New AHRC Network: Noblesse Oblige?

‘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 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 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.

Workshop: Voice Projection & Staging Medieval Mystery Plays

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.

The 54th Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies: Material Religion in Byzantium and Beyond

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.


Jaś Elsner, Ine Jacobs, Julia Smith

Call for Papers
Interfacing with linguistic norms, 323 BCE – 1453 CE 

Organisers: Dr Chiara Monaco, Dr Ugo Mondini 

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:  

  1. 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?  
  2. How is the terminology of norms shaped and how does it change throughout time?  
  3. 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? 
  4. 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 maximum 500 words by 20th February 2023 to the organisers (;  

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). 

For more details about the conference, see: 

CFP: Priests and their Manuscripts in the Holy Land and Sinai

Conference at the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna

Institute for Medieval Research, Department of Byzantine Research

8–10 November 2023

Call for Papers

Where did priests learn to read and write? What did they copy and where? How did their libraries look? What did they do with their books? Little is known about these topics, and a general overview is missing, especially if we focus on clerics active in the Holy Land and Sinai. By addressing these and related topics, this conference will aim at gaining a better understanding about the social and cultural role of priests latu sensu (preferably priests and priestmonks, but also monks, nuns, lectors, deacons, bishops) in the Holy Land and Sinai.

We invite the submission of abstracts (300 words max.) for 20-minute papers dealing with manuscripts copied, owned, and used by priests in Sinai and Palestine during the Byzantine and immediate post-Byzantine period in the languages of the Christian Orient. Contributions by historians, archaeologists, art historians, epigraphers, liturgiologists, which aim at shedding light on the social and cultural role of priests in this region and historical period are welcome as well.

Topics that that may be addressed include the following, but participants are encouraged to develop their own questions and approaches within the parameters of the conference theme:
Social context: Which sources offer information about the social role and cultural life of priests in the Holy Land and Sinai? What can we learn from them?
Priests as copyists of manuscripts: Where and how did priests learn how to read and write? What was their level of literacy? Which script styles did they use? Which techniques of book-making did they employ? How many languages did they know and write?
Priests as owners of manuscripts: Which manuscripts did priests own? What do we know about their private ‘libraries’?
Priests and their use of manuscripts: Which signs of use (including annotations, colophons, etc.) did priests leave on the manuscripts they used? Where were manuscripts used and how?

Organizer: Dr. Giulia Rossetto (Austrian Academy of Sciences)

Please send the title of your paper and an abstract (max. 300 words) to Giulia Rossetto ( no later than March 15, 2023. The speakers will be notified by April 15.

If selected, we can offer you reimbursement for your travel expenses (second-class) as well as pre-paid accommodation for two nights in Vienna. 

This conference is organized within the framework of the project “Priests, Books and the Library at Saint Catherine’s (Sinai)” (T1192 – G25) funded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF.

Working Group on Race & Gender in the Global Middle Ages

Emory University and the Medieval Academy of America are pleased to announce the launch of a Zoom working group on Race & Gender in the Global Middle Ages. The aim is to bring together scholars from various disciplines (history, art history, and literary studies) who work on Europe and the Mediterranean, the Islamic world, Africa, and Asia to discuss works-in-progress that deal with race and gender from 500 CE to 1600 CE. The working group is open to all medievalists, including graduate students.To participate in the working group, please register at

Spring 2023 schedule of meetings:

February 17 at 12pm-1:30pm EST
Angela Zhang, Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard University “Charity and Slavery: Childcare and Race in the Ospedale degli Innocenti in Premodern Florence”

March 24 12pm-1:30pm EST (9am Pacific time)
Roland Betancourt, Professor of Art History, University of California, Irvine”The Case of Manuel I Komnenos: Articulating Identity through Gender, Sexuality, and Racialization”

April 28 at 12pm-1:30pm EST
Nicole Lopez-Jantzen, Associate Professor of History, CUNY: Borough of Manhattan Community College and Graduate Center”Shifting Concepts of Race: Italy through the Earlier Middle Ages”

