Workshop Report: ‘The Murbach Hymns (MS. Junius 25) – Vernacular Glossing in the Early Middle Ages’

The workshop ‘The Murbach Hymns (MS. Junius 25) – Vernacular Glossing in the Early Middle Ages’ (17–18 February 2022) highlighted a remarkable text ensemble: the Murbach hymns, a Latin hymnal with Old High German interlinear glosses. Taking this text, one of the oldest sources of Old High German, and its manuscript MS. Junius 25 (Oxford, Bodleian Library) as starting point, the importance of vernacular glossing and writing in the Early Middle Ages became clear: It sits at the crossroads of theological, linguistic, and layout approaches to the text.

Helen Gittos and Luise Morawetz discussing MS. Rawl. C. 697 (Oxford, Bodleian Library) at the Weston Library.

Participants from all over the world were able to participate thanks to the hybrid conference format, accessible online as well as in person. To allow all participants the same close-up insights into the materiality of the valuable and fragile manuscripts, the workshop opened with a presentation of the manuscript MS. Junius 25. Due to the excellent equipment of the Bodleian Library, it came to life in the expert hands of the curators, who turned the pages and the whole volume as real-time reaction to questions and requests from the audience, who were introduced to the material and linguistic peculiarities of the rare object. The speakers present at Oxford had the chance to consult and discuss the original manuscripts beforehand.

Over the course of further sessions, scholars from different research communities came together and presented their work on linguistics, pragmatics and material studies. Combining different disciplines resulted in a comprehensive survey of the use and characteristics of vernacular in the Early Middle Ages, including Old High German, Old Frisian and Old English. The theoretical insights were put into practice in a Latin-Old High German compline, which demonstrated how the oldest variety of the German language could be brought back to life. For the first time in history, the glosses of the Murbach hymns were set to music, among other Old High German texts read during the service. The workshop was brought to a close with a consultation of further glossed manuscripts of the Bodleian Library (MS. Auct. F. 1. 16, MS. Rawl. C. 697, MS. Canon. Pat. Lat. 57), partly neither digitised nor edited, which put the focus again on the object – the foundation of historical linguistic studies.

The St Edmund Consort performing the Latin-Old High German compline in the crypt
of St-Peter-in-the-East in Oxford.

The event was designed as a workshop and was intended to allow the participants to interact with each other and develop ideas collectively. Extended breaks were included in which discussions could continue in person as well as online. This opportunity was used by many, despite sessions already overrunning to address all questions. During the sessions, breakout groups allowed smaller groups of participants to share their thoughts before entering the main discussion, enabling equal contributions from listeners and speakers and leading to lively participation.

The interdisciplinary approach to early vernacular and the workshop format worked well, as the high numbers of registrations and intense and vibrant discussions showed. The workshop brought the exciting text and manuscript of the Murbach hymns back into the focus of linguistic research.

We hope to deepen the collaborations established during the event and continue the debates about the status of the vernacular in the Early Middle Ages in future, exploring the interdisciplinary approach further and testing it on other material from the rich collections of Oxford and beyond.

The manuscript in focus. The setup of the workshop in St Edmund Hall (Oxford) during the presentation of Auct. F. 1. 16 (Oxford, Bodleian Library).

I want to thank all participants and supporters of this workshop, above all the speakers (in order of their presentations): Prof. Dr Daniela Mairhofer (Princeton); Prof. Dr Michael Stolz (Bern); Dr Elke Krotz (Vienna); Dr Matthias Standke (Berlin); Prof. Dr Alderik Blom (Marburg); Dr Helen Gittos (Oxford); Prof. em. Dr Elvira Glaser (Zurich); Prof. Dr Stephan Müller (Vienna).

I also want to thank the team of the Bodleian Libraries, Dr Alexandra Franklin, Dr Matthew Holford and Dr Andrew Dunning; Tom Revell, who produced this event; James Whitbourn, who set the Murbach hymns to music, and the St Edmund Consort, who performed the compline; and Will Thurlwell, Prof. Dr Howard Jones and Prof. Dr Henrike Lähnemann, who supported the workshop in person.


In association with the Bodleian Libraries and Oxford Medieval Studies, sponsored by the Centre for the Study of the Book (CSB), The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH) and the University Council of Modern Languages (UCML).

Convenor: Luise Morawetz (luise.morawetz@mod-langs.ox.ac.uk)

Medieval Matters: Eastermonað to us cymeð

Term has ended, Spring is finally here, and Easter is just on the horizon! Hopefully you are enjoying the sunshine, wherever you are. To celebrate, I come to your inbox with CFPs, Save-the-dates, and, of course, some Old English wisdom! First of all, some wisdom about the importance of rest and relaxation, taken from Maxims I:

Hy twegen sceolon tæfle ymbsittan þenden him hyra torn toglide
forgietan þara geocran gesceafta
[Two must sit at a game board together until their troubles slip away, forgetting sad events.]

I hope that your Easter break is filled with such joys! Onto the Medieval offerings:

Save the Date:

  • The Oxford Medieval Mystery Cycle 2022 – 23 April 2022, 12noon to 5:30pm. A cycle of medieval mystery plays performed by various groups around St Edmund Hall. A multilingual medieval experience not to be missed! All welcome (free of charge)! At 12 noon, the chapel bell will ring for Creation to commence in the Old Dining Hall. From there the story of mankind will unfold, with the Old Testament being acted out in the Front Quad and the New Testament in the churchyard around St Peter-in-the-East. For full information see https://www.seh.ox.ac.uk/mystery-cycle or the flyer attached to this week’s email.
  • Please send me your Trinity Term Medieval Booklet Submissions by April 13th.

Events:

  • 24th-25th March: Adapting Violence in/from ‘Classic’ Texts: A 2-day free workshop hosted by the University of Bern, organised by Amy Brown (University of Bern) and Lucy Fleming (New College, Oxford). This interdisciplinary event brings together specialists in literature, retelling, and feminist practice to consider how adaptations of texts considered ‘classic’ handle, re-inscribe or re-imagine violence. Urvashi Chakravarty (University of Toronto) will give the opening keynote, with a respondent plenary from Maria Sachiko Cecire (Bard College) and an author talk from Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, author of The Last Queen. More information here. Register here.
  • 26th March: FREE online lecture from the Church Monuments Society. The first of this year’s Spring online lecture series will take place at 5pm on Zoom. This week’s speaker will be Dr Christina Faraday, ‘The Eloquent Dead: Elizabethan and Jacobean Monuments in Gonville and Caius College Chapel, Cambridge‘. To receive the Zoom link, please register here.
  • 26th-27th March: Cultures of Exchange: Mercantile Mentalities Between Italy and the World (1100-1500). Attendance is free. Register here to receive access to Zoom links and conference materials.

Opportunities:

  • The University of Göttingen will run a summer school in digital Latin palaeography for graduate students this summer (1-12 August). Accommodation is provided free of charge and contributions will be made to travel costs for those who require them. No prior experience in digital humanities or palaeography is required, but a basic level of Latin is essential. Applications are due by 30 April. Further information is available on the university website.
  • CFP: Performing Medievalism: Tricks, Tips and Tropes from Early Artistic Practice for the Modern-Day Performer. Offerings on music, theatre, storytelling, dance or any artistic performance practice are welcome, for critical and scholarly articles of 8,000-10,000 words in length, documentations of performer training/approaches of 4,000-8,000 words (e.g., interviews, performance reviews, documentation of artistic processes), and shorter pieces of 1,500-3,000 words (e.g., artist’s notes). (These word count ranges are inclusive of notes and references.) Please send abstracts of up to 400 words along with a short (c. 100 word) biography to Ellie Chadwick and Ollie Jones at e.chadwick@bristol.ac.uk and oliver.jones@york.ac.uk. Deadline: 31st March 2022. For full details, see the blog post.
  • CFP: Textual Cultures in Contact, Early Text Cultures at Oxford, Trinity Term 2022. The Early Text Cultures research group based at the University of Oxford invites papers for its Trinity Term 2022 seminar on ‘Textual Cultures in Contact’, which will bring together scholars whose research focus is the interactions between pre-modern textual cultures. If you would like to present a 20-minute paper at one of the seminars, please send an abstract of no more than 250 words to earlytextcultures.ox@gmail.com by Monday 11 April. For full details, see the blog post.

