Digital Humanities, Graduate Studies, History Department, Manuscript Studies, Workshops

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.

The core of Alisa’s internship was the implementation of a two-day graduate student digital humanities workshop centered around RBML’s Plimpton Add. MS 04, a fifteenth-century English manuscript roll containing the Fifteen Oes of Saint Bridget.

The workshop took place on March 24 and 25, 2017, in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Columbia, and was open to Columbia graduate students.  Its goal was the collaborative creation of a digital version of a MS roll, with accompanying searchable transcription & commentary.  Training goals for the graduate student participants included instruction in the paleography and codicology of medieval manuscipt rolls, digital editing and TEI markup, the use of XML editing tools such as oXygen, and project-based collaboration after the workshop concluded.

Alisa first encountered the Fifteen Oes of Saint Bridget, Plimpton Add. MS 04, when she was a student in Dr. Hafner’s Manuscript Culture class in the fall of 2012, when she visited the Columbia University Library as part of a course field trip.  When Alisa attended the Medieval Academy of America meeting in the spring of 2016 and heard about the Digital Editions of Medieval Manuscipt Rolls and Fragments project (DEMMR) at Yale University, the roll in Columbia’s collection seemed like a natural fit for the Yale project, which was looking to branch out into other collections and institutions.

Once Alisa knew she would be interning at Columbia University’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library, she reached out to Anya Adair, Katherine Hindley and Gina Hurley, the Yale graduate students in charge of the DEMMR project, about the potential of running an iteration of their workshop at Columbia.

Alisa worked collaboratively with Consuelo Dutschke, Christopher Baswell, Terry Catapano, the three Yale graduate students, Alice Laforêt, another Columbia intern, Lila Goldenberg, and Emily Genatowski in order to implement the workshop, which was generously funded by the Columbia RBML director, Sean Quimby.

Alisa acted as lead coordinator and taught the majority of the two-day workshop.  This involved creating a course website, and adapting course materials shared by the Yale coordinators, as well as organizing participants, brushing up on TEI and XML, and working with English paleography and transcription of the original manuscript.  Alisa also compiled the final TEI file from participants’ individual files, and encoded the second half of the manuscript, which was not assigned to participants.  The TEI-encoded edition, along with the digital images provided by the Columbia photography labs, will be hosted on the Yale website in the near future as part of the final digital edition.

In the process of transcribing this roll, we learned that the Columbia manuscript contains textual variants not present in the published versions of the text.  The prayers included differ from those in the Huntington transcription, and those that are the same are in a different order.  Consuelo Dutschke’s research into other known instances of this text revealed that while the Fifteen Oes is a very common text, known in more than 80 instances, only two of those survivals are in roll format, while the majority of the rest are in codex format within books of hours.

Hopefully, the availability of this digital edition will facilitate research on textual variants of the Fifteen Oes of Saint Bridget, a text that has received comparatively little scholarly attention to date.

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Art History, Graduate Studies, Manuscript Studies, Medieval Studies

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.

Michael Weldon

During his time in Fordham’s Medieval Studies MA program, Michael has specialized in insular manuscript illumination, stained glass, and the relationship between these two artistic media. This semester, he is studying the late-medieval glazing program practiced at the Church of St. Peter Mancroft, Norwich, in a tutorial with Dr. Zachary Stewart of the Art History Department.  He is also delving into the labor-intensive, painstakingly precise, and malodorous medieval process for turning raw animal hides into parchment as an intern at Pergamena Leather and Parchment.  In the summer, Michael will participate in a month-long anthropological / archaeological field study of the early-14th-century Balintober Castle in Ireland, for which he was awarded a competitive Summer Fellowship from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

Last fall, Michael took advantage of Dr. Hafner’s Manuscript Culture course to research the Harkness Gospels, a late-9th- / early-10th-century insular manuscript attributed to Abbey Landevennec, Brittany.  In his forthcoming MA thesis, Michael will expand upon this research, analyzing and deconstructing imagery in the Harkness Gospels to shed light on Abbey Landevennec’s scribal practices.  Michael’s approach to scribal practice at Landevennec is informed by his firsthand encounter with the Harkness Gospels manuscript, which is held in the New York Public Library.  Next spring, he will share a section of his thesis at the 2018 Manuscripta conference at St. Louis University.

