Oxford Medieval Mystery Plays 2023

Would you like to take part in a medieval dramatic experiment? Directors, actors, costume makers and musicians wanted! More information and apply at https://www.seh.ox.ac.uk/mystery-cycle

The next performance of the Medieval Mystery Plays is held on Saturday 22 April 2023 at St Edmund Hall.

These plays were a very popular form of drama in the Middle Ages – with different groups performing short plays telling stories from the Bible. To take part in the next performance, email Professor Henrike Lähnemann, Fellow at St Edmund Hall Fellow and Professor of Medieval German Literature and Linguistics, and Professor Lesley Smith, Fellow and Tutor in Politics and Senior Tutor at Harris Manchester College, Co-Directors of the Oxford Medieval Studies Programme at TORCH, under the address medieval@torch.ox.ac.uk.

A multilingual medieval experience performed by a variety of groups with links to Oxford Medieval Studies. At 12 noon, the chapel bell will ring for Creation to commence in the Old Dining Hall. From there the story of mankind will unfold, with the Old Testament being acted out in the Front Quad and the New Testament in the churchyard around St Peter-in-the-East.

Graduate Students: OMS is hiring!

OMS is one of the largest forums in the world for interdisciplinary research on the Middle Ages, bringing together over 200 academics and a large body of graduate students. If you would like to be involved behind the scenes, we have three exciting (paid) opportunities to get involved! Though these are advertised as three separate posts, we welcome applications from students who would like to combine two or even all three posts:

1) OMS Social Media Officer: The Social Media Officer is in charge of connecting all of Oxford’s medievalists via the OMS Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts and also occasionally posting on here, the OMS blog. You will be responsible for posting across these platforms to advertise OMS events, opportunities and news. You will work closely with the OMS directors (Profs Henrike Lähnemann and Lesley Smith), the Communications Officer (Dr Luisa Ostacchini) and the Events Coordinator. Familiarity with social media advertising is beneficial but not essential: this is an ideal way to gain technical know-how about social media, advertising and marketing that can be used in your academic career and beyond. The post usually comprises an hour or two a week. To read more about the post from the out-going postholder, Llewelyn Hopwood, including tips and tricks for social media success, see his blog post here.

2) OMS Events Coordinator: The Events Coordinator ensures that all of our in-person and online OMS events run smoothly. You will organise the google calendar, oversee the OMS Teams and YouTube Channels, respond to email queries about events, set up Zoom streaming events, assist in the real-time running of events (mostly hybrid and online, but also in-person), and serve as a point of liaison point between events organisers and the rest of the OMS Team. You will work closely with the OMS directors (Profs Henrike Lähnemann and Lesley Smith), the Communications Officer (Dr Luisa Ostacchini) and the Social Media Officer. Some familiarity with Teams and Zoom is necessary, but you by no means need to be an expert in these software packages as you can learn on the job. The post usually comprises an hour or two a week. To read more about the post from the out-going postholder, Tom Revell, including insight into the exciting range of events he helped to facilitate, see his blog post here.

3) Graduate Convenor for the Medieval Mystery Cycle 2023: the graduate convenor will take the mantle of the operation from Dr Eleanor Baker by organising the Medieval Mystery Cycle, which takes place on 22 April 2023. You will liase with the various Mystery Players and directors, help to coordinate workshops, and ensure that the plays run smoothly on the day. Experience in events organisation and a love of theatre are beneficial, but not essential. You will work closely with the OMS directors (Profs Henrike Lähnemann and Lesley Smith), the Communications team, and Mystery Players from across the university and beyond. To get a sense for the scope of the project, and to see the plays performed in previous years, see seh.ox.ac.uk/mystery-cycle.
Payment for all of these roles is at the standard rate for graduate students, and is billed by timesheet — up to a maximum of six hours per week per role, although actual hours will usually comprise one or two hours per week per role.

Please send expressions of interest to Co-Directors Henrike Lähnemann and Lesley Smith by 30 September 2022, 12noon, at medieval@torch.ox.ac.uk, including a one-page CV and a cover email explaining why you are interested in the job(s) and what experience you bring to it.