May 19 at 12pm-1:30pm EST 
Sierra Lomuto, Assistant Professor of English, Rowan University “Mongols in Medieval Europe: Exoticism and the Legend of Prester John”

June 9 at 12pm-1:30pm EST
Alexa Herlands, Ph.D. Candidate, University of Chicago”Juan Martínez Silíceo as Historian: Toledo’s 1547 Blood Purity Statute Revisited”


“Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University of Iaşi
Institute of Interdisciplinary Research – Department of Social Sciences and Humanities
Centre for Biblical and Philological Studies “Monumenta linguae Dacoromanorum”,
Romanian Association of Philology and Biblical Hermeneutics
Metropolitanate of Moldavia and Bukovina
“A. Philippide” Institute of Romanian Philology

are pleased to invite you to the


12th Edition
Iaşi, 18-20 May 2023

The Symposium aims to encourage multi- and interdisciplinary debates on the issues raised by the publication, translation, interpretation, dissemination and reception of sacred texts into Romanian and other modern languages.

  1. Philological Challenges
    – Publication of the biblical texts. Textual criticism and palaeography. Sacred texts computerization and digitization.
    – The biblical text as a reference point in the diachronic study of language. Lexicology and biblical semantics.Biblical phraseology. Biblical onomastics.
    – Lesser known, partial translations of the Bible: books and book fragments kept in old manuscripts from the 16th and 17th centuries, and their textual relationship with popular Romanian versions.
    – Stylistic interference and demarcation: biblical, liturgical and theological-sapiential varieties of clerical styles. The role of the Bucharest Bible (1688) in the creation of the Romanian clerical style in the 18th and 19th centuries.
  2. Translation Challenges
    – Typology of biblical translations. Literal and free translation. Translation theory and sacred texts.
    – Unique source vs. multiple source. The “original texts” of the Bible – different textual traditions reflected in the Romanian translations.
    – Relationships among successive biblical versions: the Sibiu Gospels (1551-1553) and the Coresi Gospels; the Coresi Gospels and Epistles and the Bălgrad New Testament (1648); the Bucharest Bible (1688) and the Blaj Bible (1795); the Blaj Bible and the Şaguna, Filotei editions and the 1914 Bible, the Cornilescu versions etc.
    – Reference works for all time Bible translations: lexicons, dictionaries, concordances, critical editions,
    auxiliary versions, etc.
  3. Biblical Hermeneutics
    – Confessional and theological choices and conditioning (dogmatic, canonical, clerical, worship-related etc.). Theological censorship, political censorship.
    – Patristic tradition — reference points and criteria for sacred texts’ interpretation.
    – The Bible and the literary clerical system: relationships and determinations between the sacred text and clerical hymnography, worship-related literature, iconography, exegetic and homiletic literature.
  4. Sacred Texts’ Historical Reception
    – Integration, dynamics and stylization of biblical quotations in Romanian and other literatures.
    – Dissemination of Romanian Bible versions. Historical references and main Romanian biblical versions criticism (the Bucharest Bible, the Blaj Bible etc.). Textual relationships (borrowing, “corrections”, adaptations etc.) between different biblical versions.
    – Romanian culture and the Bible. Biblical motifs, symbols, structures and characters.
    – Cultural interferences and mentalities impacting the reception of sacred texts: anthropological, sociological, political or philosophical aspects.

    In addition to the traditional sections, for this edition the organizers propose two thematic sections:
    I. Saint Nicodemus of Tismana – 700 years. Production and transmission of the biblical manuscript in the Byzantine Commonwealth
    These years mark seven centuries since the birth of Saint Nicodemus from Tismana, the author of the oldest dated manuscript from Wallachia and the founder of the first Romanian monasteries. These were the first major cultural centers in the Romanian countries, which were incorporated into the network of cultural centers already existing in the Byzantine Commonwealth of Greek and Slavonic languages, which produced biblical manuscripts of great value, with circulation throughout this cultural area, on which the oldest biblical Romanian texts are based. We propose the following thematic directions, any other approaches being welcome:
    – Nicodemus’ Tetraevangelion – the oldest dated manuscript from Wallachia
    – Byzantine biblical lectionaries: production, typikon, circulation, textual tradition
    – Biblical manuscripts in the monastic scriptoria and libraries of the Byzantine Commonwealth
    – Biblical manuscript copying and diffusion centers in the Byzantine Commonwealth
    – Patrons, scribes, calligraphers, illuminators and possessors of biblical manuscripts
    – Illumination of biblical manuscrips in the Byzantine Commonwealth
    – From the Old Church Slavonic to the oldest Romanian lectionaries: Tetraevangelion, Apostle, Psalter and Prophetologion
    II. 350 years since the publication of the Dosoftei’s Rhymed Psalter. The versification of the Psalms in the Romanian and European culture
    – Dosoftei’s Rhymed Psalter: sources, genesis, reception
    – Dosoftei’s Rhymed Psalter as a monument of the Romanian language
    – The place of Dosoftei’s Rhymed Psalter in the history of Romanian literature
    – Rhymed / Metrical Psalters in the European culture
    – Versification as interpretation
    – Rhymed Psalters in Romanian literature: Teodor Corbea (ca 1705), Ioan Prale (1827), Nicolae Liciu (1846), Vasile Militaru (1933), Eugenia Adams Mureşanu (1985), etc.

    We also welcome other interpretations of the Conference theme.

    The official languages of the Symposium will be Romanian, English and French.
    The organisers invite all interested participants to fill in the registration form and send it at Please email for the form. Selected papers will be published in Reception of the Holy Scriptures: at the crossroads between philology, hermeneutics and translation studies (“Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University Press, Iaşi), a CEEOL indexed journal.

    The conference fee is 180 lei (40 Euro) and will cover organisation and publication costs. You will only be required to pay this fee if you are accepted to the symposium, in which case we will kindly ask you to transfer the money to the following bank account:

    – Account holder: Asociaţia de Filologie şi Hermeneutică Biblică din România;
    – IBAN code: RO72BRDE240SV57759112400;
    – Bank: BRD, Agenţia Copou, Bd. Carol I, nr. 8, Iaşi

    (Please include Investigations into Romanian and European Biblical Traditions Symposium in the transaction details, and kindly e-mail a scanned copy of the bank receipt to

    Important dates:
    March 1 – abstract submission deadline
    March 10 – decision for acceptance
    April 15 – fee payment deadline (180 RON / 40 EUR)
    May 18-20 – conference days
    July 15 – full paper submision for the proceedings of the conference

    Information about the previous editions:

    Scientific Committee:
    Prof. Eugen Munteanu, Ph.D. (“Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University, Iaşi) (chairman)
    Rev. Dragoş Bahrim, Ph.D. (“Saint Basil the Great” Orthodox Theological Seminary, Iaşi)
    Prof. Gheorghe Chivu, Ph.D. (University of Bucharest)
    Prof. Ioana Costa, Ph.D. (University of Bucharest)
    Prof. Mihai Moraru, Ph.D. (University of Bucharest)
    Prof. Mihaela Paraschiv, Ph.D. (“Alexandru Ioan Cuza University”, Iaşi)
    Prof. Andrei Pleşu, Ph.D. (New Europe College, Bucharest)
    Rev. Prof. Gheorghe Popa, Ph.D. (“Alexandru Ioan Cuza University”, Iaşi)
    Rev. Prof. Ion Vicovan, Ph.D. (“Alexandru Ioan Cuza University”, Iaşi)
    Prof. Wilhelm Tauwinkl, Ph.D. (University of Bucharest)
    Prof. Rodica Zafiu, Ph.D. (University of Bucharest)
    Organising Committee:
    Iosif Camară, Ph.D. (secretary)
    Anca Bibiri, Ph.D.
    Ana Catană-Spenchiu, Ph.D.
    Mioara Dragomir, Ph.D.
    Ana-Maria Gînsac, Ph.D.
    Maria Moruz, Ph.D.
    Mariana Nastasia, Ph.D. student
    Mădălina Ungureanu, Ph.D.

