Past events

Fall 2015

Fall 2015 Speaker Series

Monday October 5:
Susan Crane, Sarah Kay, Eleanor Johnson, Joe Johnson, and Karl Steel
“Animal Studies and Environmental Studies”

This panel of NYC medievalists will introduce graduate students to the diverse ways in which animal and environmental approaches are changing medieval studies. Each of us will begin with a compact statement of just what these approaches are and what they offer, together with a concise example from our current research and writing, as a preface to discussion among those present. If GSAC provides some financial support, the conversation will continue over dinner at a local restaurant.

(Place TBD, late afternoon time TBD)

Monday November 9:
Christopher Cannon and Paul Strohm
“The Ad Hoc Schoolroom”

Professor Cannon has accepted our invitation to discuss Latinate education and poetic composition in later medieval England, serving as a curtain-raiser to his forthcoming Oxford University Press volume, From Literacy to Literature.  The session will begin with a conversation with Paul Strohm about the announced topic and about the contours of the book to which it will belong, then moving to further discussion among those present.  Relevant extracts from the book will be made available to participants, via email attachment, prior to the session.

(Place TBD, late afternoon time TBD)

Spring 2015

Workshop Meetings

Wed. March 25 –  Eugene Petracca and Aled Roberts: Mock Orals Examination

Wed. April 1st – Gabi Badea: Conference Paper Workshop

Wed. April 8 – Jenna Schoen: MA Thesis Workshop

Wed. April 15 – Eugene Petracca: Conference Paper Workshop

Wed. April 29 – Ruen-chuan Ma: Conference Paper Workshop

All of the workshop meetings will be held from 5 to 6 pm in Milbank 222 (North end of the Barnard Campus). Details about each session will be forwarded to you every time, and additional materials will be available upon request.

March 31, 6.30pm in 754 Schermerhorn Hall (IRWGS room): Carolyn Dinshaw (NYU). “Paradise Lost, Regained, Refracted: Saint Brendan’s Isle and the Optics of Desire.” Co-sponsored with IRWGS.

The history of Saint Brendan’s Isle traces a curious history of desire. In the early medieval Navigatio sancti Brendanithe Irish saint journeys over the sea towards the west, sailing for seven years but eventually finding “the Promised Land, which God will give to those who come after us at the end of time.” Brendan’s island was not only the Promised Land but also the Garden of Eden, the end of time fused with the beginning. Appearing on medievalmappaemundi, this Paradise defied the physical laws of nature; Brendan found it, but even he could not access all of it. A perpetual enticement and a perpetual frustration, it beckoned and it receded.

Tudor apologist John Dee used Saint Brendan’s voyage as evidence for Elizabeth’s I’s claim to northern lands and the New World. Four early modern expeditions set out to find Saint Brendan’s Isle – to determine if it did indeed exist – but all ended by failing to find that Land of Promise. By the end of the eighteenth century it was concluded that this illusory landmass might well have been but atmospheric refraction – a mirage, even a specific kind of mirage, a Fata Morgana, an elaborate distortion that appears in vertical stacks, shifting and changing. This optical phenomenon – depending not only on heat and light but also turbulence – could explain well the perceived comings and goings of the elusive Isle of Saint Brendan.

I look at several texts from the eighth to the twentieth centuries, including the Navigatio sancti Brendani, John Dee’sBrytanici Imperii Limites, and Tim Severin’s Brendan Voyage, as well as contemporary art, in order to trace this island and to explore the concept of mirage as apt image of philology and historical research.

April 22, 6pm in Studio@Butler (208b Butler Library): David Joseph Wrisley (American University of Beirut and Fordham), “How Are Medieval Places Different from Ancient Ones?: Thoughts on Digital Maps of the Middle Ages”

The recent interest in multilingualism, cultural interactions and the Mediterranean in medieval studies is asking us to conceptualize and map the medium aevum in new ways. But what middle period do we want to model? a European one? a Mediterranean one? a global one? 

Classicists have done pioneering digital work in linking spatial information with names found in Greek and Latin texts. Many medievalists would like to see such projects emerge in our field, and yet the polyglossia and temporal and spatial scope of our period makes the endeavor seem complex. This talk explores the specific challenges medievalists face when modeling historical places and asks whether the model of the ancient world needs to be adjusted to accommodate our period.


