2024 Oxford Medieval Graduate Conference in Review

The 2024 Oxford Medieval Graduate Conference, hosted by the Maison Française d’Oxford, took place this past Monday and Tuesday, the 8th and 9th of April.

Since 2005, the OMGC has been an annual forum for graduate scholars from Oxford and beyond to share their research. The two-day conference brought together rising medievalists from Ireland, Sweden, Finland, Canada, France, Switzerland, and the UK and featured panels on divine affectivity, scribes and songs, visual signs, objects and collections, palaeography, and codicology.

Professor Henrike Lähnemann (Oxford) heralded the start of the conference on Monday morning with fanfare from the Oxford Medieval Studies trumpet – an appropriate opening to the conference, which was themed around ‘signs and scripts.’ United by the semiotic theme, participants found unexpected connections between a diverse set of presentations.

Professor Henrike Lähnemann playing her OMS trumpet in the Maison Française d’Oxford auditorium.

Professor Sophie Page (UCL) delivered her keynote presentation “Magic Signs and Censored Scripts in Medieval Europe,” closing the first day of papers. Her keynote delved into the syncretic texts of medieval magic, the efficacy of which required proper ritual performance – careful attention to the details of diagrams, auspicious star and cosmological signs, and specific material components.

Magic circle from the De secretis spirituum planetis in which the practitioner stands to summon planetary angels. Collection of alchemical, technical, medical, magic, and divinatory tracts (Miscellanae Alchemica XII), late 15th century. Wellcome Collection, MS 517, f. 234v.

Professor Page’s keynote dovetailed with Ellen Hausner’s (Oxford) paper on the alchemical images and text of the Ripley Scroll, which communicate a sense of time and space as core alchemical concepts trickle down from divine creation to the corporeal world. Signs and symbols are concentrations of meaning. Even small signifiers (although the scroll is over 2.6 meters long!) can signify immense, cosmological ideas.

As exemplified by Marlene Schilling’s (Oxford) paper on devotion to personified liturgical days in the prayer books of northern German convents, signs and scripts also have the power to lend physicality, visuality, and agency to concepts. Signs and scripts are means of power and community creation and consolidation. Or as Wilhelm Lungar (Stockholm) put it in his paper ‘Communicating Identity on Scandinavian Monastic Seals in the Middle Ages,’ objects like seals, as both historically situated artefacts and texts, mediate representation, identity, and authority.

From left to right: presentations by Elena Lichmanova (Oxford), Wilhelm Lungar (Stockholm), and Corinne Clark (Geneva).

The challenge of interpretation and an embrace of plural perspectives was a through-line for the conference, sparking rich, generative conversation. In her paper, ‘Mirror Writing and the Art of Self Reflection,’ Elena Lichmanova (Oxford) asked why and how offensive phrases like tu es asin[us] (‘you are an ass’) could be included in the thirteenth-century Rutland Psalter and surveyed the ways artists created nuances of meaning by manipulating the direction of script. Corinne Clark’s (Geneva) presentation on the life of St. Margaret considered the symbolism and mixed hagiographic reception of the saint’s battle with a dragon in which she is consumed by the demonic beast, erupting from its abdomen. Both topics inspired collaborative thinking among participants and emphasized the importance of analytical parallax to deepen our understanding of images and texts controversial and cryptic even to contemporaries.

As Megan Gorsalitz (Queen’s University, Kingston) made clear in her presentation on Old English riddles, mindless consumption steals meaning and risks careless, uncritical perpetuation. Signs and scripts require careful reflection of the manifold voices and identities they represent as well as those they conceal.

Detail of illuminated moth in decorated border. Book of Hours of King Charles VIII, 15th century. Utopia, armarium codicum bibliophilorum, Cod. 111, f. 96r.

A moth ate words. It seemed to me / a strange occasion, when I inquired about that wonder, / that the worm swallowed the riddle of certain men, / a thief in the darkness, the glorious pronouncement / and its strong foundation. The stealing guest was not / one whit the wiser, for all those words he swallowed.

Exeter Book Riddle 47

Charlotte Wood (Oxford), Marc Lawson (Trinity College Dublin), and Ilari Aalto (Turku) all grappled with the difficulties of studying oft-overlooked material culture. For Wood, whose paper focused on comb placement in Anglo-Saxon cremations, the significance of deliberately broken comb-ends in Anglo-Saxon burial urns remains elusive but exciting for their potential to tell us more about funerary practices. In his paper on brickmakers’ marks in late medieval Finland, Aalto suggested explanations for marks found in churches, which may simultaneously represent saints as an allusion to brickmakers’ names and act as a remembrance of the artisan embedded in the church. Drawing upon visual culture, written references, and extant examples of early Irish book satchels, Lawson demonstrated the prevalence of book satchels and suggested a more complex understanding of manuscript binding and use in early medieval Ireland.

