Friday, August 29, 2008

University of Notre Dame lauds its History Department

28 August 2008
States News Service

The following information was released by the University of Notre Dame:

If recent history repeats itself, University of Notre Dame historians will enjoy looking to the future. Over the last three years, Notre Dame's Department of History has won more research fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) than any other university in the country and, in fact, has accumulated 20 external fellowships over that time period, more than a dozen of which are from agencies used by the National Research Council (NRC) to assess the strength of humanities departments.

A federation of 70 national scholarly organizations, the ACLS is the preeminent representative of American scholarship in the humanities and related social sciences.

Ahead of all other Top 25 research universities, Notre Dame's history department has earned six ACLS fellowships since 2005, compared with four for Brown University; three each for Harvard, Yale and Vanderbilt Universities; two each for Stanford, Princeton and Northwestern Universities; and one for Columbia University.

"I think my colleagues have been so successful because they bring an unusual combination of erudition, originality and ambition to their work," said Thomas Noble, professor and chair of history and a past recipient of National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and Fulbright fellowships.

This year's ACLS honorees are planning academic leaves to immerse themselves in their research. John Van Engen, Notre Dame's Andrew V. Tackes Professor of History, is working on a major reinterpretation of the intellectual and cultural life of 12th century Europe. He also is the recipient of a 2008 NEH research fellowship.

An associate professor of history, Alexander Martin is concluding a decade of research with a book titled "Enlightened Absolutism and Urban Modernity in Moscow, 1763-1881."

"It deals with the efforts by the ruling elites of tsarist Russia to make Moscow a showcase for the type of authoritarian, Western-oriented modernization that they hoped to replicate throughout Russia," Martin explained.

Gail Bederman, an associate professor of history who specializes in gender and sexuality in the U.S., is writing a two-volume history of the earliest public advocacy of contraception in Britain and the U.S. "One of the striking things about the department's fellowship record is that faculty who are studying diverse topics with different methodologies have won the awards," said John McGreevy, I.A. O'Shaughnessy Dean of the College of Arts and Letters and former department chair. "And the pattern over the last few years with multiple ACLS awards per year has been extraordinary."

One of the nation's leading centers for historical study, Notre Dame's history department is home to a faculty that has doubled in size over the last 15 years. Recently, its historians also have won numerous NEH fellowships, a Guggenheim fellowship, major grants from the Hoover Institution and Spencer, Mellon and Earhart Foundations, and a fellowship from the American Academy in Rome. Books written with such support have garnered a number of awards, including the Bancroft Prize in American History and the American Historical Association's James A. Rawley Prize in Atlantic History.

Pierpaolo Polzonetti, an assistant professor of liberal studies at Notre Dame, also received an ACLS fellowship this year, bringing to four the university's total for 2008. Other recent ACLS fellowship winners include Linda Przybyszewski, associate professor of history; Margaret Meserve, Carl E. Koch Assistant Professor of History; and Remie Constable, professor of history and acting director of the Medieval Institute.

Evidence that many of Notre Dame's leading scholars delight in spending the present living in the past.

Medieval canals discovered in Lincolnshire

By Emily Beament
29 August 2008
Press Association National Newswire

Miles of medieval canals which were used by monks in punts have been discovered in the Lincolnshire fens, researchers revealed today. Around 56 miles of waterways, which are now silted up and hidden in the fen landscape, were found using aerial photographs, the Royal Geographical Society's annual conference was told.

It is thought the canals, which would have been 20 to 40ft wide, were built by the monasteries in the area after 9th century raids by Vikings who destroyed many monastic sites. Civil engineer and archaeologist Martin Redding said the schemes were unlikely to have been created for drainage alone because of the huge costs involved.

Instead they would have been used first to ferry locally-quarried stone to rebuild the monastic sites, which belonged to orders including the Benedictines and Cistercians. They would then have been used to carry the rich resources of the fens to market in "fen lighters", shallow, flat-bottomed boats.

The cargo could have included cranberries, as research on a now extinct acidic peat bog in the Lincolnshire Fens has confirmed it would have been ideal for growing the fruit. Mr Redding, a member of the Witham Valley Archaeology Research Committee, said it is likely each monastery had its own network of canals connecting parts of its estate including its farms.

Many of the canals also had access to the Wash and the North Sea through natural river courses which have since silted up and disappeared. Mr Redding said the canals showed "breathtaking engineering projects" were being undertaken in the fens 800 to 1,000 years ago.

The Greek Book From Papyrus to Printing - Exhibition at Princeton University

27 August 2008
States News Service

The following information was released by Princeton University:

Some of the Princeton University Library's greatest treasures will be on display in a fall exhibition that traces the long cultural history of the Greeks.

"The Greek Book From Papyrus to Printing" will focus on the Greek book as a physical object and a repository of Western civilization over three millennia. The exhibition will be on view from Monday, Sept. 8, through Sunday, Dec. 7, in the Main Gallery of Firestone Library. It will include: important ancient papyri of Homer and the Bible, as well as other examples of ancient writing, chiefly from Roman Egypt; illuminated Gospels and devotional manuscripts, once in monastic libraries of the Byzantine Empire; manuscripts and early printed editions of classical texts, formerly in private libraries and in several cases annotated by leading Renaissance scholars; and illustrated liturgical books, travel guides and other manuscripts produced for Greek communities in the Ottoman Empire.

