This allows making broader considerations on the topic, which are particularly helpful to understand 1) canonical texts, their transmission, and their reception(s); 2) how linguistic norms act in diachrony; 3) how norms shape language usages and vice versa; 4) how the relationship between norms and usage changes over time.
The aim of this panel is to gather scholars working on norms, the reception of norms, the relationship between grammatical texts and literary/non-literary usages in different traditions, and literature within its historical context. We would be particularly glad to discuss case studies that relate norms from ancient or medieval sources to their origin from past models and their use, misuse, or rejection within literary texts, in a diachronic perspective; or case studies that stress breakpoints along with their consequences. The panel will also be the perfect occasion to reflect on how past and present scholarship has dealt with this challenging topic. Latin and Greek literature and language are the fields of expertise of both organisers; however, proposals on different languages and cultures of the broader area of antique and medieval Eurasia and Africa will be considered with great favour. In this case, chronological boundaries can be discussed with organisers, although the panel focuses on premodern era.
Interested scholars are invited to submit abstracts of maximum500 words by 20th February 2023 to the organisers (firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com).
We will select speakers working on different languages, epochs, and geographical areas. After the selection, we will provide the speakers with a methodological framework, which they will be asked to consider while producing their paper. This way, consistency and dialogue are assured during the panel in Coimbra (14th Celtic Conference in Classics).