Just Released: From Learning to Love: Schools, Law, and Pastoral Care in the Middle Ages. Essays in Honour of Joseph W. Goering


The Centre for Medieval Studies would like to highlight the publication of From Learning to Love: Schools, Law, and Pastoral Care in the Middle Ages. Essays in Honour of Joseph W. Goering, edited by Tristan Sharp with Isabelle Cochelin, Greti Dinkova-Bruun, Abigail Firey, and Giulio Silano. (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies Press, 2017).

More information can be found on the publisher’s website.

joegoeringThose familiar with the research and teaching of Professor Joseph Ward Goering, whom this volume honours, are aware of the breadth and depth of his scholarship. His studies have plumbed canon law, theology, romance, and art. Throughout his career, he has shown how crossing these areas of both speculative and practical knowledge is essential to our understanding of the medieval Church. He has quietly but tirelessly argued that the intellectual work of the medieval schools was sophisticated, nuanced, and filled with lively debate; that the disciplines of law and theology had numerous intersections; that popular piety was rich in surprising narratives and imagery; that clergy and laity operated in concert as much as in conflict; and perhaps most importantly, that the intentions to press the boundaries of learning, to deepen faith, and to share the wonders of human creativity were as alive in the later Middle Ages as in any other age. Each of the thirty-five studies in this volume adds tesserae to the mosaic Joe has outlined.Contributions come from intellectual and social history, law, theology and religious studies, philosophy, literary studies, and musicology. The first part concentrates especially on the work of the medieval schoolmen. The second traces the impact of advanced education on judges, administrators, and clergy who strove to apply their learning within their orbit of influence or power. The third reveals ways in which the work of the schoolmen and pastors was poured into stories, traditions, and extra-curricular knowledge that in turn shaped the culture inhabited by masters. Joe has encouraged us all to consider the ways in which medieval education and pastoral care touched everything else; the present volume shows how right he was.

Sixth Annual CMS Alumni Lecture: Stephen Dumont – 16 November 2017


The Centre for Medieval Studies cordially invites you to a lecture by CMS alumnus

Stephen Dumont (CMS 1982), Professor of Philosophy, University of Notre-Dame

John Duns Scotus’s Parisian Lectures on the Sentences of Peter Lombard: A Mystery Solved

 Scotus Teaching

Thursday, 16 November 2017, 4:10 p.m.

Centre for Medieval Studies, Room 310
Lillian Massey Building
125 Queen’s Park

Reception to follow

2017-18 J.R. O’Donnell Lecture: Michael Herren — 13 February 2018

You are invited to the 2017-18 J.R. O’Donnell Memorial Lecture in Medieval Studies by:

 Professor Michael Herren, York University

  “Comedy, Irony, and Philosophy: Menippean Satire in late Late Antiquity”


Tuesday, 13 February 2018

4:10 p.m.

 Room 310

Centre for Medieval Studies

125 Queen’s Park

Toronto, Ontario

Reception to follow

 This lecture series is free and open to the public.  If you have an accessibility or accommodation need for this event, please contact the Centre for Medieval Studies email hidden; JavaScript is required 416 978 4884

Jointly sponsored by: The Centre for Medieval Studies, Centre for Comparative Literature, Department of Classis, JMLAT, and PIMS

Congratulations to our most recent PhD graduates!

Congratulations to our recent PhD graduates who defended over the last few months:

Daniel Brielmaier: “Selves and Subjectivities in Medieval North Atlantic Verse”