"The library is fortunate to have such rich Hellenic holdings because of private collectors like Robert Garrett [a member of the class of 1897], three generations of the Scheide family and other generous alumni, who have helped build these collections in support of research and instruction at Princeton University," said Don Skemer, curator of manuscripts in the library's Department of Rare Books and Special Collections.

Also on view will be Greek antiquities and icons from the Princeton University Art Museum, and a series of photographs by Bruce White taken in St. Catherine's Monastery on Mount Sinai in Egypt.

The exhibition explores ancient writing materials and book forms, the evolution of script and libraries, and the role of sacred books and libraries in the spiritual life of Byzantine monasteries, such as St. Catherine's and St. Andrew of the Russians on Mount Athos in Greece. It also shows the preservation of ancient learning, especially during the Paleologan Renaissance when the imperial capital moved from Rome to Byzantium (later renamed Constantinople), documenting the survival of Greek cultural traditions and civilization under Ottoman rule from the fall of Constantinople in 1453 until the Greek War of Independence in 1821-1829.

The Byzantine world preserved Greek language and letters, allowing Greek books to circulate freely from Constantinople to Greece, the Holy Land, Egypt, the Balkans and southern Italy. The Greek book and the migration of Byzantine scholars to Italy had a great impact on the Latin West, especially Renaissance Italy.

Garrett (1875-1961), a Baltimore businessman and trustee of Princeton, underwrote the library's acquisition of papyri during the 1920s and donated his extraordinary collection of more than 10,000 manuscripts to the library in 1942. Other major collectors of Greek manuscripts include the Scheide family of Titusville, Pa., and Princeton: William T. Scheide (1847-1907); John Hinsdale Scheide (1875-1942), a member of the class of 1896; and William H. Scheide, a member of the class of 1936.

In recent decades, joint efforts between the library and the University's Program in Hellenic Studies to enrich the holdings have been supported by the Stanley J. Seeger Hellenic Fund, established through the generosity of Seeger, a member of the class of 1952. New projects to improve access to papyri, medieval manuscripts and other materials in the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections also have facilitated this exhibition.

Most important among these projects has been "Greek Manuscripts at Princeton, 6th to 19th Centuries: A Descriptive Catalogue" by Sofia Kotzabassi and Nancy Patterson Ševčenko, with the collaboration of Skemer. The volume is to be copublished by the end of this academic year by the Department of Art and Archaeology and the Program in Hellenic Studies for distribution by Princeton University Press. This exhibition is organized in anticipation of the 2009-10 celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Stanley J. Seeger Hellenic Fund and the Program in Hellenic Studies.

To mark the opening of the exhibition, the Friends of the Princeton University Library will sponsor a public lecture by Anthony Grafton, the Henry Putnam University Professor of History, on Sunday, Oct. 5. The talk, titled "Greek Books and Their Readers: From Antiquity to the Renaissance," will begin at 4 p.m. in 101 McCormick Hall and will be followed by a reception in Firestone Library.

Other public programs are being planned in conjunction with the exhibition. The Index of Christian Art has organized an international conference to meet at Princeton on Thursday, Oct. 16, in conjunction with the meeting of the Byzantine Studies Association of North America in New Brunswick Oct. 16-19. The full program and further details are available on the index website.

Hours for the exhibition are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday and noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Early Medieval Europe - August 2008

Volume 16 Issue 3 (August 2008) of Early Medieval Europe has been published. Articles in this issue are:

Minting in Vandal North Africa: coins of the Vandal period in the Coin Cabinet of Vienna's Kunsthistorisches Museum, by Guido M. Berndt and Roland Steinacher

This paper offers a re-examination of some problems regarding the coinage of Vandal North Africa. The coinage of this barbarian successor state is one of the first non-imperial coinages in the Mediterranean world of the fifth and sixth centuries. Based on the fine collection in the Coin Cabinet of Vienna's Kunsthistorisches Museum, this article questions the chronology of the various issues and monetary relations between the denominations under the Vandal kings, especially after the reign of Gunthamund (484–96). The Vandals needed and created a solid financial system. In terms of political, administrative and economic structures they tried to integrate their realm into the changing world of late antiquity and the early Middle Ages.

The seal of Alaric, rex Gothorum, by Genevra Kornbluth

A sapphire ring stone in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna which bears the legend ALARICVS REX GOTHORVM fits well into a late fifth/early sixth-century context. Forgery is highly unlikely. It was probably meant to seal letters and secure valuables, though chancery use is possible. Its composition, most probably modelled on imperial coinage, combines with an extremely high-status medium to present a flattering picture of Alaric as a peaceful king. This paper suggests that Theoderic the Ostrogoth may have commissioned the intaglio in an effort to avert war between the Franks and Visigoths, and to enhance his own status.

The 'Life of Muhammad' in Eulogius of Córdoba: some evidence for the transmission of Greek polemic to the Latin west, by Janna Wasilewski

Eulogius of Córdoba, the principal recorder of the ninth-century Córdoban martyrs' movement, copied for posterity a polemic biography of the Prophet Muhammad. The lost original is the earliest such text known in Latin, despite the longstanding tradition of anti-Islamic polemic in the Greek east. However, textual analysis indicates that Eulogius revised the original biography, and that his revisions were influenced by the polemic of John of Damascus. Eulogius's exposure to John's writings probably came through personal contact with a monk from the monastery of Mar Saba, contact which offers rare evidence of a non-textual transmission of ideas.

