MAA News – MAA@Kzoo

Even though we won’t be able to greet you in person this year at the International Congress on Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo, the Medieval Academy of America will have a strong presence at the virtual conference, with lectures, sessions, and roundtables focusing on the Global Middle Ages, DEI, and Anti-Racism (May 10-15).

1) The MAA plenary will be delivered by Sharon Kinoshita (Univ. of California–Santa Cruz), “Marco Polo and the Diversity of the Global Middle Ages” (pre-recorded and available to registrants May 10–15 and May 17–29). Two related sessions organized by Prof. Kinoshita on “Diversity in/and the Global Middle Ages” will take place on Tuesday and Wednesday at 11 AM (Sessions 124 and 179 respectively).

2) The Committee on Centers and Regional Associations (CARA) roundtable on “Diversifying the Medieval Studies Syllabus” will take place Thursday at 3 PM (Session 291).

3) The Medieval Academy Graduate Student Committee roundtable on “Teaching the Middle Ages with Inclusivity and Diversity” will take place on Friday at 7 PM (Session 391).

4) With the Material Collective, the MAA is sponsoring a workshop titled “Race and the Medieval Academy of America,” led by Jax Gardner, Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership, Kalamazoo College. The workshop will take place on Saturday, at 3 PM (Session 436). Attendance will be limited to 20 participants.

All times are EDT. Click here for more information.

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MAA News – MAA Grants Awarded

Tripoli, Bohemond VI or VII, gold bezant, 1251-87. Courtesy of Princeton University Numismatic Collection.

We are very pleased to be able to support the work of these scholars through our grant programs:

Belle da Costa Greene Award

Carolyn Quijano (Columbia University), “The Stranger and the Guest: Foreign Magistracies in the Medieval Italian City States, c. 1200-1475”

Olivia Remie Constable Awards

Dana Katz, “A Lost Mediterranean Landscape: The Parklands and Palaces of Medieval Sicily”

Joel Pattison, “Mediterranean trade and religious law: Genoa and the Maghrib”

Jennifer Solivan-Robles, “Virtues, Vices and Preachers: the Mnemonic Function of the Sculpted Programs in Medieval Cathedrals”

Alice Isabella Sullivan, “Mount Athos, Sinai, and the Danubian Lands: Patronage, Ideology, and Visual Culture in the Late Middle Ages”

Dissertation Grants

Hope Emily Allen Dissertation Grant: Jessica E. Zisa (University of California, Santa Barbara), “Loving Bodies, Willing Minds: Affect, Cognition, and Gender in Late Medieval England”

John Boswell Dissertation Grant: Anabelle Gambert-Jouan (Yale University), “The Places of Sculpture in Medieval Italy and Iberia: Production, Diffusion, and Display of Wood ‘Deposition’ Groups”

Helen Maud Cam Dissertation Grant: Elizabeth Carolyn Cargile (Fordham University), “The Shape of History: Formal Variety and the Production of the Past in Twelfth-Century History Writing in England and Normandy (ca. 1120 – 1154)”

Grace Frank Dissertation Grant: Elena Gittleman (Bryn Mawr College), “Legacies of Ancient Theater in Middle Byzantine Visual Culture (ca.843 – 1204)”

Etienne Gilson Dissertation Grant: Jana Valesca Meyer (University of New Mexico), “Social Status, Occupation, and Health in Central European Medieval Societies: A Bioarchaeological Study with Special Attention to Societal Risks for Osteoarthritis in the Early and Late Middle Ages”

Frederic C. Lane Dissertation Grant: Mario Sassi (University of Pennsylvania), “Bedeviled Clergy and Demonic Roosters: The Supernatural in Trecento and Quattrocento Exempla”

Robert and Janet Lumiansky Dissertation Grant: Rachael Vause (University of Delaware), “The Cross and the Body in Early Medieval England”

E. K. Rand Dissertation Grant: Emma Le Pouesard (Columbia University), “Contested Sites of Feminine Agency: Ivory Grooming Implements in Late Medieval Europe”

Charles T. Wood Dissertation Grant: LauraLee Brott (University of Wisconsin-Madison), “The Holy Land within the Manuscript: Performative Cartography in BL Add. MS 10049”

Schallek Awards

Abigail Marie Adams (University of Texas at Austin), “Textual Excerpts in Fifteenth-Century English Miscellanies”

