Medieval Matters: Week 0

Here we are, at the beginning of a new term, and a new academic year. It gives me great pleasure to extend a warm welcome to those of you new to our Medievalist community at Oxford! You are now part of a network of over 200 medievalists across a wide range of disciplines and faculties. This weekly Medieval Matters Newsletter is you first port of call for all of Oxford’s rich and diverse medieval happenings, from CFPs and job opportunities to weekly seminars and reading groups.
I am thrilled to be returning as your Communications Officer for this year. Unfortunately we are running short on uplifting Old English wisdom, so this year I will be providing you with wisdomous tidbits from Alcuin of York (c. A.D. 732 to 804). As a polymath who taught and studied an exceptionally wide curriculum on both sides of the English channel and promoted education as a goal in and of itself, Alcuin embodies everything that we celebrate here at OMS. Here to get us started is his call for people to make good use of his work collecting sources:

Ne pereat labor noster in librorum collectione
[Don’t let the work I did building up the library go to waste!, Ep. 167]

This is a particularly relevant call for this week’s email, as I have been carefully compiling a ‘library’ of all of Oxford’s medieval seminars, events, reading lists and opportunities, for your perusal: the Medieval Booklet is now available! You can browse it at your leisure here. Please make good use of it: do not let my work go to waste! I will attach a “hard copy” to next week’s email, so if you have any last-minute changes or additions, please email them to me during this week.

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

  • St Edmund Hall Old Library Exhibition: Poem, Story, and Scape in the work of Kevin Crossley Holland’. This exhibition explores the work of Kevin Crossley-Holland (Honorary Fellow and 1959, English), prize-winning children’s author, translator, poet, librettist, editor and professor. Kevin engages creatively with language and poetry, place, history and legend. He captivates us by telling stories deeply rooted in past cultures, which he remakes to be compellingly contemporary and relevant. For this exhibition, Kevin has generously loaned items from his private collection to add to material from St Edmund Hall’s Archives and Special Collections. The exhibition will run from Friday 8 September – Monday 31 October. Visit by arrangement with the Librarian: library@seh.ox.ac.uk or 01865279062. Public opening on Monday 24 and Friday 28 October 10am-4pm.
  • Booking is now open for Oxford Latinitas 2022/23 online classes in both Latin and Ancient Greek. The Autumn Term runs from 10th October to 2nd December, and classes are available at all levels in both languages; bookings may also now be made for two terms or for the whole year. Students new to Oxford Latinitas (or new to our courses in either language) will have a short diagnostic call with one of our teachers in order to make sure they are placed in the right group. Full details and link to application sign-up can be found here.
  • Booking is now open for the Oxford Latinitas Septimana Latina Hiemalis, to be held at Palazzola, Rome, from 3rd-9th December 2022. Whatever your current level of Latin, from beginner to advanced, this week offers you the opportunity to make real progress towards fluency, while enjoying like-minded company in a beautiful location. Full details and link to application sign-up can be found here.
  • Medieval Postdoctoral Network: The Medieval Postdoctoral Network is a small group of postdocs, new and returning, who work on various aspects of medieval studies. We meet once a month to discuss the development of our work, set goals, and share skills and tips which may be helpful for Early Career Researchers. All are welcome – please email Rebecca Menmuir (r.menmuir@qmul.ac.uk) or Julie Mattison (j.r.mattison@rug.nl) to be added to the mailing list.
  • The Medievalist Coffee Morning is back! We kick off properly next week with a Mini-Medieval Roadshow. Join us at 10.30-11.30am next Friday, 14 October to meet all of the OMS Team and to hear more about events, seminars and reading groups taking place this term! If you would like to present your event/seminar etc, please do come along to advertise it! There might actually be manuscripts…

EVENTS THIS WEEK:

Monday 3rd October:

  • The Invisible East Lecture takes place at 4pm in the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, Lecture 1. The speaker will be Jonathan L. Lee, The History of the Armenian Community of Afghanistan. More information here.

Thursday 6th October:

  • The Invisible East Lecture takes place at 5pm online. The speaker will be Majid M. Mahdi, Islamisation, a closer look. Register for the webinar here.

