56th International Congress on Medieval Studies

The International Congress on Medieval Studies has announced the Program Committee and Contributing Reviewers for the 56th Congress (May 13-16, 2021): wmich.edu/medievalcongress/submissions/selection.

The deadline for session proposals is June 1: wmich.edu/medievalcongress/submissions.

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In and Beyond the Digital: Career Pathways for Humanists

In and Beyond the Digital: Career Pathways for Humanists
A Medieval Academy Webinar
Wednesday, May 13, 2020
12-1 PM EDT
Zoom link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85149755063

In this moment of global crisis, medievalists and all those who work in the humanities face a period of increased uncertainty about the environments in which they work and operate. The National Endowment for the Humanities is a federal agency dedicated to supporting humanistic endeavors across the nation. In this talk, Hannah Alpert-Abrams from the Office of Digital Humanities will speak about career pathways for humanists in and beyond the digital, and about the role of the humanities in uncertain times. Dr. Alpert-Abrams’ presentation will be followed by a discussion period, moderated by the MAA’s Digital Humanities and Multimedia Committee. Although members of the MAA’s Graduate Student Association are the primary audience for the presentation, all are welcome. Graduate student supervisors and those working with job-seekers are especially encouraged to join.

For more information, please contact Laura Morreale, Chair, Digital Humanities and Multimedia Committee, at lmorreale3@gmail.com.

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CARA/MAP Responses to Kim Phillip’s MAP/CARA Plenary Lecture

I am delighted to remind everyone that the MAA YouTube Channel remains active and that Kim Phillips’s MAP/CARA Plenary Lecture is available for all who would like to watch. In addition, Shirin Khanmohamadi and Tanya Stabler Miller have offered their thoughtful and incisive response to Prof. Phillips’s lecture linked here through the MAA blog. I encourage you to take the time to read and to continue to engage these compelling ideas. I also want to thank Profs. Khanmohamadi and Stabler Miller for taking the time to compose these texts during such a challenging moment. As medievalists, we know how powerful intellectual exchange and humanistic learning are in times of crisis and I am grateful for their commitment to both.

Let me also take this moment to ask CARA Affiliates to please submit their program updates to Lisa so that these can be added to the blog and we can continue to keep our medieval communities and virtual scholarly lives connected.

all best, and stay healthy,
Anne E. Lester, CARA Chair

Tanya Stabler Miller, Loyola University, Chicago, Illinois

In her plenary address, Phillips calls on historians to pay more attention to gender in histories of medieval European expansion, arguing that gender holds great potential for analyzing narratives of contact and conquest. By centering Francisca de Gazmira and other women in medieval colonial contexts, Phillips demonstrates their political significance in narratives of European expansion, the limits of their “agency,” and the toxic nature of conquest masculinities. As she rightly suggests, by examining narratives of conquest through a gendered lens, medievalists can deepen and expand their understanding of the ways that gender intersects with other forms of difference. Over the last twenty years, medievalists have increasingly turned their attention to heretics, Muslims, Jews and other marginalized groups within Western Europe. Medieval scholars have likewise paid more attention to sexuality, disability, and social class. Yet, much more work needs to be done to uncover how these identities and experiences intersect and overlap, particularly beyond Western Europe.

As Phillips points out, early modernists have applied gender to studies of European contact and conquest, deeply enriching our understanding of the ways in which European claims to dominance came to be expressed and reinforced (and thus naturalized) through gendered language and concepts. Modern historians have shown–particularly in colonial contexts–that gendered language and imagery were powerful means of constructing and enforcing relationships of domination and subordination. Yet, in spite of its great potential for expanding scholarly understandings of both the multiplicity and multivalence of gender identities and symbolism and the history of European expansion, medieval historians have been relatively slow to incorporate gender analysis in histories of expansion and conquest.

This relative neglect among medieval historians (particularly as compared to medieval literature specialists) is curious, although perhaps not surprising. For at least thirty years now, namely since the publication of Caroline Walker Bynum’s Holy Feast and Holy Fast: The Religious Significance of Food to Medieval Women, medieval historians have been aware of the importance of gender as an analytical category and its potential for transforming the field.[1] And historians of women and gender since Bynum have significantly expanded and complicated our knowledge and understanding of medieval monasticism, universities, medicine, heresy, poverty, urban politics, monarchy, and labor.[2] Yet, even the “global turn” in medieval studies has mainly produced studies focused on cross-cultural exchange without gender (or racial) consciousness. This may be attributed to what Sierra Lomuto has identified as the “field’s general resistance to the political, its discomfort with racial discourse, and its often self-imposed exile from critical theory.” Of course, Phillips herself cites a number of important studies by medieval scholars attuned to gender and race, mostly in literary studies. Still, as she says (and I certainly agree), “perhaps to be a feminist historian is always to want more.”

And, indeed, gendering the medieval expansion of Europe is critical for broadening scholarly understanding of expansion “before Columbus,” decolonizing medieval studies, and exposing the inconsistencies in medieval gender discourses when examining within the particularities of new contexts, audiences, and status groups. As Joan Scott notes in her response to the American Historical Review’s retrospective on her influential article, “Gender: A Useful Category for Historical Analysis,” the “language of gender” cannot be reduced to “some known quantity of masculine or feminine, male or female. It’s precisely the particular meanings that need to be teased out of the historical materials we examine.”[3] Gender is a question that must be answered through historical investigation into different periods and contexts.