Historical Research Volume 81 Issue 213 (August 2008)

Volume 81 Issue 213 (August 2008) of Historical Research has now been published. Two medieval articles can be found in the contents, namely:

The Gesta Abbatum Monasterii Sancti Albani: litigation and history at St. Albans, by Mark Hagger

This article reconsiders the domestic history of St. Albans abbey, known as the Gesta Abbatum Monasterii Sancti Albani, and concludes that the monks resorted to the fabrication of history in compiling a chronicle that rebutted the hostile claims of the monks of Ely and the bishop of Lincoln. The Gesta is used in conjunction with other documents produced at St. Albans, Domesday Book and the narratives produced at monasteries including Battle and Le Bec. The argument also reveals that the relevant parts of the Gesta were almost certainly written by Adam the cellarer or his clerk, Bartholomew, in the eleven-seventies or eleven-eighties, with the material incorporated into the Gesta by Matthew Paris decades later.

Seigniorial control of villagers' litigation beyond the manor in later medieval England, by Chris Briggs

Medieval villagers were assiduous users of legal structures in defence of private interests. To enforce contracts against and recover debts from residents of other villages, rural plaintiffs had to prosecute in courts situated beyond the boundaries of their 'home' manors. The ability to sue elsewhere than the local manor court was thus crucial to commercial development in the countryside. This article explores the obstacles to such litigation, challenging the claim that servile villeinage acted to restrict villagers' choice of court. It lays the foundation for a larger investigation into the importance of villagers as civil litigants in ecclesiastical and royal jurisdictions.

You can find more information about the journal here.

English Historical Review - August 2008 issue

Volume 123, No. 503 of the English Historical Review has recently been published by Oxford University Press. One medieval article is included in this issue:

Master Stephen Langton, Future Archbishop of Canterbury: The Paris Schools and Magna Carta, by John W. Baldwin

Abstract: Master Stephen Langton was without doubt the most prolific of the theologians teaching at Paris around 1200; later as archbishop of Canterbury he was the leading figure in the negotiations between King John and barons leading to Magna Carta. This study seeks to relate these two phases of his life by exploring three elements:

(1) From the mass of biblical commentaries and theological questiones, as yet unpublished, Langton formulated political propositions of which the most striking included the necessity of written law to protect the people from the king and, in particular, the people's right to resist a decision that was rendered without a judgment of the king's court (sine sententia).

(2) After his return to England in 1213 as archbishop, Langton mediated between the king and barons by resurrecting at St Paul's in London the coronation charter of Henry I that provided a written basis for the present baronial demands. A copy of this charter has surfaced in Paris at the Archives Nationales to which is attached the "Unknown Charter" of King John that responds directly to the issues raised in Henry's charter and specifically promises not to condemn anyone without judgment (absque judicio). This principle of "due process" became one of the celebrated clauses of Magna Carta. Admittedly this account of Langton's role relies on the chronicler Roger of Wendover, generally distrusted by modern historians, but Roger provides a compelling context to Langton's application of his Parisian teaching in England. (3) How the "Unknown Charter" came to Paris is resolved by a close examination of the fonds d'Angleterre in the Archives Nationales. Simon Langton, the archbishop's brother, and Elias de Derehem, both clerics and collaborators of the archbishop and Prince Louis undoubtedly brought it to Paris at the conclusion of the latter's unsuccessful expedition to England in 1217.

You can find out more about the journal here.

Seal of King Simeon I Discovered

Seal of King Simeon I Discovered in Veliki Preslav
25 August 2008
Bulgarian News Agency

A seal of King Simeon I (ruled 893-927) was discovered at the medieval Bulgarian capital Veliki Preslav by a team led by archaeologist Irina Shtereva. The seal is preserved in exceptionally good condition. This is the king second seal discovered so far, but unlike the first one, this seal is preserved intact. It is made of lead, with an image of Jesus on one side and Mary on the other side. The archaeologists have dated it to the early years of King Simeon's rule.

This year, Shtereva's team has worked on an imposing building situated across from the throne hall in Veliki Preslav. Shtereva believes the facility was more than 20 metres tall. The front part was built with a colonnade. The building is yet to be dated. Its use remains unknown.

After the capital was moved to Veliko Turnovo, the facility was transformed into a residential area. Many handicraft workshops were built nearby. After the Balkans fell under Ottoman rule, the town faded, and this part of the capital of the medieval Bulgarian kingdom was transformed into a necropolis.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Call for Papers: Third Annual Sacred Leaves Graduate Symposium

Third Annual Sacred Leaves Graduate Symposium

February 19-20, 2009
University of South Florida, Tampa Library, Tampa, Florida

Keynote Speaker: Michael Sells, John Henry Barrows Professor, University of Chicago

The Special Collections Department of the Tampa Library, University of South Florida seeks papers from graduate students and recent M.A. or Ph.D. recipients for its Third Annual Sacred Leaves Graduate Symposium. This year’s theme is Comparative Mysticism of the Middle Ages: Textual Traditions, 1000-1600. We encourage topics on mystical expressions in the medieval world comparing religions, cultures and/or gender.

Subjects for proposals may include, but are not limited to:
· Poetry and lyric
· Cross-cultural and religious influences
· Manuscript illumination
· Spain, Iberia and beyond
· Mystical forms of dissent and their repression
· The role of mystic in society

Please email an abstract of no more than 250 words to Dr. Jane Marie Pinzino, Symposium Coordinator at by November 14, 2008. Notification of acceptances will be emailed by November 28, 2008. Please include the title of your paper, name, affiliation and email address. Each paper selected will be allotted 20 minutes for presentation.