Friday 7th October:

  • The Medievalist Coffee Morning takes place at 10:30-11.30am in the Visiting Scholars Centre in the Weston Library (access via the Readers Entrance on Museum Road: straight ahead and up two floors!).

OPPORTUNITIES:

  • CFP: The German Historical Institute Medieval History Seminar invites proposals from all areas and periods of medieval history and is not limited to historians working on German history or German-speaking regions of Europe. All methodological approaches are welcome. Applications from neighbouring disciplines are welcome if the projects have a distinct historical focus. The seminar is bi-lingual and papers and discussions will be conducted both in German and English. Participants must have a good reading and listening comprehension of both languages. Successful applicants must be prepared to submit a paper of approximately 5,000 words by August 15, 2023. They are also expected to prepare and present a commentary on the papers of another session. For full details, see our blog post.
  • Claudio Leonardi FELLOWSHIP for a critical edition of a medieval latin text (deadline November 7, 2022): The scholarship offered is aimed at the purpose of supporting research on medieval Latin culture and texts and especially to produce critical editions. The scholarship, in the amount of €30,000.00 is for one year from January 1, 2023. The critical edition produced will be published by the publisher SISMEL Edizioni del Galluzzo (www.sismel.it) after passing the usual peer-review procedures. The fellow agrees to present his/her research during the General Assembly of S.I.S.M.E.L. (Florence, April 1, 2023) and to give three lectures at S.I.S.M.E.L. during the term of the fellowship. Applications, addressed to the president of S.I.S.M.E.L, must be received by e-mail at presidenza@sismelfirenze.it no later than 10. 00 on November 7, 2022.
  • Call For Papers – Contesting Authenticity in Literature, 1200-1700. Proposals are warmly welcomed for this two-day conference, which aims to bring together speakers from across languages, disciplines, and period boundaries. The conference will explore literature which engages with ‘contesting authenticity’ in some way: pseudotexts, forgeries, imitations, narrative authenticity, the practice of contesting authenticity, and many more interpretations of the conference scope. The conference will take place on 30-31 March 2023 at Senate House, University of London; speakers will present in-person. A limited number of bursaries will be available for speakers and attendees. The Call For Papers and further conference information can be found at: https://authenticity2023.wordpress.com/.

I started this email by extending a welcome to our new members, so it seems fit to end on a ‘welcome back’ for those returning. For those of you returning to Oxford, whether from summer holidays or from careers elsewhere, we are delighted to have you back! If you (like me) managed to get less work done over the summer vac than you had hoped, some reassuring words:

Fervor mensis Augusti desidem, non voluntatis efficatia pigrum efficit
[It is the heat of August that has made him idle, not his desire to be lazy, Ep. 119]

Now we are in the cold of October, I am sure we will all get lots of productive research done! I am so looking forward to seeing many of you at events and seminars throughout the term. Wishing you all a successful and enjoyable term, filled with exciting research discoveries and the joys of medievalist community.

[Stepping into the RadCam after a summer away, a Medievalist shakes off their summer “idleness” and begins to feel much more like themselves again!]
Ashmole Bestiary, Bodleian Library MS. Ashmole 1511, f. 84r.
Viewable in full at Digital Bodleian

Medieval Matters: Is It Nearly Term Yet?

0th Week is approaching at a rate of knots, which means that this is the final announcement email before Medieval Matters resumes in full force! I’m excited to more formally welcome everyone back to Oxford and, of course, to unveil which manuscript will be gracing your inboxes every week, but for now, here are a few upcoming events, announcements, and three exciting job opportunities for graduate students:

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

  • Medieval Booklet Submissions. Thank you very much to all who have sent these to me so far! For those of you who still have submissions pending, a gentle reminder that you must send them to me by October 1st if you wish to ensure that they are included in the booklet for its 0th week release. Also a gentle reminder that your submission should include, wherever possible, a time and location for your events / seminars.
  • Medieval Blog Submissions. If you have a new book release / media appearance / new research project funding, we would love to advertise it on our blog! The OMS blog is seen by medievalists in and outside of Oxford and is a great place to showcase the achievements of our medieval community.