Matthew Cleary (University of Edinburgh), “Select Issues in Inheritance Law in England, c. 1440- c. 1500: Jurisdictional Relations under Civil and Canon Law” (working title)

Aylin Malcolm (University of Pennsylvania), “Literature and ecological science in late medieval England”

Rachel Podd (Fordham University), “Health and Disease in Late Medieval England”

Christopher Queen (University of California, Riverside), “Late Middle English Literature, affect and emotion, queer studies, manuscript studies, medievalism, history of the field, textual and bibliographical criticism”

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MAA News – Book Subventions

The Medieval Academy Book Subvention Program provides grants of up to $2,500 to university or other non-profit scholarly presses to support the publication of first books by Medieval Academy members. Click here for more information.

NEW: The Medieval Academy Inclusivity and Diversity Book Subvention Program provides subventions of up to $5,000 to university or other non-profit scholarly presses to support the publication of books concerning the study of inclusivity and diversity in the Middle Ages (broadly conceived) by Medieval Academy members. Click here for more information.

Applications for subventions will be accepted only from the publisher and only for books that have already been approved for publication. Eligible Academy members who wish to have their books considered for a subvention should ask their publishers to apply directly to the Academy, following the guidelines outlined on the relevant webpage. The deadline for proposals is 1 May 2021.

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Support for the Asian-American Community

Dear Colleagues,

Our research takes us mostly into the past​, but it should also allow us to see our present reality in a clearer light. We acknowledge with great sadness that hatred of – and discrimination against – others, systemic racism, and racist violence are deeply rooted in the pre-modern past and have been cast into ever harsher relief by recent acts of violence. In view of the recent increase in hate crimes against people of Asian and Pacific Islander descent, the Council of the Medieval Academy has compiled a list of resources that are useful for an understanding of these patterns of discrimination. They also offer possibilities for more direct involvement of different kinds. We will post this list to our blog and will add more links as our Council members suggest further resources. We begin with the statement of the Medievalists of Color, a group to which many of our MAA members belong.

Renate Blumenfeld-Kosinski
President, Medieval Academy of America

RESOURCES:

Medievalists of Color statement and resources

Association for Asian Studies statement and resources

“Epidemiology 101 for Medievalists—or, Why Narratives Matter in Historicizing Hate-Speech” by Monica H. Green

American Historical Association statement with historical context

The AAPI COVID-19 Project report on anti-Asian violence

Community Resources on Anti-Asian Violence, Curated by the UCRFTP Cops Off Campus Collective

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Epidemiology 101 for Medievalists—or, Why Narratives Matter in Historicizing Hate-Speech

by Monica H. Green

I. Where Are You From?

I confess. I get no small pleasure in disrupting the “Where are you from?” questions I’ve gotten all my life. When I answer “Japan,” the logical fallacy reveals itself on the face of my interlocutor. I don’t “look” Japanese and therefore the initial question, which should have allowed them to compartmentalize me according to a “continent of origin” racial logic, proves useless. Sometimes “facts” are useless.

There has been much talk this past year about “infodemics.” This is not just your garden variety “Fake News” but the circulation of factoids and narratives that do immediate harm in terms of disrupting public health initiatives and even allowing certain individuals or groups to be targeted for harassment. In the context of a pandemic, separating disease narratives from both geography and ethnicity has been crucial for the World Health Organization, which for some time has recognized the need for neutral terminology to refer to new diseases. Overall, the WHO was successful in quickly shifting public usage toward “COVID-19” and “SARS-CoV-2” early in 2020. Trump’s insistence on using geographic terminology was deliberate, aggressive, and malicious.

But here’s the problem: it was not factually wrong. To label all such information as “false” undercuts a basic moral objective that both History and epidemiology share: truth-telling. Because for both History and epidemiology, origin stories are important. They tell us something about when things happen, how things happen, and why they happen. To date, both on-the-ground and modelling studies suggest that the origin of the SARS-CoV-2 virus—its definitive transition from a virus of another animal host to one of humans—happened not too long before (and possibly not too far away from) the place where the first human cases were reported in December 2019.

As medievalists, we know the power of stories. And we know all too well how stories are constructed selectively and can be used to actively harm as well as enlighten. We know how lacunae and inferences, episodic plotting and time compression, can direct attention different ways. We are in an extraordinary moment of global awareness now, the whole world having been united by a pandemic this past year. I, a specialist in medieval medicine, am one of the historians who has been arguing that our present crisis is not unique, but shares important parallels with pandemic crises humankind has faced before. A field I call “Global Health History” is coalescing as the histories of humanity’s major infectious diseases come more tightly into focus under the trifold efforts of the fields of palaeogenetics, bioarchaeology, and medical history. But as this line of investigation coalesces, so, too, should awareness of how stories shape our ways of thinking and choices in behavior.

