Candidates will have an outstanding research record of international stature within the field of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic and the vision, leadership, experience and enthusiasm to build on current strengths in maintaining and developing a leading research presence. They will hold a PhD or equivalent postgraduate qualification.
NOW CANCELLED DUE TO INDUSTRIAL ACTION!
The London Society for Medieval Studies is hosting the following lecture on Tuesday 27th February at 7pm:
Meg Boulton, speaking on ‘”Structuring the Sacred”: Considering Framing, Space and Place on the Easby Cross.
Location: Institute of Historical Research, Wolfson Room NB01, Senate House (located on Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU).
All those who are interested in Medieval Studies are very welcome to attend!
All this term’s seminars take place in the History of Art Department at Birkbeck (43, Gordon Sq., London WC1H 0PD) in Room 114 (The Keynes Library) at 5pm. Talks finish by 5.50pm (allowing those with other commitments to leave) and are then followed by discussion and refreshments. This term’s papers are as follows :
17 January: Carol Richardson
Britons and Anglo-Saxons in Sixteenth-Century Rome: the 1580s fresco cycle at the English College
William Allen referred to Bede’s Ecclesiastical History as a seminarian’s reader because it proved that Christianity in Britain derived directly from the Catholic church in Rome from its very origins. This was an important argument in the context of Tudor persecution of Catholics because of the Protestant assertion that British Christianity had taken root long before the missions of Augustine of Canterbury introduced the corrupted Roman version of Christianity. This paper will consider the earliest part of the fresco cycle in the English College, which survives as printed images, in light of this deliberate historiographical choice.
13 February: Emmanuele Lugli
Chasing Absence: The Body of Christ and the Measures to Enter in Touch with it
This talk focuses on the singular devotion for the ‘mensura Christi,’ or the act of praying with objects that reproduced the height of Christ. It explores the reasons for its phenomenal success, from its diffusion in the twelfth century up to its ban in the seventeenth, and the motives for its marginalization in historical accounts today. The talk asks questions about what turns an orthodox veneration into a mere superstition, an inversion that is all the more puzzling given that the ‘mensura Christi’ relies on measuring, one of the methods to fight credulity. The lecture thus reconsiders the relationships of measuring practices, visual belief, and religious orders, thus contributing to discussions on representations, faith, and material studies.
14 March: Luca Palozzi
‘And the great lion walks through his innocent grove’. A cross-disciplinary study of lion paw prints in Giovanni Pisano’s Pisa pulpit
Giovanni Pisano carved animal tracks on the base of one of two lions bearing columns in his pulpit for Pisa Cathedral (1302-1310). Overlooked for more than seven centuries, these are the first naturalistic paw prints carved in marble in post-Classical Western art. This paper presents the initial results of a joint art historical and anatomical study of the Pisa paw prints conducted by Dr Luca Palozzi and Dr Gurå Bergkvist. In so doing, it tackles the much-debated issue of Medieval ‘naturalism’ (and its means) from an unusual perspective. A cross-disciplinary approach, that is, may help us find new answers to long-standing questions.
The study of architecture largely focuses on the study of buildings: constructions with their most essential function as shelter for the human body. But architectural history can forget that constructions with other functions are also ripe for interpretation of their structure and ideologies. This is what the ambitiously-named International Bridges Group intends to promote for crossings of all kinds, but beginning with a focus upon the medieval. Hence we at MedievalArtResearch.com were invited to their inaugural meeting at Westminster Hall on the banks of the Thames, followed by a day of in-depth (hopefully not literally) investigation of medieval bridges in the Nene and Great Ouse valleys. It as an opportunity to experience the fledgling sub-discipline of gephyrology: a neologism which currently only returns fifty results on Google.
