In memoriam: Prof. emeritus and CMS Director Norman Zacour

We are saddened to share the news that Professor Emeritus Norman Zacour has passed away, at the age of 95. He took his MA at Columbia University and completed his PhD at the University of Pennsylvania in 1954. In 1966, he was appointed as a Professor of History at the University of Toronto. Professor Zacour was one of the first faculty members appointed to the Centre for Medieval Studies, and was director of the Centre from 1978-1983. His research focused on social, religious, institutional and intellectual facets of Medieval Europe, and he was the author of several books on the Crusades. Norman was an early adopter of digital technology and his many friends will remember the delight he took in devising elaborate autoexec.bat files for himself and his colleagues to automate computer boot-up tasks.

In 2013, he established the Norman Zacour Graduate Scholarship in Medieval Studies. The scholarship will be awarded to one or more graduate students from the Centre for Medieval Studies based on academic excellence, with preference given to international students.

A memorial event will be held at the Queen’s University, Graduate Club in Kingston, Ontario between 1:00 and 5:00 p.m. on Saturday 24 June 2017. You may send RSVPs and condolences to

Good tidings from our alumni and alumnae

Congratulations to Tom Klein (Ph.D. 1998) who has had the pleasure to serve as the Director of English Undergraduate Studies, Idaho State University, since January 2016.  Tom has been working at Idaho State University since 2000, where he regularly teaches Old English and medieval literature courses, and directs medieval thesis and dissertation projects.


Congratulations to Edward Macierowski (Ph.D. 1979), professor of philosophy at Benedictine College, for one of his latest publications, “Which Sciences Does Political Science Direct and Use and How Does It Do So?” The St. John’s Review, Volume 57, Number 2 (Spring 2016): 70-78. This article illustrates the doctrinal importance of Bywater’s suppression of a manuscript reading in his Oxford edition of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. You can learn more about Prof. Macierowski’s most recent research projects here.


Congratulations to Lisa Chen Obrist (Ph.D. 2015), who has been appointed as a Senior Evaluation Officer at the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI).  Her responsibilities include research and analysis related to CFI funding mechanisms, policies, and funded infrastructure as well as providing leadership, support, and project management on matters relating to outcome assessment, corporate performance measurement, data management, and science-technology-innovation policy analysis.


Congratulations to Russell Poole (Ph.D. 1975), who continues to serve as editor of Viking and Medieval Scandinavia and Manawatu Journal of History, devoted to the Manawatu region of Dr. Poole’s native New Zealand. In the last two years, he published the collective volume Egil, the Viking Poet. New approaches to Egil’s Saga (Toronto: University of Toronto Press) as well as two essays, “Identity Poetics among the Icelandic Skalds” in New Norse Studies. Essays on the Literature and Culture of Medieval Scandinavia, ed. J. Turco (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 143-84), and also “Pleasure in the gold cup: a skaldic affirmation?” in Frederic Amory in Memoriam: Old Norse-Icelandic Studies, ed. by J. Lindow and G. Clark (Berkeley: Wildcat Canyon Advanced Seminars, pp. 44-68).

Congratulations to Kathryn Salzer, Mary Dzon, and Catherine Conybeare for their new books!

The Centre for Medieval Studies wishes to extend its congratulations to three alumnae who recently published important monographs.

Catherine Conybeare (Ph.D. 1997), Professor and Chair of the Department of Greek, Latin, and Classical Studies at Bryn Mawr College, published The Routledge Guidebook to Augustine’s Confessions (London: Routledge, 2016).

Mary Dzon (Ph.D. 2004), Associate Professor of English at the University of Knoxville-Tennessee, published The Quest for the Christ Child in the Later Middle Ages (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017).

Kathryn Salzer (Ph.D. 2009) published Vaucelles Abbey: Social, Political, and Ecclesiastical Relationships in the Borderland Region of the Cambrésis, 1131-1300 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2017). In addition, Kathryn has received tenure this very month, making her Associate Professor of History at Pennsylvania State University.

Canadian Society of Medievalists in Toronto — 25-27 May 2017


CSMThe Canadian Society of Medievalists will be holding its annual meeting at Ryerson University, from Saturday, 27 May to Monday, 29 May 2017.

