Where are they now? Rachel Moss

Rachel Moss was an undergraduate at York and went on to complete an MA in Medieval Studies in 2004 (writing a dissertation on Fatherhood in Medieval popular romance)and then a PhD in Medieval Studies on Fictions of fatherhood : fatherhood in late medieval English gentry and mercantile letters and romances (2009).


Rachel has just published her first book, Fatherhood and its Representations in Middle English Texts (D.S. Brewer, 2013).

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Since graduating from York, Rachel has been a visiting lecturer in the History Department at Leeds Trinity University College and was a postdoctoral researcher on the European Research Council-funded project Signs and States: Semiotics of the Modern State at Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne. She was then appointed as Lecturer at Oxford University, based at Corpus Christi College, and has recently secured a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow, working on Beyond Between Men: the Medieval Homosocial Imagination.

On 21 April 2015, Rachel returned to York to give a public lecture entitled “That it was to late for to crie”: Rape and Patriarchy in Middle English Texts’.

For her reflections on the event, see her blog Meny Snoweballes.

Urbanity and Society c.600-1500 (22-23 May)

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Urban Studies is a sub-field with a long and distinguished history of its own. Those who investigate urban environments have, however, largely been seen as working independently from other aspects of historical study, as a consequence of the separate and distinctive role envisaged for towns and cities by feudal models of society. With the growth of less rigid models of understanding social and political relationships, it is time to rethink what urban centres meant to wider society. The ‘urban’ as an interdisciplinary topic can be brought together through discussion of all the different ways that urban life was understood, recorded and depicted as well as its physical remains. In addition to looking at the multi-faceted urban experience, this conference will examine the relationships between towns and other aspects of medieval society and culture. How might literature, art or archaeology uncover and explain perceptions of urban institutions such as, but not limited to, guilds, religious bodies or civic authorities? Are there regional differences in how the city or the town should be understood? Is there a difference between the two terms? Was this the same across Europe and the world?

This one-day conference to be held at the King’s Manor, University of York, with a public keynote lecture on the Friday aims to bring together postgraduate students and academics alike from a variety of disciplines to open up conversations and create new networks of approaches to urban topics.

For more information, see the conference website.

Friday 22nd May

Afternoon – 1700 onwards: Arrival and Registration.

18.15-19.30: Public Keynote Lecture by Dr Zoë Opačić (Birkbeck): A Tale of Three Cities: Architecture and Spectacle in Prague, Krakow and Vienna

Saturday 23rd May

10.00-12.00: Urban Élites and Community in Medieval Europe

Civic Commensality in Late-Medieval England – Dr. Dave Postles, University of Hertfordshire

Nuremberg’s Urbanity and the Rural Nobility in the Fifteenth Century – Ben Pope, Durham University

Strangers in Town: A Trade Facility for Muslims in Twelfth-Century Constantinople – Dr Jacopo Turchetto, University of Padova
14.00-16.00: Growth, Spatial Changes and Representations of Medieval Towns

Stairs, Gates and Money: The Settlement of Monastic Orders near Bridges in Imperial Cities – Jana Gajdošová, Birkbeck, University of London

Medieval Society and Urban Space: An Archaeological and Historical Approach Through a French Example: Troyes (Champagne-Ardenne) – Claire Bourguignon, University of Burgundy

City and Nation in Anglo-Norman England – Dr Daniel Gerrard, University of Oxford

4.30- 6.00: Financing trade in the fifteenth century: provincial towns and the role of London

Final Keynote from Dr Richard Goddard, University of Nottingham

Holy Bodies Sacred Spaces (Saturday 2 May 2015)

Conference: Holy Bodies Sacred Spaces (Saturday 2 May 2015)
Location: The Bowland Auditorium, Berrick Saul

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The praesentia of holy bodies, the material remains of saints, is a seminal aspect of late antique and medieval Christianity, and has long received scholarly attention. The art-historical debate on the eleventh and twelfth centuries has focused, in particular, on pilgrimage, from the seminal and monumental monograph by Arthur Kingsley Porter to the most recent studies that examine the relationship between architecture and pilgrims’ pathways in approaching holy bodies and venerated relics.
However, the idea of pilgrimage unveils only a part of the richness of the topic. In this conference, speakers are invited to reflect on the different layers of meaning associated with the praesentia of holy bodies. What was, for example, the ecclesiological relevance of the possession of holy bodies at a given site? To what extent did the praesentia of a saint have an institutional, or even “political” importance? And, finally, in which ways have these aspects been “materialised” in architectural structures or visualised in images?