Michael’s contributions to Fordham aren’t limited to his accomplishments within the Center for Medieval Studies; he joins us from Fordham Preparatory School where he serves as Fine Arts Chair and teaches studio art and architectural drawing.

Kevin Vogelaar

While at the Center for Medieval Studies, Kevin has focused on intellectual history, interfaith relations, pilgrimage texts, art history, and sound studies.  His forthcoming thesis will address the reception of Pseudo-Methodius’ late-7th-century Syriac Apocalypse in Western Europe between the 9th and 11th centuries.  He will argue that Pseudo-Methodius allowed for a greater assertion of human agency in apocalyptic thought than other writers such as Augustine, Tyconius, and Jerome.  Like Michael, Kevin plans to present at next year’s Manuscripta conference.  His presentation will analyze illumination and architectural decoration in the Syriac Peshitta Gospels (Morgan Library MS M.235) to suggest that these decorative elements display early ‘Abbasid artistic influence and reveal a Syriac Christian nostalgia for an earlier time of ‘Abbasid rule.

Kevin is an active contributor to The Venerable Blog and works in Walsh Library, where he splits his time between the Reference Desk and Archives and Special Collections.  In Archives, Kevin has facilitated manuscript workshops for classes taught by professors in the Center for Medieval Studies and several teaching PhD candidates.  He is creating a database of manuscript facsimiles held in the Archive; in addition to serving as a well-needed finding aid for the facsimiles, the database will also provide useful discussion questions and introductory bibliographies.  This promising digital project will make the many highly-realistic facsimiles in Archives more accessible to the Fordham community and will offer students a valuable resource to begin exploring manuscript studies.

In the future, Kevin plans to pursue library and museum sciences, curating exhibits and collections that can expand and promote interdisciplinary studies within the field of interfaith relations.

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English Department, Graduate Studies

David Smigen-Rothkopf and Liz Light Recount Their Time In York

image001The Fordham-York exchange program was a wonderful experience full of challenges and inspiration! We’re two students at Fordham – Liz Light, a second-year PhD student in the English department who studies embodiment and gender in late-medieval devotional writing, and David Smigen-Rothkopf, currently finishing his MA Thesis on the idea of genealogy in Sir Thomas Malory’s Morte Darthur before starting in the English department this fall– who were chosen for the student-exchange program between the Center (and Centre) for Medieval Studies at Fordham University and the University of York. We helped out at York’s conference, Medieval Women Revisited, cosponsored by Palacky University in the Czech Republic. It was an experience filled with inspiring scholarship, excellent new studies from academics all over the world, camaraderie, and fruitful, thought-provoking conversations.

Upon our arrival from King’s Cross, Gillian Galloway kindly greeted us at the station and drove us to our apartment at which the York CMS had arranged for us to stay during our visit. We loved the apartment’s full kitchen, window view of the Minster, backyard rose garden, proximity to the CMS, and the really comfortable beds. Who could ask for more? Our hosts also gave us maps of amenities in the area, including a handwritten list of vegan restaurants for David!

On our first day we checked in with the Medieval Studies office, met everyone, and did a few quick preparations for the conference. One of the conference presenters, who lived close by, took Liz on a walk around town to point out some landmarks and get acquainted. When David arrived the next day, we went for a walk around the walls of York, through the park and the Shambles, eventually putting our heels up at the House of Trembling Madness (what a name!), a self-proclaimed medieval pub featuring a wall of over-the-top taxidermy, wooden beams flanking the ceiling, and many Yorkshire staples on the menu.

Zara Burford, PhD York, at left, and David Smigen-Rothkopf, MA, English Department, at right

Zara Burford, PhD York, at left, and David Smigen-Rothkopf, MA, English Department, at right

Our second day in York brought new adventures: a day trip with one of York’s PhD students, Zara Burford, who earlier this year had been on exchange to Fordham to help out at our “Manuscript as Medium” conference through the same bursary program that brought us to York! It was great to see her again and to have our hospitality returned with a trip through Yorkshire together.

