Alisa Beer Holds Manuscript Encoding Workshop at Columbia

Alisa Beer (PhD, History) was fortunate enough to hold an internship with Consuelo Dutschke at the Columbia University Rare Books and Manuscripts Library in the Spring semester of 2017, through a joint program with the Fordham University Center for Medieval Studies. [Read on for more about Alisa’s internship and the workshop she helped to organize] Continue reading

Medieval Studies MA Students Inducted to Jesuit Honors Society

On April 7th, Michael Weldon (MA, Medieval Studies) and Kevin Vogelaar (MA, Medieval Studies) were inducted to the Jesuit Honors Society Alpha Sigma Nu.  The organization, which emphasizes scholarship, loyalty, and service, selected Michael and Kevin for their exemplary commitment to the tenets of Jesuit learning.

[Read on for profiles of our two Alpha Sigma Nu inductees]

Continue reading

Medieval Studies students visit “Beyond Words: Illuminated Manuscripts in Boston Collections”

From the Magdeburg Missal, 1486
Harvard University, Houghton Library, Typ Inc 2756

On December 4th, students in Fordham’s Center for Medieval Studies visited Boston’s Beyond Words illuminated manuscript exhibit.  Beyond Words: Illuminated Manuscripts in Boston Collections features manuscripts from 19 different libraries and museums in the city.  Co-curated by Jeffrey Hamburger (Harvard University), William P. Stoneman (Houghton Library), Anne-Marie Eze (Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum), Lisa Fagin Davis (Medieval Academy of America), and Nancy Netzer (McMullen Museum of Art), the exhibit takes place at three different venues: Harvard University’s Houghton Library, Boston College’s McMullen Museum, and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.  Visiting the exhibit gave the Medieval Studies MA students the unparalleled opportunity to view over 200 illuminated manuscripts in one day, supplementing their coursework in manuscript studies, medieval literature, and medieval art history.

The Fordham medievalists viewed the McMullen Museum first.  Titled Pleasure and Piety, the McMullen exhibit shed light on lay readership in the High Middle Ages.  We were lucky to receive a tour by Lisa Fagin Davis, one of the co-curators of Beyond Words and the Executive Director of the Medieval Academy of America.  The McMullen was packed with books of hours, antiphonals, breviaries, saints’ lives, Marian devotions, psalters, and the writings of medieval theologians, with items ranging from enormous folio-sized codices to minuscule prayer books meant to be carried on belts.  While showing us the manuscript fragments in the exhibit, Dr. Fagin Davis told us about her fascinating digital reconstruction of the dismembered Beauvais Missal.  She also introduced us to the Chronique Anonyme Universelle (Boston Public Library MS pb Med. 32), a 34-foot-long genealogical roll that recounts biblical events, the mythological history of Europe, and the succession of English and French kings.

After the McMullen tour, the group traveled to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, which featured Italian Renaissance books.  The incunables in their exhibit allowed us to think closely about the ways in which visual culture and book culture changed in the wake of humanism and the invention of the printing press.

Items in Beyond Words: Illuminated Manuscripts in Boston Collections can be viewed in the exhibit’s digital catalogue and in a richly-illustrated print catalogue.  Many of the books are fully digitized.

The Center would like to thank the Graduate Student Association for their generous support, Dr. Fagin-Davis for the insightful tour, and Dr. Kowaleski and Dr. Stoneman for their help in planning the trip.

What is the Vernacular?

This post is guest-edited by David Wrisley, Medieval Fellow @DJWrisley.

Medieval Fellows for the Fall 2014-15 semester Emma Campbell and David Wrisley are hosting an informal workshop with other Fordham scholars on the notion of the vernacular across different medieval contexts.

Participating Fordham medievalists include Lucy Barnhouse (History), Louisa Foroughi (History), Laura Morreale (Medieval Studies) and David Pedersen (English).

