Congratulations to our recent PhD students

Congratulations to our recent PhD students who defended in the Fall term of 2014 or the beginning of Spring term 2015: Katherine Marie (Katie) Lindeman, Alice Hutton Sharp, Magda S.J. Hayton, George James McBeath Lamont, and Eileen Kim.

Katie Lindeman (defended in January 2015), “Go Manfully”: Masculine Self-­‐Fashioning in Late Medieval Dominican Sources. Supervisors: Joe Goering and Mark Meyerson; external examiner: Christine Caldwell Ames, University of South Carolina.

In a world where men often demonstrated their masculine identity through violent action and sexual expression, how did the Dominican friar, forbidden to physically fight and committed to chastity, reconcile his sense of being a man with his vocational prerogatives? Often raised outside the convent and inculcated in lay understandings of maleness, the friar then entered a world of preachers, whose vocation required both commitment to conventual life, which emphasized separation from the world, and extensive involvement with lay society through pastoral work. This dissertation looks at how these two seemingly disparate behavioral codes—lay definitions of masculine behavior and religious ideals—found expression in the corporate identity of the Dominican Order from 1220-1350. In the process of defining the Order’s vocational goals, behavioral ideals, and overall function in late medieval society, the early Dominican writers simultaneously created behavioral ideals for men that reflected those defining laymen as men. By comparing the values, behavioral norms, and ideology presented in the Order’s important nascent texts with the secular ideals of masculinity described in anthropological studies, gender theory, late medieval literature, rhetorical sources, medical theory, legal records, letters, art, and religious traditions, this study explores the porous boundary between societal expectations for laymen and vocational models for Dominican friars during the Order’s formative period. Viewed through the gendered habitus of late medieval society, the Dominican Constitutions, hagiographic texts, liturgical settings, preaching manuals, and encyclical letters collectively showed friars how to simultaneously function as a Dominicans and as men, while providing a valuable window into the relationship between religion and masculinity in the late medieval period.


Alice Hutton Sharp (defended in January 2015), In Principio: The Origins of the Glossa ordinaria on Genesis 1-3. Supervisor: Alexander Andrée; external reader: Frans van Liere, Calvin College.

This thesis traces the twelfth-century origins and development of the Glossa ordinaria on Genesis from the evidence of sixteen early manuscripts, focusing on the creation narrative (Genesis 1–3). The Glossa ordinaria on the Bible, a product of the twelfth-century School of Laon, was one of the most influential texts of the High Middle Ages. The Glossa on the creation narrative compiled excerpts from Genesis commentaries and Hexameral literature, explaining the scriptural basis for doctrines such as the creation of the world ex nihilo and Original Sin, and exploring the relationship between the Genesis account, Plato’s Timaeus, and Aristotelian natural philosophy. The first chapter observes the manuscripts for themselves: it describes their physical characteristics and argues that the textual development of the Glossa ordinaria on Genesis depended upon mid-twelfth-century innovations in formatting and layout. The second and third chapters study the history of the two distinct versions of the text. The second chapter compares the earlier version—the Glossa primitiva— to an anonymous Genesis commentary found in London, Lambeth Palace Library, 349, and argues that the two commentaries are built on a shared source, likely a lecture aid used in a classroom. The third chapter studies the relationship between the Glossa primitiva and the later Glossa ordinaria, arguing that they represent two stages in a process by which classroom notes were transformed into an encyclopedic reference. The fourth chapter focuses on the content of the texts: it looks at the exegetical principles and theological questions treated in the Glossa ordinaria to show that its compilers read the creation account with a hermeneutic that challenges a simplistic division between literal and allegorical readings. It concludes by observing that this, combined with the narrative structure of the gloss format, gave twelfth-century exegetes more scope for cosmological inquiry than did other contemporary genres, such as sentence collections. The thesis is supported by two appendices: one containing manuscript descriptions, the second a transcription of the Glossa ordinaria on Genesis 1-3.


Magda S.J. Hayton (defended in Fall 2014), Inflections of Prophetic Vision: The Reshaping of Hildegard of Bingen’s Apocalypticism as Represented by Abridgments of the Pentachronon. Supervisor: Joe Goering; external reader: John van Engen, University of Notre-Dame.