Zara drove us to Rievaulx Abbey, a Cistercian monastery dating back to the twelfth century, now in ruins, nestled in the North York Moors. After a morning of exploring the abbey’s skeletal remains, we embarked on the seven-mile pilgrims’ walk to Helmsley Castle. The scenery was stunning, and we’re lucky it didn’t rain! Sheep, horses, cows, and the occasional hare greeted us on the walk. Arriving in Helmsley, we had tea in the castle’s walled garden before making the return trip to Rievaulx and then York.

The next day saw the beginning of the conference, but we still had time to explore York Minster in the morning! We spent a good amount of time admiring the many memorial stones and impressive architecture of the Minster, but we both agreed: the older, the better. It was amazing to go below the cathedral to see the remains of Roman and Norman York! After a quick bite to eat nearby, we made our way over to King’s Manor for the start of the conference.

The conference itself was wonderful. All of a sudden, no longer just guests, we were now hosts! The conference came to a rousing start with provocative presentations by Daniela Rywiková and Rachel Moss. Daniela’s opening

Daniela Rywiková, University of Ostrava

Daniela Rywiková, University of Ostrava

presentation about “Sin and Death Gendered” in late-medieval visual culture was especially interesting because her work is the first in Czech to investigate visual representations of “unspeakable” sins and their gendered associations. We also loved Rachel’s presentation on “(B)Romance and Rape Culture in Late Medieval England,” which asked provocative and challenging questions about homosociality and rape culture from Chaucer’s “Reeve’s Tale” to the modern-day case of Brock Turner’s recent prosecution. These two papers were an amazing way to kick off the conference, as they presented fascinating and refreshing new research. We reconvened for a homemade dinner in our apartment.

Brushing aside the jetlag with abundant coffee and Yorkshire tea, we were able to sit back and enjoy a full day of dynamic presentations and hearty discussion. The presentations were at the cutting edge of scholarship on medieval women’s social and economic roles. Through the collaborative effort of scholars from the United Kingdom and Central-Eastern Europe, the day proffered a vision beyond queens, saints, and nuns, to present a portrait of medieval Europe – indeed a multitude of portraits – where women played vital and active roles in the machinery of social, economic, and cultural life. Hollie Morgan’s opening paper discussed the magical and protective forces that ladies’ chambers played in medieval romance, tracing her findings to larger anxieties about women’s containment in contemporary culture. Gerhard Jaritz’s paper on gendered space in visual culture added important research to the field. Nicola McDonald’s presentation on women’s “unruly laughter” gave evidence for women’s reclamation of agency through irreverence, play, and “ludic misconduct.” Liz, who studies women’s embodiment and adores medieval medicinal manuals, especially enjoyed Kim Phillips’s paper on the cultural meanings of breast size for medieval women, titled “The Breasts of Virgins: Sexual Reputation and Female Bodies in Medieval Culture and Society,” which suggested that women’s breasts in the Middle Ages were active, not passive, body parts, with powerful meanings that inspired anxieties about female agency and sexuality.

After breaking for lunch, we prepared for the conference’s second half, which held a multitude of papers often exploring women’s economic roles in the Middle Ages. Maria Mogorovic presented invaluable research on marriage patterns and concubinage in medieval and early modern Istria, while Beata Mozejko explored women’s roles in Gdansk, Poland based on her groundbreaking findings from Gdansk’s written records. Vicki Blud offered a refreshing look at queer medieval women in Confessio Amantis and the Roman de Silence, revealing the instabilities of naturalized gender roles in these disruptive texts. Returning to the economic and social sphere, Cordelia Beattie asked of us, “Did Married Women Stop Making Wills in 15th Century England?” while Teresa Phipps “located” women in the town court rolls of Nottingham and Chester, showing us how medieval women traveled, trespassed, and traversed the streets, marketplaces, and homes of these towns.

