Friday, August 15, 2014

Innovative Approaches to Teaching Dante

Call For Papers:
Innovative Approaches to Teaching Dante

Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Teaching
Special Issue

Alison Langdon

Essays are sought for a special issue of Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Teaching on innovative approaches to teaching Dante. Topics may include specific assignments or units as well as courses. The special issue will complement rather than overlap with the planned second edition of the MLA Approaches to Teaching Dante volume.

Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Teaching (SMART) is a journal of essays designed to assist teachers in communicating an understanding of the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Since we believe that excellent research and inspired teaching are dual aspects of a revived medieval/ Renaissance curriculum, SMART essays are scholarly and pedagogical, informative and practical. Authors are held to high standards of accuracy, currency, and relevance to the field of medieval studies. All papers are judged by at least two peer reviewers.

To ensure interdisciplinary consistency for SMART, contributors should doublespace manuscripts and format them according to the most recent edition of The Chicago Manual of Style, with endnotes rather than footnotes. Papers should be submitted blind, without the author's name appearing and without embedded comments from other reviewers. Papers vary greatly in length but typically are at least seven double-spaced pages, or about 2,500 words. Images in JPEG or TIF format are acceptable. Discursive notes should be held to a minimum to facilitate an easily readable text. The concept of intellectual rigor requires that information of the type often relegated to notes be integrated with the main discussion, while the practical needs of teachers require that information about texts and sources appropriate to students at all levels be included in the text or references. In balancing the need for documentation with that for practicality, we urge your cooperation and assistance.

Submissions should be submitted electronically by e-mail to Alison Langdon at the following address: Selected essays will be forwarded to the managing editor of SMART for assignment to blind peer review. Deadline for submission is January 31, 2015.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Medieval and Renaissance Latin America

ACMRS (The Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies) is embarking upon a new and long-awaited addition to the study of the global Medieval and Renaissance periods with the launch of a series on Medieval and Renaissance Latin America. This series greatly expands the traditional reach of both of those periods beyond the confines of Europe, to include important civilizations that have been heretofore marginalized, or at worst excluded, from that study.

The so-called New World was a repository of medieval hopes and mythologies, and also a product of advances in Early Modern European cartography. But Native American civilizations were not simply waiting to be discovered. The peoples of the Americas, and those of Africa who were brought to the Americas, were impacted by European exploration and colonization. They had their own historical trajectories, and both alternately adapted to, and were transformed by, the Old World. The Old World, in its turn, was impacted no less profoundly by the Americas. Western thought, economy, and art continue to be transformed due to their interaction with the indigenous and transplanted African cultures of what became known as Spanish and Portuguese America. This new book series on Medieval and Renaissance Latin America focuses on that area as a source of creation, syncretism, historical confrontation and interchange. The late Medieval/Early Modern period in Latin America saw the rise of new nations, heterogeneous in every sense of the word. That intellectual, religious, and artistic fusion embodied a new and vibrant category within the field of what is referred to as “Medieval and Renaissance Studies.” It is that category that the ACMRS will explore through its new series on Latin America.

If you have a book manuscript in this area of inquiry or a proposal for one, please contact Professor Jaime Lara at

Monday, July 21, 2014

Bibliographical Society of America (BSA)

Each year, the Bibliographical Society of America (BSA) invites three scholars in the early stages of their careers to present twenty-minute papers on their current, unpublished research in the field of bibliography as members of a panel at the BSA's Annual Meeting, which takes place in New York City in late January. The New Scholars Program seeks to promote the work of scholars who are new to the field of bibliography, broadly defined.

Those selected for the panel receive $600 toward the cost of attending the Annual Meeting and a complimentary one-year membership in the BSA.

For more about the New Scholars Program and application procedures, see:

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

7th St Andrews Annual Book Conference

Buying and Selling
7th St Andrews Annual Book Conference

18-20 June 2015

Call for Papers

In 1472 the printers Sweynheym and Pannartz wrote a petition to Pope Sixtus VI: left with over 10,000 unsold printed books, they were now forced to ask for financial help or face utter failure. The advent of print changed the dynamics of supply and demand altogether. Some printers boomed while others quickly went bust. Pioneering merchants negotiated the book trade’s position within traditional labour market structures. Early printing entrepreneurial successes depended on the ability of printers and publishers to mould an author’s creation into a sellable article consumed by a wide community of readers.