SAVE THE DATE:

Monday 10th October:

  • Black History Month lecture at St John’s College: St Johns College Auditorium, 2pm. Professor Michael Gomez from New York University will be speaking about “West Africa’s Mansa Musa: An Enigma for the Apogee of the Age.”. Mansa Musa is arguably West Africa’s most famous luminary, representing the region’s most illustrious period. Revisiting the sources, however, challenges conventional and pervasive notions about him and his acclaimed pilgrimage, raising critical questions about the import of his reign for West Africa and beyond. All are welcome to attend.

Monday 31st October:

  • Medieval Studies and Astor Visiting Lecture: Lecture Theatre 2, English Faculty, 5.15pm Followed by drinks. Prof. Ardis Butterfield (Yale) will be speaking on ‘Do we mean lyric or song?’.

OPPORTUNITIES:

  • 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! We are looking for 1) OMS Social Media Officer, 2) OMS Events Coordinator and 3) Graduate Convenor for the Medieval Mystery Cycle 2023. Though these are advertised as three separate posts, we welcome applications from students who would like to combine two or even all three posts. 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. For full details, see our blog post here.

Outgoing OMS Social Media Officer: Llewelyn Hopwood

After two years as Oxford Medieval Studies’s first dedicated social media officer, Llewelyn Hopwood shares his experiences and a few tips and tricks about social media usage in academia.

Before starting this role, I had only a basic knowledge of Facebook and Twitter, and only really for personal use. However, as it was the summer of Covid-19, everyone and everything had gone online, and suddenly an online network was the only network; an online profile was your only profile. I therefore threw myself into the world of social media for academia by applying for this job, which allowed me to kill two birds with one stone: to do my bit in keeping this vital network of Oxford medievalists alive and well and to learn a thing or two about how to use social media for academic engagement. Here, then, organised by platform, is a summary of what OMS got up to online over these past two years, why you should have a go at this job, and what to expect from it.

TWITTER

History: Twitter was the only platform with which OMS already had an account, and, since its birth in 2016, it had proved to be an efficient and useful way of communicating with and about the Oxford medievalist community and a great way of bringing new members into the fold. Since it got a dedicated tweeter, its followers doubled in number from around 2,500 in 2020 to nearly 5,000 today.
Tagging: If you want a tweet to be read by certain people – and hopefully their follows – don’t wait for them to find the tweet; bring the tweet to them! And do this by tagging them in it. Furthermore, tag ALL relevant faculties/departments and universities in ALL relevant tweets. When advertising a speaker, for example, tag them, and if they don’t have Twitter, tag their department or university.
Emojis: People – present author included – are lazy, and so don’t clutter your tweets with too much text. Tweets organised with emojis are far more eye catching and far easier to follow.
Images: For the same reason, tweets with images are far more likely to grab people’s attention. For better or worse, in the fast-paced world of Twitter, visuals trump text. The secondary benefit of including an image is that you can tag up to 10 accounts within the image as well as those tagged in the tweet
Scheduling: Twitter allows you to schedule tweets. This is a great idea when it comes to events that need promoting and that have a set date that is unlikely to change, and it is also a time saver for you.
Threads: Linking one tweet to another is good for long reads, but this is usually better suited for individual academics rather than academic institutions such as OMS, since the latter usually have a dedicated blog, website, or Facebook page (see below) where longer posts can be published. Nonetheless, with threads, remember to number each tweet so that the reader knows when the thread will end (1/5, 2/5, 3/5 etc.) and a nice little emoji of a thread won’t go amiss. 🧵
Trolls: Sadly, Twitter is the home of unwanted attention, aggression, misconceptions about the Middle Ages, and strongly-held opinions about Oxford. Part of this job is to avoid being sucked in. Resist the urge to be trigger happy with your replies; you may be in charge of the account, but you are not the sole voice of medieval studies at Oxford, so don’t engage with anything that might be controversial – even the things you may agree with – before consulting other members of the team.

FACEBOOK

History: In September 2020, we set up a brand-new Facebook page for OMS. With around 300 likes, its growth has been less dramatic than Twitter’s. However, particular advantages remain.
Longer posts: Tweets have a character limit and Instagram requires an image. Therefore, if you have something to advertise or an announcement to make that is particularly text-heavy, that is the time to post on Facebook. A condensed version should be posted elsewhere.
Events: Facebook is still the best home for advertising events. Although Twitter and Instagram posts are good at publicising the advert, the central advert itself is better off as a Facebook event as there you can include much more information and its internal functions allow this information to be clearly organised for your audience. The events function also allows you to get a rough idea of how many attendees to expect.
Scheduling: As above.

