Michaelmas 2021

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Convenors:     Professor Margaret Bent and Dr Matthew Thompson

Venue:            Online: Zoom. To register please use this form.  

Time:              Thursdays, [Weeks 3, 5 and 8], 5pm.* Please note change of day in Week 5.

For more details about registration please see the attached document. 

Week 3: Thursday 28 October, 5pm 

The Restoration of Anima in Hildegard of Bingen's Sung Play the Ordo Virtutum

Speaker: Margot Fassler (Keough-Hesburgh Professor of Music and Liturgy, University of Notre Dame; Tangeman Professor of Music History Emerita, Yale University).

Discussants:  Alison Altstatt (University of Northern Iowa), Barbara Newman (Northwestern University)

Abstract: This presentation is based on chapters from Margot Fassler's forthcoming book Cosmos, Liturgy, and the Arts in the Twelfth Century: Hildegard's Illuminated Scivias (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2022).  The musical dimensions of the book have been crafted to make what can be a highly technical subject accessible for non-specialists. Hildegard is an excellent composer for this goal: she worked in many disciplines, including the visual arts, and took this aspect of her thinking over into her musical/poetic creations.  This short discussion will focus on one example of music and the graphic, that is the character Anima as she comes to life in Hildegard's sung play the Ordo Virtutum. The presentation explains the widely recognized polarity in Hildegard's play between two tonal areas, one E and the other in D. Here the focus is primarily on Anima's musical development in scales with finals of the pitch D. Within this area, Anima moves from joy, to the fallen condition, to restoration. In the play, a range of characters inspire her return to health, and, as they do so, they "tutor" her  in the ability to recover particular pitches and ranges of pitches. The sense of expectation is greatly heightened through the use of music in this dramatic work as Hildegard demonstrates skill in character development through singing within community. This work was apparently designed to be sung by the Benedictine nuns on the Rupertsberg, where Hildegard was the magistra, the leader of the community. The play was a teaching tool for performative theology and also may have been designed to ready the women and other members of the probable congregation to receive communion.

Week 5: Wednesday 10th November, 5pm

Music in a vanished kingdom: traces of fifteenth-century polyphony in the Teutonic Order State in Prussia

Speaker: Paweł Gancarczyk (Associate Professor, Institute of Art, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw)

Discussants: Lenka Hlávková (Charles University, Prague), Reinhard Strohm (University of Oxford)

Abstract: The Teutonic Order State in Prussia (1228–1525) belongs among those ‘vanished kingdoms’ (Norman Davies) that, not having contemporary heirs, remain on the margins of the main stream of historiography. While much attention has been focused on the political and church history of medieval Prussia, we still know extremely little about its musical culture. To fill this gap in our knowledge is the aim of the project ‘Music in the Teutonic Order State in Prussia: sources, repertoires, contexts’, of which I am principal investigator.
Alongside chant sources preserved in Pelplin, Gdańsk, Toruń and Berlin, we also have evidence of polyphony being practised in Prussia. All this evidence concerns the fifteenth century and the western regions of the state (which in 1466 became part of the Kingdom of Poland known as Royal Prussia). During my lecture I would like to discuss archival records regarding polyphonic practices, and present several music sources preserved mainly in Gdańsk. I will focus in particular on fragment 2153a, containing repertory typical for Central Europe in the second quarter of the fifteenth century. I will describe the genres represented in this manuscript (motet, cantio, rotulum) in the context of mensural theory known from the treatise originating in the Duchy of Mazovia (Prussia’s southern neighbour). Referring also to other sources, I would like to put forward the hypothesis that the Teutonic Order State belonged to the same network of Central European cultural connections as Silesia and Bohemia.


Week 8: Thursday 2nd December, 5pm

The Confraternity of Jongleurs and Bourgeois of Arras: A Reappraisal

Speaker: Brianne Dolce (Fitzjames Research Fellow in Music, Merton College, Oxford)

Discussants: Discussants: Catherine A. Bradley (University of Oslo), Barbara Haggh-Huglo (University of Maryland, College Park)

Abstract: The Confraternity of Jongleurs and Bourgeois of Arras has long figured prominently in musical histories of the thirteenth century, but its influence on musical society—and vernacular music making in particular—has often been misunderstood. Through a close paleographic analysis of the Confraternity’s register of membership, Bibliothèque nationale de France, français 8541, I show that the Confraternity simultaneously recorded the names of living and dead members, and therefore its entries of nearly eleven-thousand names, half of which belong to women, cannot be precisely dated. Nevertheless, my comprehensive study of these names reveals that they not only include those of the trouvères with which the Confraternity is so frequently associated, but also of civic and liturgical musicians—many of them women—constituting an important cross-section of musicians and types of musical practices existing in Arras over three centuries. Moreover, an in-depth look at the Confraternity’s membership betrays a community deeply invested in practices and movements associated with lay religion in the period. Thus, by carefully excavating the true extent of the Confraternity’s musical influence in Arras and beyond, I argue that we stand to gain a radically new perspective on interactions between religious culture and vernacular musical life in one of the centers of high-medieval European music-making.


