We acknowledge with deep sadness the death of Professor A.G. Rigg on Monday, 7 January 2019. We are all of us the poorer for the loss of this kind, good, and brilliant man.
We acknowledge with deep sadness the death of Professor A.G. Rigg on Monday, 7 January 2019.
George, as he was known universally to friends, colleagues, and generations of admiring and grateful students, died peacefully at home, in the presence of his beloved wife Jennifer, after a period of declining health.
George was born on 17 February 1937 at Wigan, Lancashire, where he received his secondary education at Wigan Grammar School, which was known for its strong reputation in Classics. As an undergraduate he attended Pembroke College, Oxford from 1955 to 1959 leading to a B.A. in the English School. He wrote his D. Phil thesis, “An edition of a fifteenth‑century commonplace book,” under the supervision of Norman Davis. That work was published in 1968 as A Glastonbury Miscellany of the Fifteenth Century: a descriptive Index of Trinity College, Cambridge, MS 0.9.38. Concurrently with his doctoral work he taught at Merton College, Oxford, when he first met Jennifer, as well later at Balliol College. From 1966 to 1968 he held a Visiting Assistant Professorship in the Department of English at Stanford University. In 1968 he took the position of Assistant Professor in the newly formed Centre for Medieval Studies and the Department of English at the University of Toronto, where he taught until his reluctant retirement (still mandated by law at 65) in 2002. As an emeritus, his generous and energetic mentorship of graduate students continued for many years thereafter.
His exacting philological standards secured his international reputation as a scholar of medieval Latin as well as of Middle English. His editions included the poems of Walter of Wimborne (1978), his controversial edition of the Z-Text of Piers Plowman (1983, with Charlotte Brewer) and a glossed epitome of Geoffrey of Monmouth, A Book of British Kings (2000). The latter was published as volume 30 of the Toronto Medieval Latin Texts, a series that George established and for which he served as general editor for its first thirty volumes. His many articles included a signal series of codicological studies of medieval Latin poetic anthologies which appeared in Mediaeval Studies. Medieval Latin: An Introduction and Bibliographical Guide, co-edited with Frank Mantello, remains an invaluable resource for students of the field, while his magisterial survey, Anglo-Latin Literature, 1066-1422, published in 1992, will remain the definitive reference work for decades to come. He was elected Fellow of the Medieval Academy of America in 1997 and of the Royal Society of Canada in 1998.
His passionate advocacy for reading competence in medieval Latin as a central feature of serious advanced training in medieval studies led to the creation of the Committee for Medieval Latin Studies, which he chaired from its inception until his retirement, and to the system of examinations that remains a hallmark of a Toronto training in the field. It was his tireless and exacting but endlessly patient encouragement of students in their pursuit of a notoriously rigorous standard that exposed the greatest number of Toronto graduate students to his teaching over the years. Those who took his seminars, and above all those who benefitted from his kindness, enthusiasm, and bonhomie as their doctoral supervisor experienced even more abundantly his rare combination of extraordinary erudition, good humour, genuine humility, and quiet empathy.
We are all of us the poorer for the loss of this kind, good, and brilliant man. He is survived by his wife, Jennifer Rigg, sisters-in-law Joanne Hope and Ann Nicholson, and by his nephew, Rupert Hope. Warmest thanks to the Temmy Latner Centre for Palliative Care for their unfailing kindness and support.
There will be a small ceremony at 11:00 am on Saturday, 19 January 2019, Humphrey Funeral Home, 1403 Bayview Avenue, Toronto, ON. Phone: 416-487-4523. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to an animal rescue shelter or a charity of your choice.
The Centre hopes to hold a memorial on the University of Toronto campus in the Spring, and an informal remembrance at the Medieval Congress at Kalamazoo prior to the annual CMS reception; details to follow.
Professor Emeritus of Medieval Studies and English
University of Toronto
Every year, the Centre for Teaching Support & Innovation offers awards to the best Teaching Assistants on campus. Only twelve TAs make it to the short-list among hundreds nominated. Of these twelve short-listed in 2017, one was a PhD student from the Centre for Medieval Studies: Lochin Brouillard. CONGRATULATIONS!
Here are some extracts of the letter written for Lochin by the professor who nominated her. “Lochin has been my T.A. in the VIC 343Y ‘Sex and Gender in the Renaissance’ for the past three years and has gained my absolute trust and admiration for the great work she has done in the course. […] One reason for Lochin’s great success as a TA is her profound dedication to teaching and to helping students do their best. She mentors students on a one-to-one basis, learns their name, draws them into the discussion, and makes them feel at home and valued. Another reason is Lochin’s own character – open, friendly, relaxed, supportive. She epitomizes the best of what a teacher should be. She always has a smile on her lips and great ideas in her mind – she engages with students and contributes to class discussions with ease and elegance, and also with profound knowledge of the materials and the field. And she manages to steer a clear, scholarly course without infringing on anyone’s sensibilities (not an easy task on a course on ‘sex and gender’).”
