The George Rigg Visitorship in Medieval Latin Studies: John J. Contreni

The Centre for Medieval Studies is pleased to welcome:

Professor John J. Contreni (Department of History, Purdue University)
“Replacing the Classics in the Carolingian Age”

Thursday, February 6, 2014
2:30-4:00 p.m.
Room 310
Lillian Massey Building
125 Queen’s Park, 3rd Floor
Toronto, Ontario

Prof. John Contreni, in addition to delivering the O’Donnell Memorial Lecture in Medieval Latin Studies on February 7, has kindly agreed to assume the role of George Rigg Visitor in Medieval Latin Studies for events on Thursday, February 6. Prof. Contreni will meet with half a dozen doctoral students that morning and over lunch to discuss their current work in informal conversation, and then will present a seminar at 2.30 on his own work in progress, entitled “Replacing the Classics,” in which he will discuss his formulation of a new paradigm for understanding the engagement of Carolingian intellectuals with the literary legacy of classical Rome. The seminar is intended as a participatory conversation and is open to all.

An endowment in support of the George Rigg Visitorship was begun in 2008 to foster informal, small-group contacts between a distinguished visiting scholar and members of the CMS community, especially doctoral students. It honors the signal contributions of Professor Emeritus A.G. Rigg to Medieval Latin teaching and research at the CMS over the span of some forty-five years. Further contributions to this endowment will enhance the flexbility and scope of events that can be offered under the auspices of the Visitorship in coming years.


Congratulations to our recent PhDs

Congratulations to Richard Shaw and Helen Marshall who have successfully defended their PhD dissertations at the end of 2013. Here’s some further information about their work:

Richard Shaw (defended in December), How an Early Medieval Historian Worked: Methodology and Sources in Bede’s Narrative of the Gregorian Mission to Kent.
Supervisor: Alexander Murray; External Examiner: Dr. Alan Thacker, University of London.
This dissertation examines the methods and sources employed by Bede in the construction of his account of the Gregorian mission, thereby providing an insight into how an early medieval historian worked.
In Chapter 1, I begin by setting out the context for this study, through a discussion of previous compositional analyses of Bede’s works and the resulting interpretations of the nature and purpose of his library.
Chapters 2-4 analyze the sources of the narrative of the Gregorian mission in the Historia ecclesiastica. Each of Bede’s statements is interrogated and its basis established, while the ways in which he used his material to frame the story in the light of his preconceptions and agendas are examined.
Chapter 5 collects all the sources identified in the earlier Chapters and organizes them thematically, providing a clearer view of the material Bede was working from. This assessment is then extended in Chapter 6, where I reconstruct, where possible, those ‘lost’ sources used by Bede and consider how the information he used reached him.
In this Chapter, I also examine the implications of Bede’s possession of certain ‘archival’ sources for our understanding of early Anglo-Saxon libraries, suggesting more pragmatic purposes for them, beyond those they have usually been credited with. The Chapter ends with an assessment of Bede’s primary sources for the account of the Gregorian mission and an examination of the reasons he possessed so few.
Finally, in Chapter 7, I discuss those passages of Bede’s account of the ‘mission fathers’, whose origins were not able to be established in Chapters 2-4. Bede’s use of a set of proto-homiletic sources of a hagiographic nature, dedicated to the early bishops of Canterbury and the mission, emerges. The basic outlines of this collection are set out and the context for their composition described.
Throughout, the dissertation is intended not only as end in itself, but as the basis for further investigation both of Bede’s methods and sources, and those of others. In particular, the provision of a more comprehensive awareness of Bede’s resources enables future work to dispense with the narrative Bede has superimposed on his evidence. This thus lays the foundations for re-writing, and not merely re-interpreting, the history of early Christian Kent on a firmer evidential basis than previously possible.