This conference invites contributions on any facet of buying and selling in the early modern book trade: failures and successes of print ventures; strategies and ideas to increase the sales; rebinding, reprinting, reediting; cooperation and competition amongst booksellers; the day-to-day life of printing firms and bookshops; fairs and permanent markets; catalogues advertising stock and individual libraries being auctioned; taste and trends in the purchase of books; influence of censorship and regulations.

Co-organised by Shanti Graheli and Jan Alessandrini, the conference will take place 18-20 June 2015.

The papers given at this conference will form the basis of a volume in the Library of the Written Word.

The call for papers is now open and is available online on the USTC website at:

Those interested in giving a paper should contact Dr Jan Alessandrini ( at St Andrews, offering a brief description of their likely contribution.

The call for papers will close on 30 November 2014.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Folger Shakespeare Library: Curator of Early Modern Books and Prints

Curator of Early Modern Books and Prints

The Folger Shakespeare Library invites experienced, innovative, and collaborative applicants for the position of Curator of Early Modern Books and Prints. The Curator has primary responsibility for our world-renowned collection of early modern books and prints. Some of the great strengths of this collection are English publications from the period 1470 to 1640 (including 82 copies of Shakespeare’s First Folio), Continental publications relating to the Reformation, and etchings by Wenceslaus Hollar. This is a rare opportunity to join the staff of an internationally recognized cultural institution during an exciting period of growth. As a key member of the curatorial team, the Curator of Early Modern Books and Prints will share collection development and conservation-related responsibilities; and be part of creating new avenues of access to the Folger collections through exhibitions and web-based initiatives. The Curator will represent the Folger within the broader community of scholars, collectors, dealers, librarians, students, and the public, nationally and internationally. We invite you to learn more about this unique opportunity at:

Please respond to

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

ICMS/Kalamazoo 2015: Calls for Papers for Sessions from MAM

Chiesa di San Benedetto in Piscinula (Rome, Italy)

1. The Formation of Identity in Middle English Arthurian Romance
Organizer: Kristin Bovaird-Abbo (

This session will explore issues of identity formation specifically in Middle English Arthurian Romance. Although abstracts dealing with Malory and/or Sir Gawain and the Green Knight will be considered, we are particularly interested in abstracts that consider less frequently discussed texts such as Awntyrs off Arthur, Gologras and Gawain, Ywain and Gawain, Libeaus Desconus, et cetera. Possible topics may include the contested space between subject/object, material culture's participation in identity formation, the relationship between humans and animals, knightly masculinity/femininity, spiritual/religious identity, geographical (or environmental) impacts on identity formation, transmission of characters from French romances to Middle English romances, boundaries between the human and the monstrous, et cetera.

2. Good Love for All: Opening the Libro de buen amor
Organizer: Abraham Quintanar (quintana@DICKINSON.EDU)

This session seeks to encourage any approximation that increases accessibility to the Libro de buen amor, a masterwork considered sometimes cryptic, sometimes inscrutable, and always challenging. Theoretical, literary, linguistic as well as philological approaches are welcome, though papers grounded in the text and with a clearly defined methodology are preferred. Also encouraged are papers that explore innovative approaches that shed light on particularly difficult passages or readings. Taking into account the already voluminous bibliography of the Libro, all aspects of this work will be considered, as will papers that take up, from a distinctive perspective, previously explored topics.

3. Animal Languages
Organizer: Alison Langdon (

Language is one trait by which humans in the Middle Ages defined themselves against other animals, yet at the same time many animals were understood to possess language of their own and in some cases to participate in human language. This session will explore animal languages broadly, addressing questions such as: What kinds of communicative strategies did medievals recognize in the animal world, and how were they interpreted? How was human meaning imposed on animal vocalizations? How were animals themselves used as symbolic language in visual texts such as the Bayeux tapestry or manuscript illuminations?

4. Justice and Law in Medieval Contexts and Beyond
Organizer: Toy-Fung Tung

How are medieval law and justice explored at the juncture where legal texts and/or principles intersect with literary, philosophical, theological, and historical texts, as well with the visual arts, architecture, and performances? This question invites an interdisciplinary approach that examines how competing and/or complementary texts, genres, discourses, expressions, and values contributed to the formation of medieval concepts of law and justice, such as legal identity, citizenship, sovereignty, polity, fairness, legitimacy, criminality, contracts, international relations, and individual and social welfare. Interdisciplinary papers and new approaches from a global perspective are especially welcome, as are papers that link medieval concepts of law and justice with their subsequent development in succeeding centuries.