Advance notice of seminars, Hilary Term 2022

27 January
Laude and Lyric Poetry in Late Thirteenth-Century Florence

Speaker: Lachlan Hughes (University of Oxford)
Discussants:  Blake Wilson (Dickinson College (PA)) and Elena Abramov-Van Rijk (Jerusalem)

17 February
Two Fragments, One Manuscript: Introducing a Newly-Discovered Italian Source of Ars Nova Polyphony

Speaker: Antonio Calvia (Università di Pavia) and Anne Stone (CUNY Graduate Center)

10 March
Demystifying Morley: New Findings about A plaine and easie introduction to practicall musicke (1597)

Speaker: John Milsom (Liverpool Hope University) and Jessie Ann Owens (University of California at Davis)

Convenors:     Sophie Aldred, Alex Beeton

Time:              Mondays, [Weeks 1, 3, 5 and 7], 5pm.

Venue:            Online: Teams. To sign up email: britaininrevolution@gmail.com.


Week 1: Monday 11th October, 5pm

Alex Beeton, (University of Oxford): ' “O nos miseros!” George Stradling and Royalism in Interregnum Oxford'.


Week 3: Monday 25th October, 5pm

Norah Carlin: 'Regicide or Revolution: Political Ideas in the Petitions of September 1648-February 1649'.

Week 5: Monday 8th November, 5pm

Eilish Gregory, (New College of the Humanities & Anglia Ruskin): 'Catholic Sequestrations during the English Revolution'.

Week 7: Monday 22nd November, 5pm

Ken Fincham, (University of Kent): 'The Church of England in 1660: Annus Mirabilis (for some)'.

Convenors:                 Ian Archer, Alexandra Gajda, Steven Gunn and Lucy Woodin

Venue/Platform:       Hybrid

In person:  The Ship Street Centre, Jesus College.

Online: Teams. If you wish to attend online please email ian.archer@history.ox.ac.uk.

Time:                          Thursdays, [Weeks 1-8], Tea from 4.45. 5pm start.


Week 1: Thursday 14th October, 5pm

Dr Ian Archer, (Keble College): ‘Martial Culture and Martial Practice in early modern London’

  • M. Prak, ‘Citizens, Soldiers, and Civic Militias in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe’, Past and Present, 228:1 (2015), 93-123; N. Younger, War and Politics in the Elizabethan Counties (2012), ch. 2.

Week 2: Thursday 21st October, 5pm

Dr Dom Birch, (King’s College London): ‘Harmony and Quiet in the Parish: Legal Pluralism and Early Modern England’

  • Margo Todd, ‘For Eschewing of Trouble and Exorbitant Expense: Arbitration in the Early Modern British Isles Symposium’, Journal of Dispute Resolution (2016); Keith Wrightson, ‘The ‘Decline of Neighbourliness’ Revisited’, in Local Identities in Late Medieval and Early Modern England, ed.  N.L Jones, D. Woolf (2007); Brian Tamanaha, ‘Understanding Legal Pluralism: Past to Present, Local to Global’, Sydney Law Review 30 (2008).

Week 3: Thursday 28th October, 5pm

 Dr Eloise Davies, (Pembroke College): ‘Venice and the Polemical Works of James VI & I’

  • W.B. Patterson, King James VI and I and the Reunion of Christendom (1997), ch. 3; Filippo De Vivo, ‘Historical Justifications of Venetian Power in the Adriatic’, Journal of the History of Ideas 64 (2003), 159–76; Aysha Pollnitz, Princely Education in Early Modern Britain (2015), ch. 7.

Week 4: Thursday 4th November, 5pm

 Dr Lauren Working, (Oxford English Faculty): ‘Early Stuart Sociability after Colonialism’

  • Misha Ewen, ‘Women Investors and the Virginia Company in the Early Seventeenth Century', Historical Journal, 62:4 (2019), 853-74; Amy Clukey and Jeremy Wells, ‘Introduction: Plantation Modernity’, The Global South, 10:2 (2016), 1-10; Michelle O'Callaghan, The English Wits: Literature            and Sociability in Early Modern England (2007), intro and ch. 1.

Week 5: Thursday 11th November, 5pm

Dr Rosamund Oates, (Manchester Metropolitan University): ‘Speaking in Hands:  Deafness, Sign Language and Preaching in Early Modern England’

  • Arnold Hunt, The Art of Hearing: English Preachers and their audiences 1590-1640 (2010), ch. 1-2; Emily Cockayne, ‘Experiences of the Deaf in Early Modern England’, Historical Journal 46:3 (2003).