This dissertation examines the continental reception of Hildegard of Bingen’s apocalyptic discourse from the thirteenth through the fifteenth century as it was known through the Pentachronon sive speculum futurorum temporum (The Book of Five Times or Mirror of Future Times), an anthology of her prophecies compiled c.1220. Through an examination of three abridgments of the Pentachronon (two previously undstudied), this study examines the Pentachronon’s role in the formation of medieval apocalyptic spirituality, its common transmission and reception with works ascribed to Joachim of Fiore, and its redeployment during the Western Schism. This study argues for the existence and persistence of an apocalyptic spirituality in which readers and scribes identified with Hildegard’s “prophets and wise ones” as they were presented in the Pentachronon, and that this identification informed the production, annotation, and circulation of the Pentachronon and its abridgments. In the thirteenth century this was expressed as a Cistercian apocalyptic spirituality that not only produced the original Pentachronon and its most popular abridged version, the PCp (pre-1250) (chapter two), but was also responsible for the first combined readings of Hildegardian and Joachite prophetic works (chapter three). Chapter two examines how the spiritual instruction offered in the PCp teaches that prophets and prophecy are the key to religious and social renewal and improvement within its alternative salvation theology, and that there is a special relationship between the Cistercian Order and medieval prophecy. Chapter three examines an abridgment derived from the PCp that is found in the earliest extant prophecy collection (here dated to c. 1250/1254-1260) containing both Hildegardian and Joachite prophetic works. This chapter explores the continuities between Hildegardian and Joachite apocalyptic discourses and the recognition of these commonalities by thirteenth-century readers, including Vincent of Beauvais and Alexander of Bremen. Chapter four examines a radical abridgment of the PCp made in response to the Western Schism, here called the “Schism Extracts”, and its association with works promoting pro-French apocalypticism and the Angelic Pope, including a work by Pierre d’Ailly (the Invectiva Ezechielis prophetae). This chapter, together with the two apendices, argues that the Extracts are best understood as an expression of d’Ailly’s reformist apocalypticism and that he or someone within his circle was responsible for the production of three late medieval prophecy collections in which they are found. This chapter demonstrates that the apocalyptic spirituality formulated among Cistercians and founded on both Hildegardian and Joachite discourses persisted through the mid-fifteenth century. Chapter five provides a conclusion and Appendices I and II provide working editions of d’Ailly’s Invectiva Ezechielis and the Schism Extracts.


George Lamont (defended in Fall 2014), The Present Participle as a Marker of Style and Authorship in Old English Biblical Translation. Supervisor: David Townsend; external reader: Richard Marsden, University of Nottingham.

This dissertation investigates evidence of multiple authorship in the Old English Hexateuch translation of Genesis and in the West-Saxon Gospels by examining how the translations render the Latin present participle into Old English. These are two of the longest extant Old English texts, and there is growing scholarly recognition that they may both be products of multiple authorship; however, the translators, except one in Genesis, are anonymous, and the number and locations of shifts in authorship are widely disputed. Past scholarship has employed qualitative, philological evidence, counted features possibly indicating shifts in authorship, and variously proposed breaks between and within texts, but qualitative studies have not fully exploited the present participle as a marker, and quantitative results have not been verified with statistical tests. This dissertation addresses these gaps by conducting a full inventory of Latin present participles in the Old English Genesis and the West-Saxon Gospels, identifying how they are rendered into Old English, and then categorizing them by case and position. The dissertation then applies a statistical “proportion test” to search for the locations of statistically significant shifts in the rate of translating the Latin present participle with its OE counterpart, both overall and in several subcategories. Last, the study engages in qualitative syntactic and philological analysis to evaluate breaks indicated by the proportion test. The results independently corroborate previously asserted textual breaks in Genesis and the West-Saxon Gospels with new syntactic and statistical evidence, revise an existing theory of intra-textual shift in the WS Matthew, and detect evidence of other intra-textual shifts not previously asserted in scholarship. These results also suggest Old English biblical translators engaged in interpretation and authorship, not merely mechanical translation. The study’s approaches further explore how traditional and non-traditional methods of authorship attribution can investigate a wide variety of authorship problems.


Eileen Kim (defended in Fall 2014), The Tailors, Drapers, and Mercers of London and the London Commissary and Husting Court Wills, 1374-1485. Supervisor: Michael Gervers; external reader: Barbara Hanawalt, Ohio State University.