Guiding questions for the flash presentations are as follows:

  • What happens when competing vernaculars exist and which specific historical contexts shape their use? (Morreale)
  • How did language become authoritative in Mainz’s courts and contracts? (Barnhouse)
  • How does the representation and use of Latin and vernacular languages in medieval Francophone texts complicate opposition between these groupings? (Campbell)
  • How has the tendency among scholars to establish Latin as the pinnacle of literary production in the early Middle Ages caused us to miss the possibilities that might have been utilized by authors writing in the vernacular? (Pedersen)
  • Since the term vernacular itself does not appear to be a medieval term, are there medieval ways of approximating the concept? (Wrisley)
  • Where does language choice feature in constructing identities and navigating social hierarchies? (Foroughi)
  • What about different national language situations inflects the way the term ‘vernacular’ is used in medieval scholarship? (Wrisley)
  • What are the implications of this for the way we think about medieval language and translation? (Campbell)
  • What can the use of the vernacular in surviving documents tell us about how it was used alongside Latin (complementing or competing with it) in legal process? (Barnhouse)
  • What do we gain or lose from applying the term ‘vernacular’ to discourses beyond the realm of language difference, i.e. material cultures, social groups, or religious practices/beliefs? (Foroughi)
  • How might the critical tendency to assume Latinate philosophy and theology as an ideal for authors writing in the vernacular have caused us to gloss over the peculiarities of the subtly varied worldviews that vernacular languages might be uniquely able to express? (Pedersen)
  • When multiple vernaculars exist beside indigenous vernaculars, what benefits do authors enjoy with each linguistic choice? In the case of Italy, I’m wondering if French and Occitan were more easily transferred within the Italian peninsula than were the local Italian dialects.  (Morreale)
  • How we might use humanities “big data” to think about the vernacular as a shifting literary historiographic category?  (Wrisley)

Check back here for a crowd-edited summary of the event.

Fordham vernacularity

New Interactive French of Italy TimeMap

This week the Venerable Blog would like to highlight a new feature of the French of Italy project, our TimeMap. This map plots over two hundred witnesses of French-language texts created in Italy from 1250-1500, both chronologically and spatially. Each map point is clickable, and opens an informative text box with links to the full French of Italy entry, and in many cases, directs the user to the manuscript original of that particular witness.french of italy picture

One of the goals of the map project is to provide a visual representation of some of the most cutting-edge scholarship concerning the French of Italy repertoire. Much work has been done recently, particularly by Italian scholars, to provide a more precise localization of these textual witnesses within the Italian peninsula. Particular attention, for example, has been paid to the corpus of texts created in and around Genoa at the end of the thirteenth century, and the growing number of texts attributed to this locale is easily visible. This map aims to provide a visual narrative of these new findings and to challenge users to think about how and by whom French was used in Italy during this period.

The site’s director, Laura Morreale,  rolled out the new initiative in mid-October at a conference held at the Università Ca’Foscari in Venice, sponsored by the journal Medievo Romanzo. The conference, entitled “Il Franco-Italiano,” featured well-known philologists and literary scholars working on this corpus, and closed with a panel highlighting digital projects which address this repertoire. Fordham’s French of Italy site was among a number of web sites discussed at the conference, along with the Università Degli Studi di Padova’s Rialfri, the Mirabile of Università e della Ricerca, and the MFLCOF site (Medieval Francophone Literary Culture outside France) based at King’s College London but has yet to be released for public consumption.

Depending on the feedback from TimeMap users, scholars at Fordham are also interesed in plotting the repertoires of our sister sites, the French of England and the French of Outremer. Please check out the map and send feedback via this blog or the site’s email, frenchofitaly@fordham.edu.

OMSB – an expanding resource

What do scripture commentaries, modern English translations of ribald Latin Poetry, Piers Plowman, and verse translations of Syriac hymns have to do with each other?