And that is why, as medievalists, we should recognize the role we might inadvertently already be playing. We have already been made aware of the Pandora’s box of white supremacy that is openly making use of partly-true, partly-fictitious narratives about the Middle Ages. Most recently, we are seeing the rise of anti-Asian racism and violence. Both crises were fueled by the former U.S. President. But they did not come out of nowhere, and their intersections are not unrelated. We are in a position not only to be attuned to mistaken uses of the past, but to be more careful in how we ourselves connect the past to the present.

II. Not Origins, But Processes

In an essay published in the Smithsonian Magazine on 25 March, David Perry (a fellow medieval historian), described my recent work on the origin of the late medieval plague pandemic: “[Green] identifies a ‘big bang’ that created four distinct genetic lineages [of the plague bacterium] that spread separately throughout the world and finds concrete evidence that the plague was already spreading from China to central Asia in the 1200s.” Actually, Perry got the geography reversed. Amplifying and revising arguments that sinologist Robert Hymes had already laid out in 2014, I argued that plague spread from central Asia (specifically, the Inner Asian Mountain Corridor) to China in the 1200s. The error was seemingly minor, yet simply “correcting” it is not the intervention that’s needed. Whether backwards or forwards, the statement could be read by the casual reader as reinforcing beliefs that somehow Asia is inexorably associated with disease. The thing is, all human populations are associated with disease. And we need smarter thinking about that fact.

Infectious diseases infect. By definition (in our modern understanding) they are conditions caused by microscopic organisms that enter into human bodies. These microorganisms have their own evolutionary objectives of survival and replication; they are only “pathogens” because of what they do to us. Sometimes (as with SARS-CoV-2) they become “obligate”: they adapt to humans as their main or sole host and move solely from human to human. Sometimes (as with plague) they have multi-host ecologies, in which humans are an incidental stage. The point is, this process of interacting with human bodies had a beginning. Every pandemic, before it became pan-demic, was a local outbreak. And that’s where geographies of origin take their genesis.

Mapping disease is at the heart of epidemiology as a field. The so-called “father of epidemiology,” the 19th-century anesthesiologist John Snow, famously mapped a local cholera outbreak in London in 1854, gradually determining why certain individuals were exposed or not depending on their water supply. Case investigation and contact-tracing are the most common forms of “shoe-leather epidemiology,” and they have been vital for interventions in the current pandemic. How, then, do we navigate this narrow strait, between the Scylla of needing, as historians and epidemiologists, to track the forces that transform a random spillover event into epidemics and pandemics, and the Charybdis of weaponized epidemic geographies? How we navigate it, I propose, is by following the WHO and all epidemiologists in fundamentally separating the necessary investigation into causes from any assignation of blame.

And that is for several reasons, first and foremost because all spillover events (and there have no doubt been many thousands more than we will ever know about) are accidents. “[D]ocumenting humans doing what humans do” was how I phrased the epidemiological historian’s task in my 2020 essay. Seeking sources of food, or fuel, or “fun” is what humans do. All of us. And it is in the course of pursuing those human pursuits that a bug—a bacterium, a virus, a microparasite—that has not previously taken up its home in human bodies makes the leap. What happens after that leap determines whether that bug initiates a pandemic.

In a tweet announcing his article in the Smithsonian, Perry wrote: “In the midst of a global pandemic, the stakes for understanding how pandemics happen couldn’t be higher.” How pandemics happen, not “where they come from.” That is indeed the question. How the late medieval plague pandemic happened is a rather mundane story of grain supplies. I proposed that a spillover event involving marmots (long-term hosts of plague in the Inner Asian Mountain Corridor) connected the disease in those wild rodents to commensal rodent-flea transmissions involved in shipping grain through Mongol military supply chains. This would have happened during the decades of active military campaigning, from the 1210s to the 1250s. About 90 years later, the process repeated in the region of the Black Sea and the Caucasus, where a new plague focus apparently had been seeded. Hannah Barker, in a brilliant deconstruction of sources from Venice, Genoa, and Mamluk Egypt, pinpointed grain supplies as being the most likely mechanism moving plague out of the territory of the Golden Horde and across the Mediterranean. In neither case, either in the 13th or the 14th century, so far as we know, was there any awareness of how or why the disease was spreading. The “bioterrorism” story that has been told repeatedly since Gabriele de’ Mussi’s chronicle was rediscovered in the 19th century is a fiction.