Week 6: Thursday 18th November, 5pm

Prof. John Morrill (Selwyn College, Cambridge): ‘A New Edition of Cromwell: Why? How? What’.

  • John Morrill, ‘Textualising and Contextualising Cromwell’, Historical Journal, 33             (1990), 629-39; Blair Worden, ‘Thomas Carlisle and Oliver Cromwell’, Proceedings of the British Academy, 105 (2000), 131-70.

Week 7: Thursday 25th November, 5pm 

Dr Alexandra Gajda, (Jesus College): ‘Peace in the City: War, Peace, Commerce and the Treaty of London’

  • Susan Doran, ‘1603: a Jagged Succession’, Historical Research, 93/261, 443-465; Pauline Croft,       ‘Trading with the Enemy, 1585-1604’, Historical Journal, 32/2 (1989), 281-302; K. R. Andrews, Elizabethan Privateering (Cambridge, 1966), chs. 6, 8 and 10. 

Week 8: Thursday 2nd December, 5pm

Dr Lucy Wooding, (Lincoln College): ‘The Performance of Sanctity: Religious Symbolism and Tudor Royal Pageantry’

  • Jennifer Loach, ‘The Function of Ceremonial in the Reign of Henry VIII’, Past and Present, 142 (1994); Virginia Reinburg, ‘Liturgy and the Laity in Late Medieval and Renaissance France’, Sixteenth Century Journal 23 (1992); Fiona Kisby, ‘When the King Goeth a Procession’: Chapel Ceremonies and Services, the Ritual Year and Religious Reforms at the Early Tudor Court, 1485-1547’, Journal of British Studies 40 (2001).

Convenors:                 Emma Smith, Katie Murphy, Lorna Hutson, Joe Moshenska

Venue/Platform:       In person:   Weeks 1, 3, 4 & 7: T. S. Eliot Lecture Theatre, Merton

                    Week 5: Lecture Theatre 2, English Faculty

Time:                          Tuesdays, [Weeks 1, 3, 4, 5, 7], 5.15-7.15pm*. Please note the different venue and timing in Weeks 4 and 5.

Week 1: Tuesday 12th October, 5.15-7.15pm

Elizabeth Scott-Baumann, (Kings College, London): ‘The Sex of Style: Women, Poetry, and Criticism in the Seventeenth Century’ 

Abstract: While the last half century has brought to light many early modern women playwrights, poets and prose writers, we do not yet have any kind of canon of early modern women critics. It is now widely recognized that women were making literature, but not that they were theorizing it—‘playing the critic’, in Anne Southwell’s phrase. One reason for the absence of women from the history of criticism is the gendering and sexualization of critical language from the Renaissance to the present: feminine; sweet; original; irregular; smooth; difficult. This paper will suggest the implications of some of these terms, and the poetic styles they are used to characterise, and will also suggest how our history of criticism might be changed by reading seventeenth-century women as critics.

Week 3: Tuesday 26th October, 5.15-7.15pm

Ramie Targoff, (Brandeis University): ‘Forging Women’s Networks in Lanyer’s Salve Deus

Abstract: This paper examines Lanyer’s strategies both to create female alliances in her extensive dedications to Salve Deus and to find new voices within her poem in order to construct alternative histories for women. How Lanyer justifies her own intellectual ambition, what place she imagines for herself in an inchoate female canon, and what relationship we might imagine between her poetic project and other examples of women’s literary and artistic production around the year 1610, will form the larger context of the talk.

Week 4: Thursday 4th November 5.15-7.15pm

Special Lecture

Stephen Greenblatt, (Harvard University): ‘The Master’s Books’


* Week 5: Tuesday 9th November, 5.00pm, Lecture Theatre 2, English Faculty

The Wells Shakespeare Lectures: ‘Decoding Shakespeare’

Bill Sherman, (Warburg Institute)

Lecture 1: ‘How to Make Anything Signify Anything’


Week 7: Tuesday 23rd November, 5.15-7.15pm

Reading and Discussion Group

For the final session of the term we will read and discuss the introduction and chapter 2 from Melissa Sanchez’s recent book Queer Faith (NYU Press, 2019), and consider how its methodology, focused upon the intersection of theology, queer theory, and critical race theory, relates to wider tendencies in early modern studies.  PDFs of the reading will be circulated closer to the seminar.


Convenors:                 Dr Vittoria Fallanca (New), Prof. Raphaële Garrod (Magdalen), Dr Gemma Tidman (St John’s) 

Venue/Platform:       In person*: Unless otherwise indicated, all seminars will be held in person at the Maison française d’Oxford. Face coverings are strongly recommended for all attendees.

* Please note Week 3 will be held on Zoom.