The Teaching Assistants’ Training Program’s (TATP) Teaching Excellence Award was created in 2003 to recognize the outstanding contributions of teaching assistants across all four divisions in the School of Graduate Studies at the University of Toronto. The award seeks to value the work of TAs who regularly inspire and challenge undergraduate students. It means that the individuals who won this award and the ones who were short-listed for it can count themselves among the University’s top TAs!
CMS does not have an undergraduate component to its program. Therefore our PhD students are sometimes frustrated as they cannot TA as much as they would like. The fact that one of the twelve TAs short-listed by TATP this year, two from last year (Amanda Wetmore who won the award and Nicholas Wheeler), and already one in 2015 (Michael Fatigati) were from CMS is the perfect proof that any institution hiring CMS students gets the service of extremely talented and incredibly knowledgeable TAs.
We are very sad to share the news that Georges Whalen has passed away. Many of you may have known Georges during his years as an MA and doctoral student at the Centre for Medieval Studies (1983 – 1991), or perhaps encountered him at one of his favourite places to spend time, the Common Room of the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies. More information on Georges’ life, including details about the family’s wishes concerning ways that Georges might be remembered, can be found here:
Georges aurait été sensible au fait que notre message d’adieu soit écrit en anglais et en français.
Georges, merci pour ta joie, ta générosité, et surtout ton incroyable curiosité et ta gentillesse. Te connaître fut un plaisir et tes enfants peuvent compter sur de nombreux médiévistes à travers le monde pour leur conter des anecdotes, multiples et variées, sur toi et l’amitié qu’ils t’ont portée.
PROFESSOR CHARLES BURNETT (Warburg Institute, University of London)
“Arabica Veritas. Europeans’ Search for ‘Truth’ in Arabic Scientific and Philosophical Literature of the Middle Ages”
Friday, 10 February 2017, 4:10 pm;
Alumni Hall, Room 100 (121 St. Joseph Street);
Reception to follow
Why did the Latin world seek out Arabic texts for translation between the eleventh and the thirteenth centuries? In the religious context it is clear that Muslim literature was translated in order to understand and refute Islam. But in science and philosophy the search was for ‘the truth’ which could be found amongst the Arabs. This lecture explores what was meant by the ‘Arabica veritas’ (or ‘Arabum veritas’), and why this truth was regarded as being important. Can someone else’s ‘truth’ provide security in the face of the inherent uncertainty of sublunary matters?
Charles Burnett, MA, PhD, LGSM is Professor of the History of Arabic/Islamic Influences in Europe at the Warburg Institute, University of London, and Co-Director of the Centre for the History of Arabic Studies in Europe. He is a Fellow of the British Academy, Corresponding Fellow of the Medieval Academy of America, and Fellow of the International Society for the History of Science. He is leader of the Humanities in the European Research Area project on Encounters with the Orient in Early Modern European Scholarship (EOS). His research centres on the transmission of texts, techniques and artefacts from the Arab world to the West, especially in the Middle Ages. He has documented this transmission by editing and translating several texts that were first translated from Arabic into Latin, and also by describing the historical and cultural context of these translations. Throughout his research and his publications he has aimed to document the extent to which Arabic authorities and texts translated from Arabic have shaped European learning, in the universities, in medical schools and in esoteric circles. Among his books are The Introduction of Arabic Learning into England (1997), Arabic into Latin in the Middle Ages: The Translators and their Intellectual and Social Context (2009) and Numerals and Arithmetic in the Middle Ages (2010). Other interests include Jesuit education in Japan in the late sixteenth century, the use of Japanese themes in Latin drama in Europe in the seventeenth century and the use of music in therapy and in the Christian mission.
The final preparations for the MAA Meeting in Toronto, on April 6-8, 2017, are in full swing. Please go directly to its website for more information.
To learn more about the ancient Ethiopian and Eritrean language of Ge’ez that is being taught at the graduate level at the Centre for Medieval Studies since this January 2017, listen to CBC Metro Morning on Friday 6 January 2017 and read the great article “The Weeknd helps bring an ancient language to life at U of T” on CBC News website and the one in The Bulletin, “The university is now one of the only places in the world where students can learn Ge’ez“.
Please admire CMS Faculty Rob Getz and Stephen Pelle explaining, with much humour, the beauty of Old English and celebrating the advance of the Dictionary of Old English to the letter H. You can read about them in an article on CBC News. They were first celebrated in another article, this one in the University of Toronto Magazine. On either site, watch the great video!
To learn more about the ancient ethiopian language of Ge’ez that will be taught at the graduate level at the Centre for Medieval Studies starting January 2017, and to see how much enthusiasm this project has generated so far, please read an article in okayafrica. international edition.
The Centre for Medieval Studies is delighted to announce the release of the Dictionary of Old English: A-H online. This is the first release of the letter H (2,956 headwords) and also includes significant revisions to the eight previously published letters. This release features a new and updated interface with improved search capabilities.
Here’s the link: