Job opportunity: Head of World Collections, Cambridge University Libraries, deadline: 31 January 2022

A unique position has arisen to develop strategy, curate and lead the service offering for research collections at Cambridge University Libraries (CUL).

CUL is now recruiting to the new role of Head of World Collections to lead the curation and strategic development of a key area of its collections and activities. Reporting within the Research Collections Directorate, and leading a dedicated team, the Head of World Collections will drive the development of collecting strategy in their area, and ensure the provision of excellent and highly-focussed services to our users. They will work closely with library, archive and academic staff to create a coherent approach that reflects education and research needs, with the aim of diversifying our collections and curatorial practices. The Head of World Collections will also oversee the expert curatorial input into funding bids for collaborative research projects arising from the collections. There is an expectation that this will include research and documentation into collection provenance and the opportunity to increase engagement with representative communities, locally, nationally and globally. The post-holder will be expected to review the current resource for world collections, identify gaps in provision, challenge obsolete practices and approaches, redirect activity and introduce new functions as required. 

The Head of World Collections will be an experienced and dynamic collection, change, and people manager, with responsibility for forming and developing a new departmental structure and culture. They will be expected to have a curatorial and linguistic specialism in one of the collection areas covered by the World Collections function.

Cambridge University Libraries is one of the world’s foremost university and research libraries. With approximately 8 million volumes, 120,000 e-journal titles, and over 50 linear km of Special Collections, it is a major scholarly resource, both for the University of Cambridge, and for researchers nationally and internationally. 

A network of over 30 libraries, with the historic University Library at its heart, CUL serves resident members of the University, a local, national and international public, and a global scholarly audience. A UK legal deposit library for over 300 years, and a National Research Library, the University Library is also an Accredited Archive. Its Special Collections have been Designated by Arts Council England, as ‘one of the world’s great collections of global documentary cultural heritage’. CUL’s holdings cover every conceivable area of human endeavour, written across three thousand years, and in over two thousand languages, and they include manuscripts, maps, music, rare printed material, thousands of personal and institutional archives, as well as very substantial digital holdings.

Apply for this position here. The deadline for completed applications is 23.59 GMT, 31 January 2022.

Online lecture: ‘The Saint Bartholomew’s Day Massacres 450 Years On’ by Professor Penny Roberts, The Twelfth Douglas Johnson Memorial Lecture in French History, 17 January 2022, 6pm (GMT)

The Society for the Study of French History (SSFH) and The Association for the Study of Modern and Contemporary France (ASMCF) presents the twelfth annual Douglas Johnson Memorial Lecture in French History. Professor Penny Roberts (University of Warwick) will give a paper entitled ‘The Saint Bartholomew’s Day Massacres 450 years on’.

Professor Roberts is Vice-Provost and Chair of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Warwick and the President of the Society for the Study of French History. Her talk will be held online, due to the current situation around the COVID-19 pandemic.

Professor Roberts has provided the following summary of her talk:

“Michelet famously stated that the Massacre of St Bartholomew was ‘not a day, it was a season’. The historiographical debate about the massacre has proved intense, particularly around where responsibility lay for its instigation, with the crown or with the Guise or even an international Catholic conspiracy. Yet a consensus has also been reached: that the royal intention was to eliminate the Huguenot leadership, who were believed to be conspiring against the crown, not to prompt a general massacre. Nevertheless, in the confusion, local officials and militias made up their own minds how to proceed in Paris and beyond. More recently, through the work of Jérémie Foa, attention has turned to the victims and the perpetrators. In addition, the repercussions of the massacres, the impact in different countries and towns, is to be the focus of a forthcoming volume in French History. My own contribution will return me to the town of Troyes, on which I did my doctorate, to explore its massacre more closely in light of this recent shift in historical interest.”

The talk will take place on 17 January 2022, starting at 6pm (GMT). Registration is essential, though attendance is free. Please reserve your place in advance by signing up through Eventbrite here.

