New England Medieval Consortium 2024: “Books and Transgressions”

New England Medieval Consortium 2024: “Books and Transgressions”
9 November 2024
Boston College
Chestnut Hill, MA
local organizing committee: Tina Montenegro and Eric Weiskott

This conference will provide an opportunity for medievalists working across a range of disciplines and geographic areas to join in conversation about premodern cultures of the book, boundary crossing, and the law and other normative cultural expressions. Given this year’s conference location at a Jesuit, Catholic university, and our keynote speakers, we particularly (but not exclusively) invite submissions focused on regions other than England, including the Middle East; language traditions other than English; and religious cultures.

We interpret “transgressions” broadly, including the notions of access, trespass, and desire.

Accordingly, we welcome papers from medievalists in any discipline, concerned with any region or polity of Europe, Asia, or Africa. Papers might consider any of the following subtopics, or others:

  • books whose form, content, or provenance is transgressive
  • textual cultures: books, authors, texts, audience expectations
  • the codification of law and law-books
  • transgression and sin in medieval philosophy and theology
  • etiquette, diplomacy, or cultural norms, or remediations or contestations of these in written texts
  • stylistic norms (e.g., poetic and rhetorical precepts) and their transgressions in writing or thevisual arts
  • modern theoretical or methodological approaches to medieval texts
  • vernacularity in literature, religion, or the visual arts as a mediation of cultural transgression
  • the transgressive potential of medieval studies in the present day
  • heterodoxy, heresy, or the function of the written word in regulating the boundaries of Orthodoxy

We invite abstracts for 20-minute papers. Please send abstracts of 300 words to by 15 June 2024.

Our keynote speakers are Dr. Ariane Bottex-Ferragne and Dr. Ahmed El Shamsy. Professor Bottex-Ferragne is Assistant Professor of French at New York University. Her presentation is provisionally entitled “Rules of Transgression in Medieval Poetry: Lessons from a Forgotten Bestseller.” Professor El Shamsy is Professor of Islamic Thought at the University of Chicago. His presentation is provisionally entitled “Authors and their Audiences in Medieval Arabic Book Culture.”

The 2024 conference marks the quinquagenary (fiftieth anniversary) of the founding of the NEMC. As the conference returns to Boston College for the first time since 1981, we hope to make it an especially festive occasion. With our theme of “Books and Transgressions” and with our two invited keynotes, we also propose to expand, geographically, disciplinarily, linguistically, and conceptually, what “the Middle Ages” has signified to our colleagues and students.

Boston College is located in Chestnut Hill, MA, and is easily accessible by car, plane, or bus. To learn more about the campus and its environs, see

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MAA News – From the President

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

It has been a tumultuous few months in the world, in the United States, and in the Medieval Academy as well. The officers (Hal, Peggy, and I), the Council, and Lisa have heard from members about a range of issues; those who have written to us have been both upset by and supportive of recent decisions and actions we have taken (or in some cases, not taken). We have tried to listen carefully and respectfully to all viewpoints and to respond as openly and thoughtfully as possible. Although it has been disquieting (though perhaps not surprising) to see that our membership is no less divided on controversial topics than the world at large, there are also distinctly encouraging aspects to our exchanges. All the correspondence and conversations I have been part of have been notably civil and respectful – that’s no mean feat, in contentious times! Our members’ varying points of view reflect the fact that the MAA is more diverse than ever before, including scholars and teachers with many different backgrounds, experiences, and employment situations. This can occasionally cause discomfort, but it is intellectually enriching as well as necessary for the future of the Academy and scholarship as a whole. Finally, and in my view most importantly, it is clear that we very much still embrace a shared project: all our members are committed to the study and teaching of the distant past and convinced of the value of humanistic scholarship.

This shared project – our widespread agreement on the value of medieval scholarship and pedagogy – has always been, and should continue to be, the focus of the MAA. For that reason, the officers and Council have agreed to revisit the structure and role of the Advocacy Committee – a process mandated at the time the committee was established three years ago. In addition, we have voted to issue a brief statement (see below) opposing the exclusion of scholars from academic events and endeavors on the basis of religion, race, ethnicity, or national affiliation, as counter to the MAA’s goal of fostering an environment of diversity, inclusion, and academic freedom for medievalists.

Meanwhile, work goes on! Over the summer I shall continue to pursue the three initiatives I mentioned in my last message – safeguarding the financial future of Speculum, helping CARA connect scholars and teachers with research and teaching resources, and organizing remote summer skills courses and workshops. In May Lisa and I held informational sessions for prospective applicants for the Speculum editorship; the search committee will begin to review applications after the July 15 deadline.

Finally, I would like to close with some nice news. The Program Committee for the 2025 Annual Meeting reports a high level of interest and excitement in response to the call for papers; I thank all the members, especially the committee co-chairs Sean Gilsdorf and Eilleen Sweeney, for their hard work. And our own Executive Director, Lisa Fagin Davis, has been elected Chair of the Executive Committee of the CEO (Committee of Executive Officers) of the ACLS, a sister organization even more committed to acronyms than the MAA. Congratulations to Lisa – we are proud of you! This makes me all the more pleased that Lisa and the officers have agreed to renew her contract as Executive Director for another five-year term.