The day concluded with a dinner, arranged by the York CMS, with the many speakers. Food, drinks, and laughter were in abundance, bringing the evening to a happy conclusion. David was so happy to see a vegan meal and dessert!

The next day brought us even more inspiring and thoughtful papers, focusing largely on women’s economic and social statuses. Michaela Antonin Malanikova explored spousal property relations in late medieval Czech towns while Deborah Young showed how women negotiated the boundaries of justice through their appearances as plaintiffs in Star Chamber court cases. Jeremy Goldberg, one of our kind hosts at York and the key organizer for this conference, revisited the social and economic implications for medieval women that he had considered in his 1992 book, Women, Work, and Life Cycle in a Medieval Economy, asking provocative questions about whether the so-called “position of women” can be categorized according to a single model, or through quantifiable statistical findings. Goldberg’s critique built an even more nuanced picture of medieval women’s economic position, this time revealing the problematic relationship between women and history by juxtaposing historical and literary sources.

We finished up the final day of the conference with a luncheon roundtable asking the question, “Medieval Women: Where Next?” It was wonderful to hear so many voices contributing to this discussion. What kinds of papers about medieval women are appearing in the academic world today? We talked about the need for more excellent scholarship on medieval women, especially work that crosses disciplinary boundaries and unearths concurrent and contemporary issues, such as women and power, embodiment and gender presentation, and internationalism. Provocative in its uncompromising appraisal of the current state of scholarship and its ambitious goals for the diversification of both the scope and participation in the field, this roundtable was a high point of inspiration and encouragement to both of us, and really reflected the camaraderie and solidarity that characterized the rest of the conference!

Liz Light, PhD candidate, English Department

Liz Light, PhD candidate, English Department

Our last day in York brought us to the Museum Gardens just behind the Centre for Medieval Studies, where we met some friendly owls through Yorkshire’s falconry group. A proper sendoff for a wonderful visit! We will dearly remember this fantastic experience. We want to thank the University of York’s Centre for Medieval Studies and, of course, Fordham University’s Center for Medieval Studies for such a great opportunity to meet new friends, rub shoulders with admired scholars, and encounter exciting ideas about medieval women and medieval scholarship in general!

David Smigen-Rothkopf, MA, English Department

David Smigen-Rothkopf, MA, English Department

Thank you, Fordham, and Thank You, York!
-Elizabeth Light and David Smigen-Rothkopf

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Graduate Studies

Medievalist Rachel Podd (PhD Program, History) wins the 2015 Loomie Prize

This post is cross-blogged from History at Fordham University.

Each year the History department awards its highest honor for excellence in graduate scholarship, the Loomie Prize. The Loomie prize is awarded to the best seminar paper produced during the previous academic year.  All M.A. and Ph.D. students who have taken the proseminar/seminar sequence or a research tutorial are eligible. The prize for 2015 was awarded to Rachel Podd and Christine Kelly.  

Rachel Podd‘s paper “Interrogating the Guaridoras: Women, Medicine and Magic in Catalonia before the Plague” was written under supervision of Alex Novikoff. The Loomie judges noted that it was based on rich source material, and offered a convincing argument about why and how these sources could be useful to scholars beyond those who specialize in 14th century Catalonia. Rachel wrote that “these documents offer a window… into a vibrant and dynamic world. Within them, one may find Saracens and Christians, men and women, as well as spells and incantations for the health of people and of animals. Through close reading and contextualization, they can elucidate the lives of individuals performing curative activities outside of the major civic centers of Catalonia before the arrival of the plague – what types of diseases did they treat, and how? If caught, what punishment could they expect from the ecclesiastical judicial structure?” Hence, Rachel demonstrated how these records sit at the juncture of vernacular medicine, episcopal control, and inquisition.

