Congratulations to Alice Hutton Sharp

Congratulations to Alice Hutton Sharp (Ph.D. 2015), who has been appointed to a Mellon Post-doctoral Fellowship in the Humanities at McGill University. During this one-year fellowship, Alice will teach undergraduate courses and pursue her current research project, “Between God and Creation: The Medieval Anthropology of Reason,” working with Faith Wallis of McGill’s Department of History. This project explores the concept of man as a rational animal in the development of early Scholasticism, and was inspired by research on the Latin exegetical tradition on Genesis carried out while writing her doctoral thesis, ““In Principio: The Origins of the Glossa ordinaria on Genesis 1-3.”

Congratulations to Michael Barbezat

Congratulations to Michael Barbezat (Ph.D. 2013), who has been appointed as a postdoctoral researcher at the ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions at the University of Western Australia. During this three-year fellowship, Michael will conduct research on his current project, “Burning Bodies: Community, Eschatology, and Identity in the Middle Ages.” This project develops his interests in revelation, crime and punishment, and human identity that Michael pursued at the Centre for medieval Studies while working on his doctoral thesis, “Doubt, Faith, and the World to Come in the Liber revelationum of Peter of Cornwall.”

Congratulations to our recent PhD students

Congratulations to our recent PhD students who defended in the Fall term of 2014 or the beginning of Spring term 2015: Katherine Marie (Katie) Lindeman, Alice Hutton Sharp, Magda S.J. Hayton, George James McBeath Lamont, and Eileen Kim.

Katie Lindeman (defended in January 2015), “Go Manfully”: Masculine Self-­‐Fashioning in Late Medieval Dominican Sources. Supervisors: Joe Goering and Mark Meyerson; external examiner: Christine Caldwell Ames, University of South Carolina.

In a world where men often demonstrated their masculine identity through violent action and sexual expression, how did the Dominican friar, forbidden to physically fight and committed to chastity, reconcile his sense of being a man with his vocational prerogatives? Often raised outside the convent and inculcated in lay understandings of maleness, the friar then entered a world of preachers, whose vocation required both commitment to conventual life, which emphasized separation from the world, and extensive involvement with lay society through pastoral work. This dissertation looks at how these two seemingly disparate behavioral codes—lay definitions of masculine behavior and religious ideals—found expression in the corporate identity of the Dominican Order from 1220-1350. In the process of defining the Order’s vocational goals, behavioral ideals, and overall function in late medieval society, the early Dominican writers simultaneously created behavioral ideals for men that reflected those defining laymen as men. By comparing the values, behavioral norms, and ideology presented in the Order’s important nascent texts with the secular ideals of masculinity described in anthropological studies, gender theory, late medieval literature, rhetorical sources, medical theory, legal records, letters, art, and religious traditions, this study explores the porous boundary between societal expectations for laymen and vocational models for Dominican friars during the Order’s formative period. Viewed through the gendered habitus of late medieval society, the Dominican Constitutions, hagiographic texts, liturgical settings, preaching manuals, and encyclical letters collectively showed friars how to simultaneously function as a Dominicans and as men, while providing a valuable window into the relationship between religion and masculinity in the late medieval period.


Alice Hutton Sharp (defended in January 2015), In Principio: The Origins of the Glossa ordinaria on Genesis 1-3. Supervisor: Alexander Andrée; external reader: Frans van Liere, Calvin College.

This thesis traces the twelfth-century origins and development of the Glossa ordinaria on Genesis from the evidence of sixteen early manuscripts, focusing on the creation narrative (Genesis 1–3). The Glossa ordinaria on the Bible, a product of the twelfth-century School of Laon, was one of the most influential texts of the High Middle Ages. The Glossa on the creation narrative compiled excerpts from Genesis commentaries and Hexameral literature, explaining the scriptural basis for doctrines such as the creation of the world ex nihilo and Original Sin, and exploring the relationship between the Genesis account, Plato’s Timaeus, and Aristotelian natural philosophy. The first chapter observes the manuscripts for themselves: it describes their physical characteristics and argues that the textual development of the Glossa ordinaria on Genesis depended upon mid-twelfth-century innovations in formatting and layout. The second and third chapters study the history of the two distinct versions of the text. The second chapter compares the earlier version—the Glossa primitiva— to an anonymous Genesis commentary found in London, Lambeth Palace Library, 349, and argues that the two commentaries are built on a shared source, likely a lecture aid used in a classroom. The third chapter studies the relationship between the Glossa primitiva and the later Glossa ordinaria, arguing that they represent two stages in a process by which classroom notes were transformed into an encyclopedic reference. The fourth chapter focuses on the content of the texts: it looks at the exegetical principles and theological questions treated in the Glossa ordinaria to show that its compilers read the creation account with a hermeneutic that challenges a simplistic division between literal and allegorical readings. It concludes by observing that this, combined with the narrative structure of the gloss format, gave twelfth-century exegetes more scope for cosmological inquiry than did other contemporary genres, such as sentence collections. The thesis is supported by two appendices: one containing manuscript descriptions, the second a transcription of the Glossa ordinaria on Genesis 1-3.


Magda S.J. Hayton (defended in Fall 2014), Inflections of Prophetic Vision: The Reshaping of Hildegard of Bingen’s Apocalypticism as Represented by Abridgments of the Pentachronon. Supervisor: Joe Goering; external reader: John van Engen, University of Notre-Dame.