That story about plague-ridden bodies being catapulted over the walls of Caffa relates to the Mongols of the Golden Horde. But there is also a Black Death origin story that connects with the Mongols of Yuan China. This story has several layers of retelling, but its roots can be traced back to the 14th century, right when the disease newly presented itself in the Mediterranean. As Nahyan Fancy and I explain in a new paper, reactions to plague’s initial arrival in Persia, Syria, and Egypt in the late 1250s—if 13th-century writers delved into the “cause” at all—framed it in terms of a miasmatic atmosphere created by the Mongols’ destruction of Baghdad. The invading forces didn’t bring plague to the region; they caused plague to arise out of the killing fields left in their wake.

After 1258, plague seems to have gone underground, at least in the west, its own recent “origin story” slowly forgotten. In the 14th century, when plague reared its head again, even more ferociously, a handful of travelers returning from China, including Ibn Battuta, reported on a major plague outbreak in northeast China in the 1330s. Other outbreak news likewise seems to have quickly accumulated. This hearsay is why writers in the Middle East and al-Andalus spoke of a transcontinental Eurasian plague experience; one of them, Ibn al-Khatib, believing that miasmatic conditions could be spread long-distance by winds, actually understood the internecine wars in northern China as the origin of the pandemic in the Mediterranean. Importantly, there was no opprobrium in their accounts of these recent events; rather, it was more a sense of shared ill-fate.

The environmental explanation for plague that coalesced in the Arabic-speaking world was not universally shared within Europe, however. Rather, uniquely, many parts of Europe looked locally for a cause of the devastation. As Tzafrir Barzilay is now documenting, what had been fairly generalized accusations of well-poisoning early in 1348 turned decisively into accusations against Jewish communities in the late summer of that horrific first pandemic year. At least 300 communities were targeted across southern and central Europe in the following year and a half; some were completely exterminated.

Those were the events—coming out of early understandings of plague’s origins—of the 13th and 14th centuries. In the here-and-now, however, it is not enough for us to analyze and deconstruct how those medieval narratives came to be. We also need to assess their afterlives. Magda Teter, more than anyone, has put her finger on the urgency of looking at narrative afterlives, and of putting as much effort into deconstructing the process of selective remembrance and forgetting that allows some narratives to survive and others to be left on the wayside. For example, in an important analysis, she showed how slender a thread tied together accounts in 15th-century German chronicles that told repeated stories about the persecution of Jewish communities and the accusations against them. Once fixed in print, those stories persisted for hundreds of years, as did Hartmann Schedel’s iconographic depiction of a conflagration scene.

But even “persisting,” such stories may have been used differentially. And that is why it is crucial that we better understand the ways disease origin stories have changed, first in the era of growing international law tied to systems of quarantine in the early modern period, and then in the era of late 19th-century germ theory, when notions of atmospheric miasmas were replaced with far more specific narratives about hygiene and behavior generated in contexts of colonial control and global labor migrations. To imagine a direct, unbroken chain linking 13th– or 14th-century narratives about the late medieval plague pandemic to our current moment is as problematic for explaining current-day anti-Asian sentiment as it is for explaining present-day anti-Semitism.

III. The Art of Flower-Arranging

I am indeed “from” Japan. I was born there, at a United States military hospital, while my father served in the Air Force; my mother, of course, was there, too. The locus of my birth doesn’t have much to say about the child or adult I became. I have no conscious memories of Japan. I don’t speak Japanese and have never been back to visit. But my origin story is very important to me: in connecting me to the woman my mother was, it allows me to glimpse the delight she got from flower-arranging, a craft she studied during her sojourn in Japan. It allows me to understand the extraordinary conviction she had when, returning to the U.S., she and my father spent the better part of the next decade fighting against racism back home.

We need to look at both origins and processes of endurance. Plague has “plagued” human populations across the Eurasian steppe for at least 5000 years. And it is likely that humans were directly involved in much of that disease transmission—not, again, because humans carried the disease in their own bodies, but because, as humans doing what humans do, they caused environmental disruptions that created opportunities ripe for new interactions between microbial, animal, and human life. People in the lands we now call China have been, and still are, among plague’s victims. The same is true of all the other globalized infectious diseases, up to and including COVID-19.