The conference also featured a comprehensive selection of case studies exploring signs of manuscript creation, composition, authorship, revision, genre, and punctuation. Peter Fraundorfer’s (Trinity College Dublin) paper on a sammelband produced for Reichenau Abbey considered what the text’s language and contents can tell us about its author and intended readership, while Sebastian Dows-Miller (Oxford) took a statistical approach to the relationship between composition and authorship, identifying changes in scribal hand through changes in abbreviation frequency. In her presentation on Carthusian marginalia in The Book of Margery Kempe, Lucy Dallas (East Anglia) discussed the reception and reworking of the text for the monks and Elliot Vale’s paper on CCCC MS 201 problematized modern translations of vernacular works in which poetry and prose blend in structural and punctuation.

Margaret of Antioch emerging from the defeated dragon with the sign of the cross. Book of Hours, 15th century. Oxford, Bodleian Library MS. Rawl. liturg. e. 12, fol. 149v.

Papers by Jemima Bennett (Kent and Bodleian Libraries), Rhiannon Warren (Cambridge), Max Hello (Paris 1 – HiCSA), and Thomas Phillips (Bristol) all focused on the collection, manipulation, recycle, reconstruction, and aesthetics of manuscripts. Bennett’s work on fifteenth-century Oxford bookbinding continued the theme of plural interpretations as she discussed patterns and possible reasoning behind the recycle of manuscript fragments by collectors. Similarly, Phillips focused on recovering lost script from fragments of the Anglo-Saxon Office of St. Alban. Warren and Hello also touched on signs of manuscript manipulation, reuse, and changing aesthetic preferences in their respective presentations on Árni Magnússon’s Icelandic manuscript collection and ornamentation in Merovingian book writing. Complementing the presentations on material culture, the palaeography and codicology sessions reinforced the materiality of manuscripts and fluidity of text.

From left to right: presentations by Max Hello (Paris 1 – HiCSA), Jemima Bennett (Kent and Bodleian Libraries), and Sebastian Dows-Miller (Oxford).

Presentations aside, the congenial atmosphere and enthusiasm of the participants made for constructive knowledge exchange and an enjoyable two days of conversation. From the 2024 OMGC committee, thank you to all who attended. The committee is also excited to announce that the theme for the 2025 Oxford Medieval Graduate Conference will be Magic, Rituals, and Ceremonies! Until then, keep an eye on the OMGC blog for posts by this year’s presenters.

The 2024 OMGC committee (Katherine Beard, Ashley Castelino, Emma-Catherine Wilson, Kate McKee, Ryan Mealiffe, Mary O’Connor, and Eugenia Vorobeva) thank our sponsors for making this year’s conference possible.

The 2024 Oxford Medieval Graduate Conference was presented in association with the Maison Française d’ Oxford, the Oxford Festival of the Arts, the Society for the Study of Medieval Languages and Literature (Medium Ævum), the Oxford Faculty of Music, the Oxford Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages, Oxford Medieval Studies (OMS), and The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH).

Header Image: The White Hart, pub sign (colorized), ca. 1750. Victoria and Albert Museum, London, W.69:2-1938. Photoshopped onto background of Merton Street, Oxford.

“Unprovenanced” – a lecture series hosted by the Centre for Manuscript and Text Cultures, The Queen’s College, Oxford

Weds 28th Feb, 5.15, The Memorial Room, The Queen’s College

Fruits of the poisonous tree: unprovenanced artefacts and the ethics of consuming archaeological knowledge

Yağmur Heffron, UCL

Opening with a juicy (if cautionary) tale of archaeological mystery and scandal, this lecture will invite the audience to engage in entirely imaginary and possibly fantastical thought experiments around whether it can ever be possible to extract, rescue, or salvage information from suspiciously unprovenanced artefacts – especially those in private collections – in an ethical manner. The purpose of these experiments is to tease out the complex interrelationships between personal and professional gain, conflicts of interest, and power dynamics surrounding the consumption of archaeological knowledge, in order to test if the latter can be satisfactorily isolated. How much are researchers willing to sacrifice to make the fruits from a poisonous tree safe to eat?  