Spring 2014

Workshops and Talks 

Regular meeting place and time to be decided.

02/12. Speaker Series. Professor Jessica Brantley (Yale). Title: “Macaronic Texts and Imported Images:  Mixed Forms in the Pavement Hours (York MS XVI.K.6).”

Time: Friday, 02/12, 6.10pm. Location: Kent Hall, room 511.

The book of hours was by far the most common book of the late Middle Ages. This talk will consider the implications of that fact for the vernacular literary cultures that surrounded the popular prayerbook, focusing in particular on the hybrid forms of text and image that comprise one complex illustrated manuscript from late-medieval York, the Pavement Hours (York Minster XVI.K.6).

02/21. Speaker Series. Keynote. Professor Nicholas Watson (Harvard). Title: “The Construction of Sacred Power: Vision and Liturgy in John of Morigny’s Book of Flowers (1301-1315).”  

Time: 02/21, 6pm. Location: Hamilton Hall, room 516

3/12 – Bruce Holsinger – Reading from and discussing his New Novel, “A Burnable Book”. 1pm. CO1 Knox Hall. 606 122nd St.

Medieval England never tasted so rich nor smelled so foul as in this descriptive and intricately layered mystery. Holsinger…succeeds in elevating the missing manuscript genre to new heights that will entertain readers of both fiction and nonfiction.” – Library Journal

“John Gower is the perfect narrator and amateur sleuth…Holsinger’s research, alongside the energetic vulgarity of a language in flux, delivers up a world where even the filth is colorful.” The New York Times Book Review

(SPRING BREAK – 3/19 – Open Session – 404 Barnard Hall – 6:00–8:00pm)

4/2 –  Gianmarco Saretto – Paper Workshop on Skin in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. 404 Barnard Hall – 6:00–8:00pm

4/16 – Audrey Walton – Article/Paper/Chapter Workshop on Piers Plowman – 404 Barnard Hall –  4:30-6:30pm


Fall 2013

Workshops and Talks 

All events take place in Barnard Hall, room 407, at 6.10pm unless otherwise noted. Everyone welcome.

9/16. Fall 2013 Planning Meeting. All welcome! Refreshments provided.

10/28 Workshop: Gania Barlow

10/31. 6pm. Speaker Series. Professor Sarah Kay (NYU). Talk title: “Human or Animal? Reading the Skin of a Bestiary Page.” Location: Hamilton Hall 511.

11/8. 5pm. Speaker Series. Professor Arthur Bahr (MIT). Talk title: “Miscellaneity and Compilation in the Medieval Book.” Location: Philosophy Hall 612.


Spring 2013

Workshops and Talks 

All events take place in Barnard Hall, room 405, at 6.10pm.

Thursday, 2/7. SPEAKER SERIES. Talk by Dr. Thomas O’Donnell (Fordham University)

Thursday, 2/21. Workshop: Ruen-chuan Ma’s dissertation chapter

Tuesday, 3/12. SPEAKER SERIES. Talk by Professor Elizabeth Tyler (University of York)

Thursday, 3/14. Workshop: Aled Robert’s MA thesis

Thursday, 3/28. Workshop: Eugene Petracca’s MA thesis

Thursday, 4/11. Workshop. Emma Bérat’s Mock Oral

Wednesday, 4/17. Discussion with Professors Mark Ormrod and Helen Fulton (University of York)

Thursday, 5/2. Planning meeting for 2013-2014

2012-13 Speakers Series

February 7 at 6pm in Barnard 405: Dr. Thomas O’Donnell, Fordham University.

The Form of Anglo-Norman Monastic Community in Orderic Vitalis 

The rhetorical diversity and untidy narrative of Orderic Vitalis’ sprawling Ecclesiastical History are well known.  Combined with Orderic’s eagerness to frame parts of his work with details of his own biography, the hodgepodge of the Ecclesiastical History has led scholars to view the work as an expression of Orderic’s own complex personal and national identity.  In this paper I will explore Orderic’s developing aesthetics instead as part of late eleventh- and early twelfth-century practices for overcoming discordant discourses of identity within monastic communities.  My conclusion will consider how the dynamic, multivocal form of the Ecclesiastical History expresses a creative view of history-writing and impinges on the lived experience of communal life at Saint-Evroul.