Phillips helpfully identifies several ways medievalists can become more attuned to gender in discussions of European contact, conquest, and colonization. Her suggestions, which range from ways of reading narratives of encounter and conquest with an eye out for descriptions of bodies, sexualities, and gender roles to strategies for mining legal and social-historical sources for evidence of European subjugation. In this list, one can find numerous ways to incorporate gender into World History courses as well as avenues for new research. In all of these areas, we see attention to gendered language and imagery (in portrayals of conquest and expansion, for example) and sensitivity to the experiences of actual women, who were frequently victims of enslavement, rape, and other forms of violence and exploitation.

Phillips’ “auxiliary woman” in all of its various manifestations is of particular interest since this theme brings together the analytical potential of gendered narratives and symbolism while also drawing attention to the experiences of indigenous women. Francisca’s role as “auxiliary” reflected medieval European gender expectations that, ultimately, served the political interests of men. Indeed, as Phillips argues, the auxiliary woman is a necessary accomplice to the conqueror, particularly in narratives that seek to portray conquest as consensual, civilizing, and in the best interests of conquered peoples. This dialectic between collaborating woman and conquering man not only effaces the indigenous population the conqueror seeks to dominate, but, in representing the object of conquest as feminine, flattens out the conquered woman herself. She is merely aiding and abetting the conqueror, whose power over her is so complete that he need not utilize force. Like the allegorical personification of America as a nude woman in Jan van der Straet’s late sixteenth-century drawing of Vespucci’s discovery of America, the association between women and the lands into which European conquerors sought to expand reveal the cultural work of gender in these narratives and the ways in which real women—such as Francisca—dissolve into allegorical figures.[4]

The auxiliary woman also reflects the historical roles women played in medieval Europe. Medieval women were integral to territorial expansion through marriage and property rights. Meghan Moore has recently argued that cross-cultural marriage and “the reproductive hybridity it produced” was an important site of cultural exchange.[5] Politically, as several studies of medieval queenship have shown, mediation was one of the most important forms of influence noblewomen possessed. As Theresa Earenfight puts it “Queenly intercession was part of the masculine-feminine division of labor that often reinforced cultural stereotypes of women as fickle and men as obtrusive, paternal, proud and legalistic… intercession was seen as feminine pleading that made it permissible for a man to change his mind.”[6]

The “auxiliary woman” theme also raises important questions about female influence and agency. Francisca de Gazmira, “a bridge between worlds” was an effective mediator between Franciscan missionaries and her own people, who, in reality, were presented with few real choices (they could convert or be enslaved). Francisca herself had little choice but to collude with the Spanish conquistador De Ludo, since he had taken her children to ensure her cooperation. Still, the story of La Palma’s conversion boils down to Francisca’s persuasive powers, highlighting her supposed agency and “betrayal” of her people. Clearly, gendered discourses about women’s persuasive powers and disordered loyalties function not only to justify European domination of La Palma (where, in this narrative, the men were too foolish and weak to see through female treachery) but also to sanitize the brutal violence through which the conquest was actually accomplished.  To convert/conquer via women is to operationalize and weaponize long-standing associations between women, treachery, and persuasion.

Indeed, narratives of conquest focused on female collusion ultimately cast women as complicit in their own subjugation, a phenomenon Katherine O’Brien O’Keeffe has termed “phantom agency.”[7] In a sense, this attribution of agency to the auxiliary woman confirms the appeal or superiority of the conqueror for whom she provides aid. Or, from the perspective of the conquered, this “phantom agency” mitigates responsibility for loss (as in the case of hostage queens of Ireland).[8] Ultimately, these tropes convey the belief that women can be used but they cannot be trusted.

The focus on female persuasion, alliance, or collusion with the conqueror in other contexts could also function to obscure the reality of military failures, a point that resonates with Philips’ subtitle “men washed up.” Failure in the Middle East and religious anxieties, as Sharon Kinoshita has argued, fueled fantasies of seducing Saracen princesses and humiliating Byzantine princesses.[9] European masculinity needed the figure of the amorous foreign women, whom they could either seduce to advance their political interests or reject to prove their superiority.

That Franciscan missionaries came to rely on a laywoman raises interesting, and perhaps familiar, questions about the relations between missionaries and indigenous laywomen—another instance perhaps of “men washed up.” Medieval historians have fruitfully examined the pastoral and sacerdotal partnerships between medieval clerics and laywomen (particularly beguines) in medieval Europe, demonstrating the ways in which clerics came to rely on charismatic holy women as “pastoral allies.” Francisca seems to have possessed a similar charisma and the success of her missionizing effort is portrayed as crucial not only to the Franciscan missionaries but to the military advance of the Spanish conquistadors.

Yet, Francisca’s position as an indigenous woman differs significantly, of course, from that of a western European beguine, demonstrating the need to examine this dynamic critically within the intersection of race and gender. Obviously, the gendered discourses and symbols familiar to medieval historians do not hold when we expand beyond Western Europe. As Sharon Farmer and Carol Pasternack argued in their introduction to their 2003 essay collection Gender and Difference in the Middle Ages, identity must be situated within what Patricia Hills Collins termed a “matrix of domination.”[10] A history of European expansion attuned to gender is one that examines the historical constructedness of  notions of masculinity and femininity within specific contexts and matrices of domination (such as race, ethnicity, religion, and class) and analyzes how these gendered discourses, expectations, and imagery reflects and reinforces broader discourses of power before the European voyages of discovery. Further, it must confront how these conceptions played out on the ground and how they affected the lives of indigenous men and women.