OMS Small Grants HT 2023  

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 Hilary term 2023 and end of Trinity term 2023. The closing date for applications is Friday of Week 1 of Hilary Term = 20 January);  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.

Applications should be submitted to  using the grant application form. Applications submitted in other formats or after the deadline will not be considered.

Informal enquiries may be directed to

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!

CFP: Bristol CMS Postgraduate Conference

14-15 April 2023

After the success of the 2022 ‘Transitions’ Conference, we invite you to the next instalment of the longest-standing medievalist PGR conference series. This year’s theme of Identities, Communities, and ‘Imagined Communities’ marks the 40-year anniversary of the publication of Benedict Anderson’s book on national identity. Observing all the uses medievalists have made of his theories in subsequent years, the conference celebrates the interdisciplinary currents that have benefitted academia in recent decades – Anderson, after all, did not initially believe his theories were suitable for the medieval world.

We welcome respondents and delegates to reflect on how we use concepts of identity and community
more broadly across medieval history. Society’s interest in its identities is arguably more topical today
than it was in 1983 when Imagined Communities was first published. How did medieval communities see
and perform their identities, how did this change over time, and why? What role did identities play – be they political, linguistic, or religious – in the consolidation of some communities and the subjugation of others?

Suggested topics include, but are not limited to:

• National Identities
• Religious Identities
• Sexuality and Gender Identities
• Ethnoreligious Communities
• Marcher Identities
• Urban Communities
• County Communities
• Frontiers, Conquest, and Expansion
• Law and Custom
• Migration and Xenophobia
• Ethnic Origins and Contemporary Myths
• Art and Architecture
• Seals and Heraldry
• Patronage and Memory
• Sovereignty
• Local Autonomy
• Archaeology
• Nationalism
• Concepts in History-writing

We welcome abstracts from postgraduates and early-career researchers, exploring all the aspects and
approaches to concepts of identity and communities, in all relevant disciplines pertaining to the medieval
period, broadly construed c.500-c.1500. Abstracts are 300 words for 20-minute papers. This year’s
conference will be a hybrid event online and on the campus of the University of Bristol.

Abstracts and enquiries:
DEADLINE: 10 February 2023

CPF: Old Norse Poetry in Performance

Old Norse Poetry in Performance: Inheritance and Innovation Following its covid-induced hiatus, the third iteration of the triennial Old Norse Poetry in Performance conference will take place at St Hugh’s College, Oxford, on the 21st and 22nd of June 2023. Building on the successes of the conferences in 2016 and 2019 – which resulted in the recent publication of Old Norse Poetry in Performance (2022), a collection of essays edited by the previous organisers Brian McMahon and Annemari Ferreira – the intention of this conference remains, as before, to platform and develop the network of scholars and practitioners mutually interested in the poetic performance traditions of medieval Scandinavia.

With the theme ‘Inheritance and Innovation’, the 2023 programme aims to reflect even more completely the diversity in the performance traditions of the Old Norse source material, the scholarly traditions within the field, and the new, interdisciplinary perspectives being developed today. To this end, this conference will maintain the format of its previous iterations, showcasing academic research, practical performances, and the possibilities offered by combining the two.

The organisers invite proposals for 20-minute papers and/or performances, which might cover, but need not be limited to, the following:

• Comparative approaches to eddic, skaldic, and rímur performances

• Legacies of performance traditions

• The ‘beyond-the-page’ approach to source texts

• The effects of translation on performance

• Legacies of scholarly traditions

• Interdisciplinary adaptations of Old Norse poems

Proposals should be no more than 300 words and should be sent to, accompanied by a brief biographical note, by midnight on 17th February 2023.

For more information, please visit the conference website , or contact the organisers, Inés García López, Clare Mulley, Richard Munro, and Ben Chennells, at the email address given above.