And finally, in case game boards aren’t your thing, some alternative advice on how to enjoy your Easter vac, taken from the Old English Dicts of Cato:

Liorna manega bec 7 gehyr monig spell
Read many books and hear many stories

As this is my last email of the term, on behalf of all of us at OMS, I’d like to wish you all an enjoyable and restful Easter break! I look forward to seeing you next term.

A Medievalist, exhausted from Hilary Term, takes a much needed rest over the Easter break
Merton College, MS 249, f. 6r.
View image and text in the Taylor Edition by Sebastian Dows-Miller
https://editions.mml.ox.ac.uk/editions/bestiary/#Sylio

Church Monuments Society Spring online lectures 2022: ‘The Stories Monuments Tell’

The Church Monuments Society is for everyone who is interested in the art of commemoration – early incised stones, medieval effigies, ledgerstones, brasses, modern gravestones. The Society was founded in 1979 to encourage the appreciation, study and conservation of church monuments both in the UK and abroad. The Spring series of online lectures will be on the topic of ‘The Stories Monuments Tell’.

All lectures will take place via Zoom, and begin at 5pm GMT. To register for a lecture, please click on the title link.

26th March: The Eloquent Dead: Elizabethan and Jacobean Monuments in Gonville and Caius College Chapel, Cambridge: Dr Christina Faraday

The Chapel of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, contains four impressive Elizabethan and Jacobean monuments: to John Caius, re-founder of the College; William Webbe, Fellow Commoner; Dr Stephen Perse, Fellow and benefactor; and Dr Thomas Legge, Master and successor to Caius. This talk will analyse the monuments alongside nearby contemporary examples, and consider them as indicative of the College’s desire to consolidate its corporate identity in the first half-century after the refoundation, and of the deep diffusion of classical and rhetorical influences in a post-Reformation Cambridge College.

2nd April: The Farnham Monuments: Myths, Legends and Family Fables: Moira Ackers

This is a story about the Farnham family who were pretty average members of the early-modern Leicestershire squirarchy. They were neither particularly prominent in the honour community nor very wealthy. So why do they have a chantry chapel in Quorn crammed with monuments? Between 1502 -1587 the Farnham’s commissioned nine memorials. Why did they suddenly engage in this expensive elite activity? What were they trying to tell their contemporaries and how do we read their monuments today?

9th April: Medieval child memorials: myths and mistakes: Dr Sophie Oosterwijk FSA

There is a tenacious belief that monuments to children did not exist in the medieval period because high child mortality rates left parents resigned or even indifferent to losing offspring. Such claims have been convincingly dismissed by scholars, however. For one thing, there is plenty of evidence that parents did mourn deceased children. And for another, there are numerous example of medieval children being commemorated and memorialised. Yet memorials are not necessarily proof of affection and some of these ‘child tombs’ are not what they are claimed to be, having become the focus of local legend and misinterpretation over time. This talk will look at some well-known and lesser-known monuments, from the presumed ‘Boy Bishop’ in Salisbury Cathedral and the dubious ‘Stanley Boy’ in Elford (Staffordshire) to examples on the Continent.

16th April: Piety and power in the Welsh march: the story of Gwladus Ddu and William ap Thomas of Raglan Castle: Professor Madeleine Gray

Not a love story – but a couple who rose from relative obscurity to found one of the most powerful dynasties in Wales. William ap Thomas (d. 1445) may have fought at Agincourt, and he built much of Raglan Castle, Wales’s most spectacular late medieval stronghold. Gwladus (c. 1380 – 1454) was commemorated by the Welsh bards, and her tomb tells us a lot about the priorities and beliefs of women in late medieval Wales.

Hesychasm in Context: Theology and Society in the Fourteenth Century

The Oxford Centre for Byzantine Research, the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science and the Maison française d’Oxford invite you to attend the hybrid conference Hesychasm in Context: Theology and Society in the Fourteenth Century, Thursday 17th – Friday 18th March 2022. All of the papers will be livestreamed.

To register for the in-person event (including lunches), please email Dr Rei Hakamada (rei.hakamada@theology.ox.ac.uk) as soon as possible, as numbers are limited.

Registration to participate online is via the following link:
https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZArc-2trj4iGdfuVWLi81Wc0ybeFo43Xx-i.

PROGRAMME

Thursday 17th March
Lecture Room, Ioannou Centre for Classical and Byzantine Studies, 66 St. Giles’, Oxford, OX1 3LU

9.00: Welcome

9.15: Rei Hakamada (Okayama University / University of Oxford), Lay Hesychasts? Isidore and Palamas among Lay People

10.00: Mihail Mitrea (Babeș Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca / Institute for South-East European Studies, Bucharest), Hesychasm and Hagiography in Fourteenth-Century Byzantium [online]

10.45: Coffee

11.15: Ralph Greis (St Joseph’s Benedictine Abbey, Gerleve), The Connection Between Liturgical Theology and Hesychastic Spirituality in the Homilies of St. Gregory Palamas

12.00: Christiaan Kappes (Ss Cyril and Methodius Byzantine Catholic Seminary), Gregory Palamas’s Theotokos in Light of Latin Contacts and his Reception of Latin Literature in Byzantium

12.45: Lunch

13.45: Marie-Hélène Blanchet (CNRS, UMR 8167 Orient et Méditerranée, Paris), John VI Cantacuzene, the Hesychast Crisis and the Latin World: An Ambiguous Strategy

14.30: Judith Ryder (University of Oxford), When To Speak and When To Hold Your Peace: The Conflict between Demetrios Kydones and Philotheos Kokkinos

15.15: Coffee

15.45: Monica White (University of Nottingham), Hesychasm in Rus?

16.30: Norman Russell (St Stephen’s House, Oxford), Engaging with Islam in Late Byzantium: Strategies of Resistance and Accommodation

17.15: Drinks – The Maison française d’Oxford is delighted to offer participants a glass of champagne


Friday 18th March
Miles Room, St Peter’s College, New Inn Hall Street, Oxford, OX1 2DL

10.30: Eiji Hisamatsu (Ryukoku University), The Jesus Prayer and Yoga: The Early Literature of Hesychasm and the Svetasvatara Upanishad [online]

11.15: Vassa Kontouma (École Pratique des Hautes Études, PSL, Paris), The Re-enchanted Universe of Iakovos of Nea Skete (19th c.). A Hesychast Response to the Copernican Revolution?

12.15: Final remarks

12.30: Lunch

Image: St. Gregory Palamas, Monastery of Vatopedi, Mount Athos (Creative Commons CCO 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication)

Medieval Matters: Week 8

Somehow we have arrived at the last week of term already! For everyone wondering how it went by so quickly, some wisdom from the Latin-English Proverbs of British Library, Cotton Faustina A X on the passing of time:

Æghwæt forealdað þæs þe ece ne byð
[Everything grows old if it is not eternal]

Hilary Term 2022, transient as it is, may be in its final week, but that doesn’t mean that it’s slowing down: we have a full schedule of events lined up for you! Please see below for all the details. And for those of you worried about blank spaces in your diary during the vac, we are also very excited to announce that the 2022 Oxford Medieval Graduate Conference programme is now finalised. See the full details on the OMS Blog. Now, on to the announcements before everyone grows old waiting for them:

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

  • The playlist for the Medieval Mystery Cycle 2022 is now finalised but there is still a chance to get involved: volunteer as steward, help distribute posters (download here as jpg or pdf) around Oxford – and of course, spread the word! Please contact Eleanor Baker to offer help. The spectaculum starts on Saturday, 23 April 2022, 12noon in the Front Quad of St Edmund Hall and move then around the grounds. The ten plays will take place in roughly half-hour slots. Welcome to drop in or stay for the whole afternoon!
  • Registration for the Oxford Medieval Graduate conference, Medicine and Healing is now open: this will be a hybrid event and free for all participants, although there are limited in-person tickets available. The conference programme and registration details can be found on the OMGC website.
  • Please note that there is no Celtic seminar this week: the seminar will resume on 17 March with Eurig Salisbury’s talk.