[1] Caroline Walker Bynum, Holy Feast and Holy Fast: The Religious Significance of Food to Medieval Women (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987).

[2] For a detailed overview (from 2008) of the ways in which gender has transformed the field of medieval history, see Dyan Elliott, “The Three Ages of Joan Scott,” American Historical Review 113:5 (2008), 1390-1403.

[3] Joan W. Scott, “Unanswered Questions” American Historical Review 113 (2008): 1423.

[4] Louis Montrose, “The Work of Gender in the Discourse of Discovery,” Representations 33 (1991) 1-41 at 2.

[5] Meghan Moore, Exchanges in Exoticism: Cross-Cultural Marriage and the Making of the Mediterranean in Old French Literature (University of Toronto Press, 2014), 9.

[6] Theresa Earenfight, Queenship in Medieval Europe (Palgrave, 2013), 12.

[7] Katherine O’Brien O’Keefe, “Leaving Wilton: Gunhild and the Phantoms of Agency,” Journal of English and Germanic Philology 106:2 (2007): 203-223.

[8] Lahney Preston-Matto, ‘Queens as Political Hostages in Pre-Norman Ireland: Derbforgaill and the Three Gormlaiths’, Journal of English and Germanic Philology 109, no. 2 (April 2010): 141–61.

[9] Sharon Kinoshita, Medieval Boundaries: Rethinking Difference in Old French Literature (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006).

[10] Sharon Farmer, “Introduction,” Gender and Difference in the Middle Ages (University of Minnesota Press, 2003) ix.

Shirin Azizeh Khanmohamadi
CARA/MAP Plenary Response: “Inter-Imperial Women

First, many thanks to Anne Lester and John Ott for the honor of responding to this year’s CARA/MAP Plenary.

And I want to begin my response by thanking Kim Phillips for reminding us of the exigency and rich potentialities of investigating gender as we meet the challenge of teaching and researching a globally interconnected Middle Ages. Her talk also demonstrates the very real challenges of discerning female agency and representing womens’ roles in histories of conquest, given how readily native women like Derbforgaill and La Malinche can be retrospectively coopted into rhetorics of blame for conquest in later centuries.  For researchers, this poses the double risk of, on the one hand, papering over and silencing womens’ modes of resistance to colonization, and on the other, of whitewashing female allegiance and complicity with conquest. Allowing for complexity and duality seem of signal importance, and this entails, further, admission of ambiguities and even of our inability to know.

Kim Phillips importantly points, as well, to the need to attend to masculinity and its tropes, and proposes to reverse the trope of the conquering settler hero by writing, against its grain, of “men washed up,” men vulnerable and dependent on women and natives around them to succeed in their aims. A focus on failure can be a highly productive one, as we see in Anna Brickhouse’s recent The Unsettlement of America (2014), which traces the many long suppressed narratives of failed settlement experiments in the Americas along with the active agency of indigenous translators and writers in un-doing American settlement through strategic mis-translation and other strategies. Brickhouse’s narratives of “unsettlement” serve as a penetrating corrective to American colonial mythologies from the inevitability of conquest itself to the fantasy of inviting natives.

Kim Phillips’ use of 12th century Ireland and late medieval Canaries as case studies for medieval conquest narratives is apt as the Celtic periphery and the Canaries provide two of the clearest examples of premodern colonization by Latin Christians (and each has been tied to later colonization efforts in the new world).  The case for European colonial presence or hegemony in Asia in the premodern era is far weaker, as Kim Phillips and I have both argued (Phillips 2013; Khanmohamadi 2013; see also Abu-Lughod 1989); the continent instead hosted an array of Islamicate and Turkic empires and of course the vast Mongolian one, extending from eastern Europe to the Pacific ocean at its height in the 13th century.  Attention to premodern literary and historical narratives treating women who cross Latin-Islamicate or European-Asian borders to marry into foreign empires suggests these women could operate as agents of inter-imperial cross-fertilization, diplomacy, and self-fashioning without necessarily becoming agents of foreign conquest. I’ll analyze two such inter-imperial marriages and women here.

The first is the case of Bayalun Khatun, the Byzantine princess daughter of Andronikos III, and wife of Uzbek Khan, Qipchak ruler of the Golden Horde, in whose royal ordo or palace she comes into dramatic view for history in 1342 through the report of the Moroccan world traveler Ibn Battuta. Kim Phillips views her as an example of the auxiliary woman of the “Intermarriage plot, in which marriage between an invading / settler party and indigenous or non-Christian woman confirms or solidifies military conquest through legal affirmation, property acquisition, and formation of kinship bonds,” and to which “a woman’s agency is immaterial, her marital destiny…decided by male family members and prevailing legal systems.”  While Bayalun’s marriage to Uzbek Khan is certainly a diplomatic marriage, no doubt made by her male family members, the relation between the Byzantines and the Golden Horde to their north is best viewed as an inter-imperial contest for power rather than one of asymmetrical conquest (and Bayalun is no “native, non-Christian woman” of the land over which her husband rules: the Qipchak territories were never Byzantine realms).  Bayalun is at least the third recorded princess to have been married into Mongol royalty as part of a Byzantine marriage alliance strategy dating back to 1265 (with the marriage of Maria Palaiologina to the il-Khan Hulegu). While the Byzantines viewed these marriages as a vehicle for the extension of Orthodox Christian values and organizations into the Mongol realms, as well as an insurance policy for access to the lucrative Black Sea trade (Weller), the benefits of marriage alliance or inter-imperial marriage flowed reciprocally: the khans, too, knew that cooperation with the Byzantines meant open access to the Bosphorus for trade and ongoing diplomatic links with their Mamluk allies in Cairo (Dunn).