Speakers: Jane Hawkes (University of York), Richard Plant (Christie’s Education), Wilfried E Keil (Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg), Christopher Norton (University of York), Jessica N Richardson (Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz – Max-Planck-Institut), Manuel Castiňeiras (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona) and Andreas Hartmann-Virnich (Laboratoire d’Archéologie Médiévale et Moderne en Méditerranée, LA3M UMR 7298 Aix-Marseille Université AMU/CNRS).

Download the Holy Bodies conference Programme

This event is generously funded by the British Academy-Leverhulme Foundation, with the support of the Department of History of Art and the Centre for Medieval Studies, University of York.

For further queries please contact the conference organiser, Michele Luigi Vescovi (micheleluigi.vescovi@york.ac.uk).

Place and Space in the Medieval World (29-31 May)

Place and Space in the Medieval World is a three day interdisciplinary conference to be held at the University of York, King’s Manor 29-31 May.

The consideration of space and place has become ever more central to the study of the Medieval in the last three decades. Ideas of ‘Space’ and ‘Place’, together with associated ideas such as the ‘local’, the ‘sacred’ and practices of ‘rituals’, are ideas and terms that have been frequently applied to medieval material, and, moreover, form the basis for scholarly approaches to it. This conference crosses disciplinary and theoretical boundaries to examine the words, metaphors, images, signs, poetry, and structures with which medieval society used these ideas to conceptualise, recognise and understand their world. Further, it asks how, as modern scholars, these terms may help us understand the medieval world from our twenty-first century perspectives.

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This event will be free to York students but pre-registration is essential. The deadline for registration is the 18th of May 2015.

Full programme details can be found at the conference website, and any inquiries should be addressed to Meg Boulton and Heidi Stoner at place.and.space.2015@gmail.com

CMS Visiting Professor, Suzanne Wittekind (University of Cologne)

The CMS is delighted to welcome Professor Suzanne Wittekind as a Visiting Professor for the summer term 2015.

Susanne Wittekind is a Professor in the History of Art and speaker of the Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of Cologne.

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Her research has focused on German art of the 10th-13th Century and on Spanish art of the 12th-14th Century, especially on illuminated books und treasury art. She is interested in the use and function of art in the context of liturgy, in the medieval liturgy and the interaction of music, word, performance, space and art in it, in the role of art in the cult of the saints (media, strategies, historical incidents and backgrounds), and in art as a medium of personal or institutional memory. Her dissertation concerned illuminated commentaries on the psalter (1994), her second book treated abbot Wibald of Stavelot as a patron of art (2004). She edited the volume on Romanesque Art in Germany (2009) in a series from Prestel, and a conference transcript on illuminated law Manuscripts (2009).

She is currently working on two projects. The first is treating the reuse, the amendment and reworking of medieval art objects in the middle ages and early modern times. The second, which she will follow primarily in her time at the CMS, is focused on illuminated charters, cartularies, legal codifications, administrative manuals, and statutes of fraternities, hospitals, and guilds. During her last sabbatical (2010/11 in Spain) she had done research on these materials in Catalonia, Aragón and Castilia. Now her interest shifts to England to compare the different forms of organization, embedding, and transmission of charters and statutes, as well as the decoration of administrative manuals like the book of the exchequer or the domesday book. Why were these juridical or administrative texts illuminated, and how do they (re)present communities and their leadership?

She is based in Room K/181 in Headmaster’s House, King’s Manor, on ext. 3912. She is happy to meet and talk to everyone so feel free to knock on her door or send email to:

1348: A Pivotal Moment for Collegiate Churches? by Andrew Budge (Birkbeck) – Tuesday 14 April

On 14 April 5:15pm in the Treehouse of the Berrick Saul Building, Andrew Budge (Birkbeck) will be speaking on “1348: a pivotal moment for collegiate churches, or business as usual?”