Helen Marshall (defended in November), Literary Codicologies: The Conditions of Middle English Literary Production, c. 1280-1415.
Supervisor: Alexandra Gillespie; External Examiner: Susanna Fein, Kent State University.
This dissertation studies three important textual projects that speak to the conditions of Middle English literary production from 1280-1415: the West Midlands collection of saints’ lives compiled at the end of the thirteenth century known as the South English Legendary; NLS, MS Advocates 19.2.1 (Auchinleck), a compilation of romances, historical and religious texts copied by six scribes in London in the 1330s; and the Prick of Conscience, an anonymous penitential treatise from the north of England and one of the most widely produced Middle English texts of the second half of the fourteenth century. Central to this dissertation is a methodology that connects techniques of bibliographic description including dialect analysis, comparison of layout and booklet structure, and identification of scribal hands with a holistic examination of how texts were produced and circulated. This dissertation argues, firstly, England’s vernacular literary culture was shaped by the relationship between manuscripts and texts; secondly, that the manuscript producing activities of secular and religious manuscript users, and of various institutions (monastic, fraternal, civil), were interpenetrative rather than discrete; thirdly, that the production of Middle English manuscripts was never isolated from other languages and other kinds of textual production including documentary production and the production of religious books; and, fourthly, that England’s vernacular literary culture at the national level depended upon and emerged from local instances of production, the circulation of manuscripts and texts beyond their site of production, and the institutional and cultural ties that facilitated the resulting networks of textual exchange. Although the textual projects under study in this dissertation differ in date, genre, origin and form, they show how certain elements—local resources, the availability of exemplars, the organization and training of scribes, and techniques of book-making—contributed to and sustained the development of a national Middle English literary culture.

2013-14 J.R. O’Donnell Memorial Lecture: John J. Contreni

The Centre for Medieval Studies is pleased to present the 2013-14 J. R. O’Donnell Memorial Lecture in Medieval Latin Studies:

Professor John J. Contreni (Department of History, Purdue University)
“Learning for God: Education in the Carolingian Age”

Friday, 7 February 2014, 4:10 p.m.
Great Hall, Room 312
Lillian Massey Building
125 Queen’s Park
Toronto, Ontario

Reception to follow in the Laurence K. Shook Common Room, Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 59 Queen’s Park Crescent East

The lecture is jointly sponsored by: The Centre for Medieval Studies, Centre for Comparative Literature, Department of Classics, Department of German, Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies and the Journal of Medieval Latin.

Work in Medieval Studies: Winter 2014

The new WIMS (Work in Medieval Studies) schedule for this Winter is out! Mark your calendars!

January 10
Vanina Kopp: The Game of Love: Literary Pastime and the Performance of Poetic Competitions at the French Court: A Talk followed by a Game

January 17
Sarah White: Excommunication and its Effects in Thirteenth-Century England
(This talk will be in the Great Hall)

January 24
Sarah Wilk: ‘They’re Men, Manly Men! They’re Men on Crusade:’ Masculinity in Two Baltic Chronicles

January 31
Jessica Lockhart: ‘Actin’ Funny but I Don’t Know Why:’ Enigmatic Wonder and the Post-Symphosian Riddle Collections

February 7
Ben Durham: Streamlining the Exultet: Reorganization of a Twelfth-Century Lectionary at the University of Toronto

February 14
Jason Brown: Clerical Continence in Western Canon Law: An Unbroken Tradition?

February 21
Reading Week

February 28
William van Geest: Johannes Ciconia’s Nova musica and the Medieval Grammar Tradition

March 7
Bogdan Smarandache: ‘They Speak only Frankish’ Usāma ibn Munqidh’s Observations on the Language Barrier during the Crusades

March 14
Lochin Brouillard: The Obazine Experiment: Women, Children and their Father in the Vita S. Stephani Obazinensis

March 21
Ainoa Castro: The “Making of” a Diplomatic Codex: Beta Versions 1 to 5

March 28
David Welch: Elements of the Exegetical Tradition in the Old English Genesis: Catechesis and the Open Canon

April 4
Caroline Smith: ‘You Will Receive So Many Stab Wounds Here’ – The Role of the Cathedral Chapter in the 1331 Girona Holy Week Riot

All presentations start at 3 pm and are held in LI 310, unless noted otherwise. Check also the posters at the Centre.