So, unsurprisingly, the marriage of Bayalun and Uzbek Khan served both Byzantine and Mongol interests.  But what of Bayalun herself? We know almost nothing about “Bayalun” beyond Ibn Battuta’s report, but we do get a rather clear portrait of her there.  We see a woman sensitive to the plight of those living, like herself, far from home – Ibn Battuta tells us that she is moved to tears at the story of his distance from his own homeland and asks him to call on her for support (IB 149). We also see a woman who enjoys significant imperial protections and resources and who doesn’t hesitate to use them to her advantage and in the interests of those she means to protect.  She is self-possessed: she asks for and receives permission from Uzbek to travel home to bear her child, and while pregnant leads an imperial train of, by Ibn Battuta’s count, 500 horsemen, 200 maidens, 400 carts, 2000 riding horses, 300 oxen, and 200 camels back to Constantinople, accompanied by an imperial escort of another 5000 troops and, of course, Ibn Battuta himself, traveling under her protection (IB 152).  Once on the border of Constantinople she is met by and comes under the protection of a second umbrella of imperial protections and privileges, now Byzantine ones, which she also puts to use, ensuring Ibn Battuta’s free passage as tourist and curious guest in that city under the emperor’s protection.  She appears to remain in Constantinople at length, though not permanently as Ibn Battuta surmises (historical records identify her in the Golden Horde years later). And of course there’s the indelible moment on which Ibn Battuta fixes his gaze and ours, in which, upon reaching the Byzantine side of the border the Khatun “left her mosque behind… and the prescription of the call to prayer” and begins to drink wine and eat pork, all while continuing to ensure the honorable treatment of Ibn Battuta and the Muslims in his company in their religious practice.

Without wishing to romanticize life as an imperial wife, one of four wives in this case, in the Golden Horde, we can see from the above that Bayalun exercises a good measure of control over her own life and the power to ameliorate the lives of those she brings under her protection.  While some of these privileges stem from her (doubly) royal rank, others derive from the distinctive status of women in the Mongol realm and more widely in nomadic Altaic societies, about which much has been written.  Bayalun, like Uzbek’s three other wives, rules her own ordo (camp or palace) or mahalla, realm. As Bruno de Nicola has written, the ordos of Mongol women were spaces of significant economic activity “in which property, cattle and people were accumulated and administered,” as well as of women’s political activity and decision-making (128). According to William of Rubruck’s report, when the khan visits the ordo of one of his wives, “the court is held there, and the gifts which are presented to the master are placed in the treasury of that wife.” Ibn Battuta confirms this picture, visiting and reporting on the courts of each of Uzbek’s wives separately, while also confirming Rubruck’s observation that the khatuns drove their own wagons once their ordo was on the move.  Mongol princesses, no less than princes, were awarded landed properties or appanages which they themselves taxed and, again, ruled (127-9). Ibn Battuta is more than once struck by the high status of Turkic-Mongol women, as is clear from his first description of Uzbek’s court, during his regular Friday ceremonial, in which he expresses amazement that Uzbek Khan reserved a place for his four khatuns on a level with himself (while placing other family members and his chief advisors below the throne), and further took care to greet and take the hand of his senior khatun when she entered the pavilion, seating himself only after she had taken her place (IB 148-9). These public honors accorded royal Mongol women clearly contrast with the customary roles of Arab and North African women familiar to Ibn Battuta; scholars have likewise contrasted the “casual” and “egalitarian” conditions for women in Turko-Mongol nomadic societies with the greater restrictions placed on women’s roles in Persianate city centers (Dale 51-2).  Bayalun’s lack of agency in the making of her marriage notwithstanding (a plight notably shared by many royal European women), we must consider the likelihood that Bayalun exercised more political and financial power and mobility as a khatun in the Golden Horde than she would have as a Byzantine princess or queen, for whom entry into public life was largely restricted to “the defense and preservation of the church and its orthodoxy” (Weller 180-2).

My second, briefer example will be of a converted Saracen princess conscripted into what Kim Phillips terms the “Romantic Passion” plot to “help her lover and bring about the downfall of her people.” The heroine in my story, the Galienne (or Galiana) of several enfance Charlemagne narratives appearing in a range of European vernaculars, appears to fit this bill: as told in the 12th century Old French epic fragment, Mainet, and in the early 14th century compilation L’Istoire le Roy Charlemaine, this Andalusian princess falls in love with the adolescent Charles after he takes refuge from abuse by his half-brothers at the French court in the Andalusian court of her father, the emir of Toledo.  Charles first proves his martial worth in wars fought for the Toledan emir, Galafre, who in turn rewards him by knighting him and offering him his daughter’s hand in marriage.  Charles eventually takes Galienne back to France as his queen, though she dies in childbirth soon thereafter; in Mainet, they abscond without family approval (after her brother Marsile intervenes to turn Galafre against Charles), while in L’Istoire they leave with Galafre’s approval and pledge of ongoing support.

