Jeffrey Doolittle and David Pedersen Present at the IUDC

Jeff Doolittle (PhD Program, History) Presents at the Inter-University Doctoral Consortium, April 2016

Jeff Doolittle (PhD Program, History) Presents at the Inter-University Doctoral Consortium, April 2016.

This past 1 April, the 2016 Interuniversity Doctoral Consortium Medieval Conference was hosted by CUNY in the Graduate Centre’s Segal Theatre. To this conference of doctoral candidates presenting their research to professors and students alike came chosen representatives from members of the Consortium: SUNY Stony Brook, NYU, Princeton, Rutgers, Colombia, from CUNY itself, and two students from Fordham, Jeffrey Doolittle and David Pedersen.

Alex Novikoff (Dept. of History) moderates a panel at the Inter-University Doctoral Consortium, April 2016.

Alex Novikoff (Dept. of History) moderates a panel at the Inter-University Doctoral Consortium, April 2016.

Jeffrey Doolittle, a PhD candidate in the History Department, delivered his presentation, “Reframing the Works of Pliny in the Early Middle Ages: Montecassino and Monastic Medical Culture,” on his work studying two copies of the Physica Plinii, the Early Medieval compilations of the sections on medicine in Pliny’s Historia Naturalis. Likening it to entries from the Catholic Encyclopedia making their way into undergraduate papers, Jeffrey presented the Historia Naturalis as a text from which scribes took material for their own codices and works, copying only what they needed. Comparing the Physica Plinii copies of Montecassino’s Archivio dell’Abbazia codex 69 and Bamberg codex Med. 2, Jeffrey seeks to explore the differences between two roughly contemporary recipe collections and show that the monks of Montecassino had a very different approach to organization and the idea of “completeness” in regard to the Physica Plinii. While both manuscripts he is studying seem to agree with each other to a remarkable extent (accounting, of course, for the ubiquitous problem of missing pages) in both the list of treatments and the steps provided, they also display some levels of regional adaptation, as Pliny’s original list has been added onto in both medieval copies.

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Speakers Joy Partridge (PhD Program, Art History-CUNY) and David Pedersen (PhD Program, English-Fordham) take questions after their presentations at the IUDC (April 2016).

David Pedersen, of the English Department, delivered his presentation, “Old English Apologetics: The Search for Epistemological Certainty in The Old English Boethius,” based on the first chapter of his book. Contrary to some interpretations of The Old English Boethius, the English adaptor of the text (who had an audience for his works, of which the Exeter Book, David believes, likely was one) did not fail in his ability to follow the logic of Boethius, but, rather, consciously modified the text to more accurately reflect his own questions of why evil persists in a world created and governed by God. In effect, the Old English adaptor of Boethius modified the original text to incorporate the Augustinian belief that creation is, fundamentally, good, though currently exists in a fallen state. The adaptor’s refusal to come to a conclusion is not a failure of logic, but, rather, a refusal to allow anything beyond his own logic to serve as a basis of inquiry. He disallows his faith to serve as the underlying assumption that would allow his logic to carry him through to the end. David contests the adaptor’s failure is not one of logic, but of the employ of logic alone. The second chapter of David’s book will be published later this summer by Studies in Philology.

Between these two presentations was the roundtable session, “Trigger Warnings and Free Speech: The Politics of Teaching the Middle Ages,” during which the issue of whether trigger warnings should or should not be used in a classroom environment was discussed by Steven F. Kruger (Queens College and CUNY), Sara Lipton (Stony Brook), Andrew Romig (NYU), and Jill Stevenson (Marymount Manhattan). The discussion spotlighted how divisive the topic is, with instructors and professors of varying levels of experience, but with ample examples drawn upon from their personal experiences, weighing in on whether a trigger warning may ruin the shock value of a text or image, losing a valuable pedagogical resource and sterilizing medieval history, or whether they can allow a student to psychologically prepare him or herself to more readily accept the lesson material. The discussion also highlighted how the term “trigger warning” is itself largely misunderstood or stands in need of further clarification, as some believed it to be an allowance for a student to refuse interaction with particular subjects or ideas. This debate will continue to grow in prominence, and, undoubtedly, in enthusiasm in the years to come.

