Category Archives: seminar

6th June 2017, Public Lecture with Prof Paul Binski: Thomas Becket and the Medieval Cult of Personality

All are welcome to this free event at the Clagett Auditorium, Canterbury Cathedral Lodge. It will be held on Tuesday the 6th of June from 18.30-19.30.

Professor Paul Binski, from the University of Cambridge, will be exploring Thomas Becket and the Medieval Cult of Personality.

Further details can be found in the accompanying poster:



Tuesdays, 2 PM, KRC Lecture Room 3 St John St, Oxford OX1 2LG




25 April:ʿAlā fuwīr Tuṭīla. Bilingual contracts and written culture during the Christian conquest of al-Andalus

Mr Rodrigo García-Velasco Bernal • University of Cambridge

• 2 May:The origins of royal funerary architecture in al-Maghrib al-Aqṣā

Mr Péter Tamás Nagy • Khalili Research Centre

• 9 May:The written culture in Medieval and Early Modern Islamic Spain

Dr Nuria Martínez de Castilla • Paris, EPHE

• 16 May:Light and Lighting in al-Andalus

Dr Tom Nickson • London, Courtauld Institute

• 23 May:Writing a New History of Western Islamic Architecture

Professor Jonathan Bloom • Boston College

• 30 May:Life beyond the medina of Cordoba: districts (rabad) and cemeteries (maqābir)

Dr María Teresa Casal García • Madrid, CSIC

3:30 PM:Glassmaking in Umayyad and post-Umayyad al-Andalus

Dr Chloe Duckworth • Newcastle University

• 6 June:New (graphic) documents for the study of Almoravid

and Almohad architecture

Professor Antonio Almagro Gorbea • Granada, CSIC

• 13 June:Berbers and Borderlands: state formation and urbanisation in early medieval Morocco

Dr Corisande Fenwick • University College London

3:30 PM:‘How were the traces of their edifices erased?’ Archaeological / ethno-historical survey of Jerba, Tunisia

Professor Renata Holod • University of Pennsylvania


Seminars TT

#DAHRG keynote seminar: Transforming Art History in the Digital Revolution

Monday 12 June, 5:30 pm

#DAHRG keynote seminar

The Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, Strand, London

Prof. Caroline Bruzelius (Duke University)

Transforming Art History in the Digital Revolution


The Courtauld’s new Digital Art History Research Group (#DAHRG) is pleased to welcome Professor Caroline Bruzelius to give the second of the group’s keynote seminar.

The History of Art is a discipline uniquely well-suited to digital technologies.  We can now, for example, create provenance databases, map the trajectories of objects, model changes to buildings and cities, recreate lost monuments and reconstruct the setting of an altarpiece. Above all, digital technologies have the capacity to democratize the discipline, engaging the public in narratives about works of art, buildings, and cities in a way that was previously not possible.


This potential offers the potential of new roles for art historians as mediators between the mute object (or building, or city) and the public, expanding our role as teachers and scholars into the community.  In this talk, Bruzelius will engage with several public-facing projects that she has been engaged in (Visualizing Venice, The Kingdom of Sicily Image Database; the Sarlat Âpostles Color Project) to reflect upon the ways in which technology can transform experiences of seeing and being in the world.

Caroline Bruzelius is a scholar of medieval architecture in France and Italy, publishing books and articles on French Gothic architecture (the Cistercians; St.-Denis; Notre-Dame in Paris), the medieval churches of Naples, and the architecture of women religious orders and the mendicant orders.  Her most recent book, Preaching, Building and Burying.  Friars in the Medieval City (Yale University Press, 2014), focuses on how the mendicant practices of outdoor preaching, visiting homes, and burying laymen in convents affected the design, construction, and urban impact of massive convents such as Sta. Croce in Florence, St. Anthony’s in Padua, and the Frari in Venice.

Bruzelius is also a pioneer in exploring how digital technologies can communicate narratives about works of art and the built environment.  She is a founding member of the Wired! laboratory at Duke University, a group of faculty and graduate students who integrate visualization technologies with teaching and multi-year research initiatives, such as Visualizing Venice.

From 1994 to 1998 Bruzelius was Director of the American Academy in Rome.  She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Society of Antiquaries, the Medieval Academy of America, and has received numerous research fellowships in the United States and abroad.

This is the second of #DAHRG’s keynote seminars. You can watch the group’s first, given by Prof. Martin Eve (Birkbeck), here

A drinks reception shall follow this seminar. 

Continue reading

Medieval Work-in-Progress seminar: Hidden Treasures

Wednesday 7 June, 5:00 pm

Medieval Work-in-Progress seminar

The Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, Strand, London

Dr Jane Spooner (The Courtauld Institute of Art)

Dr Lesley Milner (The Courtauld Institute of Art)

Hidden Treasures

Dr Lesley Milner (The Courtauld Institute of Art) – ‘It made my heart thump for I was certain that it was gold.’