Scholarly interest in individuals and their daily lives in late medieval England has been particularly strong over the past thirty years. This interest can be linked to heightened scrutiny of wills and the nature and extent of their utility as access points into testators’ lives, their most intimate relationships, and their varied desires and concerns, particularly in the context of the family and the household. Some scholars have argued that wills present a limited view of testators in a specific moment, rather than encompassing the entirety of the individuals’ legacies. The heavily formulaic nature of the wills enrolled in late medieval English courts have also been considered characteristics that hamper the ability of the documents to reveal testators’ individual personalities and concerns. Others, however, have noted that testators’ adherence to formulaic structure in wills in fact constitutes a community founded on participation in shared traditions, and that the conventions of will-making still allowed testators a certain degree of flexibility to assert their own desires and address their individual concerns. This thesis examines the wills of London’s tailors, drapers, and mercers that were enrolled from 1374 to 1485 in the city’s Husting and Commissary Courts, and the study undertaken here investigates several main aspects of the testators’ lives and circumstances which the wills can help illuminate. These elements include the local communities and networks in which the testators participated and claimed membership, such as those formed by parish and trade; households and families, with special focus on testators’ wives; and executors as individuals entrusted with particular responsibilities in connection to the wills. I argue that the conventions and guidelines concerning format, structure, and content of wills in late medieval London indeed were the primary forces in shaping them, but the same guidelines also allowed some room for testators to acknowledge and affirm close relationships and to look after their own spiritual welfare. The thesis demonstrates that testators could and often did negotiate the wills’ structural and legal conventions in singular ways, most often to assert and maintain the supervision of their wives’ circumstances as widows, and also to enact and confirm their own piety as a measure of ensuring their memory in the larger community and their spiritual welfare following their death.

Congratulations to our recent PhD students

Congratulations to Elizabeth (Beth) Watkins, Jaclyn Piudik and Justin Haynes who have successfully defended their PhD dissertations in summer 2014. Here’s some further information about their work.

Beth Watkins (defended in April 2014), French Romance and English Piety: Genre and Codex in Insular Romance. Supervisor: Suzanne Akbari; external examiner: Ardis Butterfield, Yale University.

This dissertation explores what the interplay of romance and religious literature in England from the twelfth through fifteenth centuries can reveal about the origins and development of medieval romance. Drawing upon codicological evidence, it favors a more fluid definition of romance that recognizes it as both a category of generic difference distinct from but also linked to the saint’s life, chronicle, or chanson de geste, and as a mode of translation that has its roots in the origins of the term romanz as a marker of linguistic difference used to distinguish French from Latin. It argues that the interconnections of romance and religious literature should be viewed as part of the process of translating or adapting a text, whether into a new language or for a new audience. The first section examines how French hagiographical works adopt motifs and themes associated with romance in the translation of their Latin sources. Chapter 1 focuses on Wace’s use of courtly imagery, expanded descriptions, and doubling in the Vie de Sainte Marguerite, Conception Nostre Dame, and Vie de Saint Nicolas and how these alterations to his source material anticipate qualities that would become features of the romance genre. The second chapter discusses the generic hybridity in Marie de France’s Vie Seinte Audree, in which allusions to the lais cast Saint Audrey as a mal mariée, and the Espurgatoire Seint Patriz, in which the emphasis on Owein’s status as a knight offers a suitable alternative to the religious life. The second section assesses the use of hagiographic and religious elements in romances. The third chapter traces the use of hagiography in three Anglo-Norman romances – the Roman de Horn, Roman de Waldef, and Gui de Warewic – to contextualize the significant generic shift that occurs in the attribution of saintly qualities to the hero Guy of Warwick in the latest of the three texts. Concentrating on the role of the relics, the final chapter looks at how the Middle English adaptations of the chanson de geste Fierabras reflect developments in devotional culture, England’s involvement in the Hundred Years War, and the rise of English as a literary language. The combination of codicological and literary approaches in this study foregrounds the processes of translation, adaptation, and transmission that operated in the literary networks of medieval England to broaden our understanding of medieval genres, as well as the place of French language, literature, and culture.


Jaclyn Piudik (August 2014), Hybridity in the Fourteenth-Century Esther Poems of Israel Caslari. Supervisor: Jill Ross; external examiner: David Wacks, University of Oregon.

