Commenting and Commentary: The Historical Emergence of a Global Interpretive Mode, 4-6 October 2019

An Interdisciplinary Conference

Centre for Medieval Studies, Lillian Massey Building

125 Queen’s Park, Room 312

 Main Commentary photo

Friday, 4 October 2019

9:45 Welcome

10:00 – 11:00   Introductory Roundtable: Towards an Interdisciplinary Methodology of Historical Commentary Studies

Chair: Markus Stock

Panelists:  Amanda Goodman, Christina Lechtermann, Walid Saleh, Kenneth Yu


11:30 – 1:15 Transgressing Theories of Interpretation

Chair: Kenneth Yu (University of Toronto)

Suzanne Akbari (Institute for Advanced Studies, Princeton): “Temporal Rupture and the Place of Commentary: The Aftermath of Alexander the Great in Medieval Universal Histories”

Andrew Brock Kraebel (Trinity University): “Senseless Interpretation”

Andrew Hicks (Cornell University): “Reading Texts within Texts: The Special Case of Lemmata”


2:15 – 4:00 Commentary and Religiosity

Chair: Robert Gibbs (University of Toronto)

Jennifer Gerber (Goethe Universität Frankfurt am Main): Queries about the Divine. The Commentary on Meister Eckhart’s Granum sinapis

Amanda Goodman (University of Toronto): “Commentary at the Crossroads: An Examination of Chinese and Tibetan Ritual Works from Late-Medieval Dunhuang”

Elisabeth Hollender (Goethe Universität Frankfurt am Main): “On the Margins or in the Centre? The Place of Medieval Hebrew Liturgical Commentaries”


Saturday, October 5, 2019

10:00 – 11:45 The Materiality of Medieval Commentary

Chair: Christina Lechtermann (Goethe Universität Frankfurt am Main)

Kristin Böse (Goethe Universität Frankfurt am Main): “Openings”

Erik Kwakkel (University of British Columbia): “Annotating Aristotle: Page Design and Marginal Space in Thirteenth-Century University Manuscripts”

Joanna Olchawa (Goethe Universität Frankfurt am Main): “Texts – Illustrations – Objects. The Materiality of Comments in the Bellifortis Manuscripts of the 15th Century”


1:00 – 2:45 Communities of Commentary

Chair: Enrico Raffaeli (University of Toronto)

Miguel Toledo (Universidad de Salamanca): “Zoroastrian Commentaries in Antiquity and Late Antiquity”

Alexander Andrée (University of Toronto): “Reading Virgil in Twelfth-Century Laon: Accessus and Commentary”

Philipp Knüpffer (Goethe Universität Frankfurt am Main): “Commenting the Classics at Protestant Universities. The Commentarii Docti, Breves et Succincti in Virgilii libros Georgicorum (Mühlhausen, 1574) and the In Quintiliani institutionum librum decimum annotationes (Leipzig, 1570) by Johann Stigel”


3:15 – 5:00 Metapoetics and Autocommentary

Chair: Jill Ross (University of Toronto)

Elisa Brilli (University of Toronto): “Dante’s Self-Commentary and the Call for Interpretation”

Andrea Baldan (Goethe Universität Frankfurt am Main): “Francesco Fulvio Frugoni’s Self- Commentary: Glosses and Literary Criticism in the ‘Tribunal della Critica’”

Christine Ott / Philip Stockbrugger (Goethe Universität Frankfurt am Main): “Modes and Functions of Self-Commentary in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century”


Sunday, October 6, 2019

9:30– 10:45 Narrative and Commentary

Chair: Lorenza Bennardo (University of Toronto)

Elsa Bouchard (Université de Montreal): “Reading the Poetic Artifact: Narrative Unity in the Ancient Commentaries on Homer”

Christina Lechtermann (Goethe Universität Frankfurt am Main): “The In-/Coherences of Narrative Commentary”


11:15 – 12:30 (De-)Disciplining the Discourse: Commentary and Knowledge Formation

Chair: Walid Saleh (University of Toronto)

Ajay Rao (University of Toronto): “The Sociology of Knowledge in Sanskrit Scholastic Commentary”

Magnus Ulrich Ferber (Goethe Universität Frankfurt am Main): “Commenting on a Purged

Model. The M. Valerii Martialis Epigrammaton libri omnes of the Jesuit Matthäus Rader (1602)”


Post-conference gatherings:

 2:00 – 4:00pm Graduate Student Workshop: Commentaries on Early Modern Texts – Theory and Practice

