Keynote Lecture with Kate Rudy (University of St Andrews, UK): Feature it, or hide it?

When: Thursday, 6 April 2023, 2-3.45 pm 
Where: Weston Library, Lecture Theatre 
Speaker: Prof Kate Rudy (University of St Andrews, UK)
Admission: free, but registration is required 

We are delighted to have Kate Rudy as a keynote speaker. The lecture is part of the workshop ‘Cultures of Use and Reuse. Towards a Terminological and Methodological Framework of Reframing and Recycling‘. 

About the Keynote Lecture 

As Hannah Ryley and others have eloquently discussed in recent articles, medieval book materials—especially parchment—were costly but also durable. These two features of parchment encouraged its reuse.  In this talk I survey objects that undergo a shift in media in the process of being repurposed. Folios become objects, prints become miniatures, texts become images, folios become bindings. I will look in particular at the processes of transformation, considering cases in which the old, fragmented object is put on display, and cases in which the frame between the old and the new is smoothed over and minimalized. The status of the old material determines the length to which a craftsperson will go to either underscore, or minimalize, the disjunction between the repurposed material and its new housing. 

About the Speaker  

Kathryn Rudy (Kate) earned her Ph.D. from Columbia University in Art History, and a Licentiate in Mediaeval Studies from the University of Toronto. Before coming to St. Andrews, she held research, teaching, and curatorial positions in the US, the UK, Canada, The Netherlands, and Belgium. Her research concentrates on the reception and original function of manuscripts, especially those manufactured in the Low Countries, and she has pioneered the use of the densitometer to measure the grime that original readers deposited in their books. She is currently developing ways to track and measure user response of late medieval manuscripts.

How to Register for the Event 
If you wish to attend the keynote lecture, please register via this link

Contact Details 

For any enquires regarding the event, please contact: JProf. Dr Julia von Ditfurth (, Dr Hannah Ryley ( or Carolin Gluchowski ( 

This event this generously supported by the Oxford Berlin Research Partnership, New College, Balliol College, the Centre for the Study of the Book, the Ashmolean Museum, and the Bodleian Library. We are delighted to collaborate with Henrike Lähnemann, Alexandra Franklin, Andrew Dunning, and Jim Harris.

A Puzzle of Fragments from Late Medieval Catalonia

Our understanding of medieval culture vastly relies on fragmentary sources. Musicologists are especially well-acquainted with this —most historians working on pre-1500 music rely to a significant extent on ‘waste’ parchment as a source of information about lost musical cultures. Working with fragments is challenging; however, it can also yield extremely rewarding results when we are able to reconstruct a wider picture.

In a recent publication, I re-examined a group of musical fragments preserved in Catalan archives. They transmit a highly sophisticated repertory inspired by the musical practices of late fourteenth-century cardinals and popes in Avignon, alongside northern French aristocratic and royal households. My essay traces the provenance of these fragments, recalibrating the way we think about the connection between the original manuscripts, local ecclesiastic and courtly institutions, and individual clerics. To make a long story short, most of the manuscripts converge with the itineraries of King John I of Aragon (b. 1350, r. 1387-1396) —who was an enthusiastic lover of music— and his court. The rather concrete picture emerging from my study confirms the long-held hypothesis that the royal court of Aragon was a major force behind the dissemination of this refined musical repertory throughout late medieval Catalonia.

In order to make the results of my research accessible to non-specialists, I have put together this ten-minute video. I couldn’t resist including footage of some of my favourite medieval towns and buildings. I Hope you’ll enjoy watching it.

David Catalunya is a post-doctoral research fellow at the University of Oxford, and a member of the ERC-funded project ‘Music and Late Medieval European Court Cultures’. Earlier he has worked at the University of Würzburg, where he served as an editor of Corpus Monodicum. He has been an Associate Director of DIAMM, and a member of the research board of the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. His scholarly research embraces a wide range of topics in music, history and culture from the early Middle Ages to the Early Modern period. He is currently completing his book project Music, Space and Ceremony at the Royal Abbey of Las Huelgas in Burgos, 1200-1350.