The Scroll of Esther, one of the quintessential texts of post-exilic Jewish salvation, was particularly beloved in the European Middle Ages, when the narrative served as a model for redemption from persecution and as a reminder of the threat of expulsion which was part of everyday Jewish life. Among its many medieval adaptations is a pair of texts written by Israel ben Joseph Caslari, a fourteenth-century Jewish physician, living in Papal-ruled Avignon. Israel’s retellings of the Purim story are expanded and heavily embellished with material from Talmudic and apocryphal sources, medieval medicine and philosophy, and references to popular culture. He composed his first version in Judéo-Provençal, the southern French vernacular written in Hebrew characters; the second in Hebrew, not a translation, but an adaptation of its predecessor. As individual works, each is a rich intertextual landscape which offers a view into its socio-religious setting and reflects the meeting and melding of cultural influences. If one considers them together, this encounter becomes even more pronounced: the two versions come into conversation, embodying the tensions of their milieu, and of their author, a Jewish intellectual in a Christian-dominated society.

The texts are a tapestry of ancient religious legacy and medieval thought, woven from threads of Jewish tradition and secular learning, from medieval belletristic conventions, midrashic literature and medical writings. This dissertation explores issues of biculturalism and religious identity through Israel’s compositional strategies and his modifications to the Biblical story. It considers first the notion of hybridity in the works through the convergence of their author’s professional and religious concerns, in his treatment of gender and language as a representation of cultural boundaries and their transgression. It then examines the multiplicity of literary genres, both religious and secular, that inhabit and inform the texts, while engaging the question of their audiences as the Hebrew version prescribes.


Justin Haynes (defended in August 2014), Recovering the Classic: Twelfth-Century Latin Epic and the Virgilian Tradition. Supervisors: John Magee and David Townsend; external examiner: Joseph Farrell, Jr., University of Pennsylvania.

This dissertation considers how ancient and medieval commentaries on the Aeneid can give us new insights into four twelfth-century Latin epics—the Ylias by Joseph of Exeter, the Alexandreis by Walter of Châtillon, the Anticlaudianus by Alan of Lille, and the Architrenius by John of Hauville. Virgil’s influence on twelfth-century Latin epic is generally thought to be limited to verbal echoes and occasional narrative episodes, but evidence is presented that more global influences have been overlooked because ancient and medieval interpretations of the Aeneid, as preserved by the commentaries, were often radically different from modern readings of the Aeneid. By explaining how to interpret the Aeneid, these commentaries directly influenced the way in which twelfth-century Latin epic imitated the Aeneid. At the same time, these Aeneid commentaries allow us a greater awareness of the generic expectations held by the original readers of twelfth-century Latin epic. Thus, this dissertation contributes to our understanding of ancient and medieval perceptions of the Aeneid while exploring the importance of commentaries in shaping poetic composition, imitation, and reading. The first chapter presents evidence that the allegorical interpretation of the Aeneid, as presented by Servius, Fulgentius, and Bernard Silvestris, served as an important structural model for the plots of the Anticlaudianus and the Architrenius. The second chapter examines how the twelfth-century understanding of history and myth in the Aeneid influenced the Alexandreis and the Ylias. The final chapter explores how these medieval epics respond to the twelfth-century ethical reading of the Aeneid and suggests possible links to modern ‘pessimistic’ interpretations of the Aeneid, building on the work done by Craig Kallendorf in The Other Virgil and Richard Thomas in Virgil and the Augustan Reception.

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.

Congratulations to our recent PhDs

Congratulations to Michael Elliot, Tristan Sharp, Michael Barbezat, Peter Buchanan and Sharon Teague, who all have successfully defended their PhD dissertations this year. Here’s some further information about their work:

Michael Elliot (defended in September), Canon Law Collections in England ca 600-1066: The Manuscript Evidence.
Supervisor: Andy Orchard; External Examiner: Katy Cubitt, University of York.
This dissertation summarizes the evidence for the use of canon law collections in England during the Christian Anglo-Saxon period, that is ca 600–1066. The method is text-historical, the focus being firstly on the scientific description of the primary evidence and secondly on the evaluation of that evidence to determine which canon law collections were in circulation in Anglo-Saxon England, and exactly when, where and (in some cases) to whom they may have been available. An attempt is also made (in Chapter 2) to find a place for future discussion of canon law collections within the field of Anglo-Saxon Studies—a field traditionally resistant to this particular aspect of early medieval legal culture.
This dissertation has been envisioned as primarily descriptive. Here and there, however, attempts are made to venture beyond mere description of the evidence and explore the broader significance of canon law collections to Anglo-Saxon legal culture as a whole; however, given the still nascent state of the study of Anglo-Saxon canon law, such explorations (admittedly often speculative) can only be considered preliminary to a more detailed investigation into the social, political and institutional significance of the evidence that is herein presented. This is simply to say that the definitive treatment of Anglo-Saxon canon law has yet to be—and indeed still seems far from being—written.
The appendices contain a number of transcriptions of canon law collections from Anglo-Saxon manuscripts, including the first ever transcriptions of the “Collectio Sanblasiana” and “Collectio Turonensis”, as well as transcriptions of Book 4 of the “Collectio quadripartita” and of the “Collectio Wigorniensis” (or “Excerptiones pseudo-Ecgberhti”) in four of its five versions. The appendices also contain a review of the complex historiography surrounding the latter two collections, as well as case studies of three texts that appear to have been crucial to the development of canon law in the Anglo-Saxon church―namely the “Libellus responsionum”, the “Constitutum Silvestri”, and Ecgberht of York’s “Dialogus”. While the appendixed material is intended primarily as support for the broader arguments developed in the dissertation proper, it is also hoped that scholars will find some of that material useful in its own right, and that they will use it to promote further discussion of the importance of canon law collections―especially Continental canon law collections―within the context of Anglo-Saxon England.

Tristan Sharp (defended in September), William of Pagula’s Speculum religiosorum and its Background: Law, Pastoral Care and Religious Formation for Monks, c.1215-c.1350.
Supervisor: Joe Goering; External Examiner: David Bell, Memorial University.
This dissertation examines the intersection of law and monastic literature in the “Speculum religiosorum” (c.1322), a guide to the monastic life, written by the English parish priest and doctor of canon law William of Pagula (fl.c.1300-1332). William’s “Speculum” is unique among monastic treatise in that it incorporates a long compendium of monastic law. The introduction provides context for the Speculum through an overview of the history of monastic reform from the mid-eleventh century to the fourteenth. In chapter one, I examine the manuscripts of the “Speculum religiosorum”, its relationship to William’s other works, and its sources. The non-legal contents of the “Speculum” come mostly from the Bible, the Fathers, and Cistercian writers, but I show that William’s sources for this material were more recent compilations, such as Thomas of Ireland’s “Manipulus florum”. In chapter two I argue that the “Speculum” belongs to a category of texts that I call “encyclopedic manuals of monastic formation,” but that the work also has an important relationship with sermons and preaching aids. Chapters three and four cover the legal contents of the “Speculum”. Chapter three is an overview of monastic law from Gratian’s “Decretum” to the “Clementines” (1311), with an emphasis on the English context. In chapter four, I argue that William’s legal methodology is more sophisticated than that of other compendia of monastic law in fourteenth-century England. I further argue that William encourages his audience to internalize law through the tools of monastic meditative reading, and I provide parallel examples from other monastic contexts. In Chapter five, I argue that wisdom is the governing theme for the “Speculum” as a whole. William’s conception of wisdom combines elements from Augustine and from monastic exegesis of Biblical wisdom literature. I conclude by observing that “Speculum” does not allow for neat a division between pastoral, legal, and monastic literature.

Michael Barbezat (defended in August), Doubt, Faith, and the World to Come in Peter of Cornwall’s Book of Revelations.
Supervisor: Joe Goering; External Examiner: Barbara Newman, Northwestern University.
This dissertation explores the relationship between doubt and faith as it appears in a large collection of visions and revelations from the turn of the thirteenth century, entitled the “Liber revelationum”, or the “Book of Revelations”. The “Liber revelationum” was compiled in London by an Augustinian canon named Peter of Cornwall around the year 1200. Peter claims that he collected revelations because there are those who do not believe that God exists, that human souls live on after death, or that there is anything invisible or spiritual. Peter’s revelations provide demonstrations of the reality of these beings to those who believe only “the things they see.” My work explores this apparent scepticism in light of the manuscript’s contents and context, focusing on the first book of the collection dealing with proofs for life after death.
I argue that the contents of this manuscript complicate the picture of medieval doubt offered by many scholars. Rather than seeing doubt solely as a threat or potential solvent to faith, Peter’s collection takes the potential for doubt as an opportunity. Peter’s work results from what he took as a central epistemological problem facing human beings: because of sin, humanity has lost the ability to directly know God. As a result, it is natural to doubt His existence as He cannot be known through experience. Peter’s revelations address this doubt. These revelations, however, can never completely bridge the fundamental separation between the spiritual and the material worlds.
To understand the dialectic between seen and unseen in the collection, I use various interpretive frames such as Morrison’s “hermeneutics of empathy,” the Augustinian “realm of unlikeness,” and Rosenwein’s emotional communities. The visionary narratives that Peter collected play along the hermeneutic gap that defines not only revelatory literature but far larger aspects of medieval doubt, belief and affective experience. In fact, the contents of the “Book of Revelations” illustrate how visionary and revelatory literature at the turn of the thirteenth century could be arranged by a contemporary participant to demonstrate how doubt and the fallen human state, which makes doubt possible, can participate in the formation of belief.