INSTAGRAM

History: OMS’s Instagram account was another new venture, launched around six months ago, and again boasts some 300 followers.
Images: Instagram is, of course, built for posts with images. For OMS, this is a good place to post summaries of big events, such as the Oxford Mystery Cycle, with a picture deck or perhaps even a collage made with a suitable app, e.g. PicCollage.
Live/Story: The Instagram Live or Story functions are both good ways to lives stream or live post pictures of events. This has not yet been used to its full potential.

YOUTUBE

History: OMS’s YouTube channel was yet another post-lockdown initiative, largely created in order to stream online and hybrid lectures and post them for posterity. During the past two years, organising the streaming itself has come under the remit of the Events Coordinator, which you can find more about in outgoing Events Coordinator Tom Revell’s recent post.

LINK IN BIO

If you have accounts on two or more social media platforms, it is a good idea to consolidate them in one place. This is where sites like Beacons and Linktree – also known as a ‘Link in Bio’ tool – come in handy. This is a single hub that houses further links to your various platforms in order to save space in your description box, stopping it from being cluttered with links. OMS’s Beacons page houses links to its Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram accounts as well as the term booklet and its principal website, which is home to this blog and which recently moved from its previous location on TORCH’s website.

YOUR TURN

The post asks for roughly an hour a week of your time, sometimes more during term time, less during vacations. I would encourage anyone with any knowledge and interest in social media to consider this role. But the most important criterion is an enthusiastic desire to bring together the fantastic network of medievalists that Oxford Medieval Studies fosters. As well as the technical know-how about social media that you will gain directly from this post, you will also indirectly find yourself learning about advertising, marketing, networking, and even graphic design and publishing. Go for it!

Llewelyn Hopwood is a DPhil student in Medieval Welsh poetry at Corpus Christi College, Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Faculty of English’s graduate journal, Oxford Research in English, and the Welsh materials resident on the University of Liverpool’s Human Remains project.

Main image credit: Leaf from a Beatus Manuscript: the Fourth Angel Sounds the Trumpet and an Eagle Cries Woe, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Leaf_from_a_Beatus_Manuscript-_the_Fourth_Angel_Sounds_the_Trumpet_and_an_Eagle_Cries_Woe_MET_DT304319.jpg (CC0 1.0)

ETC Seminar on Textual Cultures in Contact (Oxford, TT22)

The Early Text Cultures research cluster based at Oxford is pleased to present its Research Seminar series in Trinity Term (May and June 2022), which will be on ‘Textual Cultures in Contact’. Through sessions comprising paired papers, this seminar series will enable participants and attendees alike to gain fresh perspectives on the nature of ‘contact’ among textual cultures, and on the affordances and limitations of their fields’ methods and approaches to the topic. 

The seminar will be held in a hybrid form, with Zoom connection complementing on-site presence atthe Dickson Poon Building (China Centre, Oxford), Lucina Ho Seminar Room, on Tuesdays 16:30-18:00 UK time. Auditors are most welcome to attend in person. Zoom links will be provided on each session’s day to those who sign up here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1BtWbVHXkBFq-CvimjVnVolSeDcpR54ssZdWUC6jf15I/edit.

Please find the programme below; abstracts may be found on our website (https://www.earlytextcultures.org/events/current-events/research-seminar-tt-22).

Programme

§ Session 1 (17 May)
Cross-Cultural Competition
(Near East, Hebrew Bible, Greece)

Joe Barber (Oxford): ‘Walk about the City and See Its Walls: An Echo of the Epic of Gilgameš in Psalm 48?’
Alexander Meeus (Mannheim): ‘Josephus’ Historiographical Theory in Against Apion: Jewish or Greek Method?’