Christine Kelly‘s paper “Gender, the Popular Front, and the Folksong Revival through Sing Out! Magazine, 1950 – 1968″ written under supervision of Kirsten Swinth. Her essay is an outstanding example of cultural analysis built from the gritty work of data collecting.  By categorizing hundreds of articles in the folk music periodical, Sing Out!, Christine developed a highly original thesis about the discourse of gender in the 1960s folk music revival.  She overturned a conventional division between the leftist cultural movements of the 1930s, and those of the 1960s, showing that folk revivalists in the 1960s resurrected familiar tropes and narratives of gender from the 1930s.  These were ultimately highly traditionalist, premising an anti-capitalist utopia on an idealized view of the American past where women remained tied to “traditional domestic and reproductive spaces” and “men were more responsible for carrying out the daily operations of political thought and cultural innovation that constituted the engine [of the] folk song revival.”

We reached out to Rachel and Christine for details about their work and how they developed the ideas and research for their papers.

Rachel Podd

 

RachelPodd

Rachel Podd

“Over the course of the 2014-2015 school year, I was a student in “Medieval Intellectual Cultures,” with Dr. Alex Novikoff. The course covered a wide geographical and temporal scope; my area of interest had always been late medieval England, but Dr. Novikoff’s class seemed an ideal space to explore a new location, if not a new time, and so I began looking for primary source material involving gender, medical practice, and law on the Iberian peninsula. Eventually, I came upon a set of transcriptions from the fourteenth-century Episcopal Registers of Ponç de Gualba, the bishop of Barcelona. What struck me first was the uniqueness of the texts. It is somewhat of a truism in medieval history that the majority of recorded voices are elite, urban, and male. These episcopal registers included not only those voices we might expect, however, but also those of almost a dozen rural, poor women, brought before the ecclesiastical court for working magic. By and large, and in contrast to the indictment against them, however, these women were acting as healers, guaridoras, albeit without formal education or licensing, and it was those curative activities which interested me. After translating the documents, I wrote “Interrogating the Guaridoras: Women, Medicine and Magic in Catalonia before the Plague”; through close reading and contextualization, I explored what types of diseases they treated, and how. If they were caught, what punishment could they expect from the ecclesiastical judicial structure? Those questions, among others, informed the text. My work is not complete, with regard to both Spain and the paper. In May I will be presenting a version of my project at the annual meeting of the American Association for the History of Medicine. Furthermore, last summer I walked from Leon to Santiago de Compostela as part of a Fordham Course, and I will be going again this summer as a graduate assistant.”

 

Christine Kelly

Christine Kelly

Christine Kelly

“Among the community of historians, literary scholars, sociologists, and musicologists, who look carefully at the contributions of the folk music revival in the cultural life of twentieth century American society, a standard feature of their source evidence includesSing Out! The Folk Song Magazine.  The most well-known magazine of the folk revival period, founded in 1950 and peaking in influence around 1965, Sing Out!’s high number of subscriptions and articles authored by key figures in the movement render it a window into the world of folk music that help to reshape the political and cultural trajectory of American society.

In the mid-twentieth century, a growing number of folk music aficionados and amateur artists, usually college age youths, turned to folk music to serve as a portal to another time, to transport them to by-gone era which they imagined as superior to the current context of the world they inherited, one of Cold War anxiety, military-industrial profiteering by an invisible but omnipresent power elite, and the anticipated blandness of their futures as organization men living and working in a post-scarcity age. Subscribers toSing Out! joined a growing body of left-leaning activists who would seek cultural changes and political solutions to mitigate their dissatisfaction, protesting for civil rights, against nuclear activity and Vietnam, and for less management of student life on college campuses. All the while, folk music, a major source of musical accompaniment to the unrest of the 1960s, would motivate and unite activists of various kinds, and readers of Sing Out! formed a common community of those “in the know” about folk music’s role as an instrument of social protest.