As the current writer specialises on ecclesiastical architecture, one thing that emerged in the day in Westminster Hall was how similar working on the English bridge is to studying English parish church. Opening lectures from John Blair and John Chandler established thinking about English bridges is closely linked to unravelling the origins and operation of the English parochial system. Many current bridges can be traced back to the increasing importance of kingdoms in the late eighth century, and the establishment of centres of power. Just like churches, sometimes the opportunity to build a bridge was seized upon by institutions, monastic, parochial or secular to make a powerful architectural statement. Equally, institutions could be less responsible: maintenance neglected and pontage tolls embezzled.
Also like English churches, English bridges are uniquely weird and wonderful in equal measure. John P. Allan showed us, via the Exe bridge at Exeter, how independent masons may have been happy to meet in the middle with rounded and pointed arches; while Peter Cross Rudkin showed the English fondness for soffit ribs under the arches, akin to the complicated mouldings of English churches. The rib may have originally had a functional purpose centring the arch before it was built up: especially important for a rounded arch that cannot support itself. But since the ribs are often spaced wider than the length of the stones on top, it would appear that they have assumed the status of a skeuomorph: a decorative form derived from a practical necessity. Having a bridge that had distinctively bridge-like forms was clearly as essential as its structural practicality.
Just as a church spire provided an opportunity to dominate the sky, a bridge provided a powerful opportunity to assert ideology through these unique architectural semiotics. Susan Irvine used Anglo-Saxon literature to consider the bridge as a liminal space: a meeting point between two places. The potential of using this category of space was explored by Jana Gajdošová and Gerrit Jasper Schenk, both presenting papers on bridges rebuilt after disaster. The Gothic Charles Bridge in Prague, with its enormous bridge-tower and scheme of regal architectural sculpture, Jana showed to be a powerful expression of the megalomaniacal ambition of the Holy Roman Emperor. Gerrit compared the rebuilt Ponte Vecchio to the Florentine Bapistery: a pagan monument to Mars reclaimed for John the Baptist, expressed through inscriptions that speak of the enlightened commune of the city.
The final session brought us to how the established concept of a bridge worked in larger societal concepts: Jacopo Turchetto took us to medieval Anatolia, demonstrating how magnificent Ottoman bridges represented much older meeting places of travelling caravans. Roberta Magnusson and David Harrison both gave rich lectures about the bridge in the frameworks of English urban infrastructure and society that proved vital for enlightened conversation on the group’s trip out the Nene and Great Ouse Valleys the next day.
After an early Sunday-morning start, the first bridge the delegates encountered was Great Barford in Bedfordshire, dated by a major bequest of 1428. Much of the problem of looking at bridges is that, unlike a building, it faces not just the usual climatic elements, but also heavy traffic, perpetually flowing water, and wandering boats. Therefore it is inevitable that they fail and are rebuilt. Great Barford was also slightly spoiled by the 1874 widening – a common solution to the problem of increasing road traffic in the Modern age – here achieved by building out the bridge on the west side with a brick refacing.
Many medieval bridges are isolated from the main traffic flow: Irthlingborough now has a rather precarious-looking 1930s concrete Art-Deco bypass running alongside it. But in the Middle Ages it was a main road: therefore it was an inevitable structure unlike the grand statement at Great Barford, and probably with much earlier origins. Ditchford, on the other hand, had no such modern rerouting and was very much in use, with signal lights controlling the two-way traffic not used to a group of architectural historians examining its structure (see featured image). This bridge, made largely of attractively-tinged ironstone, was funded by the two parishes of which it lay on the boundary line: charmingly expressed on the central cutwater by the symbols of churches’ dedicatees, St Peter and St Catherine.
Two major urban bridges finished the trip. The very handsome bridge over the Great Ouse outside Huntingdon, called ‘lately built’ in 1322, reveals at close inspection its English eccentricities: different mouldings, designs and widths for every arch. It has the most attractive feature of a trefoil-arched corbel table, very much confirming the early-fourteenth-century date, which may have marked the place of a bridge chapel. Very few of these survived the Reformation: Wakefield, Rotherham, Bradford-upon-Avon and St Ives being the exception. However, we found the chapel over the Great Ouse locked, but had plenty to admire in the St Ives bridge itself: built in the 1420s at the behest of some generous Benedictines.
