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Upcoming Lectures by Project Members

Project members will be giving various lectures in the academic year 2011-12.

Irene O'Daly, "The Anatomy of Rulership: John of Salisbury's (c. 1120-80) Model of the Body-Politic" (2 April, 2012)

The Royal Body Conference, Royal Holloway, University of London

Jenny Weston, "Books on the Move: the Lending and Borrowing of Manuscripts between English and Norman Monasteries in the Long Twelfth Century" (27-29 May, 2012)

Canadian Society of Medievalists, Congress 2012 (Waterloo, Ontario)

With the Norman Conquest of England in 1066, a new intellectual causeway was established between England and the European continent: books began to move freely through a complex network of lending, borrowing, and copying—organized and facilitated by Benedictine communities on either side of the channel. By the twelfth century, English and Norman libraries began to thrive, including those at Christ Church, Rochester Cathedral, Bec, Fécamp, and St-Évroul. This extensive library network depended on various forms of cooperation and a mutual desire to expand and enhance each community’s knowledge base.

The present paper examines this system of book (and intellectual) exchange between English and Norman Benedictine monasteries in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. It analyzes the various requests to borrow books (and demands to return missing ones), petitions for new copies of the latest texts to be made, as well as the expansion of library collections in both England and Normandy. By following how books were exchanged and shared across the channel, we can better understand how certain trends in learning, reading, and writing developed and spread between these two adjacent cultures. Were both English and Norman monks interested in the same texts? Did they pursue similar intellectual goals or did each community nurture special interest in certain types of books and certain kinds of learning? Although English and Norman monastic communities may have been brought together through conquest, this paper demonstrates that it was their shared passion for learning and their willingness to be part of an intellectual partnership of book exchange that ultimately united them.

Erik Kwakkel, "Writing in the Gothic Age with a Caroline Training: the Case of Orderic Vitalis" (3-5 June, 2012)

Writing Europe before 1450, University of Bergen

Between 1075 and 1225 European book script developed from Caroline to Gothic in what is arguably one of the most significant paleographical shifts in the Middle Ages. In a study scheduled for publication in March 2012 I trace how and when this transition took place, mapping the occurrence of six gothic features in 342 dated manuscripts. The main result is the identification of a period in which Gothic features were first introduced: 1100-15, when two such traits moved from being used in less than 10% of the manuscripts to over 80%.

This paper addresses a crucial question related to the transition from Caroline to Gothic, namely whether the shift was the result of changes within the handwriting of individual scribes; or whether it was the result of different generations of scribes doing things slightly differently (with no changes observed within the handwriting of individual scribes). In the former scenario we are to understand the shift from Caroline to Gothic as the result of changing personal preferences, while in the latter it is more likely that new features were systemically ‘imposed’ on scribes through for example the education they received.

To address this issue, eight dated manuscripts copied by Orderic Vitalis (1075-1142) will be analyzed. When Vitalis learned to write, in the 1090s, no Gothic features were yet in use. However, all but one of his manuscripts are written after the dramatic shift towards Gothic in 1100-15. The ultimate question addressed in this paper, then, is to what extent Vitalis’ manuscripts contain Gothic traits. If they are present, logic suggests that he picked them up throughout his career as a scribe. If not, he remained true to the manner of writing he was taught as a young man. Each potential answer has implications for our understanding of how Gothic was made into a new script standard.

Irene O'Daly, "The Use of Rhetorical Manuals in the Long Twelfth Century" (3-5 June, 2012)

Writing Europe before 1450, University of Berge

Julie Somers, "Women's Involvement in Reading and Book Production in the Twelfth Century: Conforming or Breaking the Rules?" (July 9-12, 2012)

International Medieval Congress, Leeds

Ending the long held assumption that only men were literate in the twelfth century, recent scholars have established that women also acted as scribes, patrons and readers of books during this medieval period. This paper examines the role of women in twelfth-century book culture and questions how they navigated traditional gender rules regarding literacy thus allowing them to participate in the production and reception of various manuscripts. Did the twelfth-century literary woman follow the traditional standards of book production set forth by their male counterparts, or did she break those rules and make her own?

Irene O'Daly, "Thinking Outside the Box: The Role of Diagrams in Medieval Manuscripts" (July 9-12, 2012)

International Medieval Congress, Leeds

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