EVENTS THIS WEEK:

Monday 7th March:

  • The Byzantine Graduate Seminar meets at 12.30-2pm on Zoom. This week’s speaker is Matthew Hassall (Cambridge), ‘Inventing the Tyrant and the Dissident: Procopius and the Limits on Acceptable Speech‘. To register, please contact the organiser at james.cogbill@worc.ox.ac.uk. Please note that there is no need to register if you have previously subscribed to the seminar mailing list. 
  • The Medieval Latin Manuscript Reading Group meets at 1-2pm on Teams. Sign up here for the mailing list to receive details of each week’s sessions. Contact Matthew Holford, Andrew Dunning or Tuija Ainonen for further details.
  • The Medieval Archaeology Seminar meets at 3pm on Teams and in the Institute of Archaeology Lecture Room. This week’s speaker will be Beatrice Widdell (U. of Reading): ‘Rethinking Battlefield Archaeology: Liminal Journeys and Campaign Landscapes in 14th-century Northern Britain’. Please note: Attendance in person is by advance booking only as the room has a strict Covid-19 capacity limit. Bookings can be made by contacting: jane.kershaw@arch.ox.ac.uk. For the Teams’ link click here.
  • The Medieval History Seminar meets at 5pm at The Wharton Room, All Souls College and online on Teams. This week’s speaker is Nicholas Karn (Southampton), ‘Memory and the dynamics of dispute in Anglo-Norman England‘. Attendance at the Wharton Room is by advance booking only as the room has a strict Covid-19 capacity limit. Seats will be released 1 week before each seminar. Bookings can be made at https://medieval-history-seminar.reservio.com. 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). If you have any difficulties please email: medhistsem@history.ox.ac.uk
  • The Old Norse Reading Group meets at 5.30pm on Teams. Please email Olivia Smith (olivia.smith2@linacre.ox.ac.uk) to be added to the mailing list and Teams group.

Tuesday 8th March:

  • The Medieval English Research Seminar meets at 11.30pm in Lecture Theatre 2, Faculty of English. This week’s speaker will be Paul Acker (St Louis University), ‘Dragons in Old English’. For further information, contact daniel.wakelin@ell.ox.ac.uk.
  • The Class on Medieval Chronology by Prof. Anna Sapir Abulafia will take place 1.30-3.30 at the Faculty of Theology and Religion, Lecture Room, Gibson Building, ROQ site. This second class will review the solutions for last week’s work. Students interested in attending should contact anna.sapirabulafia@theology.ox.ac.uk.
  • The Late Medieval Europe Seminar meets at 2pm at Saint John’s College, seminar room 21 St Giles. This week’s seminar is a discussion seminar.
  • The Medieval Book Club meets at 3.30pm in Magdalen College, Old Law Library. This week’s topic is ‘Amusement’. If you want to join us, or would like more information, please contact oxfordmedievalbookclub@gmail.com. Option to join virtually via Google Meet as well, please send your contact details.
  • The Medieval French Research Seminar meets at 5pm at Maison française d’Oxford and Online on Teams. This week’s speaker is Giulia Boitani (King’s College, Cambridge): ‘Edenic Entanglements: the Ship of Solomon in MS Bodmer 147‘. To join a session remotely via Teams, please contact helen.swift@st-hildas.ox.ac.uk to receive the link.
  • The Medieval Church and Culture Seminar meets at 5pm in Warrington Room, Harris Manchester College. This week’s speaker is Helen Gittos (Balliol), ‘The Cerne Giant‘.

Wednesday 9th March:

  • The Medieval German Seminar meets at 11.15-12.45 in Oriel College, Harris Room to discuss Reinbot of Durne’s Georg and find a topic for next term. If you are interested in being added to the teams channel and the mailing list for the seminar, email Henrike Lähnemann henrike.laehnemann@mod-langs.ox.ac.uk. For further information, follow MedGermOx on Twitter.
  • The Early Medieval Britain and Ireland network meets at 12.30pm at LRVII in Brasenose College. The speaker will be Professor Jonathan Wooding, ‘Locating the Early Irish Peregrini in Iceland: Multi-Disciplinary Approaches’. All are very welcome to attend! Refreshments provided.
  • The Medieval Trade Reading Group meets at 1-2pm in the Mertze Tate room of the History Faculty and online on Teams. Anyone interested in any element of medieval trade and its study are very welcome to join, from any department. To be added to the mailing list and team please email Annabel Hancock.
  • Lucy Pick will give a talk on Blanche of Castile: An Iberian Queen in France, in the Kloppenburg Room, Cohen Quad (Exeter College) and on Zoom at 4.30-6 pm. Please register in advance here. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
  • The Late Antique and Byzantine Seminar meets at 5:30pm on Zoom. This week’s speaker is Miranda Williams (Oxford): ‘“He restored all the dismantled fortresses in Libya” (Aed. vi.5.7): Reassessing the Justinianic fortification programme in North Africa.’ Register in advance for this on-line series: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZEkdeuspz8jG9IfBfrd75k6qrxLyWtG_PAu. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Thursday 10th March:

  • Middle High German Reading Group meets at 10am at Somerville College Productivity Room (Margery Fry). This week’s text is Das Donaueschinger Passionsspiel. If you have any questions or want to participate, please send an e-mail to melina.schmidt@lincoln.ox.ac.uk.
  • The Greek and Latin Reading Group meets at 4pm in St Edmund Hall. Room TBC: contact John Colley or Jenyth Evans to be added to the mailing list.
  • The Early Textual Cultures Reading Group meets at 4.30pm, on Zoom and in person at the Dickson Poon Building (China Centre, Oxford), Lucina Ho Seminar Room. This week’s speaker will be Flaminia Pischedda (University of Oxford), ‘The Xici zhuan 繫辭傳 (Part A): Textual Structure and Readership‘. For zoom links, please register here.
  • The Seminar in Medieval and Renaissance Music will take place on Zoom at 5pm. Today’s speakers are John Milsom (Liverpool Hope University) and Jessie Ann Owens (University of California at Davis): ‘Thomas Morley’s A plaine and easie introduction to practicall musicke (London, 1597): new observations and discoveries’. If you are planning to attend a seminar this term, please register using this form. For each seminar, those who have registered will receive an email with the Zoom invitation and any further materials a couple of days before the seminar. If you have questions, please email (matthew.thomson@ucd.ie).
  • The Oxford University Heraldry Society meets at 6 for 6.30pm on Zoom. This week’s speaker is Robert Dennis: ‘Jacobite Flags of the 1745-46 Rising‘. Booking is essential – please contact the secretary at secretary@oxford-heraldry.org.uk

Friday 11th March:

  • Pre-Modern Conversations meets at 11am-12pm on Teams. For more information and to be added the the PMC Teams Channel, email lena.vosding AT mod-langs.ox.ac.uk.
  • The Seminar in the History of the Book will meet online and in the Weston Lecture Theatre at 2.15pm. You must be registered to attend: if you wish to attend online, you must register 24 hours before the seminar. This week’s speakers are Alexandra Franklin and Andrew Honey, Bodleian Library: ‘Bodleian Materials for the teaching of Book History‘. Register here: https://forms.office.com/r/FSXrV1W98u.