This thesis explores the construction of speaking-subjects and their subjectivities in medieval North Atlantic verse.  Although first-person poetry in medieval Irish and Welsh, Old English, and Old Norse-Icelandic has enjoyed a good deal of critical attention, little of it, with the exception of the Old English material, has focused on the strategies and rhetoric poets employed in the creation of lyric poetry’s speaking personas.  The intent of this project is thus to analyze, discuss, and bring to light the creativity and skill with which medieval North Atlantic poets brought the speaking-subjects of their poetry to life.
“Subject” and “subjectivity” are understood in psychoanalytical terms, primarily through the narrative of signficiation articulated by Julia Kristeva.  In particular, Kristeva’s understanding of the formation of subjectivity through the interaction of the semiotic (i.e., the wordless drives of the body) and the symbolic order (i.e., the world of objects and social structures outside the self) forms both the thesis’s primary tool of analysis – along with close reading – and its organizing principle.  The lyric poems under consideration here are thus organized into chapters according to the relationship of the semiotic and symbolic in the formation of their speaking-subjects. The first chapter, then, examines how Irish monastic poets constructed a Christian subjectivity in
which the semiotic, bodily drives of the speaking-subject – in its ideal form – ran in perfect accord with the Christian symbolic order.  The second chapter takes up the theme of consolation, and examine how Old English, Irish, and Norse verse could be used as a therapeutic tool to end a speaking-subject’s alienation by modelling a process through which the subject signifies himself within an alternative symbolic order, one which enables the speaker to understand his or her subject-position in a more positive light, thus bringing semiotic and symbolic closer to accord.  The third and final chapter turns to those alienated speaking-subjects for whom there is no hope of achieving accord between the semiotic desires of the body and the symbolic order, or of
finding even consolation.  The chapter explores some of the topoi of alienation – eros, old age, illness – prevalent in North Atlantic verse, examining the conditions through which these lyric speakers have become alienated, and what strategies poets employed to represent their estranged state.

Jacob Wakelin: “Making History in High Medieval Austria (1145-1203)—The Vorau Manuscript in its Secular and Spiritual Context”

This dissertation focuses on the historical, social, and political context of the Vorau manuscript (Stiftsarchiv Vorau Codex 276), a collection of more than a dozen Middle High German poems from the late eleventh to the mid-twelfth century in addition to Otto of Freising’s Gesta Friderici I. imperatoris.  When taken together, the manuscript’s disparate assortment of texts creates a roughly coherent history of the world from Genesis down to about 1150. Compiled by the Augustinian canons of the Styrian house towards the end of the twelfth century under the provost Bernard I, the manuscript references local historical events and individuals that were intimately tied to the region’s monastic houses.  As Styria’s margraves, the Otakars (1055-1192) were the founders and advocates of a large number of the monastic communities, and this dissertation argues that the interplay of interests between the Styrian court and its religious houses forms the backdrop to the Vorau manuscript’s creation.  These interests centred on the political legitimacy, social relevance, and stability of both parties that resulted from a monastery’s role in creating a history of a dynasty through commemorative practices and historical writing.  This emphasis on dynasty and heritage was also a key aspect of crusading movement of the twelfth century, playing up the importance of dynasty and heritage in the context of salvation history and increasing demand for the commemorative services offered by canons and monks.  The spiritual and secular importance of dynastically driven historical consciousness at Styria’s monasteries and its court constitute the context which imbued the texts of the Vorau manuscript with relevance for its composers and subsequent users.

Amanda Wetmore: “The Hermeneutics of Desire in Medieval English Devotional Literature”

This dissertation explores the way medieval English devotional writers utilized the hermeneutics of contemporary biblical exegesis, in order to frame their depictions of an erotic and embodied encounter with the divine. The way they manipulate the construction of literal to allegorical realities enables—rather than constrains—the relationship of flesh to spirit, so that the desiring body does not disappear into discourse, but rather, language operates in service of the flesh, articulating a profoundly incarnational devotion, not divested of the body that produced it.  My first chapter explores these themes in Aelred of Rievaulx’s (died 1167 CE) De institutione
inclusarum and De Iesu puero duodennni, where I examine the way Aelred constructs an economy of affect through his manipulation of readers’ desire through the focalization of their gaze on the body of Christ. In my second chapter, I analyze John Whiterig’s (died 1371 CE) Meditacio ad Crucifixum, and notably his erotic semiotics, and erotic interpretation of the Crucifixion, following a four-fold biblical exegesis. Third, I look at the way the The Cloud of Unknowing (late 1300s CE), as part of the “negative” or apophatic tradition, deconstructs some of the typical ideas of cataphatic devotion, positing its own way of accessing the indescribable divine, through darkness, silence, binding, and even anal eroticism. In this chapter, I use modern BDSM (bondage, domination, and sado-masochism) as a comparative context with which to
compare the Cloud’s use of bondage and denial to achieve transcendence. Finally, I analyze the parable of the Lord and Servant in Julian of Norwich’s (died 1416 CE) Long Text, in which I argue that Julian constructs her own “exegesis,” which both responds to and critiques the dominant hermeneutical modes of her day. Julian’s parable demonstrates a metonymic structure of relations, in which the literal and spiritual levels are not hierarchized, but united.

52nd Conference on Editorial Problems: Editing Medieval Medical Texts – 2-3 November 2017

Editing Medieval Medical Texts, Latin and Middle English

Thurs Nov. 2nd – Fri 3rd, Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Toronto

125 Queen’s Park, Lillian Massey Building, 3rd Floor, Great Hall

Thursday 2nd Nov. 9:30 Coffee + croissants.  9.45 Opening remarks.

10-10.30 Linda Voigts, “Women and recipes for medical distillation in Late-Medieval England”.

10.30-11 George Keiser, “’Rosmaryne, of vertu good and fyne’:  the text of a verse treatise and its manuscript contexts”.

Coffee 11-11.15.

11.15- 11.45 Jess Henderson, “Embarking upon editions of Middle English medical poems”.

11.45- 12.15  Winston Black, “From Henry of Huntingdon to Henry Daniel: the evolution of herbalism in Medieval England”.

Lunch: 12.30- 2.15.   

2.30-3 Sarah Star, “Medical and literary aureation: Daniel, Chaucer, Lydgate”

3- 3.30 Tess Tavormina, “Henry Daniel and friends: the legacy of the Liber Uricrisiarum


4-5.30 Workshop. Digitizing Henry Daniel and other Medical Texts: Pitfalls and Prognoses.

Contributions by Ruth Harvey, Alexandra Bolintineanu (CMS, Woodsworth), Cai Henderson, Jessica Henderson, Tess Tavormina, Fred Unwalla (PIMS).

Dinner 7pm

Friday 3rd Nov:  9.30 Coffee + croissants.

10.-10.30 Faith Wallis, “Victim of his own success? Why the Articella commentaries and Practica of Bartholomaeus of Salerno (d.ca. 1170) are so difficult to edit”.

10.30-11 Jacob Goldowitz, “The Dynamidia Liber alter as an example of genre’s influence on interpretations of medical texts”

Coffee 11-11.15.

11.15-11.45 Brian Long “‘De labore et dolore’: the challenges of editing Constantine the African’s terminology”

11.45-12.15   Nicholas Everett, “Confounded and compounded: the medieval editors of the Antidotarium Nicolai

Closing remarks 12.15.  Farewell Lunch 12.30. Centre for Medieval Studies.

Congratulations to Anna Wilson for her tenure-track position at Harvard University

Anna Wilson (CMS 2015) was hired as tenure-track Assistant Professor of English at Harvard University beginning in the spring 2018.

She is currently working on a book project, Bad Readers: Fan Hermeneutics and Medieval Literature, coming out of her dissertation “Immature Pleasures: Affective Reading in Margery Kempe, Petrarch, Chaucer, and Modern Fan Communities.”

Congratulations to our recent PhD students!

Congratulations to our recent PhD students who defended over the last year:

Ryan Allen: “Visions of Unity: Philosophical Realism in Late Fourteenth-Century English Dream-Vision Poetry”

Over the past half-century literary critics have frequently depicted late fourteenth-century Middle English poetry, including dream-vision poetry, as embracing nominalism. The literary-nominalist scholars defending this claim have often started from a construal of nominalism now regarded as obsolete, yet it remains commonplace to find authors including Chaucer and Langland described as affirming nominalist views. This is unfortunate, for it is now known that most late fourteenth-century English philosophers rejected nominalism. To the contrary, it has become clear that the position opposed to nominalism, namely realism, was preponderant. This thesis seeks to restore late fourteenth-century English dream-vision poetry to its true intellectual context. More fully, it argues that taking the dream visions Pearl, Langland’s Piers Plowman, and Chaucer’s House of Fame to presuppose realism unlocks insights unavailable to literary nominalists. It first clarifies the character of realism and nominalism in fourteenth-century England. Realism and nominalism have been mistaken for theological positions, and nominalism has been equated with skepticism. But nominalism is not skepticism, and realism and nominalism are fundamentally philosophical instead of theological stances. I show that realism and nominalism centre on incompatible views about how language is related to reality and that, secondarily but no less importantly, realism and nominalism involve incompatible views about metaphysical interconnection among individuals. Another position, idealism, also comes into play insofar as realists held that nominalism leads to idealism. I then turn directly to Pearl, Piers Plowman, and The House of Fame. My readings of Pearl and Piers propose that they present, respectively, heavenly delight and human nature in a realist light (i.e., as real universals). My reading of Fame offers that this text depicts nominalism as leading to idealism. All three interpretations regard the poems’ authors, like contemporaneous realist philosophers, as deeming realism essential for ascent to the divine. Realism emerges as an important underpinning of poems which, by virtue of this realist basis, I consider visions of unity.

Emily Blakelock: “Doing It by the Book: Teaching Sexuality in the Twelfth-Century Classroom”

This dissertation demonstrates the extent to which concepts of sexuality were intertwined with teaching and learning in twelfth-century French schools, making a vital connection between the history of education and that of gendered sexuality. Learning, enculturation and socialization were combined in the new urban schools of the twelfth century, in which boys underwent rigorous grammatical and moral training while forming homosocial bonds with their classmates and teachers. Students in their early- to mid- teens would routinely read sexually explicit texts, such as Ovid’s Ars amatoria and Remedia amoris, Terence’s Eunuchus, Statius’ Achilleid, and Juvenal’s satires, as part of their training in Latin literacy. These classical Latin texts were categorized by medieval teachers as “ethical” despite the fact that they contain depictions of rape, adultery, prostitution, cross-dressing and male sodomy. I argue that such discussions of sexuality were incorporated into the program of mores which traditionally accompanied early education in grammatica. My research presents a new perspective on socialization in medieval schools, using classroom texts and commentaries which have rarely been examined as sources for the history of sexuality.

Starting with an overview of the role of the medieval school in male social formation,  uncover the pedagogical discourse which connects grammar with sexuality, and with the sexual status of the medieval adolescent student. While Ovid identifies himself as a schoolteacher and establishes “rules” for love and sex with the help of his medieval commentators, and Alan of Lille describes sexual deviance as the result of mislearning the “grammar” of sex, Statius and Terence highlight the inherent gender fluidity and erratic sexual behaviour of adolescent boys, casting doubt on the stability of the boundaries established by such regulatory mechanisms. Juvenal and his twelfth-century commentators add to this discourse by implying that male sodomy is taught through homosocial networks, and identifying adolescent boys as especially prone to learning sodomy, with the school as the site of particular anxiety. These perspectives reflect twelfth-century anxieties about clerical celibacy and homosociality and demonstrate a medieval recognition of the social forces which underpin both education and sexuality.

Daniel Jamison: “Fiscal Policy in an Italian Commune: A Study of the Lucchese Gabella Maggiore, 1370-1410″

This thesis concerns the interrelationship of fiscal policy and political culture in late medieval Lucca. In the thirty years following Lucca’s emancipation from Pisa in 1369, the constituents of this nominally popular republic gradually accepted the hegemony of a single clan of silk merchants and international bankers, the Guinigi family. The evident acquiescence to disenfranchisement on the part of middle and upper class citizens flies in the face of assumptions about political struggle and honor exchange in the premodern Italian republics. In this study, I work towards a better understanding of the nature of this quiet revolution through the lens of the city’s fiscal policy, which has rightly received so much attention as a nexus of public and private interests in neighboring Florence. I have focused on a single institution, the tax office called the court of the gabella maggiore. The gabella maggiore was the tariff on most goods entering or leaving the city; notaries working at the central clearinghouse registered manifests for every shipment that passed its threshold, the counterparts of the physical licenses issued to taxpayers for safeconduct. My approach relies on the rich survival of customs registers between 1373 and 1410, whose entries collectively provide a profile of urban commercial and industrial activity at the turn of the fifteenth century. I found that this material describes an ever-weakening market for local products, a picture completed by contemporary laments about failing businesses and poor fiscal health in the minutes of the city’s republican government. In the eyes of Lucca’s merchant-oligarchs, economic decline threatened to destroy the precious independence of Lucca by fostering emigration, decreasing production, and consequently lowering the revenues of the customs tariff. The governing councils were often slow to respond to these threats because of constitutional obstacles and what I describe as a lack of confidence and consensus within the inner oligarchy. Operating under high pressure in a low-information environment, the councilors more readily reacted to the advice of expert bureaucrats, including the chief magistrate of the gabella maggiore, and “invited” advisors not currently serving on the high councils. In the end, I argue that there is only a short distance between this informal mode of ceding authority and the formal devolution of the state upon Paolo Guinigi in 1400.

