Category Archives: News

CFP: The Animal in Medieval Romance (15/09/17)

The ‘animal turn’ is one of the newest and most exciting developments in medieval scholarship. Researchers are increasingly interrogating the role of animals in society and culture, the interaction between human and beast, and the formation of human and non-human identities. The Medieval Romance Society is hosting two sessions on the role of animals in romances at the 53rd International Congress on Medieval Studies 2018, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo. We welcome papers which draw on a broad range of methodologies and themes.

Session I: The Animal in Medieval Romance I: The Animal as Friend

This session invites papers examining the co-dependent relationships between animals and humans in romances. We encourage a broad interpretation of this theme, including cross-species friendships, sexual and romantic couplings, domestication and farmyard animals, and animals as parental surrogates.

Session II: The Animal in Medieval Romance II: The Animal as Product

This session welcomes papers which examine how animal bodies are exploited in medieval romances. Even after death, animals continue to exert their presence in romance narrative through their earthly remains. The genre’s commodification of bestial bodies also extends beyond texts to the physical product of vellum upon which they are transmitted. Papers might explore themes of butchery, the wearing of skins and furs, the use of bone and ivory, and the production of parchment and manuscript-binding.

Please send abstracts of 250-300 words to Tim Wingard at by 15th
September 2017. For more info, visit:

Personification and Alienation: The Case of Deguileville (30/5/17, Old Combination Room, Trinity College, 5.15)

Professor Nicky Zeeman will give a paper entitled ‘Personification and Alienation: The Case of Deguileville’ as part of the Poetics Before Modernity seminar series, on Tuesday 30th May at 5.15 in the Old Combination Room, Trinity College. An abstract for the paper, and a biography of the speaker, are below.

Personification and Alienation: the Case of Deguileville

I shall be looking at the rhetorical and poetic figure of personification (known variously as metonymy, prosopopoeia or conformatio) with a view to asking if the way that writers form their personifications can tell us anything about how they understand the subject. One starting point is Angus Fletcher’s observation that the personification could be seen not just in the Stoic manner as daimonic but as a kind of maniac or obsessive. Personification yokes together a number of elements that are in tension with each other: if on the one hand it invokes the idea of the ‘person’, along with its implications about the possibility of inner life and a capacity to speak, act or change, personification also involves a delimiting characteristic, category or bias that constrains the person, something that is true whether the personification represents a particular term, concept or ‘thing’, or whether it represents a particular historical, mythical or fictional character. My hunch is that because the ‘person’ in personification is in some way partial, driven or over-determined, and as a result potentially at odds with itself or its surroundings, it may also be for medieval writers a way of thinking about how the subject might also have these features. The tensions and contradictions that are fundamental to the figure of personification, in other words, mean that writers can use it to think about about the difficulties of being a subject, all the while evading the connotations of coherent personhood that are, potentially at least, to be found in more mimetic narrative modes. My test case will be the personifications of Guillaume de Deguileville’s fourteenth-century French Pelerinage de vie humaine, with their dislocated voices, grotesque bodies and insecure relation to the embodied world: I shall be arguing that they model an alienated subjectivity that can also be seen across the text as a whole – and one that may not only be premodern.

Nicolette Zeeman
(King’s College and University of Cambridge)

Nicolette Zeeman is Professor of Medieval and Renaissance English in the Faculty of English at King’s College and the University of Cambridge. Author of Piers Plowman and the Medieval Discourse of Desire (Cambridge University Press, 2006), she contributed to and co-edited with Jean Michel Massing King’s College Chapel 1515-2015. Art, Music and Religion in Cambridge (Harvey Miller, 2014), and with Dallas Denery II and Kantik Ghosh Uncertain Knowledge. Scepticism, Relativism, and Doubt in the Middle Ages (Brepols, 2014). She has also published other essays on Piers Plowman, Chaucer, medieval literary theory, song, psychology and allegory. Her next monograph will be Arts of Disruption. Conflict and Contradiction in Medieval Allegory and Piers Plowman, and she is developing a project on ideas about idolatry in later medieval culture, provisionally entitled Caught in the Body.