Chair: Robert Seidel (Goethe Universität Frankfurt am Main)

Knowledge of Latin or German required



2:00 – 4:00pm PI Planning Meeting (Frankfurt / Toronto)


Lecture by Barbara H. Rosenwein, Sept. 26

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

Barbara H. Rosenwein Professor emerita, Loyola University, Chicago 

Angry Words, Then and Now

Thursday, 26 September 2019, 4:10 p.m. Room 310

Reception to follow

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British Library (London), Yates Thompson 3, Penitential Psalms (France), f. 165v, “Anger” 

“We are all servants” — The Diversity of Service in Premodern Europe (20-22 Sept)

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Organized by Isabelle Cochelin (UofT), Elisheva Baumgarten (Hebrew University of Jerusalem) and Konrad Eisenbichler (UofT) with Lochin Brouillard (UofT) and Emma Gabe (UofT)

Scientific Advisory Board: Antoinette Fauve-Chamoux (EHESS) and Diane Wolfthal (Rice University)

Administration: Lane Springer (UofT)

Click here for Registration 

Location: Great Hall, Centre for Medieval Studies (UofT)


Friday: September 20th

8am-9am – Registration

9am-9:30am – Opening Remarks

I. Service in (Jewish and Christian) Legal and Religious Discourses

9:30am-11:00am – The Legal Discourse on Service 

Chair: Steven Bednarski (University of Waterloo)

Ilana Ben-Ezra (New York University), “Between Custom and Law: Raymond de Penaforte’s approach to the Master-Servant Relationship Between Jews and Christians”

Yael Ejgenberg (Bar-Ilan University), “Domestic servants in Jewish households and rabbinical law in medieval Europe”

Sarah Pech-Pelletier (Univ. Paris 13), “L’évolution de la notion de ‘service’ entre les XIIIe et XVIe siècles: serviteurs, esclaves et maîtres sous le regard de la loi”

11:00am-1pm- Lunch (ad lib)

1pm-2:30pm – The Concept of Service in Religious Texts 

Chair: Lochin Brouillard (University of Toronto)

Magda Hayton (Missouri State University), “The Concept of Service in Hildegard of Bingen’s Apocalyptic Discourse and the Making of the Exordium magnum

Judah Galinsky (Bar-Ilan University), “The Religious Ideal of the “Faithful Servant”: Moses of Coucy and Rashi”

Discussion on the importance of service in both medieval Judaism and Christianity led by Elisheva Baumgarten (Hebrew University), Darlene Brooks Hedstrom (Wittenberg University), and Isabelle Cochelin (University of Toronto)

2:30pm-3pm- Coffee Break

II. Service in Lay Context (in Christian and Jewish milieus)

3pm-4:30pm – Differences in Status and Religion 

Chair: Judith Baskin (University of Oregon)

Lucie Laumonier (Concordia University), “Domestic Service in Late Medieval Languedoc: The Household and the Family”

Federica Francesconi (University at Albany, SUNY), “Anonymous Women, Last Wills, and Domestic Service in the Early-Modern Venetian Ghetto”

Natalie Rothman (University of Toronto), “Patronage and servitude in early modern Catholic Istanbul”

Saturday: September 21st

8:30-10:30am –Servants and Masters

Chair: Natalie Zemon Davis (University of Toronto)

Debra Blumenthal (University of California at Santa Barbara), “’Services for which I expect to be compensated’: Mothering as a Labor of Love in Fifteenth-Century Valencia”

P. J. P. Goldberg (University of York, UK), “The experience of life-cycle servanthood in later medieval English town and country”

Shannon McSheffrey (Concordia University), “Servants, Masters, and Xenophobic Violence in early Tudor London”

Elizabeth S. Cohen (York University), ““I am a girl, a servant, and I eat their bread”: Domestic service and dependency in Rome, circa 1600”

10:30am-11am – Coffee Break

11am-1pm – Trust and Mistrust 

Chair: Angela Zhang (York University)

Emily J. Hutchison (Mount Royal University, Calgary), “Mutual Suspicion and Distrust: Servants and Masters in the Criminal Records of Late Medieval Paris”

Kim M. Phillips (University of Auckland), “Breast into Service: Wet Nurses in Late Medieval England”

Elena Brizio (Georgetown University, Fiesole Campus, Italy), “Friends or Enemies? Sienese Servant Women in the 15thand 16thcenturies”

Marlee Couling (York University), “‘She would long since have been starved’: The Alliances of Mistresses and Female Servants in Seventeenth-Century England”