§ Session 2 (24 May)
Scribes as Cultural Vehicles
(Near East, China and the Silk Road)

Ludovica Bertolini (Prague): ‘A Preliminary Reflection on the Use of Sumerian Literature in Scribal Education at Ugarit’ 
Christopher Foster (SOAS) & Tomas Larsen Høisæter (Western Norway): ‘Writing Between Empires: Script Use in the Tarim Basin along the Southern Silk Road’

§ Session 3 (7 June)
Materiality of Translation 
(Medieval Greek and Latin, China)

Erene Rafik Morcos (Princeton/Rome): ‘… διὰ χειρὸς τοῦ πολυαμαρτήτου ῾Ρωμανοῦ… by the hand of the great sinner Romanos …’ 
Nelson Landry (Oxford): ‘A Five Dynasties Manuscript in Relation to Tang Buddhist Culture: A Study of S.3728 from the British Library’

§ Session 4 (14 June)
Religion Through Cultural Boundaries
(Iran, India and China)

Aleksandra Wenta (Florence): ‘Early Tantric Magic: An Example of Śaiva (Hindu)-Buddhist Intertextuality in Pre-modern India’ 
Francesco Barchi (Munich): ‘Traces of “Buddhist Iranian” in Early Chinese Buddhist Translations’

We hope to see many of you there!

Script vs print vs code: the information revolution in one afternoon

Free, open to all.

When? – Monday 11 October 2021, 1 pm to 3:30 pm

Where? – Weston Library, Blackwell Hall (public foyer)

Members of the Oxford Scribes and printers from the Bodleian Bibliographical Press race to produce a page of text. Settle the 500-year-old question – which is faster?

Weblink: http://blogs.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/theconveyor/events-from-the-bodleian-centre-for-the-study-of-the-book-autumn-2021/

Header: Collage of work by Ruskin School of Art graduates and researchers

Register now for “Hyggnaþing: Old Norse Graduate Conference”, 11 August

Registration is now open for Hyggnaþing: An Old Norse Graduate Conference, co-organised by DPhil in English student, Natasha Bradley, and funded by the OMS Small Grants fund. Register here!

Hyggnaþing, meaning ‘Meeting of Minds’, is a one-day conference in Old Norse studies that will take place online, with socialisation opportunities offered using Wonder.

Hyggnaþing will be completely live, comprising panels of 20-minute papers and discussion. Inspired by the momentous developments of the past year, the conference theme brings you papers that consider the areas of research that involve change and fluctuation. We hope that, in considering the transitional aspects within the work of the conference’s speakers, they will be able to harness the ambiguities and uncertainties of our time to engage with new ideas and perspectives.

Registration is now open for Hyggnaþing: An Old Norse Graduate Conference

See below for the day’s programme, which features numerous exciting papers from graduate students across the UK and a keynote by Dr Sarah Baccianti of Queen’s University Belfast, who will be speaking on ‘Old Norse Medical Charms: Healing Words and Recipes’.

The conference is free but registration is required. Further details, including the form to register, can be found on the conference website.

Manuscript journeys: from German lands to digital libraries

About the event

This event marks the completion of a three-year digitization project delivered by the Bodleian Libraries, Oxford and the Herzog August Bibliothek in Wolfenbuttel. The ‘Manuscripts from German-Speaking Lands’ project, funded by The Polonsky Foundation, has digitized hundreds of medieval manuscripts from collections at The Herzog August Bibliothek and the Bodleian and made these freely available online to scholars and the public.

The panel discussion will explore the journey of these manuscript collections from their origins in the religious houses of medieval Germany, their acquisition by the libraries in Wolfenbüttel and Oxford and their digitization and publication online.

 Speakers

Richard Ovenden OBE, Bodley’s Librarian

Julia Gross, Chargé d’ Affaires a.i. of the German Embassy London

Marc Polonsky, The Polonsky Foundation

Peter Burschel, Herzog August Bibliothek

Henrike Lähnemann, University of Oxford

Joanna Story, University of Leicester

Booking information

When you have booked your place, the ticketing system will send you an automated confirmation.

A link to access the online event will be sent by the morning of the event to the email address associated with your booking.

See our project website for more information about the project and to see the digitized collections.

Medieval Trade Study Day

Medieval Trade Study Day, 1st July, 10am-3:30pm.
There are places left for this study day, which will involve small group handling sessions at the Ashmolean in the morning, a packed lunch provided, and afternoon discussions with the group as a whole. If anyone would like to sign up, please fill in the following form: https://forms.gle/LB2wWvWdFU4gKRkXA. The Study Day has been arranged for the Medieval Trade Reading Group to further our conversations from over the past year. Sign up will close at the end of 24th June.