CFP: ‘Scientific Recreation / Recreational Science in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe’, 15-16 July 2022, University College London, deadline 31 March 2022

This two-day conference, funded by the Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS) at UCL, exploits the ambiguous meaning of the term “recreation” to bring together two important but disparate themes in the current scholarship of medieval and early modern recipe literature: the experimental turn centred the reproduction of scientific, craft, and household recipes, and studies highlighting how the playfulness of scientific activities contributed to contemporary scientific developments. Science is often associated with professionalism and seriousness. It is frequently forgotten that many scholars and non-scholars alike carry out playful science experiments as a form of recreation or entertainment. This was especially true for the late medieval and early modern period, when people from different backgrounds engaged in playful experiments, for example to produce astonishing magic tricks, invisible inks, or unusual hair dyes.

This conference will provide a unique opportunity to bring together scholars and practitioners from different disciplines such as history, chemistry, and physics to discuss the significance of fun and enjoyment in science. Furthermore, a hands-on section, hosted by the Institute of Making at UCL, will provide participants with the opportunity to work with historical recipes and conjoin theory with practice. This practical session will offer a better understanding of the opportunities and difficulties that arise in the recreation of historical scientific practices which frequently rely on the tacit knowledge of contemporary compilers and audiences. For example, in recreating seemingly impractical recipes which aim to make a ring jump around the house using mercury, we can unveil how late medieval and early modern people understood and exploited chemicals and their properties.

This conference will take a broad approach to the term “scientific recreation”. Papers might address the following topics:

  • Methodologies, Potentials, and Limitations of Scientific Recreation
  • Scientific Recreation for Education and Entertainment
  • Performing Scientific Spectacle and the Role of Wonder
  • Experimentation in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe
  • Sites of Scientific Recreation / Recreational Science
  • Transmission, Modification, Enhancement and Corruption of Recipes and Instructions

The conference will be held, circumstances permitting, at University College London. It will be accompanied by keynote lectures by Prof Simon Werrett (University College London) as well as Dr Tillmann Taape (The Warburg Institute).

We strongly encourage graduate students and other early career scholars as well as conservation scientists and artists to apply to present papers. We invite applicants to submit abstracts of 250 words for 20-minute papers accompanied by a short biography to Vanessa Da Silva Baptista and Dr Eveline Szarka (recreation.conference2022@gmail.com) by 31 March 2022.

We invite anyone interested in demonstrating recreations of late medieval or early modern recipes to submit an abstract with a maximum of 500 words including a description of the recreation process and a list of materials and equipment together with a short biography to Vanessa Da Silva Baptista and Dr Eveline Szarka (recreation.conference2022@gmail.com) by 31 March 2022.

Postponed online lecture: ‘Orality – Literacy – Digitality’, by Torsten Hiltmann, 13 January 2022, 5pm GMT

Due to unforeseen circumstances, this evening’s seminar with Professor Torsten Hiltmann has been postponed. The IHR European History 1150-1550 lecture series team hope to re-arrange the event for later this academic year.

Online lecture: ‘The Limits of Alterity in Ashkenazic Manuscripts’, Professor Elina Gertsman, 26 January 2022, 5pm (GMT)

The Research Forum at The Courtauld is delighted to host the online lecture ‘The Limits of Alterity in Ashkenazic Manuscripts’, presented by Professor Elina Gertsman, on 26 January 2022 between 5pm and 6.30pm GMT.

Professor Gertsman’s paper focuses on the woefully understudied Hammelburg Mahzor (Darmstadt, HLH Cod. Or. 13), a Jewish festival book completed in Lower Franconia in the middle of the fourteenth century. The book’s most remarkable feature is perhaps the inclusion of carefully curated zoocephalic, or theriomorphic, figures: humans with beastly and bestial heads. By virtue of their alterity, the zoocephali call attention to themselves with emphatic force. The purpose of this talk is to explore the semiotics and phenomenology of this alterity, and to suggest that its presence lies at the intersection of language, philosophy, poetry, and history.