OPPORTUNITIES:

  • Oxford Latinitas will be running a Spring Series of online intensive courses in ancient Greek (14th-18th March), and Latin (21st-25th March). All classes will be taught using the Active Method, which means that the target language is the language of the classroom. Classes will take place via Zoom, from 5-7pm UK time each day. For Greek there are two levels available: Absolute beginners / Beginners. For Latin, there are five: Absolute beginners / Beginners / Pre-intermediate / Intermediate / Advanced (this class will read Apuleius, Cupid and Psyche). Class size is capped at a maximum of 8 students. The cost of each course is £200, payable at the time of application. For detailed information about all the courses, and to access the sign-up form, click here.
  • The Centre for Advanced Studies “Migration and Mobility in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages” at the University of Tübingen, Germany, headed by Mischa Meier, Steffen Patzold and Sebastian Schmidt-Hofner, invites applications for resident fellowships starting in 2023. The fellowships are available for a duration between one and twelve months. Fellowships are available for scholars at all stages of their academic career who have completed their doctoral degree and established an independent research profile. Applicants should be engaged in a research project in any relevant discipline that is related to the Centre’s interests in migration and mobility in the period and area in question. For full details, see here.
  • CfP: 3 funded places for a Graduate Student Conference in Vienna on Late Rome, Byzantium and the Early Medieval West. In the spirit of fostering closer links between the participating universities, their teaching staff and their students, and building on their research strengths in Late Antique, Byzantine and Early Medieval studies (roughly defined as extending to the year 1000), this conference invites contributions from graduate students (MA and doctoral level) that deal with any aspect of these cultures. For full details, see here.

Finally, some more wisdom on time, appropriate to the seasonal passing of the Oxford terms:

Þæs ofereode, þisses swa mæg.
That passed; so will this.

I take this to mean: even though Hilary is coming to an end, a new term rises up on the horizon! I’ll be in contact again next week with some final announcements for the term, and a call for submissions for the Trinity Term Medieval Booklet. But in the meantime, I wish you a successful and enjoyable final week of term.

[A medievalist is briefly stunned after being struck by the harsh reminder that it is 8th week already]
Merton College, MS 249, f. 4r.
View image and text in the Taylor Edition by Sebastian Dows-Miller
https://editions.mml.ox.ac.uk/editions/bestiary/#Aptalon

Medieval Matters: Week 7

Where did the term go? Welcome to seventh week, and to the last day of February! Unfortunately this isn’t quite the end of winter, nor of the terrible stormy weather that we’ve been having. I’m aware that my British side is showing in opening this week’s email with weather chat, but I’m not alone: the obsession with the weather holds true in the Early Medieval period too! Here’s some wisdom on storms from the Old English Maxims II:

Wind byð on lyfte swiftust, þunar byð þragum hludast.
[Wind is swiftest in the air, thunder is at times the loudest.]

If you want to avoid the swift winds (or talk of them!) this week, please see below for an excellent range of seminars and reading groups, where the welcome sound of academic discussion will be hludast:

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

  • The first event of the newly revived Oxford Medieval Society is a Panel on Medieval Plagues. It takes place in the North Lecture Room of St. John’s College on Wednesday, 2nd March, 5pm. Professor Mark Bailey (University of East Anglia) will give a talk entitled What did the Black Death do for us? Some answers from England, 1350 to 1400, and Professor Samuel Cohn (University of Glasgow) will speak on Plagues of the Central Middle Ages: The dog that didn’t bark.
  • The International Conference “Still ‘Caput Mundi’? The Role of Rome between Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages in the Western Mediterranean“, organized by the RomanIslam – Center for Comparative Empire and Transcultural Studies, University of Hamburg, and headed by Prof. Dr. Sabine Panzram and Dr. Rocco Selvaggi. The workshop will take place on 3-5 March 2022 (in person and on Zoom). For full details and to get the links to attend via Zoom, visit the website here.
  • A Webinar, After the Book of Kells: Insular Art in Scotland and Ireland 900-1900, organised by Rachel Moss, Trinity College Dublin, & Heather Pulliam, University of Edinburgh, takes place on March 4th-5th. To attend, and for futher details, visit the eventbrite page. Full programme of talks, speakers and roundtables can be found here.

EVENTS THIS WEEK:

Monday 28th February:

  • The Byzantine Graduate Seminar meets at 12.30-2pm on Zoom. This week’s speaker is Carolyn Tyler La Rocco (St. Andrews), ‘Christianising Elites and the Religious Topography of Late Roman and Visigothic Iberia‘. To register, please contact the organiser at james.cogbill@worc.ox.ac.uk. Please note that there is no need to register if you have previously subscribed to the seminar mailing list. 
  • The Medieval Latin Manuscript Reading Group meets at 1-2pm on Teams. Sign up here for the mailing list to receive details of each week’s sessions. Contact Matthew Holford, Andrew Dunning or Tuija Ainonen for further details.
  • The Palaeography Seminar: Medieval Manuscripts Masterclass will meet online and in the Weston Lecture Theatre at 2.15pm. You must be registered to attend: if you wish to attend online, you must register 24 hours before the seminar. This week’s speaker is Colleen Curran, ‘The History of Script and the Scripting of History in 10th/11th-Century Canterbury‘. Register here.
  • The Medieval History Seminar meets at 5pm at The Wharton Room, All Souls College and online on Teams. This week’s speaker is Edith Chen (Exeter College), Under the Tatar Yoke: Persian Local Courts Under the Mongols in the 13th Century’. Attendance at the Wharton Room is by advance booking only as the room has a strict Covid-19 capacity limit. Seats will be released 1 week before each seminar. Bookings can be made here. 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). If you have any difficulties please email: medhistsem@history.ox.ac.uk
  • Henrike Lähnemann presents on Nuns and Their Texts. Religious Writing from North German Medieval Convents at the Columbia Research Seminar on Religion and Writing 7pm (= 2pm EST), meeting information on the seminar blog.

Tuesday 1st March:

  • The Medieval English Research Seminar meets at 11.30pm in Lecture Theatre 2, Faculty of English. This week’s speaker will be Jane Griffiths (Wadham College), ‘This word in Latyn: late-medieval religious macaronic lyric’. For further information, contact daniel.wakelin@ell.ox.ac.uk.
  • The Class on Medieval Chronology by Prof. Anna Sapir Abulafia will take place 1.30-3.30 at the Faculty of Theology and Religion, Lecture Room, Gibson Building, ROQ site. The first class will give a broad, hands-on practical overview of the material which includes, Julian and Gregorian calendar, calculation of the Easter date in the West, epact, concurrent, days of the month, days of the week, moveable feasts, different starting days of the year, indiction, eras. Students will be given a practice sheet with medieval dates in different styles and containing a variety of dating methods and asked to solve them in preparation for the second class next week. Students interested in attending should contact anna.sapirabulafia@theology.ox.ac.uk.
  • The Medieval Book Club meets at 3.30pm in Magdalen College, Old Law Library. This week’s topic is ‘Jealousy and Disgust’. If you want to join us, or would like more information, please contact oxfordmedievalbookclub@gmail.com. Option to join virtually via Google Meet as well, please send your contact details.
  • The Medieval French Research Seminar meets at 5pm at Maison française d’Oxford and Online on Teams. This week’s speaker is Giulia Boitani (King’s College, Cambridge): ‘Edenic Entanglements: the Ship of Solomon in MS Bodmer 147‘. To join a session remotely via Teams, please contact helen.swift@st-hildas.ox.ac.uk to receive the link.
  • The Medieval Church and Culture Seminar meets at 5pm in Warrington Room, Harris Manchester College. This week’s speaker is David Addison (All Souls), ‘Isidore of Seville, the Carolingians, and the idea of the laity‘.
  • The Late Medieval Europe Seminar meets at 5pm on Zoom. This week’s speaker is Jutta Sperling (Hampshire College), ‘Queering the maternal body: same-sex lactations in late medieval and early modern art and literature’. To join the zoom meeting click here: Join Zoom Meeting. Meeting ID: 987 7500 2179 / Passcode: 032874.