Header image: Matthew Paris Elephant from Parker MS 016II fol 152v (See the manuscript online via Parker Library on the Web)

Outgoing OMS Events Coordinator: Tom Revell

The primary reason I threw my hat into the ring two years ago (as a first-year DPhil student) to help OMS run their events was because I was passionate about trying to help increase the access to and reach of the great variety of outstanding events that OMS was hosting. Especially in the deep-pandemic, when everyone (including myself) was learning how to make the best of things being done entirely online or in a hybrid format, it felt well worth giving a shot to help keep the medievalist community, in Oxford and abroad, in contact with one another in such a way. With this wish, a very modest amount of experience in running Zoom events and editing video, and having attended OMS events in the past, I was granted the opportunity to coordinate events for OMS. However, after two wonderful years, it is time for another person to take the reins.

The role requires overseeing the OMS Teams and YouTube Channels, being responsive by email to any queries about events, setting up Zoom streaming events, coordinating with individuals and institutions (such as TORCH, or the Bodleian Conservators or Centre for the Study of the Book) in both the preparation for and the real-time running of events (mostly hybrid and online, but also in-person), and maintaining open channels of communication before, during, and after events with the organisers and the rest of the OMS Team. For example, for an event such as the Murbach Hymns hybrid webinar (organised by Luise Morawetz), I was involved from the planning stage, helped to gather equipment and test rooms, monitored audio and visual in real-time for virtual presenters and attendees, and facilitated, recorded, edited, and uploaded the evening’s bilingual Singing from the Manuscript session (https://youtu.be/p4zImJl8ppY).

The Events Coordinator really comes down to two things: being organised, and being adaptable. Things will go wrong, but communicating with everyone involved and putting things in place ahead of time can save you when the Wi-Fi fails, when batteries run out, when someone is sick, or when the weather turns. Having an interest in much of the material is a bonus, but any medievalist should have this; and a little knowledge of any medieval or modern languages wouldn’t do any harm either, although this is not at all essential.

I had the privilege of facilitating a wide range of events: conferences, lectures, colloquia, plays, memorials, complines, and launches, all down to the variety of interests of medievalists at Oxford and around the world. One of my personal favourites was Alyssa Steiner’s Ship of Fools multi-manuscript event (https://youtu.be/8g3z6k4CSUg), showcasing surviving versions of the texts in different languages and editions that survive in Oxford, London, and Bamberg. Among the other events I was involved in, it was a real privilege to host Professor William Chester Jordan’s OMS Lecture (https://youtu.be/PWRVIX4B3hE), a memorial for Peter Ganz (https://youtu.be/2rhXw0YQOWk), and another OMS Lecture delivered by the inimitable Dr Jim Harris (https://youtu.be/vKs5wKg2Eh4). I would be remiss not to mention the other huge perk of the job: working with all the wonderful people whose research inspires these events, and alongside the amazing OMS Team (including Nikki from TORCH) who are each as delightful as the last.

I would encourage anyone with a spare couple of hours per week (though often less is required), any knowledge of Zoom and Teams, and a desire to help contribute to the continuing evolution of Oxford Medieval Studies, to throw their hat into the ring.

Tom Revell is a DPhil student in Old English poetry at Balliol College, and a College Lecturer at Keble College. He is also a Research Assistant on the CLASP Project.

Main image credit: Frontispiece of Bible Moralisee, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:God_the_Geometer.jpg

Call for Papers: Early Book Society

Early Book Society
University of Limerick
11th-15th July 2023 

Meaning, Memory, and the Making of Culture: Manuscripts and Books, 1350–1550 


The 18th biennial conference of the Early Book Society will be hosted by Carrie Griffin and Eleanor Giraud at the University of Limerick from 11th to 14th July 2023, with an excursion on 15th July. Confirmed keynote speakers include John Thompson, Emeritus Professor, Queen’s University Belfast, and Lisa Fagin Davis, Executive Director, Medieval Academy of America. Planned activities include an early music concert and hands-on use of the university’s printing press. Please mark your calendars.  

We invite proposals for 20-minute papers, themed panels (three papers and a chair), roundtables, and 5-minute lightning papers (ideal for work-in-progress updates). Scholars at all levels, including graduate students and early career researchers, are cordially invited to participate. 