WIMS is CMS’s graduate lecture and workshop series, a venue for the graduate students of CMS to develop our professional presentation skills and respond to each other’s ideas, sharing works in progress in an informal but constructive forum.

For inquiries get in touch with Eb Daniels.

In Memoriam: Andrew Hughes (1937–2013)

Born a Leo with a drive to dominate, Andrew Hughes was nevertheless possessed of a warm, deeply humane side that was evident to all who knew him. He once told me the story of how as a small boy he had feared for his life sitting in an underground bomb shelter as German planes thundered overhead. This was around the same time he mentioned the premature death of his father, exactly when I cannot now remember. Hughes’ genuine sympathy for those in need showed up throughout his professorial career; in the patient mentoring of individual students, for example, or in the pages dedicated to the music of the common people in his still original Style and Symbol: Medieval Music 800-1453 (1989). He will be remembered not only as an internationally renowned scholar of medieval music but as a caring teacher and friend to many.

Hughes was fond of relating that he had chosen medieval music at Oxford out of contrariness: it was the only subject left for which none had signed up. His study of the vagaries of prolation and ficta were rewarded with a BA at Oxford in 1960. Four years later at the same institution he completed his doctorate in late medieval English sacred music under the supervision of Irish musicologist Frank Harrison, whom Hughes used to jokingly say he only saw three times during his entire stay at Oxford. Even in the sixties, the path out of Oxbridge to academic employment was not an easy one. Professor Hughes wandered in the wilds of Ireland (Queen’s University, Belfast, 1962-4), the American West (University of Illinois, 1964-7), the South (Chapel Hill, 1967-9) and finally, taking after his advisor Harrison (Queen’s University, Kingston, 1935-45), Canada. He was eagerly hired at the University of Toronto’s fledgling musicology program by Harvey Olnick.

By the time of his hiring at Toronto, Hughes had made evident a leonine appetite for publication, with already a half dozen articles and one book under his belt, not to mention his landmark edition The Old Hall Manuscript (1969) in collaboration with Margaret Bent. For the following three decades, Hughes’ scholarly discipline never let up, yielding over sixty publications, not counting major articles for The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, in both the 1980 and 2001 editions. Highlights include two still indispensable works: Medieval Music: The Sixth Liberal Art (1974) and Medieval Manuscripts for Mass and Office: A Guide to their Terminology and Contents (1982). By the time of the latter publication, Hughes had firmly established himself as an international authority on the late medieval liturgy and the rhymed office in particular. Significantly for our times, beginning in the early 1970s he pioneered the use of computers in the study of the medieval liturgy, eventually yielding Late Medieval Liturgical Offices: Resources for Electronic Research (1994-96). His institutional honours before his reluctant retirement in 2004 included being promoted to University Professor and elected as President of the Medieval Academy of America (2001-2).

To both students and colleagues, Hughes was known as a humour-filled eccentric and an enforcer of Oxbridgian propriety. Even now as I type these words, I slow down at the thought of what the master might have corrected! As a teacher, I can testify that Hughes was absolutely inspiring, standing tall in his academic gown, executing pedagogical antics and speaking with a daunting elocution, impeccable down to the occasional trilled R. Andrew Hughes was the consummate professor, unforgettable in a way that few of us can hope to be.

John Haines

A memorial service for Andrew Hughes will take place at the Trinity College Chapel, University of Toronto (6 Hoskin Avenue), on 11 March 2014, from 7-8 p.m. All are welcome at this celebration of the life of a distinguished scholar and wonderful mentor!