Wednesday 2nd March:

  • No Medieval German Seminar this week. The presentation on Reinbot of Durne’s Georg by Melina Schmidt is postponed to week 8. If you are interested in attending, email Henrike Lähnemann. For further information, follow MedGermOx on Twitter.
  • The Late Antique and Byzantine Seminar meets at 5:30pm on Zoom. This week’s speaker is Kerim Altuğ (Istanbul): ‘Re-building Byzantium: Archaeological evidence on the construction activities under Justinian in Constantinople and its neighbourhoods‘. Register in advance for this on-line series: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZEkdeuspz8jG9IfBfrd75k6qrxLyWtG_PAu. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
  • Oxford Medieval Society‘s Panel on Medieval Plagues (see above / link for more information) in the North Lecture Room of St. John’s College at 5pm.

Thursday 3rd March:

  • Middle High German Reading Group meets at 10am at Somerville College Productivity Room (Margery Fry). This week’s text is Das Donaueschinger Passionsspiel. If you have any questions or want to participate, please email melina.schmidt@lincoln.ox.ac.uk.
  • The Greek and Latin Reading Group meets at 4pm in St Edmund Hall. Room TBC: contact John Colley or Jenyth Evans to be added to the mailing list.
  • The Early Text Cultures Reading Group meets at 4.40-5.30pm at the Dickson Poon Building (China Centre, Oxford), Lucina Ho Seminar Room, and on Zoom. This week’s speaker will be Nora Schmid (University of Oxford), Legal Paraenesis in Muḥammad’s Farewell Sermon. To join online, please click here. For full details and abstract, please click here.
  • Mary Boyle: Imagining Pilgrimage. This talk follows the paths of four medieval pilgrims from the real world, on to the page, and into the imagination, looking at the virtual Jerusalem pilgrimage at the end of the Middle Ages. Update: the seminar had to be postponed. Read instead about it in her book on pilgrimage (or in its previous form in her Oxford doctoral thesis).
  • The Celtic Seminar will take place on Zoom at 5pm. This week’s speaker is Geraldine Lublin (Swansea University), ‘Settler colonialism and Welsh Patagonia‘. Please contact a.elias@wales.ac.uk for the link.
  • The Old English Reading Group takes place at 5.30pm. For more information and to receive the text in advance email eugenia.vorobeva@jesus.ox.ac.uk.
  • A lecture by ffiona Perigrinor will be held at 6pm at St Edmund Hall, Chough Room: ‘Two free-spirited East Anglian women in the later Middle Ages: Alice de Bryene and Margery Kempe’. ffiona Perigrinor is an independent medieval scholar and the author of Reluctant Pilgrim: The Book of Margery Kempe’s Maidservant (2021).

Friday 4th March:

  • The Seminar in the History of the Book will meet online and in the Weston Lecture Theatre at 2.15pm. You must be registered to attend: if you wish to attend online, you must register 24 hours before the seminar. This week’s speaker is Lisa Barber (Lisa Jefferson), Oxford: ‘The Goldsmiths’ Register and other record books of various London Livery Companies‘. Register here.
  • The Anglo-Norman Reading Group meets at 5pm on Zoom. For texts, joining instructions, and further information, please email Stephanie Hathaway or Jane Bliss.

OPPORTUNITIES:

  • CFP: Living in Late Antique Mediterranean. The Scientific Committee of CISEM (Inter-University Centre for Studies on Late Antique Housing in the Mediterranean) invites you to submit proposals for the 4th CISEM International Congress “Living in Late Antique Mediterranean”, that will be held in Cuenca (Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha, España) on November 7th-9th 2022. The Congress will last three days with sessions dedicated to the presentation and the discussion of general topics regarding Late Antique Housing in the Mediterranean, with special insights on particular contexts. For full details, visit the CISEM website.
  • Merton College proposes to elect a Career Development Fellow in Medieval English Language and Literature. The successful candidate will be appointed from 1 October 2022 (or as soon as possible thereafter) for a period terminating no later than 30 September 2026. This is a prestigious career development post which will provide a promising academic with opportunities to develop as a researcher and university teacher. For full details, see here.
  • Rehearsals are well under-way for the Medieval Mystery Cycle which will take place on Saturday 23 April 2022, 12noon to 5:30pm, in the grounds of St Edmund Hall. It’s not too late to get involved acting, making music or props – contact Eleanor Baker to be added to the list!

Finally, some more windy wisdom, this time from Maxims I:

Werig sceal se wiþ winde roweþ.
[He will be weary who rows against the wind.]

I’m sure many people are feeling weary right now: I wish you all a peaceful week of smooth sailing.

[A group of Medievalists, rowing against the wind, bump into the looming figure of seventh week]
Merton College, MS 249, f. 7r.
View image and text in the Taylor Edition by Sebastian Dows-Miller
https://editions.mml.ox.ac.uk/editions/bestiary/#Serra

Oxford Medieval Society – Plagues Panel

On Wednesday 2nd March 2022, the Oxford Medieval Society will hold a panel on medieval plagues.

Professor Mark Bailey (University of East Anglia) will give a talk entitled What did the Black Death do for us? Some answers from England, 1350 to 1400, and Professor Samuel Cohn (University of Glasgow) will speak on Plagues of the Central Middle Ages: The dog that didn’t bark.

The panel will start at 5pm and be held in the North Lecture Room of St. John’s College.

All are very welcome to attend what promises to be a fascinating panel.

Image credit: “The Triumph of Death”, Galleria Regionale della Sicilia, Palermo, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.


Medieval Matters: Week 6

Somehow we are now in Week 6! If it feels that Christmas happened just moments ago and that the term is passing by very quickly, have no fear: the Old English Andreas reassures us that:

ofost is selost.
[haste is best]

With haste, then, here are all of our events this week – be hasty in adding them to your diary to make sure that you don’t miss them!:

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

  • Highlight of the week: The Oxford Medieval Society Relaunch Party! The event will take place at 5pm on Thursday 24th February (6th Week) in the Kendrew Café at St. John’s College. Please enter by the Kendrew Porter’s Lodge, rather than the main Lodge. The party will offer the opportunity to meet members of Oxford’s medieval community over drinks, snacks and a medieval-themed quiz. All students and staff interested in medieval studies are welcome, especially those who are new to Oxford. In celebration of our relaunch, membership fees have been waived for 2021/2022 academic year. If you would like to join the Society, you can do so by completing this short Google Form.
  • It’s not too late to register for Opening the Sacred Text: Meaning, Materiality, Historiography, a conference starting today (21 February) 2:15pm via Zoom, with a focus on carpet pages, Book of Kells and Durrow and more, organised by Stewart J. Brookes and Julie Harris!
  • The Medieval Book Club is cancelled this week, and will meet again in week 7 at the usual time and place.

EVENTS THIS WEEK:

Monday 21st February:

  • The Byzantine Graduate Seminar meets at 12.30-2pm on Zoom. This week’s speaker is Benjamin Sharkey (Oxford), ‘The Minority Experience of a Central Asian Christian Community, Explored Through Syriac Gravestone Inscriptions (c. 1201-1345) from the Chu Valley, Kyrgyzstan‘. To register, please contact the organiser at james.cogbill@worc.ox.ac.uk. Please note that there is no need to register if you have previously subscribed to the seminar mailing list. 
  • The Medieval Latin Manuscript Reading Group meets at 1-2pm on Teams. Sign up here for the mailing list to receive details of each week’s sessions. Contact Matthew Holford, Andrew Dunning or Tuija Ainonen for further details.
  • The Medieval Archaeology Seminar meets at 3pm on Teams and in the Institute of Archaeology Lecture Room. This week’s speaker will be Gabor Thomas (U. of Reading): ‘Holy Waters Floweth: New Archaeological Insights on the Non-Tidal Thames as an Early Medieval Monastic Nexus‘. Please note: Attendance in person is by advance booking only as the room has a strict Covid-19 capacity limit. Bookings can be made by contacting: jane.kershaw@arch.ox.ac.uk. For the Teams’ link click here.
  • The Medieval History Seminar meets at 5pm at The Wharton Room, All Souls College and online on Teams. This week’s speaker is Felicity Hill (St Andrews), ‘Excommunication: collective action and communal knowledge’. Attendance at the Wharton Room is by advance booking only as the room has a strict Covid-19 capacity limit. Seats will be released 1 week before each seminar. Bookings can be made at https://medieval-history-seminar.reservio.com. 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). If you have any difficulties please email: medhistsem@history.ox.ac.uk
  • The Old Norse Reading Group meets at 5.30pm on Teams. Please email Olivia Smith (olivia.smith2@linacre.ox.ac.uk) to be added to the mailing list and Teams group.

Tuesday 22nd February:

  • The Medieval English Research Seminar meets at 11.30pm in Lecture Theatre 2, Faculty of English. This week’s speakers will be Peter Buchanan (Lady Margaret Hall), ‘Light metaphysics and contingent poetics in Chaucer’s House of Fame’, and Pamela Kask (Mansfield College), ‘The mythology of trauma in Chaucer’s Anelida and Arcite’. For further information, contact daniel.wakelin@ell.ox.ac.uk.’
  • The Medieval Church and Culture Seminar meets at 5pm in Warrington Room, Harris Manchester College. This week’s speaker is Elizabeth Crabtree (Blackfriars), ‘“This happened by the will of God”:  Divine Providence in Nicholas of Lyra’s commentary on the Book of Esther‘.
  • The Medieval Manuscripts Seminar meets at 5.30pm on Zoom. This week’s speakers are Carlotta Barranu (University of Cambridge ), Multilingualism and the organisation of knowledge in fourteenth-century English books; and Philippa de Sissis (Universität Hamburg), Facets of a SchriftBild (script as image) concept – the three scribes of BML Plut 76.1. To attend, and to see the abstracts, please book here.

Wednesday 23rd February:

  • The Medieval German Seminar on Reinbot von Durne’s “Georg” meets at meets at 11.15-12.45 in Oriel College, Harris Room. This week’s speakers are Carolin Gluchowski and Luise Morawetz, discussing Peter Strohschneider’s article Georius miles-Georius martyr. If you are interested in being added to the mailing list for the seminar, email Henrike Lähnemann henrike.laehnemann@mod-langs.ox.ac.uk. For further information, follow MedGermOx on Twitter.
  • The Medieval Trade Reading Group meets at 1-2pm in the Mertze Tate room of the History Faculty and online on Teams. Anyone interested in any element of medieval trade and its study are very welcome to join, from any department. To be added to the mailing list and team please email Annabel Hancock at annabel.hancock@history.ox.ac.uk.
  • The Late Antique and Byzantine Seminar meets at 5:30pm on Zoom. This week’s speaker is Olivier Gengler (Tübingen): ‘Building Stories: Constantinople in Malalas and Procopius.’ Register in advance for this on-line series: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZEkdeuspz8jG9IfBfrd75k6qrxLyWtG_PAu. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Thursday 24th February:

  • Middle High German Reading Group meets at 10am at Somerville College Productivity Room (Margery Fry). This week’s text is Das Donaueschinger Passionsspiel. If you have any questions or want to participate, please send an e-mail to melina.schmidt@lincoln.ox.ac.uk.
  • The Greek and Latin Reading Group meets at 4pm in St Edmund Hall. Room TBC: contact John Colley or Jenyth Evans to be added to the mailing list.
  • The German Research Seminar will have a medieval theme this week, with Carolin Gluchowski, Henrike Lähnemann, and Lena Vosding jointly presenting on The Nuns’ Network, letters and manuscripts written by women in late medieval North Germany. Click here to join the meeting at 2pm on teams.
  • The ETC Seminar on Gender Identities meets at 4.30-6.00 in the Dickson Poon Building (China Centre, Oxford), Lucina Ho Seminar Room and on Zoom. This week’s speakers are Fayaz Ahmad (University of Kashmir), Sufism, Gender and Literature: Rishi Silsila and the female Sufis of Kashmir; and Frederique Darragon (Sichuan University), Re-visiting the primary textual sources about the ancient ‘Nüguo’ matriarchal queendoms of the Chinese borderlands. To sign up to the mailing list and receive Zoom links, please click here.
  • The Celtic Seminar will take place at location TBA at 5.15pm. This week’s speaker is Karolina Rosiak (Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań), ‘title tba‘. Please contact david.willis@ling-phil.ox.ac.uk for further details.

Friday 25th February:

  • Pre-Modern Conversations meets at 11am-12pm on Teams. For more information and to be added the the PMC Teams Channel, email lena.vosding AT mod-langs.ox.ac.uk.
  • The Seminar in the History of the Book will meet online and in the Weston Lecture Theatre at 2.15pm. You must be registered to attend: if you wish to attend online, you must register 24 hours before the seminar. This week’s speaker is Katarzyna Kapitan, Junior Research Fellow, Linacre College; Visiting Scholar The Arnamagnæan Institute, University of Copenhagen: ‘The Virtual Library of Thormodus Torfæus, reconstructed from Danish and Icelandic collections‘. Register here: https://forms.office.com/r/FSXrV1W98u.

Even though the term seems to be progressing quickly, we still have a whole three weeks of exciting Medieval events in store, including classes on Medieval Chronology by Prof. Anna Sapir Abulafia; the Palaeography Seminar: Medieval Manuscripts Masterclass; and a lecture by ffiona Perigrinor on ‘Two free-spirited East Anglian women in the later Middle Ages’. You can take a sneak peek at upcoming events on our blog, on our calendar or in the Medieval Booklet. But if you’re feeling impatient for these upcoming events, here is some wisdom from Maxims 1:

Mon sceal […] gebidan þæs he gebædan ne mæg.
[One must wait for what cannot be hastened]

In other words: good things come to those who wait…

[A Medievalist stunned by the fact that it is already Week 6]
Merton College, MS 249, f. 10v
View image and text in the Taylor Edition by Sebastian Dows-Miller
https://editions.mml.ox.ac.uk/editions/bestiary/#LeunCocs

Medieval Matters: Week 5

Thank you to everyone who came to last week’s OMS lecture. If you missed it, you can view a recording of the lecture, along with a report by Pilar Bertuzzi Rivett (Dphil student in History) here. Today marks Valentine’s day! In honour of the occasion, here is one of the earliest mentions of Valentine’s day in English poetry, Geoffrey Chaucer’s Parliament of Fowls:

For this was on Seynt Valentynes day,
Whan every foul cometh ther to chese his make

[For this was on Saint Valentine’s day, when every bird came there to choose his mate]

Unfortunately finding of fouls lies outside of the OMS remit, but if you cometh her to your inbox looking to chese your perfect seminar or reading group, see below for details of a whole range of them – you’re sure to find one for you!