Fall 2012

2012-13 Speakers Series

The Columbia University Medieval Guild is pleased to announce the inaugural event of the 2012-13 Speakers Series. We hope to see many of you there.

“Ordinary Beauty in the Middle Ages”

Mary Carruthers

Remarque Professor of Literature, emerita

New York University

Wednesday, September 26th 2012

Butler Library 523

7.30 pm

Lecture co-sponsored by the Medieval Guild and the Rare Book and Manuscript Library


Spring 2012

Tuesday, 24 January, 1pm: Prof. Susan Boynton, Columbia University (co-sponsored with Quadrivium, Columbia’s undergraduate medieval studies society), discussion of her new book, Silent Music: Medieval Song and the Construction of History in Eighteenth-Century Spain. Location: Philosophy Hall 602.

Wednesday, 15 February, 4pm: Prof. David Wallace, University of Pennsylvania, “Conceptualizing Literary History: Where Europe Begins and Ends, 1348-1418.” The talk will take place in Butler 523, with a reception to follow.

Friday, 2 March, 10am: workshop, “Rethinking Community in the Middle Ages,” with Prof. Catherine Sanok, University of Michigan, and Prof. Patricia Dailey, Columbia University (co-sponsored with Anglo Saxon Studies Colloquium). Location: Philosophy Hall 602.

Tuesday, 3 April, 6pm
: A panel discussion on The Word Exchange: Anglo-Saxon Poems in Translation, a bilingual anthology of 123 Old English poems published in 2011, and readings of selected poems from the anthology. The panel will feature the volume’s editors, Profs. Greg Delanty (artist-in-residence, Saint Michael’s College) and Michael Matto (Adelphi University, formerly taught at Columbia), and two of its contributors, Prof. Tom Sleigh (poet and Director of Creative Writing MFA, Hunter College) and Irish poet Gerry Murphy.

Butler Library 522/523, with a reception to follow. This is the final event of in the 2011-12 speakers’ series and is co-sponsored with Poet’s House.

The Speakers:

Greg Delanty’s most recent book is The Word Exchange, Anglo-Saxon Poems in Translation. Other books include The Ship of Birth (Carcanet Press, Louisiana State University Press 2006), The Blind Stitch (Carcanet Press, LSU Press, 2003) and The Hellbox (Oxford University Press 1998). His Collected Poems 1986-2006 is out from the Oxford Poet’s series of Carcanet Press. The National Library of Ireland has acquired his papers up to the end of 2012. He has received many awards, most recently a Guggenheim for poetry. He is the Immediate Past President of the Association of Literary Scholars, Critics and Writers. He is a US citizen and an Irish Citizen and teaches at Saint Michael’s College, Vermont, where he has lived since 1986.

Michael Matto is Associate Professor of English at Adelphi University, where he teaches medieval literature, the History of the English Language, and writing. He is co-editor (with Greg Delanty) of The Word Exchange: Anglo-Saxon Poems in Translation (Norton, 2010) and co-editor (with Haruko Momma) of the Blackwell Companion the History of the English Language (Wiley-Balckwell, 2008). He has also been guest editor for three issues ofStudies in Medieval and Renaissance Teaching. His research is on cognition in Old English poetry and culture.

Tom Sleigh is the author of eight highly acclaimed books of poetry, including Army Cats (Graywolf Press, 2011), and Space Walk (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2007), which won the $100,000 Kingsley Tufts Award. He has also published a translation of Euripides’ Herakles (Oxford University Press, 2007), and a book of essays, Interview With a Ghost (Graywolf Press, 2006). He has received the Shelley Prize from the Poetry Society of America, a Fellowship from the American Academy in Berlin, the John Updike Award and an Academy Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Guggenheim grant, and two National Endowment for the Arts grants, among many others. He teaches in the MFA Program at Hunter College and lives in Brooklyn.