In the Hammelburg Mahzor this visual idiom also signals distinction, albeit in a way that, conspicuously, collapses temporalities, tests the limits of alterity, and makes an argument about likeness and difference. By foregrounding linguistic elisions between words, images, and the celebrants, such an idiom establishes visceral connections with the community of the book’s users. Ultimately, theriomorphs stand as a fitting metaphor for medieval Jewish art as it has been viewed in mainstream scholarship.

Elina Gertsman is Professor of Medieval Art at Case Western Reserve University. In addition to numerous articles, she has authored The Dance of Death in the Middle Ages: Image, Text, Performance (2010); Worlds Within: Opening the Medieval Shrine Madonna (2015); The Middle Ages in 50 Objects (with Barbara H. Rosenwein); and The Absent Image: Lacunae in Medieval Books (2021). She has also edited a number of books, including Visualizing Medieval Performance: Perspectives, Histories, Contexts (2008); Crying in the Middle Ages: Tears of History (2011); Thresholds of Medieval Visual Culture Liminal Spaces (2012, with Jill Stevenson); Myth and Mystique: Cleveland’s Gothic Table Fountain (2016, with Stephen Fliegel); and Abstraction and Medieval Art: Beyond the Ornament (2021). Her work has been supported by the Guggenheim, Kress, and Mellon Foundations as well as by the American Council for Learned Societies.

The lecture is free, but reservation is required here.

The lecture has been organised by Dr Tom Nickson (The Courtauld).

Image: Zoocephalic Mattityahu The Hammelburg Mahzor, Hammelburg, 1347-1348. Darmstadt, HLH Cod. Or. 13, fol. 33r.

CFP: ‘Thresholds: Concepts of Rupture, Change and Adaptation’, UCD Humanities Institute PhD Conference, 25 March 2022, deadline: 15 February 2022

The UCD Humanities Institute PhD Conference will take place as a hybrid online and in-person conference at the UCD O’Brien Centre, Theatre E, Dublin, on 25 March 2022. The keynote speaker is Professor Caroline Bassett, University of Cambridge, Faculty of English, Director of Cambridge Digital Humanities.

The changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic have been so radical and extensive that the concept of ‘back to normal’ has evolved into that of a ‘new normal’ in recognition of the fact that there can be no return, only new forms of existence in a new world. This sense of a before and after, and the processes of rupture, change, adaptation, translation and transformation that it entails, are what we seek to critically and creatively engage with through the symbolic vehicle of the threshold. We understand thresholds as representing the movement from one space or state to another, whether this be sudden and cataclysmic or slow and gentle. The ‘threshold’ also allows for an exploration of ‘in-between’ or ‘in process’, i.e. that which is located on or within the threshold, rather than on either side of it. We may be forced to move through a threshold, adapting as best we can to the circumstances on the other side, or we might produce a threshold as part of a process of creativity and discovery. Translators, for example, work within a linguistic threshold, forging something new from a pre-existing piece of textual or verbal expression.

In the context of a world defined by change and flux, nevermore so than in the last eighteen months, the 2022 PhD Conference of the UCD Humanities Institute is seeking proposals from emerging scholars and artists (doctoral candidates or researchers who received their PhD within the last five years) who are engaged, either conceptually or practically, with thresholds of any kind.