The ethics of publishing unprovenanced manuscripts is a hotly contested issue, with scholars becoming more and more polarised on each side of the debate. This new lecture series aims to find new ways of approaching the topic, going beyond ‘for and against’ to explore the challenges presented by these texts in nuanced ways. Our aim is to stimulate considered debate with an audience varied in both background and opinion, finding ways forward to bridge the divide. All are welcome.

Medievalists Coffee Mornings!

When: Fridays, 10.30-11.30 am

Where: Visiting Scholars Centre in the Weston Library
How to get there: via the Readers Entrance on Parks Road, 2nd floor via the staircase/elevator just straight ahead from the readers entrance (stick to the concrete part, do not use the ornamental staircase or you will land in the Conservation Department which is also nice but where no coffee is allowed)

All medievalists working in Oxford are welcome! Join us for coffee, conversations, and many insights into the Bodleian collections, cf. the playlist ‘Weston Library Coffee Mornings’:

Interfaith Harmony: Singing from Manuscripts

10 February 2024, 11:15-12:00, organised by the Oxford Interfaith Forum  as part of the One World Family Festival at the Ashmolean Museum.

Venue: Cast Gallery, Ashmolean Museum, Beaumont St, Oxford. OX1 2PH.

Shofar player opening Psalm 80, with the caption ‘Sing a new song unto the Lord’ in a Psalter manuscript from the German convent of Medingen, ca. 1500, Bodleian Library, MS. Don. e. 248, fol. 145v

This event will begin with music from medieval manuscripts in the Bodleian Library. The performance will also feature songs in Hebrew, Greek, Latin, German, and English for all to join, and will be interspersed with the sound of shofar and shell horn.

Music list: Shofar: Call to celebrating unity; ‘Cantate domino’ (Bodleian, MS. Don. e. 248, 247v); ‘Cantate domino’ (Giuseppe Pitoni); ‘Lumen ad revelacionem’ (MS. Lat. liturg. e. 18, 8r); Shell horn: Call to preserving nature; ‘Every part of this earth shall holy be for us’ (round by Stephan Vesper); Sea weed horn: Call to peace; ‘Hinema tov’ (round, orally transmitted); Horn: ‘Üsküdar’a gider iken’; ‘Victime paschali’ & ‘Christ ist erstanden’ (Bodleian, MS. Lat. liturg. f. 4); ‘Dona nobis pacem’ (round, orally transmitted).

This follows on from previous events organised by Henrike Lähnemann and Andrew Dunning ‘Singing from Manuscripts’. Click here to learn more about singing from Medieval Sources in the Bodleian Library.

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CMTC presents — “Work in Progress” Colloquium

Tuesday the 13th of February 2024, 5.15–6.45pm UK time Centre for Manuscript and Text Cultures

Memorial Room, The Queen’s College    

1. A. D’Angelo (Rome ‘Sapienza’), ‘Catullan marginalia in the 16th century: the books of Piero Vettori’. 

The Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in Munich preserves three printed editions of Catullus’ Liber with marginal notes by Piero Vettori (1499-1585). This important scholar edited dozens of Classical authors, but never published anything on Catullus: thus, these books are the main extant evidence of his work on this poet. The notes contain variant readings, original conjectures and loci similes, and they offer new insights on Vettori’s philological method and his library. Through these marginalia, I will try to point out Vettori’s main interests in Catullus’ poetry and the sources he used for his Catullan studies.

2. Marlene Schilling (Oxford), ‘A special form of devotion – personifications of time in late medieval prayer books from Northern Germany’.  

Addressing liturgical holidays, for example welcoming Mr Easterday, is a particular characteristic of late medieval vernacular prayer-books from North German female convents. They highlight a distinct form of poetics, because describing and interacting with specific points in time – personifying them – allows an intercommunication with the divine that conveys a certain form of agency to the speaker. In this paper, we explore the particular type of prayer-books these personifications are found in, talk about their material indicators within the text, and think about the special role of the prayer-books from the Cistercian convent Medingen within this distinct manuscript landscape.

Medieval Matters: Week 1

On behalf of OMS, welcome back to Oxford, and to this term’s Medieval Matters newsletter! I hope you are all feeling well rested and ready for a busy term of medieval events. Oxford always feels very quiet in the first week of January, and this extract from the Epistolae project summarises the feeling of waiting for the medievalists to return for the new term:

Revertere […] ut […] in tuo reditu laetitia redeat universis
[Return […] so that […] by your return, happiness may return to all]
A letter from Rotrud of Rouen, archibishop, to Eleanor of Aquitane

It’s a delight and a happiness to welcome you all back. To bring further happiness, I come bearing New Year’s Gifts in the form of the Medieval Booklet, which lists all of the events, seminars and reading groups happening this term, alongside a whole host of opportunities, from CFPs to micro-internships. Click here to view the booklet. A final version will be attached to next week’s email as a pdf. New year, though, is a time for fresh things as well as old ones, and inside the booklet will find the return of many old favourites, but also some brand new groups and events joining us for the new year. A particularly warm welcome to the brand new Middle Welsh Reading Group, Oxford Medieval Studies Greek and Latin Reading Group, and Oxford Medieval Manuscripts Group!