Conference: Early Modern Dance, Politics and Pleasure (12/5/17)

The CEMS Dance Workshop, Early Modern Dance: Politics and Pleasure, combines four academic papers and an interactive dance workshop led by Baroque dance specialist Philippa Waite. The event is aimed at specialists and non-specialists alike, of both early modernity and practical dance. The papers will explore the wide variety of early modern dance, from its courtly incarnations to their subversions, in its popular and colonial political contexts, and as civilising force and liberating expression. The dance workshop will last for an hour and a half and focus on teaching court dance of the Baroque period.

For (free) tickets, visit

Medieval Thought Experiments: Poetry, Hypothesis, and Experience in the European Middle Ages

Medieval Thought Experiments: Poetry, Hypothesis, and Experience in the European Middle Ages, co-edited by Dr Philip Knox, Jonathan Morton and Daniel Reeve has been accepted for publication by Brepols.
Here is the book ‘blurb’ to whet your appetite:
An interdisciplinary collection examining the interface of literature and philosophy in the Middle Ages. In the high and late Middle Ages, fictional frameworks could be used as imaginative spaces in which to test or play with ideas without necessarily asserting their truth. The aim of this volume is to consider how intellectual problems were approached – if not necessarily resolved – through the kinds of hypothetical enquiry found in poetry and other kinds of fictive text. Scholars working across the spectrum of medieval languages and academic disciplines consider why a writer might choose a fictional or hypothetical frame to discuss theoretical questions, how a text’s truth content is affected and shaped by its fictive nature, or what kind of affective or intellectual work is required in reading medieval texts.

University of St Andrews Visiting Scholarship 2017 (Deadline: 13 Jan)

Scholarship to support a visit to the St Andrews Special Collections – financial support of up to £1,500 to support travel and accommodation for scholarships to be taken between 1st July and 31st August 2017.

Full details and application form here:

Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellowships (Deadline: 1 Feb)

The Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies offers post-doctoral Fellowships to be used for research at the Institute in the medieval field of the holder’s choice. Mellon Fellows will also participate in the interdisciplinary Research Seminars.

The Mellon Fellowships are intended for young medievalists of exceptional promise who have completed their doctoral work, ordinarily within the previous five years, including those who are starting on their professional academic careers at approximately the Assistant Professor level. Fellowships are valued at approximately $40,000 (CDN).

Applications for the academic year 2017–2018 should be e-mailed in word document or preferably in PDF format to the Institute Secretary at Reference letters may also be e-mailed directly by the referee to the Institute Secretary.

Completed applications, as well as all supporting documentation, must be received no later than 1 February 2017. The awarding institution must send official confirmation that the PhD has been examined and approved to the postal address below. All documentation must be received by the application deadline.
Application forms and further details may be obtained from the web site at:

Textual and Related Studies: A symposium to mark the retirement of Richard Beadle

Odoyle-and-beadlen the 22nd of September, as Cambridge’s new intake of Medieval MPhil students, we were offered the opportunity to attend a symposium marking the retirement of Professor Richard Beadle.

Part of the ‘Writing Britain’ conference series, the theme for the day was ‘Textual and Related Studies,’ after a course of the same name initiated by Professor Beadle. The event was split between the Faculty of English and the University Library. Papers were given by twelve speakers, but of course the event drew wide attendance from the scholarly community, with about fifty colleagues and friends of Professor Beadle in attendance.

Subjects ranged from ‘The pragmatics of punctuation: three Anglophone letters from Wales’ (Jeremy Smith) to ‘Producing an English Bible c.1400’ (Anne Hudson.) Many of the presentations touched directly on Professor Beadle’s own work, while one was even given by a former student of his, Nicholas Perkins. For a full list of the speakers and their papers, see below.

Individual reflections:
Fran D’Argenio: As a new member of the medieval academic community, I was excited and pleasantly overwhelmed by the breadth of scope within the symposium. Jeremy Smith’s paper in particular was amusing and interesting as he examined three somewhat acrimonious letters for their punctuation, as well as Meg Twycross’ that gave a warm and funny insight into the academic process.