Nick Johnston:Vexatio Falsorum Fratrum: The Medieval Laybrother in the Order of Sempringham in Context”

This dissertation examines the laybrothers and laysisters of the Order of Sempringham, otherwise known as the Gilbertines (after their founder, Gilbert of Sempringham), with a particular emphasis on their revolt that took place in the middle of the twelfth century. The view of the revolt is entirely one-sided in historiography; in this dissertation I ask whether this perception is justified and suggest a very different take on the matter. In order to provide context to the revolt and its aftermath, it is necessary to examine both the institution of laybrotherhood and the Order of Sempringham in closer detail. In the first chapter I study the historiography concerning when and how laybrothers arose (and eventually declined to much reduced numbers) as an institution and the various ways in which the laybrothers in general have been defined. In the second chapter I introduce the Gilbertine primary sources and discuss the history of the Order of Sempringham. My third chapter concentrates on the Gilbertine laybrothers’ revolt itself in context, and the fourth on the reputation incurred by laybrothers both generally as an institution in the Middle Ages and more specifically, those involved in the Gilbertine revolt. My fifth chapter considers the daily life of Gilbertine laybrothers and laysisters as a consequence of the revolt and suggests why no laysisters were involved in the revolt. Overall, this dissertation shows that the Gilbertine laybrothers had good reasons for their revolt, and that, rather than being rebuked and reviled, they ought to be listened to for attempting to deal with what they perceived as problems within the order. More generally, it is my opinion that medieval laybrothers have been unfairly portrayed, and this dissertation is in part an attempt to rectify that situation.

Chris Landon: Conquest and Colonization in the Early Middle Ages: The Carolingians and Saxony, c. 751–842

This thesis reconsiders longstanding questions regarding the economic and ideological forces which drove Frankish expansion into Saxony in the late eighth and early ninth centuries, Frankish strategies of rule in the newly conquered region, and the effects of conquest and cultural dispossession on the Saxons themselves. Specifically, the dissertation seeks to present a new interpretation of this critical historical episode as a process of colonization. After an introduction that briefly outlines various conceptions and definitions of colonization, and how these apply to the early medieval period, chapter one provides an overview of the main Latin and Old Saxon sources regarding Saxony and the Saxons in the Carolingian period from the coronation of Pippin III to the suppression of the Saxon Stellinga uprising in 842. The chapter emphasizes the tendentious nature of these sources, and the ways in which they reflect the perspective of the colonizer while obscuring the experiences of the colonized. Chapter two looks at the ideological justifications for the conquest advanced in the Frankish primary sources, arguing that the Franks’ forcible Christianization of the Saxons was driven in part by the Carolingian dynasty’s increasingly close ties with the papacy, and by ancient imperial prerogatives regarding the extension of the faith. Chapter three, in contrast, examines the economic forces driving Frankish expansion into Saxony, demonstrating that the region possessed more material wealth than is generally assumed. Finally, chapter four turns to the effects of conquest and colonization on the Saxons themselves, analyzing the ways in which imperial ideologies and practices of rule were presented to a newly converted Saxon audience in the Old Saxon Gospel harmony known as the Heliand.

Jessica Lockhart: “Everyday Wonders and Enigmatic Structures: Riddles from Symphosius to Chaucer”

As I am proposing it, the medieval everyday is “what we see” rather than “what we  know”––it is made up of the sights, objects, and encounters of lived experience. This dissertation points to a way of thinking about the everyday that I trace from Latin and Old English riddles through to late medieval riddles and Chaucer’s dream vision poems. My approach is structured by two key claims. My first is that riddles seep into other literary genres through what I call ‘enigmatic structures’––passages of heightened uncertainty governed by riddling conventions. My second claim is that for my medieval authors and their readers, everyday wonders––wonders in lived experience––are often understood through enigmatic structures and vice versa. My chapters are about poets for whom the wondrous in the everyday was a shared concern as they debated the origins of wonder, teased out questions about their own poetics, and applied riddling techniques to philosophic and literary problems.