The narratives present Charles’ Toledan years and Galienne herself as crucial to his formation as warrior, king, and ultimately, emperor.  As I’ve recently argued (and at greater length than time will allow me to do here), the enfance legend does not see Charles marry Galienne to aid in the conquest of her native Spain, the normative “romantic passion” plot, but rather to aid assumption of Charles’ rightful claim over his native France; the legend of Charles’ years in Toledo is less a crusading or conquest narrative than a case of French imperial self-fashioning through “prestigious association” with a more established and resourceful neighboring empire, the Andalusians (Khanmohamadi 2019).  Particularly in the L’Istoire version, which sees Charles marry Galienne with her father’s blessing, the benefits of inter-imperial association are made clear and are again reciprocal: Charles will gain the material and military aid he will need to resume sovereignty of France and pursue his imperial ambitions, while the emir Galafre will gain a way of exerting Andalusian soft power into France through his “inalienable” daughter (Weiner 1992).  Here, no less than the Byzantines had hoped would be true of their marriage alliances with the Mongols, foreign brides are shown to bear the potential of becoming effective vectors of influence and soft power within their adopted lands, which no doubt partly accounts for why Galienne dies soon after her arrival on French soil. The legend, then, works ambivalently to appropriate and then abort Islamicate imperial prestige to its own ends: telling the tale of Charles’ early cross-imperial training and formation, a translatio imperii from the Andalusians to the Carolingians in preparation for his rule as Holy Roman Emperor.

The “romantic passion” plot may be reshaped into something resembling the “intermarriage plot,” then—or rather, both can be put to variable political use in premodern narratives, and namely in the service of inter-imperial contest rather than the justification of conquest in spaces over which premodern Europeans did not exercise hegemony.

                                                Works Cited

Abu-Lughod, Janet. Before European Hegemony. Oxford UP, 1989.

Brickhouse, Anna. The Unsettlement of America. Oxford UP, 2014

Dale, Stephen, “Steppe Humanism,” International Journal of Middle East Studies 22.1 (1990):      37-58.

De Nicola, Bruno, “Ruling from tents: some remarks on women’s ordos in il-Khanid Iran,” in       Ferdowsi, the Mongols and the History of Iran, eds. Hillenbrand, Peacock and      Abdullaeva, pp. 126-136. IB Taurus, 2014.

Dunn, Ross. The Adventures of Ibn Battuta. University of California Press, 1985.

Girart d’Amiens. A Critical Edition of Girart d’Amiens’ L’Istoire Le Roy Charlemaine, 3   vols. Ed. D. Métraux. Edward Mellen Press, 2004.

Ibn Battuta. Travels in Asia and Africa, 1325-54, trans and selected by H.A.R. Gibb.        Augustus Kelley Publishers, 1969.

Khanmohamadi, Shirin. In Light of Another’s Word. U of Pennsylvania Press, 2013.

Khanmohamadi, Shirin. “Charles in al-Andalus,” Digital Philology 8.1(2019): 14-28.

Mainet. Ed. G. Paris. Romania 4 (1875): 305-37.

Phillips, Kim. Before Orientalism. U of Pennsylvania Press, 2013.

Weiner, Annette. Inalienable Possessions. University of California Press, 1992.

Weller, AnnaLinden, “Marrying the Mongol Khans,” Scandinavian Journal of Byzantine   and      Modern Greek Studies 2 (2016): 177-200.

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Boccaccio’s Women / BOCCACCII MULIERES (12th May-04 June 2020)

Boccaccio’s Women / BOCCACCII MULIERES (12th May-04 June 2020)

REGISTRATION DEADLINE: Sunday, 10th May 2020; 13:00 (UTC+2)

Boccaccio’s Famous Women (“De mulieribus claris”) is the first collection of biographies devoted exclusively to women. In this Live On-line Course we will focus on this Latin work and will read some surprising biographies, such as those of Thisbe (Pyramus’s beloved), Rhea Ilia (Vestal virgin), Leaena (prostitute), Flora (prostitute, goddess of Flowers and wife of Zephyrus), Cleopatra (Queen of Egypt), Symiamira (Elagabalus’ mother), Joan (Englishwoman and Pope), Camiola (Sienese widow) and others. Sessions, conducted entirely in Latin, have also been tailored to the interests of teachers, students, and devotees of humanistic disciplines world wide. This Course is an ideal opportunity for both students and expert Latinists worldwide who share a passion for Renaissance literature.


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Call for Sessions: Mary Jaharis Center Sponsored Panel, 6th Forum Medieval Art

The Mary Jaharis Center for Byzantine Art and Culture seeks proposals for a Mary Jaharis Center sponsored session at the 6th Forum Medieval Art, Kunstgeschichtlichen Instituts, Goethe-Universität Frankfurt, September 29–October 2, 2021. The biannual colloquium is organized by the Deutsche Verein für Kunstwissenschaft e.V.

The theme for the 6th Forum Medieval Art is Senses. The arts and the senses have always been reciprocally related to one another. In the Middle Ages, sensual encounters with art and architecture offered a variety of ways to perceive, comprehend and structure the world. Pledging to relics enclosed in precious reliquaries, incorporating color from Byzantine icons, distinguishing the holy space by swinging golden polished censers, wearing inwardly decorated jewelry on the body or ringing the church bells to make audible the presence of God – such actions leave no doubts about the significance of the senses in the Middle Ages, and furthermore bring to light the role of art within such operations.

Although the senses and their interplay are well defined in theoretical treatises, theories are of limited use when it comes to understanding the sensual perception of images, objects, and spaces. While, for instance, the knowledge of God is described as a dematerialized act, the senses were nevertheless used to obtain and mediate spiritual insight. Since antiquity, seeing has been the dominant sense, as the works of authors such as Aristotle, Plato, Augustine and Isidore of Seville suggest. This privileged position was further ascribed by cultural and art historical research over a long period of time. Nevertheless, in recent years, studies on materiality have argued that the dominance of this one singular sense misrepresents the multisensory nature of medieval art. The ‘close-up’ senses such as tasting and touching are as essential for the understanding of artefacts as the ‘distant’ senses of seeing, hearing and smelling. In particular, liturgical and courtly ceremonies offer convincing evidence that processes of production and reception are related to multisensory experiences. The role of the senses in the architecture and decoration of sacred space has been revaluated not only within Latin Europe and the Byzantine Empire, but also within Islamic dominated regions. Furthermore, in order to comprehend the codex, one of the leading media throughout the Middle Ages, questions of sensual perception through tasting and sometimes kissing of its different elements such as parchment and paper, as well as textiles, leather, metal and ivory have also proved to be essential.

For the 6th Forum Kunst des Mittelalters, the organizers anticipate discussions on the role of sensual perception and the interplay of senses in medieval image and object cultures as well as in architecture, including topics from interreligious and cross-cultural perspectives. Studies on individual senses and the ways in which they played, guided, deceived and disturbed sensual perception are welcome, as well as proposals which privilege a multisensory and synesthetic approach. Proposals that discuss the methodological challenges that arise from these perspectives are encouraged. Furthermore, which possibilities do digital methods offer for understanding historical contexts of perception, e.g. through virtual reality or the reconstruction of auditive and oratorical spaces? This includes studies on the increasing popularity of multimedia concepts in exhibitions that question how the historicity of sensual approaches could be represented and, beyond that, how it could help to reveal new interpretative frameworks.

The Mary Jaharis Center invites session proposals that fit within the Senses theme and are relevant to Byzantine studies.Additional information about the Forum Medieval Art is available at https://www.dvfk-berlin.de/.

Session proposals must be submitted through the Mary Jaharis Center website (https://maryjahariscenter.org/sponsored-sessions/6th-fma). The deadline for submission is May 10, 2020. Proposals should include:

**Session abstract (500 words)
**Proposed list of session participants (presenters and session chair)

Applicants will be notified of the status of their proposal by May 22, 2020. The organizer of the selected session is responsible for submitting the session proposal to the Forum by June 1, 2020.

If the proposed session is approved, the Mary Jaharis Center will reimburse will reimburse a maximum of 5 session participants (presenters and session chair) up to $300 maximum for residents of Germany, up to $600 maximum for EU residents, and up to $1200 maximum for those coming from outside Europe. Funding is through reimbursement only; advance funding cannot be provided. Eligible expenses include conference registration, transportation, and food and lodging. Receipts are required for reimbursement.

Please contact Brandie Ratliff (mjcbac@hchc.edu), Director, Mary Jaharis Center for Byzantine Art and Culture with any questions.

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Text Manuscripts at Les Enluminures: new update

Digital resources are particularly important now during these difficult times. Text Manuscripts is not new; in fact it is the oldest digital initiative of Les Enluminures, launched not quite twenty years in September 2002.  The site, www.textmanuscripts.com, offers the largest and most wide-ranging inventory of text manuscripts currently on the market, with new items added bi-annually in the Fall and in the Spring.  It is also an invaluable scholarly resource for medievalists everywhere.  Sold manuscripts remain online for research and citation in our extensive archive (which now includes almost 1,000 well-described manuscripts and images).

Just posted on April 9, 2020, our Spring Update is particularly exciting (online here). It adds twenty-four manuscripts to the site and suggests how they can inspire topics for new research.  These topics include owner-produced books (TM 1013 and TM 1068); a hybrid incunable that offers a glimpse into the workshop of an early printer (TM 1049); a textbook that reveals how teachers and students used manuscripts in the classroom (TM 1052); women and the book with at least five examples from convents in Italy, France, and the Low Countries (TM 1023, TM 1055, TM 1058, TM 1059, TM 1084); and unusual formats and technologies, including a pedigree scroll (TM 1061) and two stenciled music manuscripts, one of which is also a hybrid (manuscript and stenciled) (TM 1023 and TM 1046).

Current inventory: https://www.textmanuscripts.com/medieval (to see the complete archives, go to the search bar near the top of the page, and first choose “more options” (or go to the drop-down menu under “advanced search”), and then select “all” under inventory (you can also choose “new” to see just the manuscripts in our current update).

Laura Light,
Director and Senior Specialist, Text Manuscripts, Les Enluminures

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CARA News: the Medieval Institute at the University of Notre Dame

The 2019–20 academic year brought much of the expected for the Medieval Institute at the University of Notre Dame—stellar programming, talented new Fellows and students, and the high-caliber education for medievalists that we are known for—as well as the unexpected, which every institution had to grapple with—transitioning to online education and learning how to stay in community even while social distancing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We celebrate our faculty fellows, our students, and the Medieval Institute team for their devoted, energetic response to these new needs of our community, and congratulate our five Ph.D. graduates for the year, several of whom had to defend via videochat.