Katherine Dixon: Aside from the remarkable quality of the papers presented at Professor Beadle’s symposium, the most memorable part of the day for me was by far the tangible excitement it created among the newly arrived MPhil students. Surrounded by generations of Richard’s colleagues and students one couldn’t help feeling wholly validated in their choice to enter into the wise, generous and engaging medieval academic community.

Laurie Atkinson: Now some weeks into the eponymous ‘Textual and Related Studies’ course, I have come to more fully appreciate the great treasury of manuscript material to which Richard has introduced so many through his teaching and scholarship. The gratitude of students and colleagues for his many contributions to the field was expressed though the scholarly enthusiasm, and genuine personal warmth so evident throughout the symposium. It was an atmosphere extremely welcoming to the master and the as-yet-uninitiated alike, and an introduction to a community to which I sincerely hope to contribute in the future.

Hannah Lucas: All of the new MPhil students were so grateful to be welcomed to the academic community with the invitation to such an event. To hear of the development of Professor Beadle’s Textual and Related Studies course, which remains integral to the postgraduate experience, was a wonderful opportunity. The symposium presented wide-ranging scholarship that stretched even into the 20th century, in the case of Anne Hudson’s illuminating talk, and reiterated the multifarious and far-reaching nature of the field of medieval studies.

Anni Henriksen: The symposium, a day of academic celebration among colleagues, advisors and students, mentors and mentees, was first and foremost a celebration amongst friends. Having arrived in Cambridge only days prior to the event, some of us were yet to learn the full magnitude of Professor Beadle’s exceptional career. However, after five hours in the company of Professor Beadle himself and many of his remarkable colleagues present that day, we had gained a clear sense not only of his immense generosity in teaching and collegiality in research, but also the breadth of his knowledge and contribution to the many fields of study within medieval literature and manuscript studies.

Helen Cooper: ‘Conventions of Staging’
Ian Doyle: CUL MS Dd.1.17
Ralph Hanna: ‘Cambridge, St. John’s College, MS E.12’
Anne Hudson: ‘Producing an English Bible c.1400’
Pamela King: ‘Everyman, the Old Vic, and World War I’
Peter Murray Jones: ‘Bradshaviana’
Derek Pearsall: ‘The Words of the York Plays’
Nicholas Perkins: ‘CUL MS Add. 3037: Norwich, Sibton, Naworth, Brent Eleigh, Cambridge’
Ad Putter: ‘Gonville and Caius MS 54/31: Norfolk, Medieval Letters and Palaeography’
Jeremy Smith: ‘The Pragmatics of Punctuation: three Anglophone Letters from Wales’
Meg Twycross: ‘Work in Progress: or, “Why am I doing this?”’
Patrick Zutshi: ‘The Private Correspondence of the Avignon popes’


Medieval French Research Seminar: Matthew Lampitt, ‘Networking the Shropshire March in Fouke le Fitz Waryn’ (3 Nov)

Pmfrs-poster-16-17lease join us at 5pm on Thursday 3rd November, in the Audit Room, King’s College, for the second seminar in this year’s series.

Our speaker is Matthew Lampitt, a second-year PhD student at King’s College London. He will be presenting a paper entitled:

From Carreg y Nant to Cartagena: Networking the Shropshire March in Fouke le Fitz Waryn.

Water and wine will be served. We hope to see many of you there!