The plenary address will be delivered by the Centre’s Director, Suzanne Conklin Akbari on Saturday, 27 May, 4:30-5:30 PM.

A number of members of the CMS community, including faculty, students, and alumni, will be presenting at the conference:

Lochin Brouillard (University of Toronto), “Paterfamilias, Son, and Servant: Rethinking the History of Service and the Family in the Medieval Monastery”.

Isabelle Cochelin (University of Toronto), “Lay Monastic Servants versus Lay Domestic Servants”.

Eduardo Fabbro (Saint Jerome University), “Deo iudicante: God and Warfare in Carolingian Thought”.

Jessica Henderson and Laura Mitchell (University of Toronto), “A Virtual Library: Reconstructing John Stow’s Medieval Manuscripts”.

Rachel Koopmans (York University), “Physicians Pictured in the Early Gothic Stained Glass of Canterbury Cathedral”.

Patrick McBrine (Independent Scholar), “Biblical Epics in Late Antiquity and Anglo-Saxon England”.

Heather Pigat (Art Museum University of Toronto), “Economical Luxury: New Considerations of Purple Manuscripts”.

Richard Shaw (Our Lady Seat of Wisdom, Ontario), “The composition of Bede’s Historia ecclesiastica”.

The full programme of the conference may be consulted here.

Congratulations to Andrew Hicks for his new book!

Hicks, Andrew. Composing the World: Harmony in the Medieval Platonic Cosmos. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017).


“We can hear the universe!” This was the triumphant proclamation at a February 2016 press conference announcing that the Laser Interferometer Gravity Observatory (LIGO) had detected a “transient gravitational-wave signal.” Taking in hand this current “discovery” that we can listen to the cosmos, Andrew Hicks argues that sound—and the harmonious coordination of sounds, sources, and listeners—has always been an integral part of the history of studying the cosmos. Composing the World charts one constellation of musical metaphors, analogies, and expressive modalities embedded within a late-ancient and medieval cosmological discourse: that of a cosmos animated and choreographed according to a specifically musical aesthetic. The specific historical terrain of Hicks’ discussion centers upon the world of twelfth-century philosophy, and from there he offers a new intellectual history of the role of harmony in medieval cosmological discourse, a discourse which itself focused on the reception and development of Platonism. 

With a rare convergence of musicological, philosophical, and philological rigor, Hicks presents a narrative tour through medieval cosmology with reflections on important philosophical movements along the way, raising connections to Cartesian dualism, Uexküll’s theoretical biology, and Deleuze and Guattari’s musically inspired language of milieus and (de)territorialization. Hicks ultimately suggests that the models of musical cosmology popular in late antiquity and the twelfth century are relevant to our modern philosophical and scientific undertakings. Impeccably researched and beautifully written, 
Composing the World will resonate with a variety of readers, and it encourages us to rethink the role of music and sound within our greater understanding of the universe.

composing the world coverIn praise of Composing the World, John Marenbon (Senior Research Fellow, Trinity College, Cambridge) writes, “Hicks’ book is required reading, not just for historians of music and cosmology, but for everyone interested in medieval thought,” and Peter Pesic (director of the Science Institute at St. John’s College, Sante Fe, NM and author of Music and the Making of Modern Science) calls it “a scholarly tour de force that will be a valuable resource for all who are interested in the deep history of cosmic harmony.”



For more details on the book, consult the publisher’s website here.


Toronto Old English Colloquium – 9 May 2017

The Centre for Medieval Studies and the Department of English (UTSG) cordially invite all those interested to the Toronto Old English Colloquium 2017, scheduled for Tuesday, May 9th.

This year’s colloquium features a plenary talk by Dr. Rosalind Love, the head of Cambridge University’s Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic, entitled “Imagination and Authority: Early Medieval Exercises in Reading the Text.”

The event is free of charge and all are welcome and encouraged to attend. The detailed program can be consulted below.


Medieval Academy of America Meeting 2017 — a great success

From the blog of the Medieval Academy of America:

“The 2017 meeting was a great success, with 468 attendees, three plenaries, fifty-one concurrent sessions, receptions in art-filled venues, and, after several days of rain and snow, two final days in the sun. The opening plenary, “The Cairo Geniza and the Middle East’s Archive Problem,” was delivered by Marina Rustow (Princeton University), who demonstrated how methodologies used to study western European manuscripts can be applied to fragmentary manuscripts of the Middle East and Asia, with stunning and innovative results. MAA President Carmela Vircillo Franklin (Columbia Univ.) delivered her plenary lecture on the editorial history of the Liber Pontificalis, focusing on Francesco Bianchini’s 1718 edition, an innovative volume that included drawings and diagrams in support of his editorial arguments.