We invite proposals for individual papers from the fields of literature, philosophy, history, classics, archaeology, art history and other humanities disciplines suitable for a 15-minute presentation, or 3-paper panel sessions addressing topics that include but not limited to:


● Thresholds of technological, social or political change
● Geographical, political, cultural or religious thresholds as places of division and encounter
● Instances of failed or thwarted attempts at adaptation
● Advantages, disadvantages, and complexities of change, translation, and transformation
● Thresholds between media and within the digital humanities
● Experience of ambivalent agency and liminal identity in migration, diaspora labour exportation, and refugee issues
● Social constraints and the overcoming of imposed limits against thresholds of race, gender, ability, age, or class identity
● Interrogating and problematising thresholds of gender and gender binaries
● Challenges and possibilities of linguistic and cultural translation
● The translation or adaptation of material for new audiences in art, literature, music, film, computer games, and other media
● Transformation and adaptation as a process of preservation
● Transformation between media and genre and the “going through” multiple thresholds; multiple levels or phases of change, adaptation and transformation
● Questions of the exaltation (or not) of the “original” versus the “copy”
● Hierarchies of adaptation. In what context do stories get “reborn”? Why are some stories retold more often than others?
● Gains and losses in the transformation from one medium to another
● Representations of ‘thresholds’ in social discourses in literature, art, film computer games, and other media

Please submit an abstract of 250 words and a bio-note of around 200 words to hiphdconference2022@gmail.com on or before Tuesday, 15 February 2022, 5:00 PM (Irish Standard Time). All proposals should include your name, email address and academic affiliation (if applicable). Please also include a main subject field plus secondary subject field in the application.

The conference will be held in English. The conference is convened by Resident Scholars of the UCD Humanities Institute. Exceptional papers may be recommended for publication in the blog (https://tnhphd.network/) or other venues.

This is a hybrid online and in person conference. We welcome applications from anywhere in the world. Successful applicants who are unable to travel to Dublin for the conference will be invited to present online. There will be a live stream of all presentations available for all registered attendees. We are also aware that due to the pandemic, it may become inadvisable to hold an in-person conference; in case of changes to government restrictions or UCD policy regarding in-person events, this conference will be moved online.

For further information contact HI Resident Scholars Louisa Carroll, Lauren Cassidy, Suchismita Dattagupta, Prolet Decheva, Clare Kelly, Annie Khabaza, and Maika Nguyen, at the above email address.

New Publication: ‘Medieval Art at the Intersection of Visuality and Material Culture. Studies in the ‘Semantics of Vision’’ edited by Raphaèle Preisinger

ISBN 978-2-503-58153-8

More Info: https://bit.ly/3qewnOF

By according equal importance to theoretical accounts of vision and cultural practices of seeing, the articles in this book contribute to the ongoing shift in the fields of art history and medieval history from considerations of vision to those of visuality.

Over the last two decades the historiography of medieval art has been defined by two seemingly contradictory trends: a focus on questions of visuality, and more recently an emphasis on materiality. The latter, which has encouraged multi-sensorial approaches to medieval art, has come to be perceived as a counterpoint to the study of visuality as defined in ocularcentric terms.

Bringing together specialists from different areas of art history, this book grapples with this dialectic and poses new avenues for reconciling these two opposing tendencies. The essays in this volume demonstrate the necessity of returning to questions of visuality, taking into account the insights gained from the ‘material turn’. They highlight conceptions of vision that attribute a haptic quality to the act of seeing and draw on bodily perception to shed new light on visuality in the Middle Ages.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements, List of Illustrations

Colour Plates

Introduction: A Return to Medieval Visuality after the Material Turn — RAPHAÈLE PREISINGER

‘Visual Piety’ and Visual Theory: Was There a Paradigm Shift? — BERTHOLD HUB

Fortress of Form, Robber of Consciousness: Theorizing Visuality in Islam — WENDY M. K. SHAW

De spiritu et anima: The Cistercians, the Image, and Imagination — JENS RÜFFER

The Liveliness of the Methexic Image — BISSERA V. PENTCHEVA

Radiance and Image on the Breast: Seeing Medieval Jewellery — SILKE TAMMEN

Reliquaries and the Boundaries of Vision: Relics, Crystals, Mirrors and the ‘Vision Effect’ — CYNTHIA HAHN

Channelling the Gaze: Squints in Late Medieval Screens — TINA BAWDEN

Index

Online lecture: ‘Orality – Literacy – Digitality: Medieval Perspectives on the Digital Age’, by Torsten Hiltmann, IHR European History 1150-1550 lecture series, 13 January 2022, 5.30pm (GMT)

The first of the IHR European History 1150-1550 seminars 2022 will take place on 13 January 2022, between 5.30 and 7pm GMT.