While very rich and informative, this meeting established only mere stepping stones to the establishment of gephyrology as an active discipline. If you are a budding gephyrologist, especially of the medieval period (or at least, initially, hanging around with a bunch of medievalists) and would be interested in attending future meetings of this research group, then email Jana Gajdošová with your name, institutional affiliation and a brief description of your studies.
For the full resumé of pictures of the day (including cheeky opportunistic solo church visits) see the Flickr set.
The British Library and the University of Leicester are pleased to invite applications for a three-year AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnership PhD Studentship, available from 1 October 2015. The project will be supervised by Professor Joanna Story, professor of Early Medieval History at Leicester, and by Dr Claire Breay, Head of Ancient, Medieval and Early Modern Manuscripts, at the British Library.
The successful candidate will undertake a thesis on Anglo-Saxon England and the Continent centred on the rich manuscript resources at the British Library. The culture of Anglo-Saxon England before the Norman conquest is highly distinctive, not least through the use of the Old English vernacular as a language of written record; but Anglo-Saxon political, religious, economic, linguistic, literary and artistic history cannot be properly understood without reference to contemporary connections with Europe. These cross-Channel connections were always significant, and are manifest in many different ways in manuscripts preserved at the British Library.
Applicants may propose projects that respond to this theme, and which are centred on British Library manuscripts. Potential projects include: ‘Anglo-Saxon England and Rome’; ‘Networks of Knowledge’; ‘Letters to the English’; Perceptions of the Past in Anglo-Saxon England: continental kinship’; ‘Methods of making’.
This studentship coincides with the three-year period of research and preparation for a major British Library exhibition on the Anglo-Saxons that opens in October 2018, and which explores the history, art, and culture of this period through the medium of extant manuscripts. This offers the student an exceptional opportunity to participate in the development of an international exhibition and the Library expects the student to contribute to related publications (in print and online), public events, and academic conferences.
We are seeking a highly promising student who will relish the opportunity of combining academic research with the experience of working as part of a professional team of curators and researchers. This studentship is likely to appeal to individuals with a background in early medieval history, book history, literature, language, or interdisciplinary methods for understanding early medieval material culture. Prior experience of research using early medieval manuscripts will be an advantage, and the successful applicant will demonstrate commensurate skills in relevant languages and palaeography. A commitment to communicating the results of research to a wider public audience is key in the context of the British Library’s exhibition.
Applicants must have a first-class or high upper second-class honours degree (or equivalent qualification) and meet the University’s standard English Language entry requirements. It is expected that applicants will have a related Master’s degree with merit or distinction, or be able to show evidence that they will achieve this by September 2015.
The studentship is available for full-time study only, and applicants must be able to commence their studies in October 2015.
How to apply
To apply you need to complete the standard University of Leicester online application form here: http://www2.le.ac.uk/study/research/phd/history .In place of the research proposal requested on this form, you should provide a statement of up to 1,000 words on:
- How you propose to develop the project theme using the British Library collections
- How your education and experience to date has prepared you for this research position, and how you will develop the opportunities offered by the 2018 exhibition.
Applicants should also submit:
- A 4-5,000 word sample of their written work
The successful candidate must meet Research Council eligibility criteria based on UK residency. See paragraphs 42-44 on pp. 11-12 of the RCUK Terms and Conditions for Postgraduate training grants:
Informal enquiries relating to potential research projects or eligibility should be sent to Professor Jo Story: firstname.lastname@example.org
Closing Date: Friday 10 April 2015, 17:00 (London time)
Interview Date: 5/6 May 2015, at The British Library
For details of the AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnership scheme at the British Library please visit http://www.bl.uk/aboutus/highered/hecollab/collabdoctpar/
For more information about the research project offered here and the collaboration with the British Library please consult the Further Particulars, here [http://www2.le.ac.uk/departments/history/postgraduate/collaborative-doctoral-award-opportunities].