Medieval Matters: Week 3

Term is now well and truly underway! We have already enjoyed so many excellent seminar papers, social opportunities, and special exhibitions and events. Such a lot of work goes into organising and taking part in these things, and so here is a quote from the Epistolae project that sums up our gratitude for your contributions to our medievalist community here at Oxford, from all at OMS:

Celsitudini vestrae gratias agere volo, sed condignas meritis eius scribere non valeo. 
[I wish to give thanks to your highness but I cannot find words to write worthy of your merit.]
A letter (1104) from Anselm, archbishop of Canterbury to Matilda of Tuscany

I would like to extend a particularly huge thanks to all of the special collections staff around the university for all of the hard work you do. Our blog post for the week is from Sophie Bacchus-Waterman, special collections photographer at St John’s College. Sophie has most recently been responsible for photographing MS 61, the manuscript from which all of this year’s newsletter illustrations are taken. Her blog highlights the incredible strength of special collections work at Oxford, and the amount of wonderful manuscript holdings that are being made available to a wider audience.To peep behind the curtain of special collections and learn about the processes, difficulties, and joys of manuscript digitisation, please do read Sophie’s blog here!

For all of the weekly listings, please see below:


  • The WOOPIE (Oxford Old English Work in Progress) Seminar will meet on Thursday 16th November at 5.30pm in the Ian Skipper Room, St Cross College. This term’s speaker will be Simon Heller (University of Oxford), ‘Reclaiming Beowulf in the United States, from Nixon to Reagan’. All welcome! If you would like to attend, please contact
  • ‘Messing about with Manuscripts’: R.A.B. Mynors and Balliol’s Medieval Library: This exhibition is inspired by the work of Balliol Fellow Roger Mynors, whose 1963 catalogue listing and describing the College’s celebrated manuscript collection has provided a gateway to the medieval world for generations of scholars. Most of Balliol’s medieval books have been together in the College, read and used by academics and thinkers at Balliol since the Middle Ages. This exhibition in the College’s St Cross Church brings together for the first time the history of the collection with the processes and the people involved in uncovering it, and in doing so, hopes to build upon Mynors’ work in opening up the collection to an even wider audience. Public openings will take place on Thursday 2 November, 11am-4pm, Monday 20 November, 11am-4pm, and Saturday 2 December, 11am-4pm. The library catalogue is available digitally here.
  • New Seminar Series: Exploring Medieval Oxford through Lincoln Archives: Fridays 2-3pm, Seminar Room 2, EPA Centre, Museum Road, OX1 3PX. Lincoln College, founded in 1427, holds an outstanding collection of archives. Anyone interested in analyzing primary sources and conducting a comprehensive examination of the documents are welcome to attend. Working in pairs on a self-selected source, the research will entail the examination of the record’s external characteristics (such as writing surface, layout, marks of use) as well as transcription, translation, and identification of locations and individuals mentioned in the records to establish a context. Special importance will be given to the seals attached to these documents. As well as collaborating on unpublished sources, attendees will gain experience in digitisation of sources and publish their analysis online. Students will prepare their item for exhibition, and a one-day workshop on these sources will be held in Trinity Term. Those who are interested can contact Lindsay McCormack and Laure Miolo via email: and
  • Early Medieval Britain and Ireland Network Fieldtrip to see the 40th Brixworth Lecture (Helen Gittos: Christianity before Conversion) at Brixworth Church, Northamptonshire. 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: Limited places owing to minibus space. First come, first served. Transport free. Tickets £8 from [You may be able to reclaim this from your college]. For more details, click here.


Monday 23rd October:

  • The Medieval Latin Manuscript Reading Group meets at 1-2pm on Teams. A friendly venue to practice your Latin and palaeography on a range of texts and scripts over the year. Sign up to the mailing list to receive weekly updates and Teams invites.
  • The Medieval History Seminar meets at 5pm in the Wharton Room, All Souls College. This week’s speaker will be Matthew Kempshall (Wadham) on ‘Dante’s Political Theology‘. The seminar will also be available via Teams: the Teams session can be accessed by logging in to Teams with your 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:

Tuesday 24th October:

  • The Medieval English Research Seminar will meet at 12.15 in The Weston Library Lecture Theatre and S T Lee Gallery. Today’s speaker will be Nicholas Perkins, ‘Gifts and Books’ (talk and exhibition). All welcome!
  • The Gentlewoman from Reedham: Re-encountering Margaret Paston through her letters, in the 21st century: at 2pm-3.30pm in the Buttery at Wolfson College, OCLW Visiting Scholar Professor Diane Watt (University of Surrey) joins us to discuss her upcoming imaginative biography of Margaret Paston. Register here:
  • 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 Elisabeth Lorans (Univ. de Tours and All Souls), ‘Marmoutier (Tours), a late Roman and early medieval monastery in the Loire valley (4th-11th centuries)’. Everyone is welcome at this informal and friendly graduate seminar!