Inquiries and proposals should be sent to the individual session organizers. Proposals are due by September 15 and should be accompanied by the Participant Information Form, available at

Monday, June 9, 2014

Stories About Books and Libraries

From a Gradual manuscript at the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library.

With apologies for not being at the keyboard/flatscreen much in the past month, I bring you a collection of book news that might be of interest to medievalists (or those who work with manuscripts).


American Libraries Direct, May 7, 2014:

Vatican Library moves into the 21st century
Aimee Chanthadavong writes: “The Vatican Apostolic Library has begun mass digitizing 82,000 historic manuscripts to make them available online. As part of the project, EMC Corporation has offered the library 2.8 petabytes of storage—enough to store about 40 million pages of digitized manuscripts. Speaking at EMC World 2014, Vatican Library Chief Information Officer Luciano Ammenti (right) said the project is halfway through.” IT World Canada has more information....
ZDNet, May 6; IT World Canada, May 6

The beauty of the injured book
Erik Kwakkel writes: “While our eyes are naturally drawn to pages filled with color and gold, those without decoration can be equally appealing. Indeed, even damaged goods—mutilated bindings, torn pages, parchment with cuts and holes—can be highly attractive. The visual power of damage may be generated by close-up photography, with camera and book at just the right angle, catching just the right amount of light. These images celebrate the beauty of the injured book, the art of devastation.”...
Medieval Fragments, May 2

 May 21, 2014:

The brave sage of Timbuktu
Joshua Hammer writes: “It was early in the summer of 2012, and at the Mamma Haidara Library in Timbuktu, Mali, a clandestine operation was underway. Night after night, a team under the direction of the library’s founder, Abdel Kader Haidara (right), quietly packed the ancient works of astronomy, poetry, history, and jurisprudence into metal chests, then spirited them out of the library in mule carts and 4x4s to safe houses scattered around the city.”...
National Geographic, Apr.

The lost desert libraries of Chinguetti
Vanessa Grall writes: “The sands of the Sahara have all but swallowed Chinguetti, a near ghost town found at the end of a harsh desert road in Mauritania, West Africa. This was once a prosperous medieval metropolis. A principal gathering place for pilgrims on their way to Mecca, it even became known as a holy city in its own right and over time, it was recognized as the seventh holy city of Islam, the City of Libraries. Against all odds, behind these walls sleep 6,000 books, some kept intact since the 9th century in the dry desert air.”...
Messy Nessy Chic, May 14

May 28, 2014:

World-class Glasgow art library destroyed by fire
The iconic library at Glasgow School of Art has been lost in a fire that swept through the building on May 23. The library was recognized as one of the finest examples of art nouveau in the world. The fire completely destroyed the school’s west wing library, but fire crews managed to preserve 90% of the building and 70% of its contents, including the museum and lecture theatre. Priceless watercolors, drawings, and letters by architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh kept in a fireproof vault escaped undamaged. Initial indications are that a projector overheated and lit nearby combustible materials. To offer financial or practical support, visit the GSA website....
BBC News, May 25; Glasgow (UK) Herald, May 26

June 4, 2014:

The burden of writing: Scribes in medieval manuscripts
Sarah J. Biggs writes: “When we speak to visitors or students about our medieval manuscripts, we frequently find ourselves spending a significant amount of time talking about how such books were created. We discuss the ways that scribes worked and artists painted, and quite often we will then be asked just how it is that we can know such details. There are, of course, medieval manuals for craftspeople that still exist, but often we can find clues in the manuscripts themselves.”...
British Library: Medieval Manuscripts Blog, June 3

This one is really bound in human skin
Heather Cole writes: “Good news for fans of anthropodermic bibliopegy, bibliomaniacs, and cannibals alike: Tests have revealed that Houghton Library’s copy of Arsène Houssaye’s Des destinées de l’ame is without a doubt bound in human skin. Harvard conservators and scientists tested the binding using several different methods. According to Senior Rare Book Conservator Alan Puglia, they are 99.9% confident that the binding is of human origin.”...
Houghton Library Blog, May 24, June 4