Peter Buchanan (defended in June), Phenomenal Anglo-Saxons: Perceptions, Adaptation, and the Poetic Imagination.
Supervisor: Andy Orchard; External Examiner: Katherine O’Brien O’Keeffe, University of California, Berkeley.
This dissertation articulates a theory of adaptation for the Anglo-Saxon literature in which metaphors of embodiment mediate the reception of poetic works: when we read, our bodies get in the way. Central to my work is the understanding that the embodied situatedness of poets adapting materials from other sources informs the literature that they produce. I explore the material and textual conditions through which the writings of the period reveal themselves and seek to understand how these contexts shaped the reception of earlier writings. Poetic texts filled with sensory detail provide a framework for their own reception. My approach to textual phenomena is informed by reading in the phenomenological tradition of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, as expressed by the work of philosophers such as Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Gaston Bachelard, Hans-Georg Gadamer, and Jean-Luc Marion.
Chapter One argues for a parallel relationship between the flesh of Christ and the medieval book in the reception of Prudentius. Their shared flesh allows the Word to appear in the world by taking on the animal nature of a life characterized by suffering.
Chapter Two considers the suffering of the saints in Aldhelm’s “Carmen de virginitate”. This suffering constitutes a form of affective piety that provides a framework for the desirous reception of holy bodies and also of the textual corpora of early authors.
Chapter Three argues that in Felix’s “Vita Guthlaci”, eating and reading reveal the body’s permeability. Guthlac’s ingestion of hallucinogenic mold and Felix’s reception of Aldhelm appear as a demonic attack that imbricates saint and hagiographer in the textualized landscape of the fen.
Chapter Four analyzes the role of visual perception in the ekphrastic presentation of the phoenix as it appears in Lactantius’s Latin poem and its Old English translation. The interrelation of ekphrasis and translation as modes of perception grants the phoenix both literary and material forms.
Chapter Five argues that crossing the Red Sea in “Exodus” embodies the theory of textual interpretation explicated by Moses in which the keys of the spirit reveal hidden truths. The crossing becomes a fusion of horizons, as the waters lower to reveal old foundations.

Sharon Teague (defended in March), Patterns of Bequest within the Family: Testamentary Evidence from the Ecclesiastical Registers of Canterbury and York c. 1340-1440.
Supervisor: Michael Gervers; External Examiner: Joel Rosenthal, Stony Brook University.
This dissertation examined the strategies and decisions made by 200 English testators who used their wills to provide for the safety and success of their spouses and children. From this analysis, patterns of bequest emerged that were clearly linked to testators’ gender and marital and social status. External factors, such as the type of tenure by which the family held property also played a primary role. Those who held by military or feudal tenure made choices strongly shaped by the rules of English common law and custom; those who held by burgage tenure cared for their family within the framework of customs and statutes established for an urban environment. Husbands, for example, entrusted their wives with the role of executor, while widows chose their sons, and widowers their friends and clergy. Analyzing bequests to children revealed that commoner parents, unlike their chivalric counterparts, exhibited little bias toward their offspring based on the child’s gender. Parents influenced by the rights of primogeniture, however, strongly favored their sons and their sons’ families.
The wills selected were chosen from two sources: James Raine’s “Testamenta Eboracensia” and E. F. Jacob’s “The Will Register of Henry Chichele”. The sample included 76 women (48 widows, 23 wives, and 5 single women) and 124 men (104 husbands and 20 widowers) whose wills were probated between c. 1340 and 1440 in the ecclesiastical courts of either York or Canterbury, England. The goal, to understand more clearly the familial behavior and politics involved when parents and spouses transferred power and property, made it essential that the analytical methodology employed be both flexible and accurate.
Microsoft’s Access database allowed the findings to shape the results, avoiding as far as possible the imposition of 21st-century categories on fourteenth- and fifteenth-century sensibilities.