This paper will offer an exploration of the influence of the conversion of St George’s, Windsor and St Stephen’s, Westminster to collegiate status in 1348 on the founding and architecture of collegiate churches in the remainder of the 14th century.

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For more information on the AHRC-funded research project on St Stephen’s Chapel Westminster, 1292-1941, see the Virtual St Stephen’s website.

Westerdale: the origins and development of a medieval settlement, by Carol Wilson

Following her retirement for primary headship, Carol Wilson came to the CMS in 2010 to take an MA in Medieval Studies. Her dissertation focused on the development of Westerdale, now in the North York Moors National Park. During the thirteenth century this medieval settlement was the primary preceptory of the Knights Templar in the northeast of England. A thriving community developed here. After graduation, Carol’s essay was revised and published under the title Westerdale: the origins and development of a medieval settlement.

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Copies of the book are available to students for £5. There are some in the office and others will be available on 11th June.

Two New PhD studentships in the Department of History

Two studentships are available as part of a major new project, ‘The Genesis of Inquisition Procedures and the Truth-Claims of Inquisition Records: The Inquisition Registers of Languedoc, 1235-1244’, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and led by Professor Peter Biller (History) with Dr Lucy Sackville (History) and Dr Shelagh Sneddon (History), which started on 1 May 2014 and will run until April 2019.

Painting. Expulsion of the Cathars

This exciting new project aims to transform the study and understanding of the inquisition of heresy in its crucial first decade. The project will provide a technical edition, with apparatus, and a translation of four mainly unedited inquisition registers produced during the earliest years of inquisition in Languedoc, 1235-44. This will provide the basis for, and go hand in hand with, study of the genesis and development of inquisition procedures, and ultimately enquiry into the truth-claims of these records. The registers are also rich with materials on Languedocian society and culture in this period, especially the nobility and religion – their vivid colour and human interest are comparable to the inquisition records on which Montaillou was based. These registers are extant only in copies from 1669. The project will therefore also have an early modern element. There will be investigation of the rise of scientific historical scholarship – of which this copying was one expression – and early modern French interest in medieval history, and in particular interest in the themes of inquisition and religious tolerance.

This is a great opportunity to pursue your academic interests and to gain valuable experience of research and impact as part of a committed and dynamic team. The studentships will start October 2015.

The two PhD projects:

1: ‘Religion and the Culture of Thirteenth-Century Southern French Nobility’

The inquisition registers from these decades are a rich source not only for the social and religious life of the region, but also for its aristocratic networks and power structures. Many of the individuals appearing in the registers were members of the local nobility, and the support of these individuals for heterodox networks, or for the work of the inquisitors, was a crucial factor in their survival or success. The novelty and wealth of the material that can be harvested from the early registers – as they are edited and translated by the project – will enable the opening up of the study of the southern French nobility in the early decades of the thirteenth century, during the time of the crusade and in its immediate aftermath. These are the materials that we expect the PhD candidate to use as the basis for a cultural, religious and social study of the southern French nobility. Candidates should have fluency in English, a good reading knowledge of French and medieval Latin.
2: ‘The Idea of Medieval Heresy in Early Modern France’

Interest in medieval heresy and inquisition – within seventeenth-century French intellectual culture and religious polemic – is the early modern context of this project. The field of the PhD investigation will include the growth of historical interest in medieval heresy and its repression, and the search for original sources by seventeenth-century savants. The outer limits of this field include the growth of antiquarian interest in regional history, the debates about religious tolerance and conformity in France, and the new scientific history. Evaluation of how medieval heresy and inquisition were understood by early modern Europeans and how they were portrayed in historical narrative will be central. Candidates should have fluency in English, a good reading knowledge of French and be prepared to learn Latin if appointed.

AHRC History Project PhD Studentship 2015 – further info

Both studentships are based in the Department of History.

Further information about the project can be found at the project website.