The day will consist of:

Morning: Ashmolean visit. We will have small group handling sessions led by Dr Harris (to abide by Covid regulations). While one group is in the session, the other two will be exploring the museum.

Lunch: Packed sandwich lunches, (probably provided at the Andrew Wiles building but location TBC).

Afternoon: Group discussions about methodologies and primary sources in the Humanities Division building.
This is planned to be very much guided by what the group would most benefit from – please indicate preferences below.

The scheduled study day will begin at 10:00 is planned to end by 15:30.

Any questions, please contact Annabel at annabel.hancock@history.ox.ac.uk.

Stitching Together Past and Present: Nuntastic Textiles and Victorian Medievalism

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!)).

(One of the altar cloths we discovered, embroidered by Mother Marian Hughes (1817-1912)

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.

The spookiest object in the House: a nun doll dressed in the habit of the Sisters of the Society of the Holy and Undivided Trinity, dressed by Mother Marian Rebecca Hughes (1817-1912)

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

Date unknown

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 letter

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’.

Maria Pusey’s letter

 3. Sermon case made for Dr Pusey by an anonymous embroiderer

Pusey House Archive, Object 15

1847

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.

(Note the misspelling of “Christ Church” as “Christ’s Church”)
(Obverse cover)

4. Corporal made by Mother Marian Rebecca Hughes (1817–1912) for Dr Pusey

Pusey House Archive, PUS/Lin/1

1846

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

1894

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

Medieval Matters: Week 1 TT21

Dear all,

At last, after much anticipation, the new term is finally here! Trinity is beginning with a (very sunny and pleasant) bang; take a look at the intellectual banquet on offer in the booklet (newly updated!) and on our digital calendar.

A few announcements to begin:

First, this term’s Oxford Medieval Studies Lecture will be livestreamed on the OMS YouTube channel tomorrow at 5 pm! Come watch Jim Harris present live from the Ashmolean on ‘Museum in the Middle: Medieval Things in a (Still) Medieval University’ and ask your questions on the live chat. We’ll also be officially launching the revived and revamped medieval.ox.ac.uk website.

Another wonderful conference meriting your attention: Medicine in the Medieval North Atlantic World, originally scheduled to take place in March 2020, will now be held over Zoom on 13-15 May 2021. This interdisciplinary event explores the reception and transmission of medical knowledge across England, Ireland, Wales, Scotland, and Scandinavia during the medieval period, and will draw on history, literature, philosophy, science, religion, art, archaeology, and manuscript studies. Plenary lectures include Debby Banham, Guy Geltner, and Charlotte Roberts. Full program and registration details here.

UCL’s Medieval Scandinavia Seminars will run again this term; on 29 April, 5-7 pm, Alisa Valpola-Walker (Cambridge) will speak on ‘Saga and Media-Consciousness in Two Late Fifteenth Century Manuscripts AM 589a-f 4to and AM 586 4to’, and on 27 May, 5-7 pm, Benjamin Allport (Bergen) will offer a paper on a title tbc – details forthcoming. Zoom link for the first seminar here and the second seminar here.

Abusing my position as Communications Officer for an announcement of my own: Oxford Fantasy, the university’s research cluster for fantasy literature, is producing a new series of our popular podcast! Do you have a fantasy author, text, or topic you could talk about accessibly and authoritatively for ten to fifteen minutes? Want to record an audio or video file that will be shared on podcasts.ox.ac.uk, Spotify, and the beloved Great Writers Inspire site? Contact caroline.batten@ell.ox.ac.uk with your pitch. We’re particularly seeking scholars knowledgeable about N. K. Jemisin, Marlon James, and Nnedi Okorafor, but we’re interested in any topic that moves you and encourage a diverse range of fantasy texts and writers. Have a listen to some of our previous material here.