The Centre for Medieval Studies would like to congratulate Jeffrey and David for their excellent presentations and contributions.

 

By Kevin Vogelaar

Review: Master Class on Scholarly Editing with Christopher Baswell

On the evening of November 12, Dr. Christopher Baswell from Columbia University and Barnard College graced Fordham medievalists with a seminar on scholarly editing. The evening was organized by Dr. Brian Reilly in conjunction with his graduate course Editing Medieval Texts. The discussion centered on the topic of multilingualism on the page, ranging from the fundamental importance of familiarizing oneself with the immediate and material manuscript page, to the varying degrees of literacy of those medieval manuscript owners and users, to the multifarious functions of the different languages employed on a page, and finally to the currently under-explored contact between Celtic languages, Anglo-Saxon, Hebrew, and Arabic and that common triad of languages in England—French, Latin, and English.

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Miniature of the Three Living and the Three Dead, with the Anglo-Norman poem ‘Le dit des trios morts et trios vifs’ below, from the De Lisle Psalter, England (East Anglia), c. 1308 – c. 1340, Arundel MS 83, f. 127v – See more at: The British Library

Dr. Baswell’s enthusiasm for the subject conjured a sense of joy, inquisitiveness, and camaraderie amongst the participants as they collectively admired and investigated a few digital images of manuscript pages. These images included the juxtaposed three living and three dead kings of the DeLisle Psalter, an image described by Dr. Baswell as the “frisson of the deeply creepy.” Typical of Medieval Studies events at Fordham, the seminar drew participants from a variety of departments. Professors from English, History, and Modern Languages and Literatures were present, as well as graduate students from Medieval Studies and the aforementioned departments. The evening concluded with more casual discussion on the topic over a shared meal, while Dr. Baswell graciously continued to offer his time and advice to eager graduate students.

 

 

By Sarah-Kam Gordon

The Sounds of Anglo-Norman at Fordham University

This week at the Venerable Blog, we are excited to introduce the audio content newly added to the webpage of the Center’s French of England Project. Through the efforts of Thelma Fenster and Jocelyn Wogan-Browne, as well as Matthew Schottenfeld, Television Production Manager at Fordham, the Project’s site now hosts nine audio readings of texts in Anglo-Norman, all part of an ongoing collaborative enterprise “to make the French of England audible.” 

french of outremer thumbnail (1)The first five readings were recorded informally, by various voices, during the Reading the French of England Aloud sessions at the Kalamazoo International Congresses of 2012/13. Four others were recorded especially for Fordham’s French of England Project by Professor Emerita Alice Colby-Hall (Cornell University), a leading expert in the pronunciation of the medieval French dialects and of the Anglo-Norman language.  Professor Colby-Hall also provides linguistic commentary. Each entry contains citations of a modern edition and translation, manuscript references, and a link to the external audio file. We encourage you to practice your Anglo-Norman aloud as the text scrolls past, or simply to listen along with us to these clear and instructive readings. The audio readings can be found here, at the French of England Project.

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British Library Egerton MS 3028 f. 64r

These audio readings are only one aspect of the French of England Project. We also conduct a biweekly Anglo-Norman Reading Group. This semester, it is led by Dr. Thomas O’Donnell of Fordham’s English Department and Dr. Brian Reilly, an Old French specialist in Fordham’s Modern Languages and Literatures Department.Anyone interested in participating in the ANRG should contact the Center for Medieval Studies at medievals@fordham.edu. We will be happy to provide you with the date and time of the next meeting and the material to be discussed.

Our next blog post will discuss the June conference to be held at Fordham University, stemming from the Latin Works of John Wyclif site. Visit Fordham’s searchable database of primary Wyclif texts to brush up before next time!