As the histories of the world’s major infectious diseases continue to be revised and refined thanks to revolutionary new analyses in the sciences, different time periods, different continents, and different contextual circumstances will be implicated in disease origin stories. Those narratives must necessarily be geographically specific. But it is our job to make sure that those narratives are also humane. Never before have we had so much knowledge-generating capability. And not just in the sciences, but in humanistic fields as well. We need all-hands-on-deck against the challenge of infodemics: expertise not simply in genomics, but in rhetoric; not simply in isotope analysis, but in the ways religion and art and language shape the experience of disease.

Things can be true—they can be facts—but tell no meaningful story. Our skill, our craft as story-tellers, and our self-awareness of our role in wielding that craft, has never been more necessary.

Bibliography:

Hannah Barker, “Laying the Corpses to Rest: Grain, Embargoes, and Yersinia pestis in the Black Sea, 1346–48,” Speculum 96, no. 1 (January 2021), 97-126.

Tzafrir Barzilay, “Early Accusations of Well Poisoning against Jews: Medieval Reality or Historiographical Fiction?,” Medieval Encounters 22, no. 5 (2016), 517–539.

Samuel K. Cohn Jr., Epidemics: Hate and Compassion from the Plague of Athens to AIDS (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018).

Nahyan Fancy and Monica H. Green, “Plague and the Fall of Baghdad (1258),” Medical History 65, no. 2 (April 2021), 157-177.

Sol Goldberg, Scott Ury, and Kalman Weiser, eds. Key Concepts in the Study of Antisemitism, Palgrave Critical Studies of Antisemitism and Racism (New York: Palgrave, 2021).

James Gorman, “A W.H.O. Researcher on His Trip to China Seeking Origins of the Virus,” New York Times, 14 February 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/14/health/WHO-covid-daszak-china-virus.html.

Monica H. Green, “Emerging Diseases, Re-emerging Histories,” Centaurus 62, no. 2 (2020), 238-251, part of a “Spotlight” issue, Histories of Epidemics in the Time of COVID-19, ed. Erica Charters and Koen Vermeir, https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/toc/16000498/2020/62/2.

Monica H. Green, “The Four Black Deaths,” American Historical Review 125, no. 5 (December 2020), 1600-1631, DOI: 10.1093/ahr/rhaa511, plus Supplemental Material, “Marmots and Their Plague Strains,” online only.

Monica H. Green, “A New Past for a Pandemic Future: Evolutionary and Cultural Histories of Infectious Diseases,” Centre for History in Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, annual lecture, 16 March 2021,
https://www.lshtm.ac.uk/newsevents/events/new-past-pandemic-future-evolutionary-and-cultural-histories-infectious-diseases.

Zhiwen Hu, Zhongliang Yang, Qi Li, and An Zhang, “The COVID-19 Infodemic: Infodemiology Study Analyzing Stigmatizing Search Terms,” Journal of Medical Internet Research 22, no. 11 (2020), e22639, doi: 10.2196/22639.

Robert Hymes, “A Hypothesis on the East Asian Beginnings of the Yersinia pestis Polytomy,” The Medieval Globe 1 (Fall 2014), 285-308; repr. in: Pandemic Disease in the Medieval World: Rethinking the Black Death, ed. Monica H. Green (Amsterdam and Kalamazoo, MI: Arc-Medieval Press, 2015), pp. 285-308.

Gülşah Merve Kılınç, Natalija Kashuba, Dilek Koptekin, Nora Bergfeldt, Handan Melike Dönertaş, Ricardo Rodríguez-Varela, Dmitrij Shergin, Grigorij Ivanov, Dmitrii Kichigin, Kjunnej Pestereva, Denis Volkov, Pavel Mandryka, Artur Kharinskii, Alexey Tishkin, Evgenij Ineshin, Evgeniy Kovychev, Aleksandr Stepanov, Love Dalén, Torsten Günther, Emrah Kırdök, Mattias Jakobsson, Mehmet Somel, Maja Krzewińska, Jan Storå, and Anders Götherström, “Human Population Dynamics and Yersinia pestis in Ancient Northeast Asia,” Science Advances 7, n. 2 (6 Jan 2021), eabc4587.