A further happiness and New Year’s Gift can be found on our blog. To herald the new year, poet and DPhil student, Clare Mulley, recounts her experience of interpreting, translating and performing one of the most famous poems in the Old Norse canon for the Old Norse Poetry in Performance 2023. Read Clare’s wonderful account on our blog here.

We have so much in store for you this term, and I for one am excited for it all to begin. In particular, please save the date for our termly OMS lecture, in which Peregrine Horden (All Souls) will speak on ‘Healthy Crusading in the Age of Frederick II:  the puzzle of Adam of Cremona‘. The lecture will take place on Tuesday 5th March (8th Week), 5pm: mark it in your diaries and calendars! For now, here is this week’s roundup:

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

  • Save the Date: Oxford Medieval Society. Thurs 29 Feb / 7th week : “The hooly blisful martir for to seke: Manuscripts with Chaucer’s pilgrims”. Oxford Medieval Society talk and manuscript session with Andrew Dunning (Bodleian, Jesus) and Alison Ray (St Peter’s, All Souls). Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales tell the story of pilgrims ‘from every shires ende / Of Engelond to Caunterbury they wende’. Experience these journeys, both real and imagined, at 15:00–16:30 at the Weston Library Lecture Theatre, where we’ll explore the Chaucer Here and Now exhibition at the Bodleian Library and enjoy a private showing of manuscripts relating to pilgrimage and Thomas Becket. Please register your attendance at Oxford Medieval Society.
  • Recordings of the Tolkien 50th Anniversary Seminars held in Michaelmas Term in Exeter College are now available here: https://podcasts.ox.ac.uk/series/fantasy-literature.

EVENTS THIS WEEK:

Monday 15th January:

  • The Medieval French Palaeography Reading Group meets at 10.30-12 in the Weston Library. This group is open to anyone with an interest in Old French, Middle French and Anglo-Norman manuscripts. We study and read manuscripts from the 12th century to the late 15th century. If you are interested in joining the group or would like more information, please write to: laure.miolo@history.ox.ac.uk
  • The Medieval History Seminar meets at 5pm in the Wharton Room, All Souls College. This week’s speaker will be Conor O’Brien (Oxford), ‘The Rise of Christian Kingship and the De-Secularization of the Latin West’. The seminar will also be available via Teams: The Teams session can be accessed by logging in to Teams with your .ox.ac.uk account and joining the group “Medieval History Research Seminar” (team code rmppucs). Alternatively, it can be accessed via this link. If you have any difficulties please email: medhistsem@history.ox.ac.uk.

Tuesday 16th January:

  • The Europe in the Later Middle Ages Seminar meets at 2-3.30pm in the Dolphin Seminar Room, St John’s College. Tea and coffee available from 1.45pm. Undergraduates welcome. This week will be a discussion session.
  • The Medieval Church and Culture Seminar meets at Wellbeloved Room, Harris Manchester College. Tea & coffee from 5pm; papers begin at 5.15pm. This week’s speaker is Emma-Catherine Wilson (Hertford), ‘Crying Rich Folks’ Lauds: the social status of heralds in the late Middle Ages‘. Everyone is welcome at this informal and friendly graduate seminar!
  • The Old Occitan Literature Workshop meets at 5-6pm at Taylor Institution, Hall. In Hilary term, we will read and translate extracts from texts written in Old Occitan. All welcome! Please email the address below for details of the texts we will be working on. Interested members will be invited to translate short passages which we will then workshop in meetings 2 and 3. To sign up, or for any other queries, email Kate Travers

Wednesday 17th January:

  • The Medieval German Seminar meets at 11.15, at St Edmund Hall, Old Library. This week we will have a shorter organisational meeting. In Hilary Term, we are going to discuss the writings by ‘Frau Ava’, the first women author whose name we know, transmitted in the Vorau Manuscript. We will work with the edition by Maike Claußnitzer and Kassandra Sperl. We will meet in the Old Library in St Edmund Hall. Tea and coffee are provided but please bring your own mug! Further information and reading recommendations via the teams channel; if you want to be added to that: please email Henrike Lähnemann.
  • The Medieval Latin Document Reading Group meets at 4-5pm on Teams. A document is sent out in advance but homework is not expected. Please contact Michael Stansfield for further details and the Teams link.
  • The Late Antique and Byzantine Seminar meets at 5pm at The Ioannou Centre for Classical and Byzantine Studies 66 St Giles and online via Microsoft Teams by clicking here. This week’s speaker will be Christian Sahner (University of Oxford) – ‘How Zoroastrians Debated Muslims in the Early Islamic Period‘.
  • The Medieval English Research Seminar will meet at 5.15pm in Lecture Theatre 2, St Cross Building. Today’s speakers will be Jasmine Jones (Oxford), ‘Monasticism, Mystery and the Mind: The Vernacular Theology of the Old English Daniel’ and Charlotte Ross (Oxford), ‘Manuscripts and Readers of Thomas Hoccleve’s The Regiment of Princes. The seminar will be followed by a wine reception. All welcome!
  • Dante Reading Group meets at 5.30-7pm in St Anne’s College, Seminar Room 11. Each week, we will be reading through and discussing a canto of the Divine Comedy in a relaxed and informal setting, delving into Dante’s language and imagination in manageable chunks. The group is open to those with or without a knowledge of Italian, the reading being sent out in the original and in translation. Refreshments, both alcoholic and otherwise, will be provided! To register or ask any questions, please email Charles West (Sponsored by TORCH).

Thursday 18th January:

  • The Late Roman Seminar will meet at 4pm in the Seminar Room, Corpus Christi College. This week’s speaker will be Ana Dias, ‘‘May the voice of the faithful resound’: colophons in early Iberian manuscripts’.
  • The Ethics of Textual Criticism Seminar meets at 10-12 in Harris Seminar Room, Oriel College. This week’s speaker will be Tristan Franklinos (Oxford) – ‘On whose authority? Editing ancient and medieval Latin texts – some examples’.
  • The Middle Welsh Reading Group meets at 2-4pm in Jesus College, Habakuk Room. No previous knowledge of Middle Welsh is assumed. Translations will be provided with plenty of time to ask questions at the end. We’ll read a selection of early and late Middle Welsh prose and poetry to offer everyone a chance to experience the richness of Middle Welsh and its literary tradition. This week Svetlana will be waiting at the porters’ lodge by the Turl Street entrance until about 2:05pm. For any late comers, please email the address below. Please email to register your interest so that Svetlana knows how many people to expect: Svetlana Ó Siochfhradha Prešern.

Friday 19th January:

  • The Ethics of Textual Criticism Seminar meets at 12-3.30 in Ioannou Centre, 66 St Giles. This week’s speaker will be Irene Peirano Garrison (Harvard) – ‘Latin grammar in the Age of Philology’.
  • The Late Antique Latin Reading Group meets at 12-1pm, in the Hovenden Room, All Souls College, and is open to anyone engaged in research on the late antique world. Though prior knowledge of Latin is required, we welcome people with a range of abilities. We particularly welcome graduate students and early career academics. If you would like to attend, or you have any questions, feel free to contact either of the convenors. Please do RSVP if you intend to attend, so that we can gauge numbers and circulate the readings. Contact: David Addison and Alison John.
  • Exploring Medieval Oxford through Lincoln Archives meets at 2-3pm, in Seminar Room 2, EPA Centre, Museum Road. Anyone interested in analyzing primary sources and conducting a comprehensive examination of the documents are welcome to attend. Those who are interested can contact Lindsay McCormack and Laure Miolo via email: lindsay.mccormack@lincoln.ox.ac.uk and laure.miolo@history.ox.ac.uk
  • The Tolkien 50th Anniversary Seminar Series meets at 4-5pm in Merton College T.S. Eliot Lecture Theatre. This week’s speaker will be Mark Atherton (University of Oxford), ‘The Arkenstone and the Ring: wilful objects in Tolkien’s The Hobbit’’ Free access (no need to book). Please email Julia Walworth if you need step-free access.
  • The Oxford Medieval Manuscripts Group (OMMG) meets at 5pm at Merton College, Hawkins Room. This week’s seminar will be Reading and discussion of Elina Gertsman, The Absent Image: Lacunae in Medieval Books (Pennsylvania State University Press, 2021). All welcome. Write to the email below if you do not have access to the online version of this book. To subscribe to our mailing list, participate in library visits, propose a presentation of your research for work in progress meetings, or submit any queries, please write to Elena Lichmanova.
  • The Anglo-Norman Reading Group meets at 5-6.30pm, at St Hilda’s College, and on Zoom. Please let us know if you would like to attend, either in person or on Zoom. The text – some Jousting Letters from Edingburgh – will be provided via Padlet, and refreshments as usual to help us along. All welcome, at any level of Medieval French! Please contact Stephanie Hathaway Stephanie Hathaway or Jane Bliss for further details.