Five Fellows were inducted at the Fellows’ Session on Saturday afternoon: (l-r) Susan Einbinder (Univ. of Connecticut), David d’Avray (Corresponding Fellow, Univ. College London), Charles Burnett (Corresponding Fellow, Warburg Institute, School of Advanced Study Univ. of London), Nicole Bériou (Corresponding Fellow, Institut de recherche et d’histoire des textes), and Douglas Kelly (Univ. of Wisconsin)

The Fellows’ Plenary was to have been delivered by Monica Green (Arizona State University). In Prof. Green’s unfortunate absence, Jonathan Hsy (George Washington Univ.) bravely stepped in to deliver her paper in her stead, while Prof. Green followed along online and answered questions that were live-Tweeted to her using #MAA2017. The CARA plenary session addressed the topic of “Mediterranean Sexualities.” Roundtables were held on the timely and important topics of open-access publishing, diversity in curricula and on campus, Medieval Studies in K-12 curricula, and careers off the tenure track. The full program is available here.

Reception at the Art Gallery of Ontario

Receptions were held at Victoria College, the Art Gallery of Ontario, and the Aga Khan Museum.

During the Business Meeting, the following awards were presented: the Kindrick-CARA Award for Service to Medieval Studies was awarded to John Van Engen (Univ. of Notre Dame); CARA Awards for Excellence in Teaching were awarded to Roberta Frank (Yale Univ.) and Amy Livingstone (Wittenberg Univ.); the award for Best Graduate Student Paper was awarded to Brett W. Smith (The Catholic Univ. of America) for his paper, “Robert Grosseteste’s Aspectus/Affectus Distinction in his Pauline Commentaries.” MAA Annual Meeting Bursaries were awarded to the following students: Samuel B. Johnson (Univ. of Notre Dame), “Harmonies of Salvation: Numerical Exegesis as Music in Augustine’s De Trinitate“; Matt King (Univ. of Minnesota), “The Intersecting Mediterranean: The Case of Norman Sicily and Zirid Ifrīqiya”; Leann Wheless Martin (Univ. of Washington), “Defeating Antichrist, Defending the Church: Music in the Ludus de Antichristo“; Rachel McNellis (Case Western Reserve Univ.), “Performance of the Visual and Participation in the Divine: Sacred Representation in Cordier’s Tout par compas“; Erin E. Sweany (Indiana Univ.), “Women’s Voices in the Old English Medical Corpus: Reassessing wifgemadlan“; Hannah Weaver (Harvard Univ), “Language and Authority in Lawman’s Brut“; Neil Weijer (Johns Hopkins Univ.), “Hybrid or Hodgepodge? The Latin Brut and the Middle English Chronicle Tradition.”

Four publication honors were awarded during the Presidential Plenary session. The Van Courtlandt Elliott Prize was awarded to Rosemary O’Neill (Kenyon College) for her article, “Counting Sheep in the C Text of Piers Plowman,” The Yearbook of Langland Studies 29 (2015), 89-116; John Nicholas Brown prizes were awarded to Jacqueline E. Jung, The Gothic Screen: Space, Sculpture, and Community in the Cathedrals of France and Germany, ca. 1200-1400 (New York: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2013) and to Jonathan R. Lyon, Princely Brothers and Sisters: The Sibling Bond in German Politics, 1100-1250 (Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press, 2013); the first annual Digital Humanities Prize was awarded to DigiPal: Digital Resources and Database of Palaeography, Manuscript Studies and Diplomatic; and the Haskins Medal was awarded to Joel Kaye, A History of Balance, 1250 – 1375.  The Emergence of a New Model of Equilibrium and Its Impact on Thought (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014).