Studies in Medieval and Renaissance History - two new volumes

Studies in Medieval and Renaissance History is a journal published by AMS Press in New York. It covers history of any theme during the chronological period 400–1700. Although it comes from a smaller publisher and has no online version, this journal has put consistently good volumes for the last thirty years.

The medieval contents of the two newest issues are:

Volume 4, Third Series

Jonathan Couser, “A Usable Past: Early Bavarian Hagiography in Context”

Analyzes three saints' lives composed in eight-century Bavaria to show its role in the development of a political identity for that region.

Cynthia J. Neville and R. Andrew McDonald, “Knights and Knighthood in Gaelic Scotland, c.1050–1300”

Examines how the concepts of knighthood and chivalry were embraced by both the newly settled aristocracy in Scotland and the Gaelic-speaking native lords.

Anne J. Duggan, “The Making of a Myth: Giraldus Cambrensis, Laudibiliter, and Henry II’s Lordship of Ireland”

Examines the role Gerald of Wales played in modifying and distorting the bull by Pope Adrian IV, which was used as justification by Henry II to invade Ireland.

Brenda Deen Schildgen, “Middle Eastern Apocalyptic Traditions in Dante’s La Divinia Commedia and Mohammed’s Mi'raj or Night Journey”

Examines the relationship of Dante's work and Muhammed's Night Journey. Translations of the latter's account likely were circulating during Dante's time, and may have influenced parts of his writing.

Rachel Fulton, “Praying by Numbers”

Examines late medieval devotion practices such as the numbering of Christ's wounds or the recitation of the 150 Ave Marias of the rosary.

Volume 5, Third Series

Eric Gerald Stanley, “Judgment Day: Hopes, Joys, and Sorrows in Medieval England”

Examines how Old and Middle English writers viewed the concepts of hope, joy and sorrow, and how these feelings were not seen as constants.

Elaine M. Beretz, “Beauvais Romanesque and Suger’s Workshop at Saint-Denis: Creative Appropriation and Regional Identity”

Examines the artistic development in Beauvais after 1140.

Ralph Hanna, “Lambeth Palace Library, MS 260 and the Problem of English Vernacularity”

Look at English usage in the period 1150-1400.

Robin S. Oggins, “Game in the Medieval English Diet”

The article addresses the questions of who are game in medieval England, when they ate it, and what kinds of game they ate.

Brantley L. Bryant, “Talking with the Taxman about Poetry: England’s Economy in ‘Against the King’s Taxes’ and Wynnere and Wastoure”

Drawing on parliamentary histroy and the evidence of two poems, this essay examines contrasting attitudes toward national economics in mid-14th century England.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Recent Ph.D. Dissertations related to Medieval History and Society

Here is a list of PhD Dissertations completed so far this year (2008):

Dragon kings and thunder gods: Rainmaking, magic, and ritual in medieval Chinese religion, by Joshua Capitanio, Joshua (University of Pennsylvania)

D'une merveille l'autre. Ecrire en roman apres Chretien de Troyes, by Isabelle Arseneau (Universite de Montreal)

Epic, artifice, and audience: The Pierpont Morgan Library's Medieval Picture Bible (MS.M.638) and the Psalter-Hours of Ghuiluys de Boisleux (MS.M.730), by Richard A. Leson (The Johns Hopkins University)

Exploring the variorum: An experimental edition of "Aucassin et Nicolette", by Stephen Charles Martin (University of Virginia)

Favole, parabole, istorie: The genealogy of Boccaccio's theory of allegory, by James C. Kriesel (University of Notre Dame)

Food as a window into daily life in fourteenth century Central Anatolia, by Nicolas Trepanier (Harvard University)

From description to prescription: Twelfth-century medicine for psychological and social health, by Siovahn Amanda Walker (Stanford University)

Gendered lessons: Advice literature for holy women in the twelfth century, by Laura Michele Diener (Ohio State University)

"In another kynde": Modes of recognition in Late Medieval English literature, by Lee Basil Manion (University of Virginia)

Kenosis as performance of power in the theology of Julian of Norwich, by Patricia Donohue (Duquesne University)

Kinship and violence in Wales, 800--1415, by Lizabeth Johnson (University of Washington)

Law, order and finance: The development of statecraft in the reign of Henry VII, by Mark R. Horowitz (The University of Chicago)

Lay religious women and church reform in late medieval Munster: A case study of the Beguines, by Erica Gelser (University of Pennsylvania)

God's patients: Suffering and the divine in the "Canterbury Tales", by John Stephen Bugbee (University of Virginia)

Medicine and miracle: The reception of theory-rich medicine in the hagiography of the Latin West, 13th--14th centuries, by Brenda S. Gardenour (Boston University)

Mercenary logic: Muslim soldiers in the service of the Crown of Aragon, 1265--1309, by Hussein Anwar Fancy (Princeton University)

Need not necessity: Purgatorial torment and healing in medieval and early modern drama, by Nicole M. Andel (Duquesne University)

"Piers Plowman" and the invention of the lyric in the Middle Ages, by Curtis Roberts-Holt Jirsa (Cornell University)

Repentance and conversion in the works of Rutebeuf, by Robert H. Henry (Cornell University)