I wish everyone a peaceful and (for those who want it) productive summer.

Sara Lipton


MAA Statement on Academy Boycotts

In these difficult and divisive times, during which MAA members have disagreed, sometimes passionately, on current events, the Council and Officers would like to speak out regarding calls for academic boycotts. We wish to affirm that in keeping with our goal of fostering an environment of diversity, inclusion, and academic freedom for medievalists, the MAA supports scholars in the field of medieval studies regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or nationality; and opposes the deployment of academic boycotts to exclude scholars on the basis of religion, race, ethnicity, or national affiliation. The MAA acknowledges feelings of fear, anger, and grief in our membership around these issues. We reaffirm the importance of distinguishing between individuals and their governments, the centrality of dialogue and engagement across differences, and our community’s shared responsibility for promoting these inclusive humanistic values. (approved by the MAA Council on 3 June 2024)

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MAA News – MAA Centennial Grants: 2nd Round of Applications

Are you planning an exhibit, symposium, performance, workshop, or other event in 2025, our Centennial year? Apply for a Centennial Grant!

In celebration of its upcoming 2025 Centennial, the Medieval Academy of America is pleased to announce a second round of funding for Centennial Grants of up to $5,000 each supporting the planning and implementation of local events and projects celebrating and promoting medieval studies in education and the arts. For performances and lectures, the event must be scheduled for 2025. Educational resources must be open access and meet the MAA’s Standards for Web Publication. Eight projects were funded in the first round and are described here. Applications for the second round (for which up to eight awards will be granted) must be submitted by 30 June 2024.

Click here for more information and to apply!

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MAA News – Editor of Speculum Call for Applications

With the retirement of Editor Katherine Jansen forthcoming in 2025, the Medieval Academy of America seeks to appoint an Editor, or co-Editors, for Speculum.

The position is configured as part-time, requiring between 20 and 30 hours per week, with some seasonal variation. The Editor is appointed for a five-year term, subject to acceptable yearly performance reviews, with the possibility of a second five-year term by mutual agreement. The Editor should be an established scholar with academic credentials in some field(s) of medieval studies, broadly defined, with demonstrated organizational and decision-making skills. Experience in journal, book, or series editing will be helpful but not necessary. The term of appointment begins in January of 2025. Terms and conditions are to be negotiated. Please note: the MAA does not offer remuneration for this position, aside from a summer stipend if the Editor is a faculty member, although the MAA may be able to continue offering support for otherwise staffing the journal (currently a Managing Editor and Associate Editor). It is understood that the Editor will negotiate terms of support with a host institution and these terms should be explicitly described as part of the application dossier. Interested parties should plan to attend an online information session in late May; details will be announced soon.

Follow these links for the full announcement and job description.


Job Description and Application Portal:

Questions should be addressed to

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MAA News – Matching Campaign, Year 2:

Help ensure the future of the

Medieval Academy of America!

Thanks to you, the first year of our Matching Campaign was a huge success. Before applying the Match, we raised more than $80,000 to support Centennial programming, non-tenure-track medievalists, and our ongoing Mentoring Programs. Thank you for your generosity!

But we aren’t done yet…

In the second year of the campaign, please help us complete the challenge by contributing towards our total two-year goal of $150,000.

As we look towards our Centennial in 2025, we must also begin planning for our second century. By contributing to the second year of the Matching Challenge in 2024, you can double the impact of your donation, helping to ensure that the MAA can continue its important support of scholars, scholarship, and expanded programming to fulfill our vision of a stronger, more inclusive Medieval Studies. A major anonymous donation will serve as the source of the Challenge matches, helping to solidify the future of the MAA as it approaches its centennial year. This pool of funds will match every dollar donated to the MAA up to a total of $150,000.

Medieval Studies, along with higher education in general, faces grave challenges now and in the foreseeable future. As the foremost organization in the world promoting scholarship and knowledge of the Middle Ages, the Medieval Academy of America is determined to address challenges that border on becoming existential threats with new programs, a broader, more inclusive membership base, and educational outreach that will complement and strengthen its ongoing mission.

As we approach the celebration of our Centennial in 2025, we seek to secure gifts and grants that will help underwrite its renewed agenda. Donors to this effort will have the satisfaction of knowing that their gifts to specific priority programs will have twice the impact, thanks to the anonymous matching gift. Even as we continue to publish the highest-quality scholarship in the pages of Speculum and support research and teaching throughout the field, we are looking to expand programming and support in 2024 and beyond. Your generous contribution will help support ongoing and innovative priorities:

Centennial Fund: Donations to the Centennial Fund will support grants to individuals and institutions nationwide that promote and publicize medieval art, music, and theater during our Centennial year.

Mentoring Fund: In 2022, the Mentoring Program brought more than a dozen scholars from underserved demographics together for remote and in-person mentoring focusing on grant-writing, dissertation abstracts, and conference proposals. In 2023, the program was entirely remote, but with additional funding we hope to conduct a fully in-person summer mentoring program in 2024 and beyond.