1pm-2pm- Lunch

III. Service in Christian Religious Contexts

2pm-3:30pm –Service in Female Religious Communities 

Chair: Bert Roest (Radboud University)

Kate E. Bush (University of Rhode Island), “Maids of the Handmaidens: Manual Labor in Female Franciscan Community, c. 1250-1550”

Emma Gabe (University of Toronto), “The Discourse on Service in the Late Medieval Sister-Books”

Isabel Harvey (Humboldt University, Berlin & Ca’ Foscari, University of Venice), “Tridentine Reform of Convents from Below: When Servants Become Converse Nuns”

3:30pm-4pm -Coffee Break

4pm-5:30pm –Serving Recluses, Priests and the Sick 

Chair: Konrad Eisenbichler (University of Toronto)

Laura Moncion (University of Toronto), “Crossing the Threshold: Recluses and their Servants”

Adam J. Davis (Denison University), “Servants in Medieval Hospitals: In Service of the Sick Poor ‘Lords of the House’”

Roisin Cossar (University of Manitoba), “The Life Stories of Clerics’ Servants in Fifteenth-Century Italy”

Sunday: September 22nd

IV. Service in Art, Literature and Court

9:30am-11am – Service at Court 

Chair: Elisa Brilli (University of Toronto)

Arnaud Montreuil (University of Ottawa), “Qui pour armes servoient: service and knighting in vernacular literature (12thand 13thcent.)”

Jiting Chu (Zhengzhou University), “L’Accompagnement en tant que service : les suivantes des dames de haute noblesse à la fin du Moyen Âge”

Rolf Strom-Olsen (IE School of Arts & Humanities, Madrid), “The Part-Time Courtier: the periodic contract system at the Court of Burgundy”

11am-11:30am- Coffee Break

11:30am-1pm – Visual Representation of Service 

Chair: Matt Kavaler (University of Toronto)

Francesca Canadé Sautman (Hunter College), “Women Servants, Headwraps and Turbans: Locating Status and Service in the fifteenth-century Burgundian Reach”

Diane Wolfthal (Rice University), “The Unseen Servant”

Mathilde Legeay (University de Nantes), “Between painting and reality: maidservants in seventeenth-century religious Italian painting”

1pm-2pm – Lunch

2pm-3:00pm – Staging Service and Servants 

Chair: Mario Longtin (Western University)

Laura Muñoz (UCLA), “Servants and the Politics of Language Choice in Three Plays by Guillén de Castro”

Rosalind Kerr (University of Alberta), “Masters and Servants On and Off stage in The Commedia dell’Arte”

3pm-3:30pm- Coffee Break

3:30pm-4:30pm – Concluding Round Table 

Chair: Antoinette Fauve-Chamoux (EHESS)

Diane Wolfthal (Rice University), Shami Ghosh (University of Toronto), Elizabeth Ewan (Guelph University), and Mario Longtin (Western University, London).

University of Toronto Colloquium in Medieval Philosophy 2019 (20-21 Sept.)

All sessions are free and open to the public and will be held in Room 100 of the Jackman Humanities Building (170 St. George Street).


Session I (4:30 – 6:30)

Chair: Therese Cory (University of Notre Dame)

Emmanuel Bermon (Université de Bordeaux): “The Augustinian Proof for the Immortality of the Soul”

Commentator: Scott MacDonald (Cornell University)



Session II (10:00 – 12:00) 

Chair: Giorgio Pini (Fordham University)

Matteo di Giovanni (University of Turin): “Western Islamic Hylomorphism: Matter and Form in Averroes’ Philosophy”

Commentator: Stephen Menn (McGill University)


Session III (2:00 – 4:00)

Chair: Simona Vucu (University of Toronto)

Matthieu Remacle (University of Toronto): “Logic as a Normative Linguistic Discipline in al-Farabi”

Jacob Andrews (Loyola University Chicago): “William of Auxerre on the Compatibility of Faith and Arguments”

Machessa Samz (Nazareth College, Rochester): “Vital du Four on the Intellect’s Cognition of the Singular”


Session IV (4:15 – 6:15)

Chair: Peter Hartman (Loyola University Chicago)

Christina Van Dyke: “Reason and Its Limits in 13th-15th Century Contemplative Philosophy”

Commentator: Jennifer Hart Weed (University of New Brunswick)


The colloquium is sponsored by the Department of Philosophy, the Collaborative Program in Ancient and Medieval Philosophy, the Centre for Medieval Studies, the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, and the Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations.

Organizers: Deborah Black, Peter King, Martin Pickavé