Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Hurray! School is back in session! New News, Old News!

Medieval READ posters - just for the medieval librarian in all (some?) of us ...

Here are fuller descriptions of the MAM sessions at Kalamazoo 2014. The due date for all submissions is rapidly approaching.

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

This session will explore issues of identity formation in Middle English Arthurian Romance through the lens of gender, class, and/or nationality. Although abstracts dealing with Malory and/or Sir Gawain and the Green Knight will be considered, I am 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. How are the massive political and cultural changes that define the later Middle Ages in Britain reflected, explored, and/or critiqued in Middle English Arthurian romance? Possible topics may include the contested space between subject/object, material culture's participation in identity formation, 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.

Innovative Approaches to Teaching Dante
Session Organizer: Alison Langdon (

This session will be a roundtable discussion on teaching modules that focus on topics related to Dante and his works.  The units could be part of classes devoted entirely to Dante or Dante units within classes on broader topics. Unlike other sessions that concentrate on philosophical or critical approaches for design of an entire course, this session would emphasize ideas for particular assignments (papers, units, or projects).  Projects could be self-contained or parts of larger scaffolded assignments. As faculty and students seek new ways of teaching and being taught, medievalists need to hear of innovative teaching strategies that have worked for colleagues.

Lydgate Without Chaucer?
Session Organizers: Timothy Jordan ( and Alaina Bupp (

The 2013 International Medieval Congress hosted two panels devoted to John Lydgate’s poetry. Both these sessions provided answers as to why we should study Lydgate, but they also raised questions as to his literary independence. In the question and answer sessions, the subject of Lydgate’s dependence on and indebtedness to Chaucer caused heated debate. And though one panel was boldly titled “Lydgate without Chaucer,” and the papers presented a strong case for examining Lydgate for Lydgate’s sake, the link between the two authors appears to be, in the minds of some, unbreakable.

The purpose of this session, then, would be to explore this connection and ask the question if we can, or should, study Lydgate without acknowledging his reliance on Chaucer. Can Lydgate be viewed as his own link in the chain of literary history? Or do we heed Lydgate’s own words and recognize that Chaucer’s influence cannot be surmounted? This debate gets at the heart of fifteenth century English literature: how do we deal with self-proclaimed ‘translators’ and ‘compilers’ and their relationship to their sources?

This is a crucial time in Lydgate studies. Interest in Lydgate is growing as scholars explore different aspects of his work, such as his roles as an early playwright or a religious poet. But in order for this scholarship to progress, in order for us to know Lydgate, his relationship with Chaucer must be resolved.

Cultural Approaches to Teaching History of the English Language
Session Organizer: Kristen Figg ( <> )

Medievalists are often called upon to teach History of the English Language because of their knowledge of Old and Middle English, but intensive study of these languages is often not the most useful approach for the students who actually enroll in the course.  This session will explore ways that medievalists can use students’ enthusiasm for medieval culture to help them understand the dynamics of social contact and develop a useful understanding of how political history, social history, and linguistic processes have interacted to create a complex modern language.

With apologies to the organizers of the conference below--this came to me while I was away in early August and I missed posting it before the due date for abstracts. I am posting it here in case anyone wishes to attend the conference in late October/early November 2013. (mzh)

The Ninth Biennial Conference of the International Association for Robin Hood Studies will be October 31-November 3, hosted by Saint Louis University. This year's theme will be “The Games of Robin Hood,” focusing on any aspect of games or game-playing associated with the Robin Hood stories and plays, ranging from the May-Games of the medieval outlaw, the mischief of Robin and the Sheriff, to Munday’s plays, to games the movies play with their audiences, to videogames. The deadline for abstracts has been extended to August 15, 2013.

Please see the conference’s website to upload your abstract and to register:

Also, please email your abstract to Thomas Rowland:

There is a discounted registration rate for students.

FYI: Saint Louis University, located in lovely midtown in St. Louis, Missouri, is within walking distance to many historic attractions (like the Fox Theatre) and restaurants, and within sight of the Arch and downtown. There is a nice boutique hotel on campus, and two inexpensive hotels nearby, one in the upscale Central West End and by Forest Park, the other by the trendy South Grand district. The University is home to the Vatican Film Library, repository of manuscripts on microfilm and center for paleographical study, and the St. Louis Room for rare books. Due to its central location, St. Louis usually features less expensive airfare and associated costs for traveling and staying here.


Explorations of the Holy Roman Empire. Medieval Studies Abroad in Summer 2014

Students can earn up to six transfer credits in Medieval and Early Modern Studies in the University of Florida's intensive six-week summer study abroad program "MEMS in Mannheim: Explorations of the Holy Roman Empire."  The program lasts from ca. the beginning of July to about mid-August.  Here is the program website:


In past years, students from Universities across the country have participated in this program, which in 2014 will be in its eighth year. 