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

EVENTS THIS WEEK:

Monday 14th February:

  • The Byzantine Graduate Seminar meets at 12.30-2pm on Zoom. This week’s speaker is Marc Czarnuszewicz (St. Andrews), ‘Manzikert 1071: The Arabic and Persian Poetry‘. To register, please contact the organiser at james.cogbill@worc.ox.ac.uk. Please note that there is no need to register if you have previously subscribed to the seminar mailing list. 
  • The Medieval Latin Manuscript Reading Group meets at 1-2pm on Teams. Sign up here for the mailing list to receive details of each week’s sessions: https://web.maillist.ox.ac.uk/ox/info/medieval-latin-ms-reading. Contact Matthew Holford, Andrew Dunning or Tuija Ainonen for further details.
  • The Palaeography Seminar: Medieval Manuscripts Masterclass will meet online and in the Weston Lecture Theatre at 2.15pm. You must be registered to attend: if you wish to attend online, you must register 24 hours before the seminar. This week’s speaker is Laura Saetveit Miles (Bergen), ‘St. Birgitta of Sweden in late-medieval England’. Register here: https://forms.office.com/r/F6NjbWuhpT.
  • The Medieval History Seminar meets at 5pm at The Wharton Room, All Souls College and online on Teams. This week’s speaker is Eduardo Manzano Moreno (St Andrews), ‘The concept of good government in Medieval Islam: the case of Umayyad al-Andalus‘. Attendance at the Wharton Room is by advance booking only as the room has a strict Covid-19 capacity limit. Seats will be released 1 week before each seminar. Bookings can be made at https://medieval-history-seminar.reservio.com. 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). If you have any difficulties please email: medhistsem@history.ox.ac.uk
  • At 6pm, Henrike Lähnemann gives a Public Lecture (via zoom, in German) for the conference ‘Bibelepik. Narratologische Perspektiven auf eine europäische Tradition’ on the topic ‘Ostern erzählen‘ which will include a live-showing of the Medingen manuscripts in the Bodleian Library presented by Andrew Dunning. Register for the talk herausgeber@erzaehlforschung.de

Tuesday 15th February:

  • The Medieval English Research Seminar meets at 11.30pm in Lecture Theatre 2, Faculty of English. This week’s speaker will be Michael Kuczynski (Tulane University), ‘The true portrait of Christ: origins and afterlife of a medieval forgery’. For further information, contact daniel.wakelin@ell.ox.ac.uk.
  • The Medieval Book Club meets at 3.30pm in Magdalen College, Old Law Library. This week’s topic is ‘Love’. If you want to join us, or would like more information, please contact oxfordmedievalbookclub@gmail.com. Option to join virtually via Google Meet as well, please send your contact details.
  • The Medieval French Research Seminar meets at 5pm at Maison française d’Oxford and Online on Teams. This week’s speaker is Sarah Bridge (St Hilda’s College, Oxford): ‘Authors Creating Authors: William Herebert and Nicole Bozon in BL Add. 46919‘. To join a session remotely via Teams, please contact helen.swift@st-hildas.ox.ac.uk to receive the link.
  • The Medieval Church and Culture Seminar meets at 5pm in Warrington Room, Harris Manchester College. This week’s speaker is Janet Burton (University of Wales, Trinity St David), ‘Ups and Downs:  abbatial careers at the Cistercian abbey of Meaux (Yorkshire)‘.
  • The Late Medieval Europe Seminar meets at 5pm on Zoom. This week’s speaker is Leah deVun (Rutgers),  ‘The Shape of Sex: A Conversation about Nonbinary Gender before Modernity’. To join the zoom meeting click here: Join Zoom Meeting. Meeting ID: 987 7500 2179 / Passcode: 032874.

Wednesday 16th February:

  • The Medieval German Seminar meets at 11.15-12.45 in Oriel College, Harris Room, speaker is Rebekka Gründel. If you are interested in being added to the teams channel and the mailing list for the seminar, email Henrike Lähnemann.
  • The Princeton Environmental History Lab Seminar takes place at 9.30pm on Zoom. This term’s speaker is Rachel Brody, Doctoral Candidate, Dept. of History, Boston College, “What Creeps Below and Buzzes Above: Multispecies Entanglement in the Early Medieval House”. Registration for this event is required. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
  • The Late Antique and Byzantine Seminar meets at 5:30pm on Zoom. This week’s speaker is Alkiviadis Ginalis (Istanbul): ‘Procopius and the reflection of water landscapes in the 6th century‘. Register in advance for this on-line series. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Thursday 17th February:

  • Middle High German Reading Group meets at 10am at Somerville College Productivity Room (Margery Fry). This week’s text is Das Redentiner Osterspiel. If you have any questions or want to participate, please send an e-mail to melina.schmidt@lincoln.ox.ac.uk.
  • The Workshop on the Murbach Hymns and MS. Junius 25 takes place online at 3pm-9pm. The presentations and papers will be published online before the event. Questions for the speakers can be asked during the sessions or before the event via Twitter (#MurbachHymns) or email (luise.morawetz@mod-langs.ox.ac.uk, reference: Workshop Murbach Hymns). Register here for the event! If you have any questions, please contact Luise Morawetz (via email or Twitter).
  • The Greek and Latin Reading Group meets at 4pm in St Edmund Hall. Room TBC: contact John Colley or Jenyth Evans to be added to the mailing list.
  • The Seminar in Medieval and Renaissance Music will take place on Zoom at 5pm. Today’s speakers are Antonio Calvia (Università di Pavia) and Anne Stone (CUNY Graduate Center): ‘Two Fragments, One Manuscript: Introducing a Newly-Discovered Italian Source of Ars Nova Polyphony’. If you are planning to attend a seminar this term, please register using this form. For each seminar, those who have registered will receive an email with the Zoom invitation and any further materials a couple of days before the seminar. If you have questions, please email (matthew.thomson@ucd.ie).
  • The Celtic Seminar will take place on Zoom at 5pm. This week’s speaker is Karen Stöber (Universitat de Lleida), ‘Royal anger and royal tears: Emotions in the Book of Deeds of James I of Aragon‘. Please contact a.elias@wales.ac.uk for the link.
  • The Old English Reading Group takes place at 5.30pm. For more information and to receive the text in advance email eugenia.vorobeva@jesus.ox.ac.uk.
  • The Oxford University Heraldry Society meets at 6 for 6.30pm on Zoom. This week’s speaker is Adrian Ailes: ‘The Heraldry of Reading Abbey and its Legacy‘. Booking is essential – please contact the secretary at secretary@oxford-heraldry.org.uk

Friday 18th February:

  • The Workshop on the Murbach Hymns and MS. Junius 25 takes place online at 9am-3.30pm. The presentations and papers will be published online before the event. Questions for the speakers can be asked during the sessions or before the event via Twitter (#MurbachHymns) or email (luise.morawetz@mod-langs.ox.ac.uk, reference: Workshop Murbach Hymns). Register here for the event! If you have any questions, please contact Luise Morawetz (via email or Twitter).
  • The Seminar in the History of the Book will meet online and in the Weston Lecture Theatre at 2.15pm. You must be registered to attend: if you wish to attend online, you must register 24 hours before the seminar. This week’s speaker is Brian Cummings, Professor of English and Related Literature, University of York: ‘Bibliophobia‘. Register here: https://forms.office.com/r/FSXrV1W98u.
  • The Anglo-Norman Reading Group meets at 5pm on Zoom. For texts, joining instructions, and further information, please email Stephanie Hathaway or Jane Bliss.

For those with no Valentine’s day plans, or a more cynical view of Valentine’s celebrations, have no fear: Ælfric of Eynsham suggests that perhaps your days might be better spent at a seminar anyway, since:

Ælc mann þe wisdom lufaþ biþ gesælig.
Everyone who loves wisdom is blessed.

Wishing all of you wisdom-lovers a happy and productive week!