James Wilson Marshall’s 1848 discovery of gold in an American river was unexpected; he was actually building a saw mill. Similarly, in academic terms I found pure gold lying in unexpected terrain. Manuscript D&C/A/2/23 f3 in the archives of Lincoln cathedral is a fourteenth-century complaint to the Dean and Chapter of Lincoln cathedral about their property management. In this untranscribed and unpublished legal document is to be found important new evidence not only about the cathedral treasure house and also about the thirteenth-century shrine of St. Hugh.

Dr Jane Spooner (Historic Royal Palaces / The Courtauld of Art) – The Iconography of the Wall Painting Fragments from St Stephen’s Chapel, Westminster Palace

A series of fourteenth-century wall-painting fragments from the former Chapel of St Stephen survive in the care of the British Museum. The fragments depict scenes from the Books of Job and Tobit. According to antiquarians’ drawings, the Job and Tobit paintings were located in the bays closest to the altar wall. They were part of a series of small-scale paintings positioned beneath the Chapel’s north and south windows. This paper offers an interpretation of the iconography of the fragments based on their position, the depiction of episodes from the Old Testament Books, and the historical context for the decorative scheme.

Jane Spooner trained as an art historian and as a wall paintings conservator. She is the Curator of Historic Buildings of the Tower of London and the Banqueting House, Whitehall, and works for Historic Royal Palaces. She recently completed a part-time PhD at the Courtauld Institute of Art, on ‘Royal Wall Paintings in England in the Second Half of the Fourteenth Century’.

Medieval Work-in-Progress Seminar: The Meditationes vitae Christi: a conversation about dating, authorship and contexts

Wednesday 26 April, 5.00 pm

Medieval Work-in-Progress Seminar

The Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, Strand, London

Dr Peter Toth, Dr Donal Cooper, Prof. Joanna Cannon

The Meditationes vitae Christi: a conversation about dating, authorship and contexts


Memmo di Filippuccio, Santa Chiara altarpiece (details of Saint Francis and Saint Clare), c.1305-10, Museo Civico, San Gimignano (photo: Donal Cooper courtesy of the Museo Civico, San Gimignano)

Peter Toth (British Library)

The Meditationes Vitae Christi, a series of affective meditations on the life of Christ, has long been regarded as one of the most influential medieval works ever. It had decisive influence on literary and religious thought as well as the fine and performing arts of the Late Middle Ages. Despite its wide-reaching importance, however, neither its author nor even its date or the language it was originally written has ever been identified. This talk will survey the latest research that shed some new light on these questions and reflect on the challenges this new light had created, showcasing further evidence for the date and original language of this medieval best-seller.

Donal Cooper (University of Cambridge):

A long-standing conundrum regarding the origins of the Meditationes vitae Christi has been the elusive nature of the Franciscan friar traditionally proposed as its author: Giovanni de’ Cauli or John of Caulibus. The claim made by Fra Bartolomeo da Pisa in the 1390s that “Iohannes de Caulibus de Sancto Geminiano” had written a book of meditations on the Gospels has yet to be corroborated by contemporary archival sources. Building on Péter Toth’s and Dávid Falvay’s compelling reappraisal of the early manuscript tradition of the Meditationes, this contribution turns to the rich archival record that survives for the Tuscan Franciscans from the late thirteenth and fourteenth centuries in search of the text’s likely author.

Joanna Cannon (Courtauld Institute of Art):

Since the days of Henry Thode and Emile Mâle, as views on the authorship and dating of the Meditationes vitae Christi have evolved, the uses that art historians have made of the text have undergone several changes.  My brief contribution reflects on the implications of these changes, and of the recent findings of Péter Toth, Dávid Falvay and Donal Cooper, for the study of the Meditationes vitae Christi in relation to art in thirteenth-century Siena.


Murray Seminars of Medieval and Renaissance Art at Birkbeck (12th December 2016)

giovanni_di_bicci_de_mediciMonday 12th December

Paul Davies will speak on ‘Saving the soul of Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici: function and design in the Old Sacristy’

Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici (c.1360-1429), founder of the Medici bank, was buried in the sacristy of S. Lorenzo in Florence. This sacristy was certainly a lavish structure, and one designed and furnished by the leading artists of the day, Brunelleschi and Donatello, but why did he want to be buried in a sacristy? This question is usually answered by considering the opportunities the new chapel afforded for conspicuous consumption and, by extension. for rivalry with other leading Florentine families, most notably the Strozzi who had only just begun a lavish sacristy at S. Trinita. While not dismissing this motive as a contributory factor, this paper considers whether there were more pressing reasons for his choice. It asks whether he believed interment in a sacristy might help save his soul and it goes on to consider whether this notion affected how the sacristy was designed.

All this term’s seminars take place in the History of Art Department at Birkbeck (43, Gordon Sq., London WC1H 0PD) in Room 106 at 5pm.  Talks finish by 5.30pm (allowing those with other commitments to leave) and are then followed by discussion and refreshments.