OPPORTUNITIES:

  • Oxford Medieval Manuscripts Group (OMMG): To sign up for the Weston library visit (Week 3) or to present work at the WIP meeting (Week 5), please email Elena Lichmanova by 21/01/2024.
  • CFP: Bristol Centre For Medieval Studies Graduate Conference DEADLINE: 22 January 2024. We encourage abstracts from postgraduates and early-career researchers, exploring aspects and approaches to bodies and boundaries 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, taking place both online and on the campus of the University of Bristol. For full details see here.
  • CFP: Brut in Bristol, Thursday 27 June – Saturday 29 June 2024: The Centre for Medieval Studies at Bristol is very excited at the prospect of hosting the International Brut Conference, Thursday 27th – Saturday 29th June 2024. We invite proposals for 20-minute papers in English or French on the wider Brut tradition from all angles and disciplines, including medieval and Early Modern languages and literatures, and art, book, cultural, intellectual, political, religious, or any other kind of history. Proposals are welcome from academics at all career stages and from independent scholars. For more information contact: brut-conference2024@bristol.ac.uk.
  • CFP: COLSONOEL: After a four-year hiatus, we are excited to announce the rebirth of the Cambridge, Oxford and London Symposium for Old Norse, Old English and Latin! This symposium will take place on Friday 3 May at St. Hilda’s College, University of Oxford. We invite abstracts from postgraduates, both masters and PhDs, currently undertaking degrees or recently graduated from the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, and from the London group. Papers will be twenty minutes in length and followed by questions. Please submit abstracts of no more than 250 words with a short biography to colsonoelsymposium@gmail.com. Deadline for abstract submissions is 31st January 2024.
  • CFP: International Courtly Literature Society British and Irish Branch Conference 2024: Court Cultures: Texts and Contexts, Trinity College, the University of Dublin, 18-19 June 2024. We invite proposals in English or in French (maximum 200 words) for either 20-minute papers or full panels of three papers (each of 20 minutes duration) to be submitted by 5 p.m. on Friday 16 February 2024 to Dr Sarah Alyn Stacey (salynsta@tcd.ie) and Dr Thomas Hinton (T.G.Hinton@exeter.ac.uk ). Acceptance of papers will be confirmed by Friday 1 March 2024.
  • Heritage Pathway Training Programme: Heritage Pathway is a series of training and engagement activities which run termly. Heritage Pathway is designed and delivered by Alice Purkiss and Dr Rachel Delman and organised through the Humanities Researcher Training and Development Programme. Sign up to this term’s sessions, which are open to all students and ECRs with an Oxford SSO, here: Heritage Pathway | TORCH | The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities.

If you have forgotten to submit your Medieval Booklet entries, please do not worry: we will send a finalised version next week. Here is some final wisdom, which was almost certainly written with ‘Medieval Matters: Addendum’ emails in mind:

Miraculorum quaedam vel oblivioni tradita vel antea incognita nunc vero comperta notitiae vestrae praesentare cupio.
[ I desire to present to your notice certain miracles either forgotten or hitherto unknown which have truly now been discovered.] 
A letter from Ubaldo, bishop of Mantova, to Matilda of Tuscany

I look forward to presenting you all with forgotten or hitherto unknown reading groups and seminars next week! In the meantime, may you have a week filled with productive research and welcoming back friends and colleagues!

[A Medievalist realises that they forgot to submit their contribution to the HT Booklet…]
St John’s College MS. 61, f. 50 r. 
By permission of the President and Fellows of St John’s College, Oxford
Viewable in full at Digital Bodleian
 

CFP: The Fifteenth Century Conference

St John’s College, Oxford, 5th-7th September 2024

Proposals are now invited for The Fifteenth Century Conference 2024. This annual meeting brings together established scholars and new researchers in the field, acting as a showcase for current research and a forum for encouraging new directions of enquiry. We invite proposals for research papers on any subject relating to the history of the long fifteenth century in the British Isles, Ireland, or in the French territories of the English monarchy. Proposals on all kinds of history are welcome, as are interdisciplinary ones.