Papers can consider any of the following, with an emphasis on physical aspects of the manuscript or book: 

  • Manuscripts and books as memorial artifacts 
  • Manuscripts and books as shapers of literary or historical culture 
  • Study of a specific manuscript or book that memorializes a family (or promotes a dynasty) 
  • Women makers or owners  
  • Readers or networks of readers 
  • Makers of manuscripts and books  
  • Manuscripts and books commissioned as memorials for persons or events  
  • Sammelbände, collected volumes, and early libraries 

We are also particularly interested in hearing about Irish collections and books with Irish connections.  

Abstracts (up to 250 words for papers, 500 words for panels, or 100 words for lightning papers) should be sent to earlybooksociety2023@ul.ie by 1st December 2022.  

Any preliminary queries should be addressed to: earlybooksociety2023@ul.ie. Further information will be posted at www.earlybooksociety.com and www.ebslimerick2023.wordpress.com in due course.  

Call for Papers: Christian Political Cultures in Late Antiquity 

University of Liverpool

Wednesday 21st-Thursday 22nd June 2023

Deadline for Proposals: 30 June 2022, to robin.whelan@liverpool.ac.uk

We invite papers for a conference (and planned edited volume) on Christian Political Cultures in Late Antiquity. The remarkably homogeneous ways of thinking about Christian political authority across the Roman world in late antiquity (c. 250-700 CE)—so carefully reconstructed in classic mid-20th century accounts—mask the immense diversity of the social and institutional contexts in which those ideas mattered. The character of Christian governance could look very different to an official placed at the centre of power as against an ordinary Christian standing in the nave of an urban basilica, a civic grandee sitting in the plush seats of a provincial town council, or an ascetic keeping vigil in a remote monastic cell. In fact, widely divergent visions of what the divine sanctioning of earthly rule meant in practice are visible even across the many different (and sometimes competing) institutions of late ancient states.

This workshop and subsequent volume will build off an increasing tendency to investigate Christian political thought ‘in action’ and root it in the lived experience of governance in the late ancient world. Taking inspiration from recent work on the centrality of social relationships and identities to Roman political thought (esp. notions of gender, family and freedom/unfreedom), it will also seek to develop a more plural notion of Christian political discourse which moves beyond the narrowly constitutional analysis of the relationship between emperors and bishops (or ‘church’ and ‘state’). Above all, the volume will seek to consider the ways in which distinctive Christian political cultures shaped (and were shaped by) specific institutions, environments, and communities, and were made meaningful through concrete interactions between the late ancient people who inhabited them.

We particularly invite papers on:

1.     Distinctive forms of Christian thought or practice (and, indeed, thinking about the importance or otherwise of Christian thought and practice):

  1. within particular political institutions and configurations in specific times and places. (e.g. imperial or royal palaces, official bureaux, army units, governor’s residences, town councils, elite households, villages, estates and peasant communities etc)
  2. amongst the members of those political institutions (e.g. under/around particular empresses/queens, generals, or governors, or amongst chamberlains, soldiers, or office staffs)
  3. amongst non-Christians serving within, or subject to, those political institutions and configurations

2.     Distinctive forms of thought and practice regarding politics and governance within particular Christian communities, institutions and settings (e.g. church factions, episcopal sees, monasteries, ascetic communities)

3.     The interplay of these divergent institutional and communal assumptions as seen in particular events, episodes or moments of conflict (e.g. petitions to court, legal and doctrinal disputes, urban riots)

This conference is designed as a pre-publication workshop for a planned edited volume on Christian Political Cultures in Late Antiquity. Participants will be expected to submit their papers in advance for pre-circulation, read the other papers in advance of the workshop, and be willing to act as the designated respondent for another paper. Each paper will receive a dedicated session with a short presentation from the author, a response, and a general Q&A session/discussion. The deadline to submit draft essays for the edited volume will be 31 July 2024.

The primary format of this conference is in person at the University of Liverpool, but remote participation will be possible for those unable to make it to Liverpool for whatever reason. For those who can travel, we will fund accommodation and meals in Liverpool. We will also be able to pay for UK and international travel for those who need it, although, given the increased costs of travel since the original funding application, we may ask those with access to institutional research funding to pursue support from those sources to help to contribute to those costs.