The program, which includes excursions to Trier, Nuremberg, Worms, French Alsace, and Vienna, is team-taught by faculty in the Center for Medieval and Early Modern Studies at the University of Florida.
If you have any students interested in Medieval Studies abroad next summer and in earning six semester credits that should be transferable to your institution, please draw this to their attention and direct them to me (<>).

Best regards,

Will Hasty


“Performance of Women’s Voices in Medieval Lyric: Theory and Evidence”- International Congress on Medieval Studies: May 8-11, 2014

Session Sponsored by the Medieval Studies Institute, Indiana University

Performance of Women’s Voices in Medieval Lyric: Theory and Evidence:

The representation of women’s voices in medieval lyric texts, whether composed or performed by men or women, can reveal much about medieval constructions of gender.  Nevertheless, assessing the evidence about medieval performances of gender from the documents that remain is complex. How are such performances constructed by particular language, visual spectacle on a page, or aural embodiments of voices sung or spoken in social contexts? How might self-conscious cross-gender performance complicate or illuminate our understanding of women’s voices in medieval lyric? Can manuscript context, illustrations, musical notation, or owner’s inscriptions help us understand the elements that shaped construction of women’s voices in medieval lyric?  The papers in this panel will seek to bring current theory and medieval evidence into closer dialogue.  

~Deadline for paper submission:

Sept. 15, 2013.


Proposals should be 500 words maximum and must include a Participant Information Form (available for download at the International Medieval Congress Website:

Papers not accepted for this session will be forwarded Oct. 1 to the Congress for consideration for inclusion in a General Session.

~Send submissions and inquiries to:

Rosemarie McGerr
Director, Medieval Studies Institute, Indiana University

Don't let this bug you ... (from American Libraries Direct)

Attack of the bookworms

Christina Duffy writes: “Where the passionate reader sees inspiration and literary genius, the pest sees a delicious and satisfying papery meal. Holes in books and bindings, large chewed areas and scraped surfaces are all evidence of pest attack. Thankfully, damage like this is largely historic and it is a matter for conservation rather than pest control. Here we take a look at a few of the culprits.”...
British Library: Collection Care Blog, Aug. 27
(from American Libraries Direct)

A beginner’s guide to reading early modern texts

Benjamin Breen writes: “Why does S look like F? This is an accessible overview of how to read books and manuscripts from the early modern era, the period spanning the early Renaissance to the French, American, and Industrial revolutions. To tackle the S first: The long S dates back to the old Roman cursive handwriting, and survived as an artifact in the earliest printed book fonts, which were modeled on various medieval handwriting forms.”...
Res Obscura, July 29
(from American Libraries Direct)

Conserving a mold-damaged iron-gall-ink manuscript
Francesca Whymark writes: “When paper is badly degraded, and especially when there has been mold damage, it often needs to be washed. Washing paper helps to remove acidic degradation products and reforms the hydrogen bonds in the paper structure, making it stronger. Iron gall ink was the primary ink used in Europe from the Middle Ages to the 20th century. It was often homemade and there is a huge variation in recipe, but its principal ingredients are tannins (usually extracted from oak galls), iron(II) sulfate, and water.”...
British Library: Collection Care Blog, Aug. 8

(from American Libraries Direct)

10 beautiful medieval maps
This is a list by of the best medieval maps—10 maps created between the 6th and 16th centuries that offer unique views into how medieval people saw their world. The maps are arranged chronologically, which helps to reveal some of the changes that took place during the Middle Ages in how people created maps...., July 28


NEH Awards Grant for WorldMap Development

Professors Peter Bol and Suzanne Blier have received a $320K award from the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Digital Humanities Implementation Grant for their proposal on “Extending WorldMap to Make It Easier for Humanists and Others to Find, Use, and Publish Geospatial Information”. This work is supported by technical staff at the Center for Geographic Analysis, especially Ben Lewis who is the chief architect and project manager of the WorldMap project, and by administrative staff at the Institute for Quantitative Social Science.

This 2-year project will enhance the current WorldMap platform to make it easier for the world to find and use a key class of interactive maps called “map services” which are hosted by servers around the world, including WorldMap itself. Currently estimated in the millions, there is no complete index for such services. This work will allow users from any online mapping application to be able to search for and use these map services as interactive map layers. The objective is to make it possible for everyone to see the development of human civilization in all its diversity and complexity in spatial contexts, to take advantage of the knowledge of others to enhance our own interests, and to create a sustainable and scalable platform in which students and scholars can participate in creating and sharing any work that can be represented spatially.

For more information, please see the NEH award announcement:; Information about the current WorldMap:; Center for Geographic Analysis:; and Institute for Quantitative Social Science:



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