CARA Meeting on Sunday morning

The annual meeting of the Committee on Centers and Regional Associations (CARA) took place on Sunday morning and was attended by thirty CARA delegates, each of whom was there representing their program or department. The morning began with a roundtable on collaborations between scientists and medievalists (in this session, Monica Green’s paper was delivered by Patrick Geary (School of Historical Studies, Institute for Advanced Study)). Profs. Green and Geary presented on their respective paleogenetics projects. In collaboration with geneticists, Prof. Green is exploring the identification and spread of medieval pathogens and Prof. Geary is studying human migration in the early Middle Ages. Alexandra Gillespie (Univ. of Toronto) presented projects being developed in the University’s Old Books New Science Laboratory. The roundtable was followed by a discussion and brief updates from each delegate.

Participants in the Graduate Student workshop, “Digital Editing of Manuscript Fragments”

A graduate student workshop on the identification, cataloguing, and TEI-transcription of manuscript fragments took place at the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies during the Annual Meeting, a workshop that grew out of the “Digital Editing the Medieval Manuscript Roll/Fragment” workshops previously held at Yale University and University College London. These workshops were partially funded by a Medieval Academy/GSC Grant in Innovation. See for more information about this project.

We are extremely grateful to Suzanne Akbari, the Program Committee, the graduate student volunteers, the University of Toronto, and the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies for their work in organizing and implementing such a splendid meeting.  We look forward to returning to Toronto in 2027!”

CFP: Cologne-Toronto Graduate Colloquium 2017



The Centre is soliciting one-page abstracts from CMS students for 30-minute papers dealing with any aspect of medieval studies. Submissions for papers on any topic are welcome: history, literature (Latin and/or vernacular), art history, philosophy, music, medicine, etc.

The colloquium is sponsored jointly by the a.r.t.e.s. Graduate School and the Zentrum für Mittelalterstudien (ZEMAK) of the Universität zu Köln, and the Centre for Medieval Studies of the University of Toronto. This year the colloquium will take place in Cologne 9-11 November. Six papers by students of each institution will be presented and commented on by professors of the other institution. The aim of the colloquium is to foster discussion and exchange among graduate students and faculty from both institutions. The flight and accommodation costs of Toronto students will be covered jointly by CMS and ZEMAK.

This is the fifth colloquium in the series, which alternates between Cologne and Toronto. The University of Cologne is one of the most important German centres for the study of the Middle Ages and shares many ties with CMS. Participants in past colloquia have benefited from the commentaries of scholars from a different academic culture and from the opportunity to build academic networks in Europe.


Please send abstracts to Professor Shami Ghosh (email hidden; JavaScript is required by Saturday 20 May 2017.

Toronto medievalists at IMC Kalamazoo 2017

A strong contingent of faculty members and students at the Centre for Medieval Studies will be presenting papers or organizing sessions at the 52th International Congress on Medieval Studies at Kalamazoo, May 11-14 2017.



Suzanne Conklin Akbari, “The Material Landscape of Knowledge in the Chemin de long estude

Suzanne Conklin Akbari, “Working as (if ) a Man: Relative Genders in the Academic Workplace” (Roundtable)

Benjamin S.W. Barootes, “Et in Calculo Nomen Novum Scriptum”: Pearl and the Holy Name of Jesus”

Alexandra Bauer, “Law and Lawlessness in the Case of the “Peterborough Witch””

Alexandra Bolintineanu, “The Reluctant Old English Corpus”

Alexandra Bolintineanu, “Interoperable Manuscripts for Research and Teaching (A Workshop)”

Isabelle Cochelin, “The Double Lock within Monasteries, Tenth–Eleventh Centuries”

Kara Gaston, “Decapitation, Self-Reflection: The View from the Spheres in Lucan, Boccaccio, and Chaucer”

Alexandra Gillespie, “Digital Tools for Manuscript Study: Collation and The Canterbury Tales

Ryan Hall, “The Meaning of Latinity in Alfredian Translation”

Jessica Henderson, “Medical Books: The Case of Takamiya 46 and BL Additional 17866”

Yolanda Iglesias and David Navarro, “New Approaches to Siete Partidas and the 1272 Revolt of the Nobles”

Jared Johnson, “An Apology for Medicine in Walahfrid Strabo’s De cultura hortorum

Shirley Kinney, “Cut to the Quick: Horse-Maiming in Medieval England and Wales”

Matthew Orsag, ““Los Sabios Antiguos”: The Sources of Alfonso X’s Las Siete Partidas