[Seminars], swete [seminars], mi druð, mi derling, mi drihtin, mi healend, mi huniter, mi haliwei. – The Wooing of Our Lord, when properly edited

MONDAY 26 APRIL

  • The Oxford Byzantine Graduate Seminar meets at 12:30 pm on Zoom. Please register in advance by contacting james.cogbill@worc.ox.ac.uk. This week’s speaker is Katherine Krauss (Somerville), ‘Rereading the “Canon” in Latin Late Antiquity: Exemplarity and Allusion in Macrobius’ Saturnalia’.
  • The Medieval Latin Reading Group meets 1-2 pm on Teams. Improve your Latin, learn palaeographical skills, and engage first-hand with medieval texts by reading reproductions of manuscripts. Submit your email address here to receive notices.
  • At 4 pm we have the Germanic Reading Group on Zoom, which will explore alliterative verse in a different Germanic language each week; this week, Rafael Pascual will lead a session on Old English. To be added to the list, contact howard.jones@sbs.ox.ac.uk.
  • Sign up for Mark Williams’ class on Scottish Gaelic and Modern Irish Poetry, held Mondays at 4:30 pm. Contact mark.williams@ell.ox.ac.uk for locations and links.
  • The Medieval History Seminar meets at 5 pm on Teams. This week’s speaker is Laurence McKellar (Exeter College), ‘The Language of the Royal Service in Castilian Political Culture, c. 1275-1325’.
  • Old Norse Reading Group continues its journey through Hervarar saga at 5:30 pm on Teams. Email bond.west@lincoln.ox.ac.uk to be added to the mailing list.

TUESDAY 27 APRIL

  • The Medieval Book Club meets at 3:30 pm on Google Meet. Contact oxfordmedievalbookclub@gmail.com for the link. This term’s theme is ‘Medieval Legends’, and Week 1 will kick things off with readings on unicorns!
  • The Medieval French Research Seminar and Medieval Church and Culture Seminar will not meet this week to allow everyone to attend the OMS Lecture at 5 pm.

WEDNESDAY 28 APRIL

  • The Medieval German Graduate Seminar meets at 11:15 am on Teams. This week will be a short organizational meeting, but guest lecturer Annette Gerok-Reiter will speak on the Tübingen SFB ‘Andere Ästhetik’ at 5 pm on Teams. Contact linus.ubl@some.ox.ac.uk for more information.
  • Digital Editions Live, a seminar series presenting palaeographical, book historical, and digital humanities projects developed by MML Masters students, will meet at 3 pm on Teams. (Join the meeting here.) This week, Henrike Lähnemann, Emma Huber, and Andrew Dunning will offer an introduction, before Sebastian Dows-Miller speaks on ‘Re-Awakening Merton’s Beasts (Merton College MS 249)’.
  • The Medieval English Research Seminar meets at 4:30 pm (note the new time) on Teams. Contact daniel.wakelin@ell.ox.ac.uk if you need the link. This week’s speaker is Misty Schieberle (University of Kansas), ‘Rewriting Christine de Pizan: Hoccleve, Misogyny, and Manuscript Evidence’.
  • The Late Antique and Byzantine Seminar meets at 5 pm on Google Meet (link here). This week’s speaker is Przemysław Marciniak (Katowice), ‘Of Fleas and Men: Byzantine Cultural Entomology’. 

THURSDAY 29 APRIL

  • Sign up for David Willis’ class on Middle Welsh Bardic Grammars; contact david.willis@ling-phil.ox.ac.uk for locations and links.
  • GLARE (Greek, Latin, and Reception) Reading Group meets at 4 pm on Teams. Email john.colley@jesus.ox.ac.uk or jenyth.evans@seh.ox.ac.uk to be added to the list. This week’s reading will be Aristophanes, Frogs, 51-82, 180-96, 689-99, 1019-56.
  • The Aquinas Seminar Series continues on the theme of De Magistro: Aquinas and the Education of the Whole Person, at 4:30 pm on Zoom. Please register in advance here. This week’s speaker is Rev Dr Nicholas Austin (Campion Hall), ‘The Education of the Eye: Aquinas and the Virtue of Right Attention’. 
  • Old English Reading Group soldiers through Bede’s Historia Ecclesiastica at 5:30 pm on Teams. Email eugenia.vorobeva@jesus.ox.ac.uk for more information.

FRIDAY 30 APRIL

Good seminars: swetter þen mildeu o muðe. Have a wonderful week!