Rhetorical and narrative studies on the Historiae of Richer of Saint-Remi, by Justin Carl Lake (Harvard University)

Rhetorical invention in the Book of Kells: Image and decoration on their flight to meaning, by William Endres (Arizona State University)

Romances copied by the Ludlow scribe: "Purgatoire Saint Patrice", "Short Metrical Chronicle", "Fouke Le Fitz Waryn", and "King Horn", by Catherine A. Rock (Kent State University)

Romancing capital: The gift in Middle English literature, by Walter Philip Wadiak (University of California - Irvine)

Saint Aelred of Rievaulx and Saint Thomas Aquinas on friendship: A comparison of monastic and scholastic theology, by Nathan Lefler (The Catholic University of America)

Symbols of saints: Theology, ritual, and kinship in music for John the Baptist and St. Anne (1175--1563), by Michael Alan Anderson (The University of Chicago)

Taking stock of Middle English popular romance, by Paul Douglas Gaffney (University of Virginia)

The architecture of coexistence: Sunnis, Shi'is, and the shrines of the 'Alids in the medieval Levant, by Stephennie Mulder (University of Pennsylvania)

The Cathars of Languedoc as heretics: From the perspectives of five contemporary scholars, by Anne Bradford Townsend (Union Institute and University)

The grand testamentum of Remigius of Reims: Its authenticity, juridical acta and bequeathed property, by Noel Lazaro Delgado (University of Minnesota)

The landscapes of Saint-Pierre d'Orbais: An anthropology of monastic architecture, by Kyle Killian (Columbia University)

The opacity of renunciation in Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales", by Shawn D. Normandin (Boston University)

The tropological universe: Alexander Neckam's encyclopedias and the natures of things at the turn of the thirteenth century, by Tomas Zahora (Fordham University)

Beyond the social and the spiritual: Redefining the urban confraternities of late medieval Anatolia, by Rachel Goshgarian (Harvard University)

Roger Bacon's faith in science, by Hyrum La Turner, Hyrum (The University of Chicago)

Canopies: The framing of sacred space in the Byzantine ecclesiastical tradition, by Jelena Bogdanovic, Jelena (Princeton University)

People and identities in Nessana, by Rachel Stroumsa (Duke University)

Reinterpretation of the "Palace of Bryas": A study in Byzantine architecture, history and historiography, by Alessandra Ricci (Princeton University)

Viator: Medieval and Renaissance Studies 39:1 (2008)

Volume 39, No. 1 (2008) of Viator: Medieval and Renaissnace Studies has now been published by Brepols. Here is a list of the articles:

A Convert of 1096: Guillaume, Monk of Flaix, Converted from the Jew, by Jessie Sherwood

No Peace for the Wicked: Conflicting Visions of Peacemaking in an Eleventh-Century Monastic Narrative, by Jehangir Malegam

Judeo-Greek Legacy in Medieval Rus', by Alexander Kulik

Theory and Practice in the Anglo-Saxon Leechbooks: The Case of Paralysis, by James McIlwain

"Oh! What Treasure Is In This Book?" Writing, Reading, and Community at the Monastery of Helfta, by Anna Harrison

Competing Spectacles inb the Venetian Feste della Marie, by Thomas Devaney

Langland's Rats Revisted: Conservatism, Commune, and Political Unanimity, by Nicole Lassahn

Local Elites and Royal Power in Late Medieval Castile: The Example of the Marquesado de Villena, by Jorge Ortuno Molina

Prudence, Mother of Virtues: The Chapelet des vertus and Christine de Pizan, by Mary Rouse and Richard Rouse

Christine de Pizan against the Theologians: The Virtue of Lies in The Book of the Three Virtues, by Dallas G. Denery II

Childhood and Gender in Later Medieval England, by P.J.P. Goldberg

Rewriting Scripture: Latin Biblical Versification in the Later Middle Ages, by Greti Dinkova-Bruun

Perpicere Deum: Nicholas of Cusa and European Art of the Fifteenth Century, by Cesare Cata

John Gunthorpe: Keeper of Richard III's Privy Seal, Dean of Wells Cathedral, by A. Compton Reeves

Hegel's Ghost: Europe, the Reformation, and the Middle Ages, by Constantin Fasolt

The Song of the Distant Dove: Judah Halevi's Pilgrimage, by Raymond Scheindlin

19 August 2008
US Fed News

Judah Halevi (ca. 1085-1141), one of the best-known and most beloved of pre-modern Hebrew poets, abandoned his home and family in Spain and spent the last year of his life traveling to Israel, where he hoped to die amid its sacred ruins.

Halevi's journey is the subject of "The Song of the Distant Dove: Judah Halevi's Pilgrimage" by Raymond Scheindlin (Oxford University Press, 2007). Scheindlin will discuss his book at the Library of Congress at noon on Monday, Sept. 8, in the African and Middle Eastern Division Conference Room (Room 220), located in the Thomas Jefferson Building at 10 First Street S.E., Washington, D.C. The event is free and open to the public but seating is limited.

Touching on literature, religion and history, "The Song of the Distant Dove" provides an introduction to Judeo-Arabic culture as well as a closer look at the medieval poet, doctor, theologian and community leader at a pivotal period in Jewish religious history. In the only English-language book on the subject, Scheindlin traces the poet's journey and explores the meaning of his works using recently discovered letters and new verse translations.