[A parliament of wisdom-loving Medievalist fowls cometh on Seynt Valentynes day to attend their perfect seminar ]
Merton College, MS 249, f. 9v.
View image and text in the Taylor Edition by Sebastian Dows-Miller
https://editions.mml.ox.ac.uk/editions/bestiary/#Colum

Lucy Pick

Lucy Pick in Oxford

Report on Lucy Pick’s Lecture for OMS: A Guest Blog by Pilar Bertuzzi Rivett

Watch Lucy Pick’s OMS Lecture 2022 here:

The Oxford Medieval Studies Lecture for Hilary Term 2022 was delivered on 8 February by Professor Lucy Pick, historian of medieval thought and culture, author of Her Father’s Daughter: Gender, Power, and Religion in Early the Spanish Kingdoms (Cornell 2017), Pilgrimage (Cuidono 2014) and Conflict and Coexistence: Archbishop Rodrigo and the Muslims and Jews of Thirteenth-Century Spain (University of Michigan 2004). Professor Pick is a visiting scholar at the Center for Hebrew and Jewish Studies in Oxford, researching the earliest Latin translation of Maimonides’ Guide to the Perplexed.

As a Hebraist and fellow historian of medieval thought, I looked forward to Professor Pick’s take on what Jewish-Christian relationships meant in the case of Maimonides’ Guide to the Perplexed. It is a treat to be able to read a Jewish Medieval author in Latin and since instances of actual intellectual cooperation (especially in the early Middle Ages, which is what I focus on) are very few and far between, I am always curious to learn about them. I was particularly interested in how Professor Pick discovered this cooperation and what method she was going to use in order to flesh it out.

I found that Professor Pick set the scene very aptly when she opened her presentation mentioning that the Guide to the Perplexed “landed in the Latin scholastic world of the thirteenth century like a stick of dynamite.” Maimonides’ synthesis of science, the Law, Greek physics and metaphysics through the lens of the Hebrew Bible was nothing short of “explosive”. He offered a method for assimilating and interpreting the new Aristotle that flooded the schools of the thirteenth century. Did he inspire part of that flood? Did the Guide open up new avenues of thought for Christian readers that could be used as tools in their polemics against the Jews? These were some of the questions that were addressed in her presentation.

In what to me was reminiscent of the Italian school of microhistory, Professor Pick set aside the Christian scholastics of the mid to late thirteenth century, (whose study “used up most of the scholarly oxygen dedicated to Maimonides Latinus”) to focus on a much earlier community of readers of the Guide, one composed of both Jewish and Christians in the city of Toledo. At the heart of her project is the Liber de Parabola (witnessed in only one manuscript, Paris Sorbonne MS 601), the earliest Latin translation of the Guide (Part III, chapters 29-49 in which Maimonides discusses the reasons for commandments). According to Professor Pick, the Liber has not received the attention it deserves, neither as a witness to the Guide nor for its additional content which bears witness to the earliest reception to the ideas of the Guide. She therefore traced these individuals’ contact with the Liber de Parabola to shed light on both positive and negative aspects of its reception by Christians.

The key characters in this “textual community” are Samuel ibn Tibbon, who translated Maimonides’ Guide from Judeo-Arabic into Hebrew; Michael Scot, court astrologer to Frederick II who began his career as a master in Toledo, translating scientific texts from Arabic into Latin and Rodrigo Jiménez de Rada, Archbishop of Toledo, in whose cathedral Michael and Samuel may have met and in whose writings we can trace the earliest evidence of Maimonides’ impact on the Latin world.

Samuel’s contribution to the Liber is easiest to identify: he used his Hebrew translation for the base texts; he drew on his interpretation of Maimonides’ ideas about philosophical and Biblical exegesis and illustrated it with examples from his commentary on Ecclesiastics. He is cited by name at least six times in connection with the readings of the Hebrew Bible and interpretation of Jewish law. Pick believes that these passages reflect oral communication between Samuel Ibn Tabbon and the translator.

Michael Scot’s identity is more difficult to establish and rests on substantial circumstantial evidence. Michael Scot knew the work of Maimonides as he cited him in his “De physionomiae”; he was in Rome at the same time as the Liber de Parabola was dedicated to Cardinal Romanus and first appeared on the historical record in 1215 in Rome, accompanying the entourage of the Archbishop of Toledo at the Fourth Lateran Council. Pick notes that Samuel consulted books by Aristoteles meteorology (some of which Scot translated into Latin) in Toledo at some point between 1204 and 1210, thus Michael and Samuel could plausibly have met and worked together.

Pick also described how Michael Scot became a close associate of Jacob Anatoli while at Frederick II’s court in Naples. Anatoli was Samuel’s son in law, whose philosophical sermons (Malmad ha-Talmidim) recounted conversations with Michael Scot and his knowledge of Maimonides’ work. In one of his sermons on Parshat Nitzavim, Anatoli showed awareness of the Liber de Parabola, inclusive of its structure and introduction and associates it with Michael Scot. Pick very ably showed parallels between Anatoli’s interpretation of Deuteronomy 4:6 with the opening of the Liber de Parabola which contrasts the interpretation of a commandment with the allegory of a parable.    

By means of a venn diagram, Pick highlighted the interpenetration of ideas amongst the translators of key works in Toledo, Naples and Provence all of whom were engaged in a parallel set of translations and commentaries on Aristotle’s Meteorology inspired by Part II Chapter 30 of Maimonides’ Guide. Since Part II was not available in the Liber, this suggests a wider diffusion of the Guide in Toledo.  

The presentation concluded by showing the “polemical” potential to Christian borrowing of Maimonides’ ideas. The Archbishop of Toledo reacted to Part II Chapter 30 in his Breviarium in which he used Maimonides’ ideas of “principle” and “spirit” to argue for the Christian Trinity. This is an example of how the section of the Guide in the Liber de Parabola was used by later Christians in support of a doctrine of “supersession” rather than fostering a more positive understanding of those who follow God’s commandments, as Jacob Anatoli would have hoped for.

This conclusion was what surprised me most about the presentation. I suppose I approached the topic with the eyes of someone accustomed to the interpenetration of ideas between Christians and Jews of Late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages when it comes to mysticism. However, Professor Pick’s paper showed that by the thirteenth century intellectual cooperation could be both a tool and a weapon. In her own words, “textual community did not mean safety and an exchange of texts could provide ammunition as well as understanding.” In the period of history I focus on, between the ninth and eleventh centuries, both Christian and Jewish polemical tools were still in their pre-scholastic phase; Peter Damian’s work only really impacted Jewish-Christian relations towards the end of my “horizon.” However, the fact that Dante Alighieri put Pater Damian in the highest circles of Paradise, whereas Michael Scot was relegated to the malebolgie of Hell should have alerted me to the fact that there was not going to be a “happy ending” to Professor Pick’s textual community.

Still, any kind of inter-faith intellectual cooperation in the Middle Ages is worth researching because it demystifies some of the myths that surround the history of Christian and Jewish communities. When genuine, as in the case of Pick’s “textual community” or in the case of the Victorines in Paris, cooperation challenges the narrative of Jews and Christians as distinct cultures in “conversation and conflict.” The key takeaway from this paper for my dissertation is that we are better served to approach the history of Jews and Christians in the Middle Ages from an organic model of culture rather than who influenced whom, to borrow from David Biale and Michael Satlow. I admire the way in which Pick focuses on people and their agency and how comfortable she was with admitting that sometimes, as in the case of Michael Scot’s identity, one has to rely on somewhat circumstantial evidence. As medievalists, we do not always find “the silver bullet”; we are dealing with people and sources that existed nearly two thousand years ago. Even the most refined sleuths sometimes build cases on indirect evidence. If we wanted simple, straightforward, direct evidence, we would be statisticians or, worse still, modern historians.

I found that the interdisciplinary, multi-lingual approach in Pick’s presentation fit very well with the remit of the OMS and with our own identity as medieval historians. In Professor Pick’s words, “life is best viewed through more than one window.”

Pick reminded the audience that.

“It has been corrected from my own book. I am Moses son of Rabbi Maimon, the Righteous, of Blessed Memory”
Egypt, 1170–80
Handwritten in ink on paper
Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford, MS. Huntington 80