Late Medieval France and Burgundy Seminar (Saturday 29 November 2014)

The Late Medieval France and Burgundy Seminar is an annual forum for scholars of all disciplines who focus on any aspect of France and Burgundy in the 14th and 15th centuries.  The organizers are Professor Rosalind Brown-Grant (Department of French, University of Leeds), Professor Graeme Small (Department of History, University of Durham) and Dr Craig Taylor (Department of History, University of York).

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The annual Seminar offers an opportunity for interdisciplinary conversations between established academics, and provides a forum for identifying and developing shared research interests that could be the basis for future collaborations. It will also offer a venue for graduate students and young scholars to showcase their work, and to take part in workshops on publishing and applying for academic jobs and research grants.

The second of our meetings takes place this year at the Palace Green Library Learning Centre, Durham University (on Palace Green beside the cathedral).

We want to put the emphasis on two particular aspects:

  • the work of PGR students (at any stage in their thesis work) and Early Career Researchers (defined 5 -6 years since first appointment); and
  • ‘Disciplines in Dialogue’, our strapline and guiding thread.

We invite one-paragraph proposals from PGRs and ECRs for 20-minute papers across all disciplines on any aspect of their current research, to be sent to me ( by Friday 10 October. To maximise the benefit of the event, we would like to circulate papers at least one week in advance of the workshop (22 November). We also offer the opportunity, should a speaker wish to take it up, of having a scholar from another discipline make an informal and constructive response to the paper from his or her disciplinary perspective.

We will also allow some time in the programme to take account of recent disciplinary developments, to the benefit of future dialogues between our disciplines. In a (possibly misguided) homage to Paul Gauguin, we will call this bit D’où venons-nous ? Que sommes-nous ? Où allons-nous ?

Lunch will be provided, and Durham have up to 6 travel bursaries of up to £50 each to help PGRs and the unwaged to attend. Priority for the travel bursaries will be given to speakers. The event will run from roughly 9:30am to 6pm.

Those wishing to attend the event should contact Graeme Small ( by Friday 10 October – there is no formal registration.

Old Craft, New Art: An Artistic Journey by Helen Whittaker (Thursday 2 October 2014)

At 7.30pm on Thursday 2 October, Helen Whittaker, Creative Director and Artist/Designer at Barley Studio, Dunnington, will give a lecture at the Stained Glass Centre at St Martin cum Gregory, Micklegate, York, entitled ‘Old Craft, New Art: An Artistic Journey’

Over the past 20 years, Helen Whittaker has created many new stained glass windows as well as conserving historic glass at Barley Studio in York. In this lecture she will describe her inspirations, including context, narrative, geometry and movement, as well as the process of creating new art to commission using the traditional craft of stained glass, reflecting on the past while looking to the future.

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The Paradise Window (2014): New East Window for St Brandon’s Church, Brancepeth, County Durham

Helen Whittaker is Creative Director and Artist / Designer to Barley Studio, York, a stained glass firm renowned for both conservation and new work. She is an award-winning designer of stained glass windows and architectural sculpture in glass and copper, with commissions for Ely Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, Selby Abbey, Beverley Minster, Southwell Minster, Worksop Priory, The Royal Air Force Club, London, The Haven Trust, London and York Hospital among many others.

Tickets cost £6 (£5 concessions), available on the door. Door open at 7pm. Refreshments will be available.

Starting a new year


Monday 29 September will be the first day of the new academic year at the University of York and the Centre for Medieval Studies will be welcoming a record-breaking of new MA and PhD students. We are very excited to welcome all of these new faces to our community (photos will be appearing here soon)!

For those coming along, here is the induction programme for the day:

1pm       Registration for students on the MA in Medieval Studies in the main office of the Centre for Medieval Studies, followed by a tour of the King’s Manor.

1.15pm  Registration for students on the MA in Medieval Literatures and PhD in Medieval Studies, again followed by a tour of the King’s Manor.

Lunch in the Huntingdon Room with students and staff.

2.30pm   The official welcome to the Centre and introductions to all of the staff.

2.50pm  Introduction to the various skills modules running this year (Old Norse, Old English, Old French, Latin and Palaeography)

3.10pm  Meetings to discuss the various MA programmes (Medieval Studies, Medieval Literatures and Medieval History) as well as the PhD in Medieval Studies

4pm  Introductions to the wide-range of CMS student-led activities and opportunities, including:

  • Volunteering opportunities at Churches Conservation Trust
  • Patchwork research seminar series
  • The Lords of Misrule drama group
  • The Italian reading group
  • The Latin reading group
  • The Old Irish reading group
  • The Old French reading group
  • The Old English/Old Norse reading group
  • The Sacred Images group
  • Medieval Film group
  • Latin Reading Group

5-7pm  Pizza party at the Stained Glass Centre, St.Martin-cum-Gregory, Micklegate

Medieval Autographs, Holographs and Contemporary Copies (Friday 5 December 2014)

Dr Mary Garrison (History) has organised an interdisciplinary training event for postgraduate students of the universities of York, Leeds and Sheffield. This workshop is funded by the Department of History at the University of York and by the White Rose College of the Arts and Humanities. It will introduce students to the analytical methods required to decipher unfamiliar handwriting and to the importance of advanced palaeographical sleuthing.

Keynote presentation: Francis Newton (Duke University) and Erik Kwakkel (University of Leiden) on ‘Arabic Medicine at Monte Cassino: A Manuscript Witness from the Desk of Constantine the African’

The abbey of Monte Cassino is known as the earliest center for the translation of Arabic medicine into Latin. The key figure in this center is Constantine the African, who joined the community in the 1070s. He came from Tunisia, bringing with him both knowledge and (likely) books containing Arabic medical texts. At the abbey Constantine (+ before 1099) produced some two dozen translations of medical works, which were subsequently transmitted throughout Europe, where they became popular very quickly, including in the schools. This lecture will discuss a most unusual witness of this process of translating and transmitting Arabic medicine: a surviving volume of Constantine’s Liber Pantegni (a translation/adaptation of al-Magusi’s encyclopaedia of all medical knowledge, “pasa techne”), a manuscript which can now be shown to have been produced at Monte Cassino during the lifetime of the translator. This lecture will (1) identify the scribe of the codex, from whom several other manuscripts survive; (2) show that the codex is an author-supervised copy; (3) demonstrate the manuscript’s significance for our understanding of Monte Cassino as a center of Arabic medicine; and (4) discuss the likely function of the manuscript, which was probably produced for educational purposes.

The keynote speakers are some of the most eminent palaeographers in the world. Francis Newton (Emeritus, Duke University) is a fellow of the Medieval Academy and his book on the library and scriptorium of Monte Cassino has been described as one of the most important works in the field of the twentieth century. He is also a gifted and engaging teacher. Erik Kwakkel (University of Leiden) delivered the Lowe Lectures in palaeography last year and is the leader of a prestigious NWO funded VIDI project and a member of the Dutch Jonge Akademie. He has also been a pioneer in using social media to communicate about medieval books and palaeography to a very large audience and has inspired an upsurge of interest in medieval book history both at Leiden and farther afield.

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Workshop sessions

The keynote will be preceded by shorter parallel sessions on examples of autographs and holographs from other eras plus an introduction to parchment forensics for all which will introduce both cutting-edge biomolecular techniques and new insights from a conservator who has also been invited to teach parchment making across Europe, in Iceland, Austria, Oxford, and Turkey.

Parallel Workshop Sessions: these will set out evidence and discoveries in a format that invites students to scrutinize and evaluate the evidence presented:

  • Linne Mooney: ‘The Hand of Hoccleve’
  • Mary Garrison: ‘Three cases of Insular Autographs: The Debates about Boniface, Alcuin and Willibrord’

Sessions for all participants:

  • Matthew Collins and Sarah Fiddyment: ‘An Introducion to Biomolecular Parchment Forensics’
  • Jiri Vnoucek: ‘Changes in Parchment across a Millennium – changes in production techniques as clues to date and origin’

Professor Toshiyuki Takamiya’s Donation to the Centre for Medieval Studies

ypp-_19092014154951_001A prominent Japanese academic has donated fragments of Latin medieval manuscripts and seven fragments of early printed books to the University of York.

Each fragment consists of one or two leaves (pages) from a medieval manuscript or early printed book, of dates ranging from the 11th to the 16th centuries.

The manuscripts are a gift from Professor Toshiyuki Takamiya, of Keio University in Tokyo and were presented to the Borthwick by Professor Linne Mooney on behalf of the Centre for Medieval Studies.

The manuscript fragments came from the library of the 19th century medieval manuscript collector, Sir Thomas Phillipps, part of a larger collection of fragments bought by the booksellers William H. Robinson Ltd. of London from the sale of Phillipps manuscripts in 1946. The collection donated by Professor Takamiya was assembled by the booksellers as a sample of styles from several centuries of the Middle Ages.

The larger collection belonged in the first half of the 20th century to Estelle Doheny, a Californian collector. Similar sets of specimen fragments assembled by Robinsons are now in the Lilly Library at the University of Indiana and the Bodleian Library of the University of Oxford, while other sets remain in private ownership.

An exhibition focusing on the manuscripts will be held later this year and the archive will be stored and made available via the Borthwick Institute for Archives.