Wednesday 25th October:

  • The Medieval German Seminar meets at 11.15, at Somerville College. In Michaelmas Term, we are going to discuss the forthcoming study edition by Christine Putzo of Konrad Fleck’s ‘Flore und Blancheflur’, led this week by Malena Ratzke; if you want to be added to the seminar’s teams chat 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 speakers will be Miranda Williams, Tim Penn and Ine Jacobs (Oxford University) ‘More than “the last monument of Byzantine rule in Cyrenaica”. Taucheira in Late Antiquity‘.
  • The Centre for Manuscript and Text Cultures: Michaelmas Term Lecture meets at 5.15pm in the Memorial Room, The Queen’s College. This term’s speakers will be Prof. Mary Carruthers (NYU and St Hilda’s, Oxford): Understanding Solid Figures in Early Medieval Manuscripts:  how Rhetoric and Geometry interact.
  • Dante Reading Group meets at 5.30-7pm in St Anne’s College, Seminar Room 11. 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 any questions, please email 
  • A service of Compline in the Norman crypt of St-Peter-in-the-East, the library of St Edmund Hall, at 9:30pm.

Thursday 26th October:

  • The Medieval Hebrew Reading Group meets at 10-11am in Catherine Lewis Lecture Theatre, Clarendon Institute, and online via Zoom. In order to attend this reading group via Zoom, please register here. This reading group is an opportunity to practice reading directly from images of medieval Hebrew manuscripts in an informal setting. All skill levels are welcome! There will be coffee, tea and cake afterwards in the Common Room of the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies for those attending in person. For further information, please email
  • The Germanic Reading Group meets at 4pm, online via Zoom. Please contact Howard Jones to request the handouts and to be added to the list. This week’s reading will be MHG Parzival extracts (Joshua Booth leading).
  • The Medieval Women’s Writing Research Seminar meets at 5-6.30pm at Lincoln College, Oakeshott Room. This week’s speaker is Dr Lena Vosding, Linacre College, The Lüne Letters: Late Medieval Female Correspondence. Please email to be added to the mailing list or to find out more.
  • The Celtic Seminar meets at 5pm, online via Zoom. Please contact for the link. This week’s speaker will be Chantal Kobel (DIAS), ‘Secret writing and abstruse language in medieval Irish lawyers’ books’.
  • The Old Occitan Literature Workshop meets at 5-6pm at St Hugh’s College, 74 Woodstock Road, Office A4. The topic of this week’s meeting will be The Dawn Song: Just Five Minutes More (Giraut de Bornelh (1162-1199): Vida, “Reis glorios”, “Per solhatz revelhar”; Anon., “En un vergier sotz fuella d’albespi”). To sign up, or for any other queries, email Kate Travers:

Friday 27th October:

  • The Medieval Coffee Morning meets as usual 10:30am in the Visiting Scholars Centre of the Weston Library (instructions how to find it) with presentation of items from the special collections, coffee and the chance to see the view from the 5th floor terrace.
  • Exploring Medieval Oxford through Lincoln Archives meets at 2-3pm, Seminar Room 2, EPA Centre, Museum Road, OX1 3PX. Anyone interested in analyzing primary sources and conducting a comprehensive examination of the documents are welcome to attend. As well as collaborating on unpublished sources, attendees will gain experience in digitisation of sources and publish their analysis online. Students will prepare their item for exhibition, and a one-day workshop on these sources will be held in Trinity Term. Those who are interested can contact Lindsay McCormack and Laure Miolo via email: and
  • Note: The Taylor Editions Book Launch: Monk-Calf and Nuns on the Run originally planned for this day has been postponed to 1 December, 3-4pm.
  • The Anglo-Norman Reading Group meets at 5-6.30pm, in the Julia Mann Room, St Hilda’s College, and Zoom. Please let us know if you would like to attend, either in person or on Zoom; reminders including the Zoom link will be sent to those who have expressed interest. To register interest, or for more information, please contact Jane Bliss and/or Stephanie

Saturday 28th October:

  • The 40th Brixworth Lecture takes place at 5pm (with tea in the village hall from 3.30pm) at Brixworth Church, Northamptonshire. This year’s lecture is given by Helen Gittos (Oxford), ‘Christianity before Conversion‘. Tickets from


  • CFP: Conflicts, Connections and Communities in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles: 23 November 2023 [Australian Central Daylight Time] Online via Microsoft Teams. We invite scholars from various disciplines and different career stages to submit proposals for 20-minute papers (to be presented in English) relating in some way to themes of conflict, connection, and/or community in the ASC and their wider context. Please send paper proposals, including a title, 150–200-word abstract, and short biography, to Dr James Kane ( and A/Prof. Erin Sebo ( For full details, please see here.

Finally, here are some good wishes from the Epistolae project as we go into Week 3:

Apponantur cum gratia et salute recentes hodie tibi deliciae
[May fresh delights with greeting and gratitude be delivered to you today]
A letter (1156-57) from Osbert of Clare to Adelidis of Barking

Of course, the great Oxford Medievalist dilemma is that there is such an abundance of delight to choose from, and this newsletter delivers to you today perhaps too many delights for a single medievalist to enjoy! I wish you luck in selecting which seminars and reading groups from our wonderful line-up, and wish you a week of fresh delight, greeting and gratitude!

[A Medievalist nervously eyes up the overabundance of possible seminars and tries to decide which to attend]
St John’s College MS. 61, f. 21 r. 
By permission of the President and Fellows of St John’s College, Oxford
Viewable in full at Digital Bodleian