Papers should be 40-45 minutes in length, to be followed by 15-20 minutes of questions and discussion. They should therefore be based on original research and be suitable for working up for submission to The Fifteenth Century, an edited series closely associated with the Conference. (Please note: there is no obligation to publish and submissions to this series undergo a separate peer-review process. For details see: https://boydellandbrewer.com/the-fifteenth-century/)

Proposals from postgraduates at the later stages of doctoral work and from early-career researchers are particularly encouraged. All speakers will be expected to deliver their papers in person and to pay the standard registration and other fees. This cost-sharing helps to make the conference as affordable as possible for everyone. However, there are two £250 bursaries for postgraduate speakers at the conference offered by the Richard III Society.

Please send proposals for papers to Laura Flannigan (laura.flannigan@sjc.ox.ac.uk) and Rowena Archer (rowena.archer@history.ox.ac.uk) by 31 January 2024. Proposals should include a title and an abstract of the paper totalling no more than 300 words, outlining the research basis, methodology, and significance for the field. Please also provide a short biography including any institutional affiliations and, in the case of postgraduate students, the name of your PhD supervisor. All proposals will be reviewed by the Fifteenth Century Conference advisory board.

CfP: Transgression in Late Antiquity and Byzantium

26th International Graduate Conference of the Oxford University Byzantine Society:
Transgression in Late Antiquity and Byzantium

24th-25th February 2024, Oxford

We are pleased to announce the call for papers for the 26th Annual Oxford University Byzantine Society International Graduate Conference on the 24th – 25th February, 2024. Papers are invited to approach the theme of ‘Transgression’ within the Late Antique and Byzantine world (very broadly defined). For the call for papers, and for details on how to submit an abstract for consideration for the conference, please see below.

‘Seduced by love for you, I went mad, Aquilina … she, smouldering, not any less love-struck than me, would wander throughout the house … love alone became her heart’s obsession … Her tutor chased me. Her grim mother guarded her … they scrutinised our eyes and nods, and colouring that tends to signal thoughts … soon both of us began to seek out times and places to converse with eyebrows and our eyes, to dupe the guards, to put a foot down gingerly, and in the night to run without a sound. Our fiery hearts ignite a doubled frenzied passion, and so an anguish mixed with love rages … Boethius, offering aid, pacifies her parents’ hearts with “gifts” and lures soft touches to my goal with cash. Blind love of money overcomes parental love; they both begin to love their daughter’s guilt. They give us room for secret sins … yet wickedness, when permitted, becomes worthless, and lust for the deed languishes … so a sanctioned license stole my zeal for sinning, and even longing for such things departed. The two of us split up, miserable and dissatisfied in equal measure …’

Maximianus, Elegies, 3 (adapted tr. Juster)

The Late Antique and Byzantine world was a medley of various modes of transgression: orthodoxy and heresy; borders and breakthroughs; laws and outlaws; taxes and tax evaders; praise and polemic; sacred and profane; idealism and pragmatism; rule and riot. Whether amidst the ‘purple’, the pulpits, or the populace, transgression formed an almost unavoidable aspect of daily life for individuals across the empire and its neighbouring regions. The framework of ‘Transgression’ then is very widely applicable, with novel and imaginative approaches to the notion being strongly encouraged. In tandem with seeking as broad a range of relevant papers as possible within Late Antique and Byzantine Studies, some suggestions by the Oxford University Byzantine Society for how this topic might be treated include:

·      The Literary – deviance from established genres, styles or tropes; bold exploration of new artistic territory; penned subversiveness against higher authorities (whether discreetly or openly broadcasted); dissemination of literature beyond expected limits.

·      The Political – usurpers, revolts, breakaway regions, court intrigue, plots and coups; contravention of aristocratic or political hierarchies and their expectations; royal ceremonial and its changes, or imperial self-promotion and propaganda seeking to rupture or distort the truth.

·      The Geopolitical – stepping beyond or breaking through boundaries and borders, including invasions, expeditions, trade (whether in commodities or ideas), movements of peoples and tribes, or even the establishment of settlements and colonies.

·      The Religious and Spiritual – ‘Heresy’, sectarianism, paganism, esotericism, magic, and more; and, in reverse, all discussion of ‘Orthodoxy’, which so defined itself in opposition to that which it considered transgressive; monastic orders and practices (anchoritic and coenobitic) and their associated canons, themselves intertwined and explicative of what was deemed prohibited; holy fools and other individuals perceived as deviant from typical holy men.

·      The Social and Sartorial – gender-based expectations in public and private; the contravention (or enforcement) of status or class boundaries; proscribed or vagrant habits of dress, jewellery, fabrics, etc.

·      The Linguistic – transmission of language elements across regional borders or cultures, including loan words, dialectic and stylistic influences, as well as other topics concerning lingual crossover and interaction.