Scheindlin received a bachelor's degree in oriental studies from the University of Pennsylvania, a master's degree in Hebrew literature from the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) in New York, a Ph.D. from Columbia University and a rabbinic ordination from the JTS. He is currently professor of medieval Hebrew literature at JTS, where he has served on the faculty since 1974 and as provost from 1984-1988. He also directs the seminary's Shalom Spiegel Institute of Medieval Hebrew Poetry. The recipient of the 2004 Cultural Achievement Award of the National Foundation for Jewish Culture, and a former Guggenheim fellow, Scheindlin served for three years as the part-time rabbi of the Kane Street Synagogue in Brooklyn.

An expert in Arabic literature, Scheindlin compiled "201 Arabic Verbs," a popular primer for students of Arabic in the United States. A new edition titled "501 Arabic Verbs" will soon be published. A Festschrift in his honor, "Studies in Arabic and Hebrew Letters in Honor of Raymond P. Scheindlin," edited by two of his former students, has just been published by Gorgias Press.

The Library of Congress, the nation's oldest federal cultural institution, is the world's preeminent reservoir of knowledge, providing unparalleled integrated resources to Congress and the American people. Founded in 1800, the Library seeks to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, which bring to bear the world's knowledge in almost all of the world's languages. The African and Middle Eastern Division furthers this mission as the Library's center for the study of some 78 countries and regions from Southern Africa to the Maghreb and from the Middle East to Central Asia. The division's Hebraic Section is one of the world's foremost centers for the study of Hebrew and Yiddish materials. For more information on the division and it holdings, visit

Seal of Andronicus II Paleologus Found at Perperikon

Seal of Andronicus II Paleologus Found at Perperikon
20 August 2008
Bulgarian News Agency

A seal of the Byzantine Emperor Andropicus II Paleologus (1282-1328) was found during the ongoing excavations at Perperikon in Southeastern Bulgaria. It is the second seal of the same emperor ever found in Bulgaria and the tenth in the world, the reknowned achaeology professor Nikolai Ovcharov said at a news conference where he presented some of the latest finds.

Excavations at the site this season started some two months ago and will continue until September 15. The seal has a hole in the middle, an image of Andronicus on one side and of the Blessing Christ on the other. Such seals were put on important documents and have remained as something of a print of the Middle Ages, Prof. Ovcharov explained.

Archaeologists have also unearthed four silver rings which are believed to have been worn by dignitaries in the late 12th century to the early 14th century. One of the rings has "Manuil" enscribed on it. Archaeologists say it might be an indication that the ring belonged to strategus Manuil Kimica, the master of the Eastern Rhodope mountains in the 12th century.

After the excavations, the Western side of the Perperikon acropolis has emerged as a true Medieval castle like those which still exist in France, Prof. Ovacharov says. Six towers, one of them a hexagon, have been fully unearthed. The rulers' residence, too, is well visible: a three-floor building dated to the first half of the 14th century. The use of ceramics from Central Asia in the construction of the palace goes to show that the Perperikon rulers were wealthy and influential, Prof. Ovcharov commented.

Friday, August 08, 2008

English Heritage now offers online videos

English Heritage launches online TV
31 July 2008
Press Association

History fans who want to find out how to lay siege to a medieval castle or watch a re-enactment of the Battle of Hastings can now tune into a series of online TV shows from English Heritage.

The national heritage body is officially launching EHTV, which provides a range of video and audio programmes with information on great moments in English history and behind-the-scenes looks at historic sites. Programmes on the site include celebrities Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen presenting a show on Eltham Palace and Konnie Huq talking about Osborne House. A series of tongue-in-cheek how-to guides allow people to find out how to do unusual things such as cook like a Roman, fire a bow and arrow and tell the time in the 9th century.

The programmes on the English Heritage website also include one on Dover Castle's secret wartime tunnel and another on the conservation of Silbury Hill. Dan Wolfe, English Heritage's marketing director, said: "We've teamed up with the History Channel along with a host of English Heritage experts, re-enactors and well-known names including Dan Snow and Bill Bailey, to put together a collection of original programmes, presenting reliable and accurate historical content in a format that can be accessed by anyone, anywhere."

Video and audio clips can be downloaded or streamed from the site and last from under a minute to up to an hour. EHTV is sponsored by the History Channel and can be accessed free at

Medieval Art Exhibit in Rimini, Italy

31 July 2008
ANSA - English Media Service

The inspiration medieval artists drew from Italy's classical past is spotlighted in an exhibition currently showing in the Adriatic coastal resort of Rimini. Entitled 'Exempla', the show explores the rebirth of classical taste during the 13th century, focusing on developments in the circles of emperor Frederick II, renowned for his love of culture and learning. Although this was not the first medieval passion for revisiting past glories, the variety and intensity of output under Frederick II made it one of the greatest.

The exhibit looks at how medieval artists used ancient Greek and Roman styles as models for their own work, seeking out and rediscovering past masterpieces. It is based on new research carried out by academics in recent years, mapping these similarities and providing a clearer picture of artistic developments in the 1200s. Featuring over 100 pieces, the exhibit starts with works by Nicola Pisano (1220-1284), considered by some to be the founder of modern sculpture.

Today Pisano is famous for his classical Roman sculptural style but the exhibit explores how that style came about, examining different stages of his artistic development. It showcases several original pieces by the sculptor, including a famous relief that adorned Perugia's Maggiore Fountain until recently. Depicting the mythical figures of Romulus and Remus suckled by the wolf, the marble relief was completed jointly by Pisano and his son, Giovanni.