Curiously, however, as I have researched this movement, I noticed that among the key changes of mid-century American life – in particular the rise of second wave feminism and the movement for women’s liberation – the articles of Sing Out! had little to say, and scholars, drawing from this and similar sources among folk artists and activists, had even less to say about the role of women and gender in a movement so otherwise passionately committed to achieving broad social change and advocating for greater social inclusion. I began to wonder why. I started to explore this question by exploring the life of Joan Baez, perhaps the most influential among the “girl folk singers” as a line in Sing Out! dubbed them, whose autobiography reveals that Baez often felt confused and flabbergasted by “women’s libbers” who urged her to tailor her songs to the needs of their message of radical gender parity, one that at the time she barely understood. And yet, it seemed to me that Baez very deliberately manipulated gender-based symbols to communicate certain ideas in her music – presenting herself as an earthy, long-haired, weak-willed falsetto, she lamented such social issues as pollution and nuclear war.  This was someone who was using gender conventionality very deliberately to carve out a role for herself as an artist and activist within the folk song community that she was in, even while she felt ambivalent about the possibility that gender norms could operate strategically and often oppressively.

Later, I began to explore the long roots of the American folk music movement, so often confined in popular memory to the 1950s and 1960s, even though roots, jazz, pop, and Tin Pan Alley hits were already being labeled as a “folk,” an increasingly mass-produced and popular music genre, as early as the late 1920s and early 1930s. Woody Guthrie, Paul Robeson, Alan Lomax, and Pete Seeger, all of whom traveled closely in Communist Party and other progressive political circles in these years, presented folk music as the “music of the people,” as they proudly called it in Sing Out!’s very first issue, the music of laborers and farmers of all races, who struggled to survive amid Depression era conditions of low wages and boss exploitation. I learned through the work of historians on the American left that folk music helped to facilitate the Communist Party’s aims during the Popular Front, in which the previously isolated and sectarian Party revamped its message, trying to make it seem more authentically “American” to attract more Party members. Barbara Melosh and other historians and critics have suggested that the Depression era and the Popular Front, unlike other periods of economic and social discontent, suppressed any chance of a feminist movement joining the fray of national concerns as men, now jobless or underemployed, tried to keep women out of the workplace to prevent job competition. It was the Popular Front which informed the folk singers’ intellectual, cultural, and political coming of age, and the Front which would determine their thinking on many matters, including matters of women and gender, for decades to come.

Though published after the Front’s supposed end in 1948, the pages of Sing Out! magazine are filled with Popular Front notions of class warfare, advocacy for racial equality, an idealization of the Soviet Union, and, in addition, a depiction of women as tied to domestic spaces, where they were alleged to be most naturally suited unless the dictates of capital pulled them away in the form of wage labor to support their families. As I looked through hundreds of issues of Sing Out! produced from 1950 through 1968, I noticed that women were consistently designated to advertisements and featured in folk song lyrics, whereas men wrote the vast majority of articles of substantive intellectual and political concern. In song lyrics and ad images, women were often portrayed as standard bearers for a mythical past, one that the folk revival thrived on inventing and reinventing, in which familial harmony, simplicity, and sharing – along with accompanying notions of women as domestic and dependent – challenged the sources of discontent in the present. It seemed to me that the Popular Front, this social and cultural reconfiguring of the country’s radical left, was responsible for the folk revival’s portrayals of gender. This representation of gender would persist long past the Depression itself, into the Cold War world and its later fragmentation through social and cultural protests. Folk singers and enthusiasts, both men and women alike, became socialized into a world that, as the life of Joan Baez reveals, couldn’t conceive of later feminist imaginings nor apply them to their music, even as they challenged other kinds of unjust or oppressive norms.

My hope has been for my article, “Gender, the Popular Front, and the Folk Music Revival through Sing Out! Magazine,” to elaborate on these issues. In it, I quantitatively break down the content of Sing Out!, including the magazine’s reprints of folk songs and news articles, to reveal the gendered character of Popular Front discourse in this mid-twentieth century publication. It critically interrogates what is currently a divide among historians of radical and progressive politics and culture between the “Old Left” of the 1930s and 1940s and the “New Left” of the 1960s, as here the two movements appear practically indistinct. It also seeks to recover the role of women artists of the folk song revival, and to parse out why the movement’s most substantial printed cultural product, Sing Out! magazine, says so little about women and gender in and of itself. Though the essay points out the limits on the role of women in the folk revival as derived from the Popular Front, it nevertheless explores a vividly gendered and unique world in its own right that lived in the imaginations of folk artists and their fans who contributed a great deal culturally and politically during times of cultural transition and unrest.”

 

The Center for Medieval Studies congratulates both winners!

 

By Nicholas Paul

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Graduate Studies

Katherine Briant presents at the University of Hull’s Gender and Emotion Conference

square (1)This past 7 January, Katherine Briant, a MA student of the Center for Medieval Studies, presented her paper, “Prostitution of Textual Reproduction from Manuscript to Print,” at the Gender and Emotion conference sponsored by the University of Hull, which drew from dozens of countries an equally diverse number of attendants. Investigating the language of prostitution that accompanied the transformation from manuscript to print culture and book production, Katherine’s presentation focused on the early modern eruption of gendered, carnal language that proclaimed the evils of printed books by describing and embodying them as stillborn children, corrupted virgins, and promiscuous women. Specifically, the condemnations of printed books expressed in the writings of Filippo de Strata, Erasmus, and Pietro Aretino were presented as using and perpetuating the metaphor of prostitution to express interconnected anxieties about the new medium. These sharp criticisms were contrasted to Richard de Bury’s Philobiblon in order to juxtapose the supposed promiscuity of the printing press with the chastity of manuscripts. Katherine argued that this rhetoric displays manuscript scribal production as a masculine form of parthenogenesis (asexual reproduction) firmly under clerical control. Print media was an intrusion upon this singular relationship, calling the legitimacy of the children produced into question.

Katherine highlighted that the metaphor of prostitution reveals apprehensions about not only the economic future of print production, but also the social repercussions of print accessibility. The use of sexual language allowed for the chastisement of two particular forms of textual corruption that came about with print: 1.) the corruption of an author’s body of work via the introduction of errors into the text by unobservant or negligent printers and 2.) the corruption of suggestible reading communities by the promiscuous circulation of texts. Concerns over error, an overabundance of readers, and rapid, perhaps haphazard reproduction were most clearly presented in the metaphor of the generative female body. The further citation to the unchecked commercialization of women’s sexuality allowed scribes and early modern writers to attack the greed that motivated printers and dramatized the dangers of print in the absence of established regulations.

Upon the completion of her presentation, Katherine was met with questions pertaining to the application of her thesis to the current struggle between print media and ebooks. The similarities between this modern struggle and the complaints forwarded by medieval writers is striking, Katherine noted, as we hear now of the fear that the digital age will see the end of the book, writing, and even literacy itself: fears that could have dripped from the quill of Filippo de Strata six centuries ago.

Katherine’s presentation stood amongst several others which touched upon, amongst a myriad of other topics, the performance and emotional expression of masculinity and femininity, religious versus secular types of sorrow and grief, public versus private emotional expression, affective pain and compassion in saints’ lives, and the ability of suffering to inspire others to take action or alter their own behaviour. Of these papers, two stood out as particularly inspirational for Katherine. The first, by Ioana Coman, of the University of St. Andrews, also looked into the link between manuscript culture and embodiment, presenting Johann Grimestone’s notebook as a liminal emotional space; that allowed Christ’s wounded body and Grimestone’s own body to come into communion. The second, by Eleni Ponirakis, of the University of Nottingham, performed a linguistic analysis of emotion words employed in Cynewulf’s Juliana, striking a cord with Katherine, who also spent time studying Juliana in the past.

Before the conference, Katherine made sure to take in London’s Victoria and Albert Museum and the National Portrait Gallery, standing before portraits of those figures we often see and read of in our studies, in person, without the filters of the press and copying machine obscuring the precious details of every individual brushstroke. Also while in London, Katherine worked with six manuscripts containing the Philobiblon in the British Library, taking nearly 900 pictures of them for use in future study as she continues to investigate not only how Richard de Bury’s text was transmitted initially, but also how a text about text itself was received, interpreted, and edited in the centuries after its composition. Katherine also found time to see Mr. Foote’s Other Leg on the London stage, perhaps fittingly, as the play delivers behind its comedic exterior a thought piece on suffering and its relation to comedic relief, echoing the subject matter of the conference in a more informal, if no less compelling, way.