Chapters 1 and 2 show how a particular affective mode of engaging with the everyday coalesces in Anglo-Saxon riddles and wisdom-texts, and acquires enigmatic structures and distinctive wonder-related vocabulary. Chapter 1 explores the origins of this trend in the Latin riddle collections of Symphosius, Aldhelm, and Alcuin. Chapter 2 examines how everyday wonders and enigmatic structures create a technology of wondering in the Old English Boethius, Solomon and Saturn II, and the Exeter Book Riddles. My final chapters argue that late medieval riddles inform Chaucer’s approach to everyday wonder. Chapter 3 surveys the landscape of late medieval riddling and examines Chaucer’s deployment of enigmatic structures and everyday wonders in The Book of the Duchess and The Parliament of Fowls. Chapter 4 proposes a new intertext for Chaucer’s House of Rumour in the Secretum philosophorum, and offers a new reading of the “queynte hous” as a were––a pun that refers both to a fish weir, and to a condition of radical uncertainty. From the Anglo-Saxon period to the fourteenth century, riddles both inscribe and respond to wonder within the familiar world, charting a wise approach to the everyday’s deep mysteries.

Peter O’Hagan: “Teaching the Tradition: Twelfth Century Scholastic Commentaries on Paul’s Letter to the Romans”

This thesis provides the first study of the relationship between three of the most important commentaries on Paul’s Letter to the Romans produced in the cathedral schools of northern France during the twelfth-century, a period usually defined as “early scholasticism.” Studies of this period usually focus on the theological works of the teachers in these schools, leaving to one side their biblical exegesis. This thesis argues for the central importance of biblical exposition to the study of theology in early scholasticism by emphasizing two related aspects of these commentaries: first, that they are the result of classroom teaching rather than written treatises, and second, that the primary goal of this teaching was the handing on of a tradition of reflection on the Bible.

The first chapter studies the so-called Glossa ‘ordinaria’ on Romans. The Glossa was the most important exposition of Romans in the twelfth century, existing in hundreds of manuscripts and forming the basis for teaching. The first chapter traces the sources and methodology of the Glossa, arguing that it is better understood as a classroom text than as a reference work. The second chapter turns to the Glossa’s most influential user, Peter Lombard (d. 1160), whose Magna glosatura on Romans also exists in hundreds of manuscripts. Chapter two analyzes Lombard’s use of the Glossa and how he uses it as the gateway to his own teaching of Romans. The third chapter studies the Postille in Apostolum of Stephen Langton (c.1150-1228), tracing Langton’s use of Lombard’s Magna in his own teaching of Romans and arguing for the unity of Langton’s biblical lectures and his theological works. This study therefore establishes a trajectory of teaching the tradition of reflection on the Pauline Epistles, from the Glossa, through Lombard’s Magna, to Langton’s Postille.

Robin Sutherland-Harris: “The Production and Use of Administrative Documents in Somerset from Glanvill to Magna Carta”

This thesis studies how various kinds of administrative documents were produced and used through the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries within the geographical and administrative territory bounded by the shire of Somerset and the diocese of Bath and Wells. Documents were increasingly part of administration in medieval England at all levels, from royal government to the local land market, from archbishops to cathedral canons. Parallel to the growing importance of administrative texts, an increasingly regularized body of administrative personnel also emerged during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. This thesis is therefore situated in the intersection of a flourishing documentary culture and a burgeoning administrative class. Theoretical frameworks provided by scholarship on the partial shift from memory to the written word, on textual communities, and on pragmatic literacy inform the analysis throughout.