This dissertation examines the continental reception of Hildegard of Bingen’s apocalyptic discourse from the thirteenth through the fifteenth century as it was known through the Pentachronon sive speculum futurorum temporum (The Book of Five Times or Mirror of Future Times), an anthology of her prophecies compiled c.1220. Through an examination of three abridgments of the Pentachronon (two previously undstudied), this study examines the Pentachronon’s role in the formation of medieval apocalyptic spirituality, its common transmission and reception with works ascribed to Joachim of Fiore, and its redeployment during the Western Schism. This study argues for the existence and persistence of an apocalyptic spirituality in which readers and scribes identified with Hildegard’s “prophets and wise ones” as they were presented in the Pentachronon, and that this identification informed the production, annotation, and circulation of the Pentachronon and its abridgments. In the thirteenth century this was expressed as a Cistercian apocalyptic spirituality that not only produced the original Pentachronon and its most popular abridged version, the PCp (pre-1250) (chapter two), but was also responsible for the first combined readings of Hildegardian and Joachite prophetic works (chapter three). Chapter two examines how the spiritual instruction offered in the PCp teaches that prophets and prophecy are the key to religious and social renewal and improvement within its alternative salvation theology, and that there is a special relationship between the Cistercian Order and medieval prophecy. Chapter three examines an abridgment derived from the PCp that is found in the earliest extant prophecy collection (here dated to c. 1250/1254-1260) containing both Hildegardian and Joachite prophetic works. This chapter explores the continuities between Hildegardian and Joachite apocalyptic discourses and the recognition of these commonalities by thirteenth-century readers, including Vincent of Beauvais and Alexander of Bremen. Chapter four examines a radical abridgment of the PCp made in response to the Western Schism, here called the “Schism Extracts”, and its association with works promoting pro-French apocalypticism and the Angelic Pope, including a work by Pierre d’Ailly (the Invectiva Ezechielis prophetae). This chapter, together with the two apendices, argues that the Extracts are best understood as an expression of d’Ailly’s reformist apocalypticism and that he or someone within his circle was responsible for the production of three late medieval prophecy collections in which they are found. This chapter demonstrates that the apocalyptic spirituality formulated among Cistercians and founded on both Hildegardian and Joachite discourses persisted through the mid-fifteenth century. Chapter five provides a conclusion and Appendices I and II provide working editions of d’Ailly’s Invectiva Ezechielis and the Schism Extracts.


George Lamont (defended in Fall 2014), The Present Participle as a Marker of Style and Authorship in Old English Biblical Translation. Supervisor: David Townsend; external reader: Richard Marsden, University of Nottingham.

This dissertation investigates evidence of multiple authorship in the Old English Hexateuch translation of Genesis and in the West-Saxon Gospels by examining how the translations render the Latin present participle into Old English. These are two of the longest extant Old English texts, and there is growing scholarly recognition that they may both be products of multiple authorship; however, the translators, except one in Genesis, are anonymous, and the number and locations of shifts in authorship are widely disputed. Past scholarship has employed qualitative, philological evidence, counted features possibly indicating shifts in authorship, and variously proposed breaks between and within texts, but qualitative studies have not fully exploited the present participle as a marker, and quantitative results have not been verified with statistical tests. This dissertation addresses these gaps by conducting a full inventory of Latin present participles in the Old English Genesis and the West-Saxon Gospels, identifying how they are rendered into Old English, and then categorizing them by case and position. The dissertation then applies a statistical “proportion test” to search for the locations of statistically significant shifts in the rate of translating the Latin present participle with its OE counterpart, both overall and in several subcategories. Last, the study engages in qualitative syntactic and philological analysis to evaluate breaks indicated by the proportion test. The results independently corroborate previously asserted textual breaks in Genesis and the West-Saxon Gospels with new syntactic and statistical evidence, revise an existing theory of intra-textual shift in the WS Matthew, and detect evidence of other intra-textual shifts not previously asserted in scholarship. These results also suggest Old English biblical translators engaged in interpretation and authorship, not merely mechanical translation. The study’s approaches further explore how traditional and non-traditional methods of authorship attribution can investigate a wide variety of authorship problems.


Eileen Kim (defended in Fall 2014), The Tailors, Drapers, and Mercers of London and the London Commissary and Husting Court Wills, 1374-1485. Supervisor: Michael Gervers; external reader: Barbara Hanawalt, Ohio State University.

Scholarly interest in individuals and their daily lives in late medieval England has been particularly strong over the past thirty years. This interest can be linked to heightened scrutiny of wills and the nature and extent of their utility as access points into testators’ lives, their most intimate relationships, and their varied desires and concerns, particularly in the context of the family and the household. Some scholars have argued that wills present a limited view of testators in a specific moment, rather than encompassing the entirety of the individuals’ legacies. The heavily formulaic nature of the wills enrolled in late medieval English courts have also been considered characteristics that hamper the ability of the documents to reveal testators’ individual personalities and concerns. Others, however, have noted that testators’ adherence to formulaic structure in wills in fact constitutes a community founded on participation in shared traditions, and that the conventions of will-making still allowed testators a certain degree of flexibility to assert their own desires and address their individual concerns. This thesis examines the wills of London’s tailors, drapers, and mercers that were enrolled from 1374 to 1485 in the city’s Husting and Commissary Courts, and the study undertaken here investigates several main aspects of the testators’ lives and circumstances which the wills can help illuminate. These elements include the local communities and networks in which the testators participated and claimed membership, such as those formed by parish and trade; households and families, with special focus on testators’ wives; and executors as individuals entrusted with particular responsibilities in connection to the wills. I argue that the conventions and guidelines concerning format, structure, and content of wills in late medieval London indeed were the primary forces in shaping them, but the same guidelines also allowed some room for testators to acknowledge and affirm close relationships and to look after their own spiritual welfare. The thesis demonstrates that testators could and often did negotiate the wills’ structural and legal conventions in singular ways, most often to assert and maintain the supervision of their wives’ circumstances as widows, and also to enact and confirm their own piety as a measure of ensuring their memory in the larger community and their spiritual welfare following their death.