 

By Kevin Vogelaar

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Graduate Studies

CMS says farewell to Katrine Funding Højgaard, Fall 2015 visiting student.

Katrine Funding Højgaard, a master’s student from the History Department of Aalborg University, Denmark, came via a study abroad program to Fordham’s Center for Medieval Studies for the Fall 2015 semester. Having no department in her home university dedicated to Medieval Studies specifically, she came to the Center to take classes that would provide her with the opportunity to engage with medieval subject matter in a classroom environment, as opposed to her independent studies she has been pursuing in Denmark under the guidance and tutelage of historians Torben Kjersgaard Nielsen and Iben Fonnesbech-Schmidt. received_10153729793236351Of the four courses she took during the semester, Dr. Mary Erler’s “Late Medieval Women” proved particularly inspiring to Katrine, as it introduced a wider range of methodologies and theories in the study of medieval cultural history, iconography, and literature that come with employing more interdisciplinary approaches to historical inquiry. This class, and the new methodological horizons it introduced, have instilled within Katrine a desire to utilize more interdisciplinary methods for her thesis, which she plans to begin upon her return to Denmark.

Katrine found the additional lectures and programs provided throughout the semester to be fascinating and useful in widening her historical gaze, even if none specifically directed her toward a particular area of study. The colloquium on Faith and Knowledge in Late Medieval Scandinavia provided a new perspective on Scandinavian Medieval history, which, due to her exposure to it from an early age, had largely escaped her scholarly notice. Being introduced to histories or narratives from birth often does have a polarizing effect. Either one develops a love of the material, or one finds it mundane; lost in the commonplace of normal, every-day life. The latter was the case for Katrine, and listening to such a wide array of scholars discuss unfamiliar aspects of familiar histories shined a new light on the medieval history of her homeland.

The Center proved for Katrine a warm and encouraging place filled with helpful faculty and eager students that, subverting what reservations her family may have had about her living in the Bronx, made the area a welcoming home for three and a half months. Her time with the Center for Medieval Studies sparked within Katrine the desire to continue to study abroad and to learn and experience as much as she can from around the world. Though her time with the Center was all too brief, all here wish Katrine the best in her future endeavors, academic and otherwise.

 

 

By Kevin Vogelaar

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Graduate Studies

Historians Recognized at Graduate School Awards Ceremony

This post is cross-blogged from History at Fordham University

Graduate students in the History Department (including several Medievalists and Alumni of the Center for Medieval Studies) collected over a dozen awards at this year’s Graduate School of Arts & Sciences Awards Ceremony. There was a great turnout as historians came to be recognized and to join in the well-earned celebration.

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(l-r) Salvatore Cipriano, Jr., Stephen Leccese, Brandon Gauthier, Louisa Foroughi, Jeffrey Doolittle, Christine Kelly, Alisa Beer, Louie Valencia-Garcia, Tobias Hrynick.

The full list of students receiving awards in 2015

Melissa Arredia, Senior Teaching Fellowship

Edoardo Marcello Barsotti, GSAS Summer Fellowship

Alisa Beer, Senior Teaching Fellowship (MVST ’13)

Salvatore Cipriano, Jr., Archival Research Assistantship, Research Support Grant, Professional Development Grant

Stephanie DePaola, Research Fellowship

Jeffrey Doolittle, Senior Teaching Fellowship

Louisa Foroughi, GSAS Summer Fellowship (MVST ’13)

Brandon Gauthier, Alumni Dissertation Fellowship

Tobias Hrynick, HASTAC Fellowship, Loomie Prize (MVST ’15)

Christine Kelly, American Studies Summer Institute Fellowship

Stephen Leccese, American Studies Summer Institute Fellowship

Christopher Rose, Paul A. Levack Award (MVST ’12)

Louie Valencia, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Pre-Doctoral Fellow

Pedro Cameselle, Research Support Grant

Laurence Jurdem, Research Support Grant

Joseph Passaro, Research Support Grant

Alessandro Saluppo, Professional Development Grant

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