Stephen Pelle, “Twelfth-Century Glosses and Revisions in a Manuscript of Ælfric’s Homilies”

Courtney Selvage, “Saint Adomnán, Iona, and the Political Nature of Cáin Adomnáin

Matthew Sergi, “New Approaches to Drama Records: East Anglian Play Texts and Nearby Archives”

Morris Tichenor, “Cicero’s De oratore and Orator in Medieval England”

Julia Tomlinson, “Jerusalem Relics and the Feast of Relics in Late Medieval England”

Michael F. Webb, “Spaces, Signs, and Original Charters in the Cartulary of the Cathedral Church of Angoulême”

Amanda Wetmore, ““Wrastlyng wiþ þat blynde nou3t”: Binding and Blinding in The Cloud of Unknowing”

Nicholas Wheeler, “The Oath at Ravenna”

Elise Williams, “Medical Maths, or, How I Learned to Love a Graph”

Anna Wilson, “Digital Reading Practices and Lydgate’s Chaucerian Fanfiction”(Roundtable)

Sean M. Winslow, “The Ethiopian Book between Christendom and Islam”

Talia Zajac, “Rus-Born Brides of Polish Rulers and Their Objects in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries: Three Case Studies of Cultural Transfer”



Suzanne Conklin Akbari, “Neighboring Languages and Cross-Cultural Exchange: Persian/Arabic, French/English”

Benjamin S.W. Barootes, “Ihesu Dulcis: Devotion to the Holy Name in Medieval Europe”

Claude L. Evans (Ancient Abbeys of Brittany Project), “Cistercian Abbeys of Brittany”

Yolanda Iglesias, “Revisiting Alphonsine Historiography and Legislation”

Morris Tichenor, “Medieval Lives and Afterlives of the Classical Poets”

Dylan M. Wilkerson, “Old English Religious Texts after the Norman Conquest”

Anna Wilson, “Fanfiction in Medieval Studies: What Do We Mean When We Say “Fanfiction”?”


Two Toronto ensembles will also perform on Saturday evening, May 13:

Floris and Blancheflour, Pneuma Ensemble

Complex Dulcitius, or Sex in the Kitchen, Poculi Ludique Societas (PLS)

$15.00 General Admission

$10.00 presale through online Congress registration

It’s “Toronto night” at the festival! Toronto’s Pneuma Ensemble shares a period musical presentation of the first extant romance in English, before the venerable PLS performs Colleen Butler’s new translation of Hrosvit’s tenth-century tragicomedy about the Roman emperor lured into carnal embrace with cookware.

Don’t forget to attend our reception, held jointly with the University of Toronto Press:

Thursday, May 11, 9:00 p.m at Harrison 302 inside Valley III building


Congratulations to Nick Everett for his new book!

Nicholas Everett, Patron Saints of Early Medieval Italy AD c.350-800: History and Hagiography in Ten Biographies, a translation with a commentary and introduction, Durham Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Translations 5, Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies Press, 2017.

Nick Everett's Patron Saints

These Lives or Passions recorded for early medieval audiences the difficulties their local patron saints encountered in promoting the new religion, and their sufferings at the hands of resistant pagans and Roman authorities – ordeals that qualified these saints as special protectors or guardians over their cities or regions. Full of tales of courage, torture, assistant angels, mischievous devils, dragons, and monsters, these earliest Lives also served as literary and devotional touchstones for later elaborations, medieval and modern, on the saints’ lives, careers, and cults. With a comprehensive introduction and historical commentary to each biography, Patron Saints of Early Medieval Italy provides new evidence for understanding the transition from the ancient Roman world to the Middle Ages. In assessing the technical problems relating to the origin and date of composition of each text, Patron Saints also contributes to redeeming these valuable but neglected sources for the history of medieval Italy. It also discusses the historical and literary significance of these biographies within the contexts of hagiography as a literary genre and early medieval religious life.


“This volume of readable translations of the most significant early medieval Italian saints’ lives, with excellent historical commentary, is much more than a set of literary texts expertly translated from Latin into English. It is an important contribution to debates about the nature of early Italian hagiography and the potential use of the whole genre by historians. As Nicholas Everett is the expert in this field, the volume is to be warmly welcomed by students and scholars alike.”

Ross Balzaretti
University of Nottingham