There are also a number of pieces by the Tuscan-born sculptor Arnolfo di Cambio (1240 - 1300), which show a greater concern for religious themes, evidenced in his severity of expression and form. A key attraction of the show is that visitors are able to admire medieval masterpieces - for the most part sculpture - alongside the classical works that acted as models, or 'exemplas'.

One particularly striking example aligns a 'Woman With Amphora' by Arnolfo with a Roman relief showing a nymph from behind. While the former is not a direct copy of the latter, the inspiration of the Roman relief is clear in the medieval sculpture. Where original works could not be moved, the curators have drawn parallels through the use of photography.

In addition to the sculptures, there are also several striking paintings, one of which attributed to Pietro Cavallini. The exhibit wraps up with two pieces by the sculptor Andrea Pisano (1290-1348), who was working towards the end of this era: a beautiful Madonna with Child and 21 bass relief panels, which once adorned the Santa Maria del Fiore bell tower in Florence.

Exempla runs in Rimini's Castel Sismondo until September 7.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Rethinking Michelangelo: A Series of Lectures, Concerts, and Special Events - Syracuse University

Syracuse University presents 'Rethinking Michelangelo: A Series of Lectures, Concerts, and Special Events'
28 July 2008
Targeted News Service

Michelangelo Buonarroti has been celebrated for more than 450 years as a sculptor, painter, architect, poet and patriot. This fall, members of the Syracuse University and Central New York communities will have an opportunity to experience his genius firsthand through "Rethinking Michelangelo: A Series of Lectures, Concerts, and Special Events." Featured guests include award-winning soprano Anita Johnson, the Schola Cantorum of Syracuse and William Edward Wallace, the Barbara Murphy Bryant Distinguished Professor of Art History at Washington University, among others.

"Rethinking Michelangelo" complements "Michelangelo: The Man and the Myth," an unprecedented exhibition at the SUArt Galleries Aug. 12-Oct. 19. The exhibition will include more than a dozen of the Renaissance master's original drawings and writings on loan from the Casa Buonarroti in Florence, Italy. Some of the works have never been exhibited in the United States. The exhibition will also appear at the Louise and Bernard Palitz Gallery at SU's Joseph I. Lubin House in New York City from Nov. 4-Jan. 4, 2009.

Further information about the exhibition and related events is available on the "Michelangelo: The Man and the Myth" website at


The concerts are open to the general public. Discounted paid parking will be available in the Irving Garage.

Sunday, Sept. 21
2 p.m.
Hendricks Chapel
Cost: Free

"From Sonnets to Spirituals," featuring award-winning soprano Anita Johnson, who will present a program of vocal gems -- settings of Michelangelo sonnets by Schubert, Wolff and Britten, followed by a generous offering of heartwarming spirituals. The concert is a joint presentation of the Malmgren Concert Series, Pulse performing arts series, Syracuse Symposium and The College of Arts and Sciences in collaboration with the Office of Alumni Relations.

Sunday, Oct. 19
3:30 p.m. Viol prelude
4 p.m. Schola Cantorum of Syracuse
Setnor Auditorium, Crouse College
Cost: $12 general public; $8 students

Tickets are available at the door; cash only. "Music to Michelangelo's Ear," featuring the Schola Cantorum of Syracuse, directed by Joyce Irwin. The concert will include carnival songs, laude and madrigals from Michelangelo's era in Florence; sacred music from his time in Rome; and works representing the Protestant and Catholic reformations of the 16th century.

Schola Cantorum of Syracuse is a chamber choir of about 16 members, both amateur and professional, devoted to the performance of music from the Medieval, Renaissance and early Baroque eras -- that is, music composed from about 1000-1700 AD. Schola Cantorum annually presents a three-concert subscription series in Central New York and sponsors a summer choral workshop with invited conductors.

Friday, Oct. 3, and Saturday, Oct. 4
Life Sciences Auditorium
Cost: Free

"Rethinking Michelangelo," a symposium and opening night keynote address that will explore questions and issues associated with the drawings and graphic materials in the exhibition "Michelangelo: The Man and the Myth." The symposium will feature leading scholars from across the United States and Europe. Areas of focus include: "Men and Women in the Art and Life of Michelangelo," "Michelangelo Draws" and "Michelangelo in Word and Print." The symposium is free and open to the general public. Discounted paid parking will be available in the Irving Garage. Registration information and a complete schedule of events are available at Information is also available by e-mailing or by calling the Department of Fine Arts at (315) 443-4184.

The Ray Smith Symposium, presented by The College of Arts and Sciences Humanities Council, was established in 1989 as the result of a bequest from the estate of SU alumnus Ray W. Smith '21 to support symposia on topics in the Humanities. Travel support for invited international scholars is being provided by a grant from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation.


The following lectures are free and open to the general public. Discounted paid parking will be available in the Irving Garage.

Friday, Sept. 19
10:30 a.m.
Shemin Auditorium, Shaffer Art Building
Cost: Free

"Michelangelo: The Man and the Myth," a lecture and gallery visit presented by SUArt Galleries Director Domenic Iacono and Dean's Professor of the Humanities Gary Radke. This two-part lecture will include the story of the exhibition and how it is being presented in Syracuse and in New York City. Guided tours of the exhibition are available at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Registration information for the guided tours can be found on the 2008 Homecoming + Reunion Weekend website at

The lecture and art gallery tours are sponsored by the Office of Alumni Relations and the SUArt Galleries and are included in the 2008 Homecoming + Reunion Weekend activities.