Jonathan Pekar, Michael Worobey, Niema Moshiri, Konrad Scheffler, and Joel O. Wertheim, “Timing the SARS-CoV-2 Index Case in Hubei Province,” Science 18 March 2021, eabf8003, DOI: 10.1126/science.abf8003.

David Perry, “Did the Black Death Rampage Across the World a Century Earlier Than Previously Thought?,” Smithsonian Magazine, 25 March 2021, https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/did-black-death-rampage-across-world-more-century-previously-thought-180977331/.

David Perry, “The medieval historian @monicaMedHist has transformed our understanding …,” Twitter, 25 March 2021, https://twitter.com/Lollardfish/status/1375102283806081028?s=20.

Andrea Salcedo, “Racist Anti-Asian Hashtags Spiked After Trump First Tweeted ‘Chinese Virus,’ Study Finds,” Washington Post, 19 March 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2021/03/19/trump-tweets-chinese-virus-racist/.

Tara Kirk Sell, Divya Hosangadi, Elizabeth Smith, Marc Trotochaud, Prarthana Vasudevan, Gigi Kwik Gronvall, Yonaira Rivera, Jeannette Sutton, Alex Ruiz, and Anita Cicero, National Priorities to Combat Misinformation and Disinformation for COVID-19 and Future Public Health Threats: A Call for a National Strategy (Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, 23 March 2021).

Nayan Shah, Contagious Divides: Epidemics and Race in San Francisco’s Chinatown (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001).

Joshua Teplitsky and Magda Teter, “Historians of the Jews and the Making of Plague Memory,” Fordham Lecture Series in Jewish Studies, 06 May 2020, posted on YouTube 07 May 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-qWa3fw7aw#t=9m8s.

Flint Whitlock, Turbulence Before Takeoff: The Life and Times of Aviation Pioneer Marlon DeWitt Green (Brute, WI: Cable Publishing, 2009).

World Health Organization, World Health Organization Best Practices for the Naming of New Human Infectious Diseases, May 2015, 1–3. https://www.who.int/topics/infectious_diseases/naming-new-diseases/en/.

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GSC Mentorship Program for Kalamazoo: Deadline April 15

DEADLINE TO REGISTER AS A MENTOR OR MENTEE:
April 15, 2021

*Please note that since the 56th International Congress on Medieval Studies will be conducted virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we will be running the mentorship program digitally. Because of this, anybody can participate, regardless of their 2021 Annual Meeting attendance plans*

The Graduate Student Committee (GSC) of the Medieval Academy of America invites those attending the 56th International Congress on Medieval Studies, hosted by the Medieval Institute at Western Michigan University (10-15 May 2021), and any other interested medievalists to participate in the GSC Virtual Mentoring Program.

The GSC Mentoring Program facilitates networking between graduate students or early career scholars and established scholars by pairing student and scholar according to discipline.

Mentorship exchanges are intended to help students establish professional contacts with scholars who can offer them career advice. The primary objective of this exchange is that the relationship be active during the conference, although mentors and mentees sometimes decide to continue communication after a conference has ended.

We have recorded an increased interest in the GSC Mentorship Program since it has been held virtually due to COVID-19 restrictions. We will attempt to match all those who register as a mentee with mentors; however, if need be, preference will be granted to those in order of form submission and any surplus will be given priority for the next GSC Mentoring Program (Virtual IMC Leeds 5-8 July 2021).

To volunteer as a mentor (faculty, librarians, curators, independent scholars) or to sign up as a mentee, please submit the online form, linked here, by 15 April 2021.

On behalf of the committee, thank you and our best,

Julia King & Lauren Van Nest
2020-2021 Mentoring Program Coordinators

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Liturgy, Literature & History: Oswald of Northumbria and the Cult of Saints in the High Middle Ages

On 5 & 6 August 2021, we will be holding an online conference, in collaboration with the British Academy and Peterborough Cathedral, which uses the cult of Oswald of Northumbria as a case study to examine the mechanisms by which saints’ cults spread and also the manner in which veneration of the saints drove other forms of political, cultural and social expression.

Although online conferences have the great benefit of enabling participation by delegates from across the world, it is harder to reproduce the informal in-person opportunities for PhD students and Early Career Researchers to talk about their work, connect with peers and mentors, and exchange ideas. To facilitate awareness of PhD/ECR projects and help researchers gain visibility for their projects we are issuing this call for blog posts.