Despite the challenges, the Institute continues to fulfill its mission to be the nation’s largest and most prestigious center for understanding the Middle Ages. Our usual spring gatherings of the Mellon Fellowship Colloquium with Professor Michael Heil, the Byzantine Postdoctoral Fellowship workshop with Dr. Nicole Paxton Sullo, our undergraduate colloquium, and our all-Latin graduation ceremony have had to be postponed, but we continue to offer classes, working group gatherings, and faculty meetings remotely. Prior to remote learning, the Medieval Institute held its usual slate of programming and also co-sponsored a number of lectures and conferences. Notable among these were our 2020 Winter School in Latin Paleography and Codicology at Notre Dame’s Rome Global Gateway, held in collaboration with the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, and our annual Conway Lectures, given this year by Peter Adamson (Ph.D. ’00), Professor of Late Ancient and Arabic Philosophy at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich; he spoke on the topic “Don’t Think For Yourself: Faith and Authority in Medieval Philosophy” on September 24–26.

The Institute is also pleased to announce a new annual lecture series, the Mathews Byzantine Lectures, which will bring a distinguished scholar of Byzantine studies to campus each year to deliver a talk, supported by the Rev. Constantine Mathews Endowment for Excellence in Byzantine Christianity in the Medieval Institute. The inaugural lecture is planned for October 2020 and will be given by Professor Emerita Margaret Mullet (OBE), a past Director of Byzantine Studies at Dumbarton Oaks.

You can read more about our events, news, visitors, and the Institute on our website [http://medieval.nd.edu], and you can follows us on Twitter [https://twitter.com/MedievalND], Facebook [https://www.facebook.com/MedievalND], and YouTube [https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCeLWdfGnJuDY_A9hjHGoIag?reload=9].

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CARA Awards Citations, MAA 2020

CARA Awards for Excellence in Teaching Medieval Studies:

This year, CARA is again very pleased to recognize two scholars for excellence in teaching: Sean Field and Frank Klaassen

At the University of Vermont, Sean Field has had a profound impact through his leadership of Medieval Studies, through his teaching, and through the mentorship of students who go on to become excellent medievalists. Prof. Field teaches in the Department of History and in addition to his prodigious research and scholarly output, he has become a vital node in New England’s medieval studies network and, especially, in teaching and advising students. During his time at UVM, Sean founded and now oversees the annual Vermont Medieval Summit; he has invited a long line of distinguished international scholars to campus; and has promoted the loan of medieval manuscripts for student training and colloquia. As his students and colleagues attest, Prof. Field is also a rigorous, compassionate, and innovative teacher, who offers a wide array of courses that exemplify a stunning breadth of methodologies ranging in topics from medieval heresy, to love, sex, and marriage, and the inquisition. Prof. Field also prepares his students beyond the content of his classes, teaching them, as one student raved, “how to write, how to research, how to defend one’s ideas, how to manage-time, and how to strive and thrive within academia and the broader world.” Sean combines intellectual seriousness with a subtle but beloved humor and a gift for spurring conversation. His dedicated mentorship of students also extends long after graduation and he has remained a vital resource even as students go off to other programs or begin new pursuits. As his colleagues note, part of what makes Sean such an out-standing teacher, is his “rare gift for listening. [Indeed, he] has a manner of listening to questions, inspiring reflection,” and fostering dialogue, that provokes “each student to make it a point of honor to give their best.” Surely this is what we a hope for when we teach. Congratulations, Sean, on inspiring so many students and maintaining the excellence of our field.

Frank Klaassen teaches in the Department of History at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada, where he also serves as Director of the Classical, Medieval, and Renaissance Studies Program. For the past seventeen years, Frank has been an exemplary and inspiring teacher and is acclaimed for his innovative and creative approaches, especially through his use of games and public exhibits, but also through his mentorship of graduate students and his support for meaningful undergraduate inquiry. He finds myriad ways to integrate his own research on late medieval magic into his teaching. In 2018, he developed The Renaissance Marriage Game, which simulated marriage negotiations in pre-modern Italy. And in 2019, he created a card came called Virtus about medieval masculinity (available at http://historygames.usask.ca/). As one undergraduate commented, “Dr. Klaassen’s approach doesn’t’ just teach about medieval history, but also prepares us for using the information learned in class for things other than research.” He teaches a senior undergraduate course on “Exhibiting History” that has resulted in student-curated exhibitions and asks students to delve deeply into research methodologies that could speak to the general public. In his upper-division and graduate courses, Prof. Klaassen often hands out weekly curated text-packets containing primary sources that he translated, transcribed, and collected for the students’ benefit. He integrates paleography training into his courses, giving students a profound sense of accomplishment and purpose through this practical engagement. Frank is one of those teachers whose laid-back style makes what he does seem magically effortless, yet the results are rigorous and effective. Enthusiastic about employing non-traditional methods, Prof. Klaassen has inspired and educated a generation of new students and aspiring medievalists and has cultivated an enduring love for medieval studies. As one student wrote: “Whether in person, at the head of a classroom, or through his writing, Frank Klaassen is a truly inspirational and dedicated teacher who balances an unyielding demand for excellence with his compassion and sense of play.” Congratulations, Frank; this is an honor well-deserved!

CARA-Kindrick Service Award:

This year the CARA Committee is delighted to honor two individuals with the CARA-Kindrick Service Award: Gene Lyman and Deborah Delyannis for their outstanding service to Medieval Studies.

As many of you know, Gene Lyman has served on the Medieval Academy’s Finance Committee for fifteen years and has been MAA Treasurer since 2010. In both capacities Gene has worked tirelessly, carefully, and thoughtfully to advance the mission of the Medieval Academy, doing so in a crucial but often behind the scenes role. He has led the way through many of the Academy’s transitions over the past decade and a half. He helped to keep our finances sounds and very much afloat in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis and at other moments of economic strain that the Academy has had to weather. Although Gene is stepping down this year, we may yet need to call on his expertise to navigate through this new set of challenges we find ourselves in, in 2020. Gene has truly provided us with leadership in developing, organizing, promoting, and sponsoring Medieval Studies and we are delighted to recognize all that he has done with this award. Thank you, Gene!