Wednesday, Oct. 1
7:30 p.m.
Life Sciences Auditorium
Cost: Free

"Drawing a Life of Michelangelo," featuring SU's 2008 Jeannette K. Watson Visiting Professor William Edward Wallace. Wallace, the Barbara Murphy Bryant Distinguished Professor of Art History at Washington University, will discuss the historical and personal contexts surrounding Michelangelo's drawings and documents held by the Casa Buonarroti and on exhibit at the SUArt Galleries. Wallace is an internationally recognized authority on Michelangelo and his contemporaries. In addition to more than 40 articles and two works of fiction, Wallace is author and editor of four books on Michelangelo.

The College of Arts and Sciences Jeannette K. Watson Distinguished Visiting Professorship in the Humanities brings to campus scholars and writers whose work is esteemed throughout the humanities. The professorship was made possible by the generosity of the late Jeannette K. Watson. The family of Jeannette K. and Thomas Watson has long been a friend and supporter of the University.

Thursday, Oct. 2
4 p.m.
Life Sciences Auditorium
Cost: Free

"Restoring Michelangelo," featuring Diane Kunzelman '67, G'72, conservator, Uffizi Galleries, Florence, and adjunct professor at SU Florence. A Fulbright fellow and painting restorer, Kunzelman began her career as a student in SU's Florence graduate program in Renaissance art. She has been involved in major conservation projects on works from the principal museums and churches in Florence. She will discuss her work restoring one of Michelangelo's most important panel paintings and her experiences caring for other Renaissance masterpieces. The lecture is presented by SU Abroad and the College of Visual and Performing Arts.

Friday, Oct. 3
5:30 p.m.
Life Sciences Auditorium
Cost: Free

Ray Smith Symposium Keynote Address: "Michelangelo Reverses the Rules," featuring Jeannette K. Watson Visiting Professor William Edward Wallace. This lecture will survey Michelangelo's sculptures -- every one a unique work of art -- and examine how the artist first cultivated, then manipulated, the terms and expectations of Renaissance patronage, thereby reversing the rules. In the process, Wallace will explore why and how Michelangelo became a sculptor and the dynamics between Michelangelo, the willful creator, and the opportunities afforded him by patrons.


The events below are open only to SU students, faculty and staff, and invited scholarly experts.

Monday, Sept. 29
9:30 to 11:30 a.m.
Hall of Languages, Room 500

"Writing a Biography of Michelangelo," a seminar presented by Jeannette K. Watson Visiting Professor William Edward Wallace, who will explore the challenges of writing a biography of one of the most famous and complicated artists of all time.

Monday, Oct. 6
9:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m.
Hall of Languages, Room 500

"Michelangelo Engineer and Entrepreneur," featuring Jeannette K. Watson Visiting Professor William Edward Wallace, who will discuss how account books and other 16th-century records reveal Michelangelo's entrepreneurial spirit and provide insight into his collaborations with stonemasons, quarry workers and others.

"Rethinking Michelangelo" events are made possible by SU's College of Arts and Sciences, SU's College of Visual and Performing Arts, the Jeannette K. Watson Distinguished Visiting Professorship in the Humanities, the Malmgren Concert Series, the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, Schola Cantorum of Syracuse, the SUArt Galleries, SU Abroad, the Syracuse Symposium, Pulse performing arts series, and your student fee at work.

Canterbury Astrolabe Quadrant purchased by the British Museum

31 July 2008
Press Association Regional Newswire - London

A "calculator" used in the time of Geoffrey Chaucer and described as one of the most sophisticated such tools before the computer is to remain in London.

The Canterbury Astrolabe Quadrant is one of only eight instruments of this type known to have survived from the Middle Ages, the British Museum said. The museum tried to buy the object last year but was outbid at auction.

But it has now been able to acquire it for £350,000 due to a £125,000 grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, £50,000 from The Art Fund and £175,000 from British Museum Friends and other sources. It will go on display in the museum early next month.

David Barrie, director of The Art Fund, said the author of the bawdy Canterbury Tales was an expert on such objects, then seen as cutting edge. He said: "The Canterbury Astrolabe Quadrant offers an extraordinary insight into the scientific and technological capabilities of Chaucer's England. Chaucer himself was an expert on astrolabes and wrote in the Canterbury Tales about men's love of 'newfangleness'."

Made of brass with a radius of 70mm, the object is the only example certain to have been made for use in England and was found in July 2005 by Andrew Linklater of the Canterbury Archaeological Trust at the House of St Agnes in Canterbury, Kent. The instrument will take centre stage in the British Museum's new medieval gallery, Europe 1000 - 1500, when it opens next year.

Byzantine archaeological discoveries in Crete

Archaeological finds unearthed in Heraklion Port
30 July 2008
Athens News Agency

A section of a Byzantine wall, church frescoes, important inscriptions, a fortress that played a supportive role to Koule Fortress and tombs that have not been opened yet, make up the rich archaeological findings discovered during ongoing upgrading works at the Heraklion Port on the island of Crete.

The scheduled works will have to be altered as a result of the findings, which have been unearthed in the region of Bentenaki, while the archeological excavations will continue until early October at the latest, funded by the Heraklion Port Authority.