Details about the conference can be found at https://oswaldusrex.co.uk/conference/. This page will be updated with further information in due course and blog posts will be hosted on the same website and publicised over social media. We are currently exploring the possibility of producing a physical newsletter for delegates – if we do this then blog posts would be advertised in this too.

If your research touches on the broader themes of the conference, including but not limited to, medieval liturgy, historical writing, material culture, architecture, the cult of saints, music, literature, or religious communities, and you would like to explore your ideas and share them with an international audience of medievalists interested in similar topics, please consider submitting an abstract. Blog posts of c.600-800 words, with 3-4 accompanying images, will be published in late June / early July.

Please send abstracts of up to 150 words, along with a brief description of yourself (name, stage, affiliation) by 9 April to history.oswald@ucl.ac.uk  with ‘blog’ as the subject line. We will let you know if we are able to host your blog post in early May.

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2021 Virtual Parrish Colloquium on Global Histories of Plague

The History Department (Kansas State Univ.) announces the upcoming Parrish Lecture, featuring independent historian Monica H. Green, who will present “Neolithic to New World: Global Histories of Plague” from 7-8:30 p.m. CDT Tuesday, April 13, via Zoom. The event is free and open to the public.

Even Description: Something extraordinary has happened in infectious disease history recently. Even before COVID-19 arrived on the world scene in December 2019, a sometimes awkward alliance had started between scientists and humanists to reframe the histories of the world’s major infectious diseases, ones that had killed millions, disrupted economies and shifted the power dynamics of major empires. In just a decade’s time, we have new histories of smallpox, leprosy, tuberculosis and other diseases that have afflicted world populations for centuries. But the earliest and most dramatic developments have come in the field of plague history, cause of the Black Death and a disease now found on every continent save Australia and Antarctica.

This talk will summarize the developments in genetics that have laid the foundation for a new evolutionary history of Yersinia pestis, the bacterium that causes plague. It will then recount the work of historians who have seized upon the findings of the scientists and advanced our understanding of plague’s history, showing that it likely proved more widespread and more lethal than we ever imagined before. As the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us, no one field or methodology can provide us with all the answers we need to address the biological, economic and social havoc that pandemics cause. New approaches to old histories in fact show us how to transcend disciplines to answer questions of global import and pressing urgency.

Login information is available on the history department’s events page.

Contact Professor David Defries at ddefries@k-state.edu with any questions.

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Fully-funded PhD and MPhil in Medieval and Early Modern Studies at Australian Catholic University.

The Medieval and Early Modern Studies (MEMS) Program of the Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry at ACU in Melbourne invites applications for six competitive PhD scholarships in connection with its new research project ‘Religious Mobilities: Medieval and Early Modern Europe and the World.’ A major new international research collaboration with partners in Leuven, London, Princeton, Stanford, and Toronto, ‘Religious Mobilities’ seeks to investigate the multiple and intersecting roles that religion has played in relation to mobility in this critical period for the formation of a globalised world. Applicants are encouraged to contact the MEMS director, Prof. Christopher Ocker, to discuss their application and proposed projects in connection to the key aims of the ‘Religious Mobilities’ project.

ACU’s MEMS program is a dynamic, supportive, internationally engaged research community based at ACU’s Melbourne Campus, with activities also on ACU’s Rome Campus. MPhil and PhD students in ACU’s MEMS program are fully immersed in the intellectual life of the program, work closely with supervisors, draw extensively on the talents of the MEMS team, participate in the program’s seminars, workshops, and special lectures, contribute to our international collaborations, and pursue research opportunities with our international partners and in relevant archives. Learn more about our research interests, publications and activities online here.

Applicants must meet the eligibility requirements of ACU’s Higher Degree by Research program. The next round of applications for PhD and MPhil courses closes at 11.59pm on Monday 26 April 2021 (AEST). Due to current Australian government restrictions on international student arrivals as part of the response to the Covid-19 pandemic, students from countries other than Australia and New Zealand may not be able to commence during 2021.

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Workshop and Lecture with Nahir Otaño Gracia, April 15 2021

Please join Fordham Center for Medieval Studies for a workshop and lecture on Zoom with:

Nahir Otaño Gracia (University of New Mexico)
Thursday, April 15, 2021
Workshop (10:00am EDT): “Strategies for creating an anti-racist classroom community”
Lecture (5:00pm EDT): “Whiteness and Arthuriana in the Global North Atlantic”

CLICK HERE to RSVP and receive link

Please email medievals@fordham.edu for more information.

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