Professor Torsten Hiltmann (FU Berlin) will deliver the paper ‘Orality – Literacy – Digitality: Medieval Perspectives on the Digital Age.’

This talk argues that, rather than the invention of the printing press, the processes of digitalisation in the present resemble the rise of the written word in the Middle Ages, which reshaped all aspects of society, from institutions and law to education and trade. Our knowledge of this medieval transition allows us to better understand our own, modern-day engagement with digital media. Intermediary steps such as recording and emulating the spoken word in the medium of text show how new media remained initially tied to customary ways, but would soon enable entirely new practices of use that alter culture and society irrevocably.

The seminar, which takes place on Zoom, is free. Please register online here.

Fellowships: Six RECEPTIO postdoctoral fellowships in codicology, 2022-2023 (deadline 1 February 2022)

RECEPTIO, the Research Centre for European Philological Tradition (Lugano/London), announces six fellowships for its training course for codicologists who are looking to work in auction houses and antiquarian bookshops.

RECEPTIO is the only research centre in Europe that combines codicological and philological research with the labour market, training codicologists to work for auction houses and antiquarian bookshops. Every semester we launch a competition for six scholarships to attend this unique course. The Institute’s diverse research areas and student body form an innovative, cosmopolitan and enriching academic environment, providing students with the skills and networks needed to pursue an exciting career.

There is no age limit, but applicants should have obtained their PhD no more than ten years from the date of the appointment. Researchers who have obtained their PhD more than ten years ago, but are active in the field of codicology or philology, are invited to apply on the basis of their Curriculum Vitae and will be tested for admission through a motivational interview. Candidates with a Master’s degree who have a strong interest in the object of study will be tested for admission through a motivational interview, too.

Admission decisions are based on the quality of the overall application file. The grant consists of €4,000 for each academic year and can be renewed on the basis of the results obtained.

For more information visit: https://www.receptio.eu/codicologia

Our selection committees give priority consideration to academic achievement and motivation. Academic achievement is documented using transcripts and recommendations. Motivation factors should be clarified in the cover letter/statement of purpose. The evaluation committees will take into consideration the difficulties encountered by many students around the world in the spring 2020 semester, due to the COVID-19 health crisis. The main language of the course is Italian, but a very good command of English is required to follow the seminars (seminars are also held in French and Spanish).

Deadline: 1 February 2022

Application via the website: https://www.receptio.eu/programmes

Exhibition: ‘Gold’, British Library, London, 20 May – 2 October 2022, tickets available in February 2022

The British Library has announced a new exhibition, Gold, which will run from 20 May to 2 October 2022.

Gold has long held the power to dazzle and ignite feelings of wonder. This new exhibition will take visitors on a journey to over 20 countries to discover how gold has been used to embellish and enhance the written word across cultures, faiths and through time.

Showcasing some of the most luxurious illuminated manuscripts, gold-tooled books, sacred texts and scrolls from the British Library’s collection, objects on display will include the Harley Golden Gospels, the Lotus Sutra and a treaty in Malayalam, beautifully inscribed on a long strip of gold. Through these stunning objects, Gold will examine the masterful techniques used to handle such a precious metal and tell the stories of those who owned these extraordinary books.

Tickets will go on sale in February 2022. 

The exhibition is supported by The Goldhammer Foundation and the American Trust for the British Library, with thanks to The Finnis Scott Foundation and the Owen Family Trust.

Photo: The Queen Mary Psalter, English, early 14th century, copyright British Library