Focusing on the production and use of administrative documents over a short time period and in a specific region makes it possible to approach them in detail and at multiple levels. At the level of the institution, both the diocese of Bath and Wells and the monastery of Glastonbury made use of administrative documents while in conflict with one another. At the level of the individual, the archdeacons of the diocese found a range of administrative roles in royal government, in which they relied on pragmatic literacies tailored to their individual circumstances. At the level of the documents themselves, connections between surviving charter originals reveal the articulation of large-scale changes in documentary and administrative culture in the uneven small-scale nuances of scribal and chancery production. Each chapter examines documentary culture and pragmatic literacy in the local context, exposing bureaucratic rather than literary or religious reading communities. Rather than the high-culture focus adopted by most studies of medieval literacy, the emphasis here is on the more wide-spread and practically engaged world of administrative bodies, personnel, and documents; this allows a “core sample” of evidence from a local temporal and geographical microcosm to be tested against our understanding of macrocosmic changes in the uses of texts and the roles of literacy in the medieval west.

Simona Vucu: “Henry of Ghent and John Duns Scotus on Self-Agency and SelfMotion: An Inquiry into the Medieval Metaphysics of Causal”

In the Physics, Aristotle argues that everything that moves is moved by something else, and thus that things cannot move themselves, in the sense of self-motion that refers not just to changing location, but also more generally to causing a change in oneself. This dissertation focuses on how, working within the framework of Aristotle’s philosophy, Henry of Ghent and John Duns Scotus defend the possibility of self-motion and self-agency (in contrast to self-motion, in self-agency a thing causes a feature in itself, but there is no temporal moment to which we can assign this causal fact). To understand Henry’s and Scotus’s defences of self-motion and self-agency, I consider their views about causal powers: in any case of causation, including self-motion and self-agency, things do what they do by exercising their causal powers. I argue that Henry and Scotus think very differently about the nature of powers and their causal contribution. Henry takes powers to be without causal efficacy, a view that pushes him to assign to them only an explanatory role, and to argue that in causation, what causes the change and what undergoes the change is the whole thing that has a power. In contrast, Scotus understands powers as forms, that is, as entities that can have direct causal efficacy, and thinks that in causation, what causes the change and what undergoes the change are these forms, which are parts of things. I further explain how Henry’s and Scotus’s views about causal powers are responsible for their different understandings of self-change. Because he focuses on how the whole thing is affected in a causal interaction, Henry is forced to conclude that in created beings, no perfect self-change is possible, for what starts the change and what ends it are not strictly the same. By focusing on the causal contribution of the parts of a thing, Scotus manages to bypass Henry’s conundrum, and develops an account according to which things can change themselves in virtue of having active and passive principles by whose mutual manifestation a feature is produced by the self-agent in itself.

Natalia Zajac: “Women Between West and East: the Inter-Rite Marriages of the Kyivan Rus’ Dynasty, ca. 1000-1204”

This dissertation examines the marriage alliances of the Riurikids, the Orthodox rulers of Kyivan Rus’, with western-rite (Latin Christian / Catholic) rulers. Using both narrative and legal sources, it considers the process by which the brides in these marriages acculturated to the environment of their husbands’ courts, and the degree to which they were able to maintain ties with the culture of their birth. Through the prism of these women’s lives, the dissertation adds to our understanding of the social history of Orthodox-Catholic interaction among lay elites from the early eleventh century to 1204.  While individual clerics such as Metropolitan Ioann of Kyiv disapproved of Orthodox-Catholic marriages in the 1080s, such condemnation was an extreme position for its time, and was rooted in concerns with preserving the ritual purity of Orthodox believers. Beginning in the late twelfth century, some western lay persons and clerics also may have disapproved of ties with Rus’, but their views remained in the minority. The dissertation confirms previous findings that the so-called Church Schism of 1054 was not an essential factor in the formation of these marriages until the thirteenth century. It demonstrates that brides in these inter-rite marriages did not experience a complete conversion to the religious tradition of their husbands nor rigidly maintain their allegiance to the culture of their birth; rather, they were able to keep some aspects of their former confessional and cultural identity, depending also on the specific court culture in which they found themselves. Cultural continuity with Rus’ was especially strong when brides were sent to areas of so-called “New Europe” (neighbouring Scandinavia, Poland, and Hungary). The dissertation concludes that marriages between the Riurikids and western-rite dynasties contributed to a cosmopolitan court culture among medieval elites at a time when barriers between Orthodoxy and Catholicism still remained porous.