Medieval Manuscripts Seminar, University of London

Institute of English Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London
Medieval Manuscripts Seminar Programme 2016/7

11 October 2016

Andrew Dunning, British Library
Manuscript Collaboration between Malmesbury and Cirencester Abbeys

From the 1130s to the 1240s, a continual exchange in manuscripts supported the communities of the Benedictine abbey in Malmesbury and the Augustinian abbey in Cirencester. Robert of Cricklade, a canon at Cirencester, wrote of his admiration of William of Malmesbury and his efforts to have copies of several of his works made for the abbey library. Also at Cirencester, Walter de Melida, a scribe and textual critic, used Malmesbury manuscripts for copies of John of Salisbury’s/Policraticus/ and Alan of Tewkesbury’s collection of the letters of Thomas Becket. After the death of Cirencester’s most famous author, Alexander Neckam, in 1217, the prior of Malmesbury provided Walter with a statement of his admiration for Alexander’s /Corrogationes Promethei/, likely supporting an effort to assemble Alexander’s complete works. In the 1240s, Alexander’s nephew, Geoffrey Brito, compiled a miscellany of his uncle’s works, /Sol meldunensis/, dedicating it to Geoffrey, abbot of Malmesbury, with an invitation for further contributions. The manuscript appears to have been passed between the two abbeys, with new features added along the way.

22 November 2016

Mary Wellesley, British Library
Graphical Reverence and Script Hierarchy in the manuscript of the N-town Plays

The paper examines the macaronic text of the Magnificat from the ‘Visit to Elizabeth’ pageant in London, British Library, Cotton MS Vespasian D. VIII  — the sole surviving copy of the Middle English play cycle, The N-town Plays. It explores what the scribe’s use of a script hierarchy has to tell us about performance and reading, and the interplay between liturgy and drama.

31 January 2017

Ainoa Correa Castro, Marie Curie Postdoctoral Research Fellow, King’s College London
The scribes of the Silos Apocalypse (London, British Library, Add. MS. 11695) and the scriptorium of Silos in the late eleventh century

In the late eleventh century Fortunio, abbot of the newly restored Benedictine community of Silos, near Burgos, commissioned the time- and cost-consuming task of replicating for the monastery one of the most significant best-sellers of the peninsular Middle Ages: a Beatus. In doing so, he was continuing a long-lasting Iberian, Mozarabic, tradition originating in the late eighth century. In this seminar the Silos Apocalypse will be examined with the purpose of unveiling who were the scribes who intervened in its copying, what can be known about their professional connections, what was their cultural context, and how this codex fits within the written production of Silos in the late eleventh and early twelfth centuries.

7 February 2017

Arianna D’Ottone Rambach, Associate Professor of Arabic Language and Literature, Palaeography, Codicology and Numismatics – Sapienza, University of Rome
Arabic Palaeography: Mediterranean contacts and influences 

Bilingual and digraphic manuscript-witnesses, papyri, manuscripts and gems, in Greek and Arabic, and Latin and Arabic, offer the opportunity to explore cultural interactions between Mediterranean written practices, and connections between book cultures. A recently discovered, and unique document in Arabic, written in Latin letters, will be also presented and put in context from both the historical and linguistic points of view.

14 March 2017

David Rundle, University of Oxford
English Humanist Script in England: the first ten years

In the last half century, the outline of the early development in Florence of humanist bookhand, littera antiqua, has been amassed in detail. Central to this was the work of A. C. de la Mare, who also reconstructed the history of that script in England. This paper revisits that topic and reveals the identity of the first known humanist scribe at work in England. The intention, however, is not simply to add to the sum of knowledge about humanism’s reception beyond the European mainland but also to question the established narratives about its spread from its Italian centre to the periphery.

28 March 2017

Ralph Hanna III (Emeritus Fellow, Keble College, Oxford)
Cambridge, University Library, MS. Dd.1.17


Venue: Dr Seng T Lee Centre for Manuscript and Book Studies,
Senate House Library, University of London,
Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

All meetings at 5.30 p.m., Tuesdays, followed by a wine reception.
Organiser: Julia Crick, King’s College London.

Cambridge Medieval French Research Seminar

The Cambridge Medieval French Research Seminar will take place on Thursdays at 5pm, in the Audit Room, King’s College, Cambridge. Papers last between 20 and 50 minutes, and are followed by discussion.Wine and water will be served. For further details, or if you have any particular access requirements, please contact Blake Gutt (

Please follow the seminar on Facebook and/or Twitter (@CamMedFrenchSem) for further updates.