Bodlian Library, MS Douce 104, fol. 24r

Bodlian Library, MS Douce 104, fol. 24r

Not much, except that they are the most recent additions to Fordham’s Online Medieval Sources Bibliography.  The Online Medieval Sources Bibliography (OMSB) is a database of modern editions, both print and online, of medieval primary sources, designed to help users of all kinds find the most suitable edition for their needs by describing in detail an edition’s contents, best audience, and useful features. The sources described above represent just a small sampling what has been included in the database since its inception in 2003.OMSB logo

One interesting facet of the project is the way in which it has grown over the years, recently detailed by Fordham CMS Director and project founder Maryanne Kowaleski, in an article from the digital medievalist online journal, co-authored by Morgan Kay, who has played a crucial role as the project’s computer programmer and coordinator. As Kowaleski and Morgan have noted, entries are researched and recorded by graduate assistants from the Center for Medieval Studies who are employed on a year-by-year basis, so that  the site has grown according to the individual interests of each graduate student who has passed through.

This year, graduate assistants Nicole Andranovich, Rachel Butcher, Abigail Sargent and Joseph Rudolph are each contributing source descriptions in their areas of interest, including medieval Coptic and Greek literature, Copticbiblical commentary and exegesis, English documentary sources, Syriac theological work, and medieval Latin poetry. Abigail Sargent notes that working on the OMSB has been a great learning experience, and is “valuable for learning to efficiently assess how and by whom a source might be used. It also gives you exposure to a number of different materials you might not come across in your own coursework.”

There are currently  over 4000 medeival source descriptions on the OMSB, which can be searched by multiple fields, including date, author, geographic region, type of resource, and original language.

Welcome to the Venerable Blog! (And News of the French of Outremer Conference)

Welcome to The Venerable Blog, a biweekly update highlighting the wide range of digital activities taking place on the sites hosted by Fordham’s Center for Medieval Studies. We invite you to comment and participate as our digital projects change and expand!

french of outremer thumbnail (1)This week, we’d like to bring attention to our annual conference taking place March 29-30 at Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus. This year’s topic, “The French of Outremer: Communities and Communication in the Crusading Mediterranean,” grows out of the French of Outremer website hosted by the Center. The French of Outremer (or FOO) conference will feature roughly 50 speakers coming from Lebanon, Cyprus, Italy, France, Denmark, the UK, Canada, and the US who will offer papers exploring the artistic, geographical, historical, linguistic, literary, musical, and religious aspects of the French penetration and colonization of lands in the eastern Mediterranean.  Two of the three plenary sessions will showcase well-known French of Outremer scholars Peter Edbury (Cardiff University) and Laura Minervini (University of Naples), and the third will feature a sneak peek from two Metropolitan Museum of Art curators who are planning the MET’s 2016 exhibition, “Jerusalem, 1000-1400.” An updated version of the program, including speaker names along with their paper abstracts, can be found here.  If you are unable to join us in person, be sure to follow the conference on twitter, at #FOO2014. We will be live-streaming Dr. Edbury’s presentation, so check the conference web-page for instructions on how to follow the presentation and tweet in comments or questions.

We are looking forward to the conference with great excitement, and view it as a real opportunity to expand the activities and reach of the site. The French of Outremer site currently serves as a scholarly meeting place for those interested in French-language texts and communities from the Latin East.

Tombstone of Gauthier Mainebeuf  — Image courtesy of Pierre-Vincent Claverie

We are continuously updating the various source pages and adding new scholarly submissions to our “thematic essay” page.  An exciting recent contribution by French scholar Pierre-Vincent Claverie provides an introduction to the topic of Frankish epigraphy, and includes detailed images of both Latin- and  French-language inscriptions etched on tombstones and other stone surfaces from the Latin East. We will soon be posting two more essays, one on textual translation in the Latin East, and another on wills from the Levant.

 

 Our next blog post will highlight the latest additions to the French of England website, for those wishing to perfect their Anglo-Norman accents!