Time:                          Thursdays, [Weeks 1, 3, 5 and 7], 5.15pm


Week 1: Thursday 14th October, 5.15pm 

Marine Roussillon, (Université d’Artois): ‘Écrire les fêtes (France, 17e siècle)’

Week 3: Thursday 28th October, 5.15pm UK time, *via Zoom 

Mélanie Lamotte, (Tulane University): ‘Making Race: Discourses, Policies and Social Orders in the French Atlantic and Indian Oceans, c. 1608–1756.’

Please email gemma.tidman@mod-langs.ox.ac.uk to sign up for this sessionA link will be circulated to attendees closer to the time.

Week 5: Thursday 11th November, 5.15pm 

Roundtable with Jonathan Patterson, Lorna Hutson and Ian Maclean (University of Oxford)

‘Transcultural encounters: law and the study of literature in the early modern period’: Around Jonathan Patterson’s Villainy in France (1463-1610): A Transcultural Study of Law and Literature (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2021).


Week 7: Thursday 25th November, 5.15pm 

Dominique Brancher, (University of Basel): ‘De l’art de rester debout en étant couché: Montaigne ou l’arrêt tonique de la pensée.’

Organisers: Meghan Kern (Lincoln) and Katie Mennis (Somerville)

Time: Tuesdays, [Weeks 2, 4, 6 and 8] 5.15pm

In person: English Faculty, Seminar Room B.


Week 2: Tuesday 19th October, 5.15pm

Introductory drinks

Week 4: Tuesday 2nd November, 5.15pm

Edward Stein, (Merton): '"The fittest instrument": The Ecopoetics of Writing in John Taylor's Taylor's Goose'

Kate Allan, (Exeter): ‘"By a finite, see an infinite power": Alchemical Metonymy in Hester Pulter’s Poems and Emblemes


Week 6: Tuesday 16th November, 5.15pm

Week 6: 'Demystifying the B course' with Flynn Allott (Oriel).


Week 8: Tuesday 30th November 5.15pm

Richard Phillips, (Balliol): 'George Peele's Edward I: Playing with Pageantry'

Christopher Fell, (Hertford): 'Editorial Afterlives: The Afterlife of the Oxford Complete Works (1986-7) in the Third Arden Shakespeare Series (1995-2020)'




Convenors:     Ros Ballaster, Christine Gerrard, Katie Noble, Nicole Pohl, David Taylor, Ben Wilkinson-Turnball, Abby Williams

Venue:            In person: All meetings in Seminar Room East, Mansfield College (accessible via wheelchair).

Time:              Tuesdays, [Weeks 2, 4 and 6], 5.30-7pm.* Please note Week 2.


Poster of the termcard [plaintext written in this section]. A black background, with a pink banner section at the top of an engraving of the Chevalier D'Eon bisected vertically down the middle in half male and half female dress

Week 2: Tuesday 19th October, 12.30-2pm

‘Where do we know from?’

Introductions from all interested researchers at Oxford University in literature of the long 18th century (1660-1830). Instructions for sign up and participation will be posted Twitter @EngFac18thC

Week 4: Tuesday 2nd November, 5.30-7pm

Dr Hannah Murray, University of Liverpool: ‘Charles Brockden Brown’s Gothic Citizens’.

Week 6: Tuesday 16th November, 5.30-7pm

Professor David O’Shaugnessy, National University of Ireland, Galway: ‘Accounting for taste: the business of Georgian theatre’

Time:              Thursdays*, [Weeks 3, 5, 8, 9], 5pm. 51.5pm. Please note Week 8.

Venue:            Hybrid: where possible in-person events will be streamed on Zoom. For more information contact secretary@oxbibsoc.org.uk.


Week 3: Thursday 28th October| The Queen’s College, Magrath Room|5.15pm

Jacob Ridley, (University College): ‘Polemo-Middinia: scatological Scots-Latin at the Sheldonian Press’.

Accompanied by an exhibition of works by Edmund Gibson.


Week 5: Thursday 11th November| Merton College, T.S.Eliot Theatre| 5.15pm

Hosted jointly with Merton History of the Book Group

Julia King, (Merton College): ‘Syon’s Abbesses, women’s leadership, and book networks in fifteenth-century England’.


*Week 8: Tuesday 30th November| Online, Zoom| 5.15pm

With the Bodleian’s Centre for the Study of the Book

What does feminist bibliography do?

A panel discussion with Sr Sarah Werner (independent scholar), Dr Francesca Galligan (Bodleian Library) and Dr Tiffany Stern (Shakespeare Institute, University of Birhmingham).


Week 9 [outside of term]: Thursday 9th December| Online, Zoom|5.15pm

Winter library visits with the Librarians of Mertion, St John’s and Worcester Colleges: Printing for pleasure: private press collections at three Oxford colleges