The deadline for proposals is 30 June 2022. Please send a title and an abstract (no longer than 500 words) to robin.whelan@liverpool.ac.uk. If you have questions, do not hesitate to get in touch with one of the organisers.

Organisers

Dr Richard Flower (r.flower@exeter.ac.uk)

Dr Meaghan McEvoy (meaghan.mcevoy@mq.edu.au)

Dr Robin Whelan (robin.whelan@liverpool.ac.uk)

OMS Small Grants TT 2022

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 June 2022 and January 2023. The closing date for applications is Friday of Week 5 of Trinity Term (27 May 2022).

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.

Applications should be submitted to  lesley.smith@history.ox.ac.uk  using the grant application form. Applications submitted in other formats or after the deadline will not be considered.

Informal enquiries may be directed to lesley.smith@history.ox.ac.uk

The Oxford Medieval Studies Programme is sponsored by The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH).

For more medieval matters from Oxford, have a look at the website of the Oxford Medieval Studies TORCH Programme and the OMS blog!

Image: OMS Small grant being given to John (or: Bamberg Apocalypse, Staatsbibliothek Bamberg Msc.Bibl.140)

DEADLINE EXTENDED — CFP: Performing Medievalism: Tricks, Tips and Tropes from Early Artistic Practice for the Modern-Day Performer 

The residual influence of the medieval is visible in today’s performance practice in various ways, yet this inheritance is perhaps not valued as highly as it might be, and oftentimes goes entirely unnoticed. Although there has been a soaring in popularity of medievalesque fantasy films and television shows such as The Witcher or Game of Thrones in recent years, as well as a renewal of interest in historical fiction based in the medieval period with television shows such as The Vikings and The White Queen, there are still significant gaps in the understanding and appreciation of the multiple ways in which the medieval has residual impact on creative performance practices today. What associations do the words ‘medieval’ and ‘Middle Ages’ trigger for those working within a performance context? How are performers currently engaging with the medieval, whether purposefully or subconsciously? What might enhanced knowledge of medieval influences offer performers today in practical terms? 

This volume seeks to illuminate the extensive and diverse ways in which the medieval interweaves with, and provides inspiration to, the modern in a wide variety of performance practice, by providing both critical and artistic analysis of the varying forms of medievalism in today’s theatre, dance, music, or television/film performances, as well as practical direction for modern-day performers looking to actively engage with early performance materials (in music, theatre, dance, etc) or to incorporate early tropes and structures into the creation of new medievally-inspired work. This is not limited to working with medieval themes or historical stories but also includes styles of storytelling which hearken back to early forms; many theatre techniques that are becoming popular again today have their roots in the early theatre of the medieval period, from audience participation and immersion to non-linear theatre experiences, as well as genre-busting combinations of theatre with installation, experimental technologies, and performance art. 

The volume invites contributors to actively engage with current creative ideas and artistic practices that relate to or are inspired by the medieval, whether through detailing specific projects, offering tips for modern performers and practitioners when engaging with medieval texts, or commenting on recent performances that draw on medieval tropes or utilise medieval materials. It interrogates the ways in which performers and performance practices variously approach the medieval today: as obscure or primitive, as interesting but distant oddity, or as a worthy and relevant source of inspiration and creative material. It offers a critical appraisal that challenges, provokes, and disrupts ideas around the medieval-as-primitive and the modern-as-innovative, offering both scholarly and practitioner perspectives to provide a useful and in-depth look at the way in which the medieval resurfaces in performance practices of all kinds today. 

Offerings on music, theatre, storytelling, dance or any artistic performance practice are welcome, for critical and scholarly articles of 8,000-10,000 words in length, documentations of performer training/approaches of 4,000-8,000 words (e.g., interviews, performance reviews, documentation of artistic processes), and shorter pieces of 1,500-3,000 words (e.g., artist’s notes). (These word count ranges are inclusive of notes and references.)