MedievALLists Fund: Donations to this Fund will help to make the MAA more inclusive and to strengthen the field by supporting medievalists working beyond the tenure track. Here, too, the need is increasing as more scholars are obliged to work on short-term contracts with no benefits. Expanding support for scholars working beyond the tenure track is a critical priority.

Endowment: Donations to the Endowment support our journal Speculum as well many of our other grants, fellowships, and programs. Such donations are crucial for the long-term fiscal stability of the Medieval Academy of America.

Unrestricted: Donations to this Fund will be allocated by the Council to one of the four specified Matching Funds (Centennial, Mentoring, MedievALLists, or Endowment) at their discretion and as needed.

We continue to solicit donations to support these Funds and will turn to other needs in 2025. We have already secured donations of nearly $30,000 (that’s $60,000 after the match) from members of the Council, several former Presidents, and generous supporters. But we need your contribution in order to meet our goal. With your help, we can continue and expand our work: supporting medievalists and Medieval Studies in North America and beyond.

Donate online by following the links here:

Please note that only donations to the funds listed above are eligible for the Match.

Thank you!
Sara Lipton
President, Medieval Academy of America

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MAA News – MAA@Leeds

If you’re going to be at the Leeds International Medieval Congress this year, please join us on Tuesday, 2 July, 19.00-20.00 (Session 901) for the annual Medieval Academy Lecture, to be delivered by Monica Green: “Crisis Under a Microscope – the Black Death, Multidisciplinarity, and the Global Middle Ages.” Afterwards, join Prof. Green and MAA governance and staff members for the Medieval Academy’s open-bar wine reception.

The Medieval Academy’s Graduate Student Committee roundtable will take place Monday, 1 July, 19:00-20:00 (Session 411): “Community in Times of Crisis: Graduate Students in Medieval Studies and the Role of Service.” Participants include Lydia Shahan (Harvard University), Will Beattie (University of Notre Dame), and Emily Sun (Harvard University).

We hope to see you there!

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MAA News – Good News From Our Members

The National Endowment for the Humanities has made grants to support projects by several MAA members:

Daniel Davies (Univ. of Houston), to support the research project, “Under Siege: Perpetual Warfare and Late Medieval Literature”

Dawn Marie Hayes (Montclair State University), “Documenting the Past, Triaging the Present and Conserving a Legacy for the Future: A Web App for Sicily’s Norman Heritage.” The grant will support The Norman Sicily Project ( (NSP), a bilingual, interactive web app that offers a variety of resources for the study of Sicily under the Normans (ca. 1061-1194).

John Osborne (Carleton Univ.) has been awarded the Premio Daria Borghese for 2024, awarded annually for the best book on any aspect of the city of Rome written by a non-Italian. The prize was for his monograph Rome in the Ninth Century: a history in art (Cambridge University Press 2023).

If you have good news to share, please send it to Executive Director Lisa Fagin Davis.

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Jobs For Medievalists

Senior Professor — School of Celtic Studies
The Governing Board of the School of Celtic Studies wishes to nominate a scholar, recognised as a leading authority in their field of study, for appointment by the President of Ireland to the position of Senior Professor in the School. DIAS is now seeking applications for this permanent position from scholars with an outstanding research and publications record in any area of research encompassed by the School, who are committed to the field of Celtic Studies and who have experience of directing advanced research.

Further information:

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IMEMS Palaeography courses

After a highly successful launch, the Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (IMEMS) at Durham University is happy to announce a new edition of our online Palaeography courses:

  • Latin European Medieval Palaeography, run by Dr Manuel Muñoz García.
  • Early Modern English Palaeography (1500-1700), run by Dr Arnold Hunt.

You can find full details and an application form on our website: 

You can also watch a quick introduction to the Latin Palaeography course here.

Our courses provide quality skills training to facilitate working with manuscripts, whether at graduate level or for those working in a professional environment as a librarian, archivist, etc. Feedback from former students highlights the quality and breadth of the content, the flexibility of the course and the opportunity to engage with a great range of optional videos.

The courses will run July 8th-19th. These are online, full-time courses that consist of asynchronous content and daily live sessions, which are duplicated to allow students from multiple time zones to join. Students will receive feedback on a portfolio of transcriptions after the course, as well as continued access to the asynchronous material for two months.

There are limited spaces (24 students per course) and applications are now open. We would appreciate it if you could circulate this announcement via your networks. Please get in touch if you have any questions or queries. 

The final deadline for applications is June 14th, but we encourage early applications as places will be offered to successful candidates on a first-come, first-served basis.

With best wishes,

The IMEMS Team
Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies, Durham University

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MAA News – Good News From Our Members

Shannah Rose (PhD candidate, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University) has been awarded the Samuel H. Kress Foundation/Marian and Andrew Heiskell Rome Prize to support her project, “The Codex Rios and the Reception of Mesoamerican Pictography in Early Modern Italy.”

The Accademia della Crusca has accepted and will make available Julia Bolton Holloway’s donation of her fifty years of research on Brunetto Latini.

If you have good news to share, please send it to Executive Director Lisa Fagin Davis.

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