·      The Artistic and Architectural – the practice of spolia; the spread and mix of architectural styles from differing regions and cultures; cross-confessionalism evident from the layout or architecture of religious edifices; variant depictions of Christ and other holy figures; iconoclasm.

·      The Legal – whether it be examination of imperial law codes and their effectiveness or more localised disputes testified to by preserved papyri, all discussion concerning legal affairs naturally involves assessing transgressive behaviour and how it was viewed and handled.

·      It could even be that your paper’s relevance to ‘Transgression’ consists in its breaking out from scholarly consensus in a notable way!

Please send an abstract of no more than 250 words, with a short academic biography written in the third person, to the Oxford University Byzantine Society at byzantine.society@gmail.com by Monday 27th November 2023. Papers should be twenty minutes in length and may be delivered in English or French. As with previous conferences, selected papers will be published in an edited volume, peer-reviewed by specialists in the field. Submissions should aim to be as close to the theme as possible in their abstract and paper, especially if they wish to be considered for inclusion in the edited volume. Nevertheless, all submissions are warmly invited.

The conference will have a hybrid format, with papers delivered at the Oxford University History Faculty and livestreamed for a remote audience. Accepted speakers should expect to participate in person.

Early Medieval Britain and Ireland Network Fieldtrip

Saturday 28 October 2023

40th Brixworth Lecture

Helen Gittos

Christianity before Conversion

Brixworth Church, Northamptonshire

1pm Meet outside Ashmolean Museum, Beaumont Street

2.30/ 3pm Meet Brixworth church with Jo Storey, Rory Naismith and students from the universities of Leicester and Cambridge

3.30pm Tea in the Village Hall

5pm Lecture

7pm Dinner in Coach & Horses, Brixworth

8.30pm Leave Brixworth

If you would like to join us to climb the tower of the grandest surviving Anglo-Saxon church and meet graduate students from Leicester and Cambridge, please send your name and phone number to Bobby Klapper: robert.klapper@spc.ox.ac.uk. Limited places available owing to minibus space. First come, first served.

Transport free. Tickets £8 from brixworthchurchfriends@brixworth.com [You may be able to reclaim this from your college]

CMTC research talks

The Centre for Manuscript and Text Cultures (CMTC) is a research group based at The Queen’s College in the University of Oxford. We are scholars working in different fields of the humanities with a common interest in pre- and early modern texts, their materiality, transmission, and dissemination. For further information please visit our websitehttps://cmtc.queens.ox.ac.uk/. Most of our research talks are recorded and uploaded to our YouTube channel CMTC Mediahttps://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNAJFkc6gzBVgseJ_IRrpLw. If you like CMTC Media please subscribe to the channel and turn on notifications to receive regular updates on the new content available.

There are two CMTC events in Michaelmas term:

Michaelmas Term Lecture:  25 October 5.15pm  (week 3), Memorial Room, The Queen’s College

Prof. Mary Carruthers (NYU and St Hilda’s, Oxford): Understanding Solid Figures in Early Medieval Manuscripts:  how Rhetoric and Geometry interact

Work in Progress Seminar:  7 November 3.30pm (week 5), Memorial Room, The Queen’s College

Dr Anthony Ellis (University of Bern): ‘Greek’ in the Medieval Latin manuscripts of Josephus:  reconstructing the philological workings of a late antique translator
Dr Sara de Martin (Oxford): Reassessing the transmission of Strato com. fr. 1 K. A.

Archive Michaelmas 2022

(1)  “Work in Progress” colloquium
Tuesday 8th November 2022, 3,30–5,00pm UK timeMemorial Room, The Queen’s College (and Zoom)(please register through the link provided below: Zoom links will be sent by email by 9,00am UK time on the day of the talk)
Benedetta Bessi (Venice/Stanford): ‘Towards a Digital Edition of the Liber insularum by Cristoforo Buondelmonti’
Joseph Mason (New College, Oxford): ‘Oral and Written Transmission in Old French Song: a reassessment’

Please register here (whether you are planning to attend in person or online)

(2) Michaelmas Term Lecture
Wednesday 23rd November 2022, 5,15–6,45pm UK timeMemorial Room, The Queen’s College (and Zoom)(please register through the link provided below: Zoom links will be sent by email by 9,00am UK time on the day of the talk)
Nikolay Tarasenko (Kyiv/Pembroke College, Oxford): ‘What Can the “Greenfield Papyrus” (pLondon BM EA 10554) Tell Us about Its Owner?’
Please register here (whether you are planning to attend in person or online)