Why Study the Medieval Language and Arts? – Professor Rita Copeland (Friday 3 October 2014)

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At 2pm on Friday 3 October 2014, Professor Rita Copeland of the University of Pennsylvania will deliver the first of a series of seminars for the Centre for Medieval Literature, broadcast live to colleagues in Denmark.The CML seminar series is an ongoing forum for interdisciplinary research based jointly at the Universities of York and Southern Denmark (Odense). They will talk on a range of topics relating to European literature in the medieval period. Other talks in the series will be:-

20th October: Sara Harris (University of Cambridge), ‘Rough and Unvarnished Idioms: Analyzing Merlin’s Prophetic Vernacular in the Twelfth Century’

4th November: Miguel Andrés Toledo (Southern Denmark University), ‘The Bridge to the Otherworld in Zoroastrianism’

18th November: Jane Gilbert (University College London), ‘Translation Zones: Language and Conflict in Langtoft’s Chronicle’

4th December: Henrike Lähnemann (University of Newcastle), ‘From Medingen to Michigan: a Cistercian Scriptorium Goes International’ (followed by a visit to the York Minster library)

Contact: George Younge or Sacramento Roselló-Martinez

Location: York: K/275a, King’s Manor; Odense: CML common room

Admission: All staff and students warmly invited

British Academy Conference: Aliens, Foreigners & Strangers in Medieval England (26-27 March 2015)

Professor Mark Ormrod (History) and Professor Elizabeth Tyler (English and Related Literature), along with Professor Joanna Story (University of Leicester), will co-host a major conference on Aliens, Foreigners and Strangers in Medieval England, c. AD 500-1500 to be held at the British Academy in London on 26-27 March 2015.

Immigration, its causes and its consequences, is a contentious topic with profound political, social, economic and cultural effects for individual migrants and for host and donor communities. This conference will examine the phenomenon in relation to medieval England, with contributions from specialists in history, language and literature, archaeology and genetics. It will provide deep historical and cultural context to contemporary discussions among policy-makers and the general public about ethnicity, multiculturalism and the evolution of national identity in modern Britain.

The conference will profile three major current projects at York and Leicester:

Apocalypse – The Great East Window of York Minster, by Sarah Brown

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Apocalpyse: The Great East Window of York Minster is a new book written by Sarah Brown as she oversees the restoration of the ‘Sistine Chapel of stained glass’ at York Minster.

Sarah is Director of The York Glaziers Trust (YGT) and also course director of the University’s MA in Stained Glass Conservation and Heritage Management.  Apocalypse details how art historians at the University and stained glass conservators at YGT have worked with architects, masons, project managers and fundraisers since 2005 to plan, fund and execute one of Europe’s largest and most complex conservation projects.

The book also reproduces panels from the window in full colour and in close detail, alongside an explanation of the story behind the incredible artwork, as well as describing the circumstances of its creation.

Sarah said: “The project offers an unrivalled opportunity to examine the panels up close at eye level in the glazier’s workshop, revealing details about the astonishing skill and artistry of John Thornton who created the window, and his team who remain anonymous and unnumbered. Above all, the book is a tribute to Thornton and his unsung collaborators.”

The restoration is part of the five-year York Minster Revealed project, which is due for completion in 2016.


York Medieval Seminar – Professor Bianca Kühnel (Tuesday 11 November)




On Tuesday 11 November, Professor Bianca Kühnel from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem will be giving a public lecture entitled ‘Jerusalem’s Imprint on the European Visual Memory’ (5.30pm, King’s Manor K/133)

The lecture is an attempt to classify the manifold representations of Jerusalem in Christian medieval art and architecture, aiming to emphasize the turning points in their history. The dependance on one model, on one hand, and the broad geographical and historical distribution, on the other, have produced a unique artistic phenomenon that has yet to be deciphered in its complexity. The lecture will map some of the most representative Jerusalem sites in Europe in connection with the respective historical and political conditions of their foundation.

The following day, she will lead a lead a graduate seminar (11.15am, King’s Manor K/159) that will concentrate on a few test cases, asking if and how the local, particularistic features fit (or not) into the European network of Jerusalem representations.




Pnina Arad, ‘Pilgrimage, Cartography, and Devotion: William Wey’s Map of the Holy Land’, Viator 43 No. 1 (2012), pp. 301–322.

Bianca Kühnel, Virtual Pilgrimages to Real Places: the Holy Landscapes, in: Lucy Donkin and Hanna Vorholt, eds., Imagining Jerusalem in the Medieval West, Published for the British Academy by Oxford University Press, 2012, pp. 243-264.

Colin Morris, ‘Bringing the Holy Sepulchre to the West: S. Stefano, Bologna, from the Fifth to the Twentieth Century’, Studies in Church History 33 (1997), pp. 31–59

Judith Wolin, ‘Mnemotopias, Revisiting Renaissance Sacri Monti’, Modulus 18 (1987), pp. 8-45

Robert G. Ousterhout, ‘The Church of Santo Stefano: A “Jerusalem” in Bologna’, Gesta 20 (1981), pp. 311–22