Contributions may address, but are not limited to: 

  • The medieval in modern storytelling e.g. medieval tropes and how they’re utilised; 
  • “Artist’s notes” style essays on own medievally-rooted artistic projects; 
  • Skill and training of medieval performers; 
  • Approaching medieval materials: tips for actors/musicians/dancers; 
  • Approaching contemporary artistic performance practices (acting, storytelling, dancing, performing music etc) via a medieval lens; 
  • Analysis of acting/performances of medieval historical fiction in television, theatre, film; 
  • Tracing medievalisms in the performance of modern fantasy characters; 
  • Intersectional feminist perspectives on medieval performance practice; 
  • Critical appraisement of modern performances of medieval plays/music/stories/other material (e.g. Chester Mystery Plays, Sheffield Mysteries, Everyman (NT), Lincoln Mystery Plays); 
  • Material culture and medieval performance practice; 
  • Medieval performance and the archive (e.g. analysis of the University of Bristol Theatre Collection’s Medieval Players archive; York Mystery Plays archive; Poculi Ludique Societas (https://pls.artsci.utoronto.ca/); performances associated with REED-NE (Durham); analysis of personal archives relating to own artistic practice; etc). 

Please send abstracts of up to 400 words along with a short (c. 100 word) biography to Ellie Chadwick and Ollie Jones at e.chadwick@bristol.ac.uk and oliver.jones@york.ac.uk. Deadline: 31st March 2022. 

Late Rome, Byzantium and the Early Medieval West: A Graduate Student Conference

Princeton, Oxford, University of Vienna, Mainz, Free University Berlin

2 -3 June 2022, Vienna

In the spirit of fostering closer links between the participating universities, their teaching staff and their students, and building on their research strengths in Late Antique, Byzantine and Early Medieval studies (roughly defined as extending to the year 1000), this conference invites contributions from graduate students (MA and doctoral level) that deal with any aspect of these cultures.  A total of 18 students and about 9 teaching staff will participate from across the five universities.  Vienna will host the event, including offering lunch and dinner on Friday, 3 June. Vienna will also be able to pay for the accommodation for ca. 20 people for two nights each.  Papers are allocated 20 minutes, followed by 10 minutes of discussion.

Julia Smith and David Addison will lead the Oxford contingent.  The Faculty of History has made available funding to cover the travel for 3 students, who will be selected on the basis of this Call for Papers. To be considered for inclusion, please send the following

Information to both Julia.smith@history.ox.ac.uk and David.Addison@all-souls.ox.ac.uk by 28 March 2022:  

  1. Your name and the degree for which you are registered; the name of your supervisor; the date you began your study for this degree and, if appropriate, the date when you passed Transfer of Status.
  2. Your paper title and an abstract (300 words max)
  3. A confirmatory email from your supervisor approving your participation.

Outline programme

Thursday, 2 June

14.00    Coffee

14.30-18.30

6 papers plus breaks

Friday, 3 June

9.00-13.00

6 papers plus breaks

Lunch

14.30-18.30

6 papers plus breaks

19.00 Conference Dinner

Saturday, 4 June

10.00 Guided visit of the Papyrussammlung (Austrian National Library), with Bernhard Palme (optional)

11.30 Student-organized sight seeing (optional)

CALL FOR PERFORMERS

THE EXECUTION OF JOHN THE BAPTIST [IN MEDIEVAL FRENCH]

This will be a contribution to the festival of 20-minute medieval plays performed in the gardens of St Edmund Hall on Saturday April 23, with a subsequent performance in Iffley churchyard on the morning of Sunday April 24.

John the Baptist preaches to the masses about the corruption of those who rule the state, King Herod throws a birthday party, and young Salome induces him to promise her any gift she chooses. The gift is of course John’s head, and medieval theatre delighted in the use of stage blood. The language is accessible enough to speakers of modern French, and we will concentrate on rhythm and expression rather than antique vowel sounds.

Rehearsals will be one evening a week through term. Some of the cast will be actors from Iffley village. If you’d like to join in, and bring to life a text that has probably not been played for 500 years, please e-mail the director David Wiles at d.wiles@exeter.ac.uk, or come along to St Edmund Hall on Thursday 20 Jan at 6.00 (where the porter will direct you).