The second award this year recognizes Deborah Deliyannis, who is Professor of History at Indiana University. Prof. Deliyannis is a distinguished scholar of early medieval Italy who has achieved a professional “hat trick” as the author to of a translation, critical edition, and a scholarly monograph. In addition, she has edited four books of essays and her research has made a profound impact on our field. Yet beyond her scholarly contributions, it is her tireless commitment to our community of scholars through her role as the driving force behind the online review organ, The Medieval Review (TMR). Since 1996, Deborah has been the primary editor and coordinator of this vital review publication. Medievalists of every discipline know TMR from the hundreds of reviews it publishes online every year made available to over six thousand subscribes around the globe, making TMR the most widely read, and thus one of the most influential, review journals for medieval studies. Indeed, TMR led the way in online publishing and digital archiving and has been at the forefront of that process ever since. As the executive editor, Prof. Deliyannis oversees the fundamental workings of the journal, from the reception of books, to their distribution to reviewers, to the dissemination of reviews to subscribers. For the past twenty-five years she has managed editors, authors, reviewers, commentators with grace, circumspection, and vision. And she has performed all of this labor without pay or a reduction in her teaching load. She has truly served Medieval Studies in an outstanding capacity, connecting medievalists, enriching our scholarly exchange, and deepening our understanding of the medieval world. We thank you Prof. Deliyannis for your outstanding service.

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Call for Papers – Revisiting Pilgrimage Spaces in the Middle Ages

CFP: Revisiting Pilgrimage Spaces in the Middle Ages

Society of Architectural Historians 2021 Annual Conference
April 14–18 in Montréal, Canada
Session Chair: Kristine Tanton (kristine.tanton@umontreal.ca)

During the Middle Ages, men and women of diverse social classes traveled from near and far to visit key pilgrimage sites such as the Holy Land, Rome, Santiago de Compostela, and Mecca. In addition to these famed destinations, local sites and saintly relics increasingly attracted large groups of visitors, and were used as justification for sumptuous building projects. Because pilgrimage sites provide logical points of contact for the exchange of ideas, experiences and commerce, art and architectural historians developed a narrative that suggests there was a particular architectural form with specific features in order to make it easy for visitors to navigate the space. As a result, studies have traditionally focused on a specific church, mosque or shrine, often neglecting the numerous buildings and infrastructure necessary to receive large groups of visitors (e.g. inns, bridges, and roads).

The proposed session seeks to extend traditional inquiry to consider the varied design solutions employed in the Middle Ages to accommodate the diverse uses of pilgrimage spaces. Session proposals may consider questions such as: How do pilgrimage sites accommodate large and diverse groups of visitors, while also serving a local community? Are there more fruitful ways to discuss medieval pilgrimage and its architectural solutions? Can new approaches to data and visualization aid in analysis of the diversity of buildings both along established pilgrimage routes as well as less well-known destinations? How can the consideration of landscape or topography change or enhance our understanding of pilgrimage spaces? How can we integrate discussion of the numerous buildings and infrastructure necessary to receive pilgrims when so few examples survive? The session welcomes papers on subjects from Latin, Byzantine, and Islamic contexts.


Proposals are be submitted online. Link available at:


Submission Guidelines:

  • Abstracts must be under 300 words.
  • The title cannot exceed 65 characters, including spaces and punctuation.
  • Abstracts and titles must follow the Chicago Manual of Style.
  • Only one abstract per conference by an author or co-author may be submitted.
  • A maximum of two (2) authors per abstract will be accepted.

Please attach a two-page CV in PDF format.

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Call for Reviews from the UCLA Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies

We are seeking book reviewers for Comitatus 51 (Fall 2020), the graduate student journal published by the UCLA Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies. All book reviews are due August 17, 2020, and should be between 800 and 1500 words in length. The list of titles is posted on our website at https://cmrs.ucla.edu/wp-content/pdfs/publications/comitatus51_reviews.pdf

If you would like to review one or more of these titles, contact Allison McCann, UCLA-CMRS Publications Manager (allisonmccann@humnet.ucla.edu). Please include your university affiliation and a brief explanation of your research interests and the qualifications that make you an ideal reviewer for a given book.

As a part of the ongoing global response to COVID-19, CMRS staff have been working from home since March 13. Unless and until we are permitted to return to our offices, review copies cannot be shipped or picked up as usual. In light of this, we would like to encourage reviewers to select titles that are available digitally. We have already secured digital access to many of the titles currently sitting in hard copy on CMRS shelves. If a title in the attached list is marked with two asterisks (**), it is available for digital review and the CMRS possesses a hard copy, meaning that digital access is immediately available and the hard copy could be shipped out or picked up once stay-at-home orders are lifted. Any title marked with a single asterisk (*) is available for review in a digital format, but the CMRS does not currently possess a hard copy. If digital access is not indicated next to a title, or if you would like to review a title that is not listed, please contact Allison in any case. We may be able to arrange a digital copy or direct shipment with the publisher.

Please note that, due to high shipping costs, the CMRS can only ship books to reviewers located within the United States.

Dr. Allison McCann, Publications Manager

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