Tag Archives: medieval

Vacancy at The Courtauld: Lecturer/Senior Lecturer in Art History c.300-1450. Deadline 20 April 2018


Lecturer/Senior Lecturer in Art History c.300-1450


The Courtauld Institute of Art is the UK’s leading institution for teaching and research in Art History and the conservation of paintings; it is also home to one of the finest small art museums in the world. The Art History department has an outstanding research and teaching record from Late Antiquity to the Contemporary with an increasingly global outlook, and embraces its diversity of theoretical approaches and methodologies.

The Courtauld wishes to appoint a full-time Lecturer/Senior Lecturer in Art History, to begin on 1 September 2018. The successful candidate will complement the existing teaching strengths of the Department and will have a research focus in any region or period from c.300-1450. We seek an art historian who situates their research in a wider, international context, and who can work across traditional geographic, linguistic and chronological boundaries. An ideal candidate would be able to teach across at least one other field in a way directed by concepts of exchange and interaction, and to build bridges with other areas of art historical investigation. The candidate is expected to be able to situate their work in the theoretical and historiographical debates in their specialised research area and also engage with current issues in global Art History.

The appointee will research and publish to the highest quality and will actively pursue and apply for appropriate research grants; will provide inspiring teaching at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels; and will play an active role in the life and administration of The Courtauld.

PAY:       Grade 6 (£36,644 to £41,958) or

Grade 7 (£43,117 to £49,461), depending on experience


INTERVIEW DATE:    15 May 2018


Call for Papers: Moving Violence: Transgressing the Boundaries of Experience in Medieval Imagery, Tel Aviv University, 11-13/12/2018 (Deadline 18/06/2018)

irish-axe-menViolence imagery in medieval art reveals a parade of brutal acts: various stages of decapitation, splitting skulls, amputating limbs, enucleating eyes, yanking teeth, cutting off breasts, and other repugnant horrors. Often stripped of direct devotional context and thus presented as violence inflicted upon the imagined bodies of the depicted saints, these portrayals also attacked the body and mind of the viewers, accumulating into a physically and emotionally moving violence: the images incorporate time, space, and motion through movement in the staging of the scenes, which, in turn, stimulated both emotional and bodily reactions in the viewers. It also encouraged the audience to move with and around the images. Suggesting an imaginative somatic experience to the beholders, these images negotiate discourses on the nature of violence, bodily integrity, and the self, and transgress the boundaries between object and subject, representation and viewers, past and present, imagination and historicism.

This conference seeks to explore the complex of rhetoric and response forms to violence imagery, whether in devotional, liturgical, or secular contexts: namely, in the juridical, moral, and ethical discourses. It also seeks to explore how the changing definition of the term violence, whether in textual or visual sources, constitutes the watershed of a given culture, civilization, and their notion of individuality.

We invite papers on any medieval discipline or region that engages with issues of: Continue reading

Call for Papers: University of Kent Medieval and Early Modern Studies Summer Festival 15-16/06/2018, Deadline 23/03/2018


Now in its fourth year, MEMS Summer Festival is a two-day celebration of the Medieval and Early Modern periods, including the study of religion, politics, history, art, drama, literature, and domestic culture from c. 400 – 1800. The festival, hosted at the University of Kent, is designed to bring together scholars from a range of disciplines, academic schools, and institutions. MEMS Fest aims to be an informal space in which postgraduate students, early career researchers, and academics can share ideas and foster conversations, while building a greater sense of community. Undergraduate students in their final year of study are also welcome to participate in the conference.

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Lecture Emmanuele Lugli “Chasing Absence: The Body of Christ and the Measures to Enter in Touch with it” 17:00 13/02/2018 Birkbeck

Mensura Christi Talk
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.
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.  We hope to see you there.

British Museum Handling Session: The Trinity

GodwinOn Wednesday 24 January 2018 Lloyd de Beer and Naomi Speakman once again welcomed a group of staff and students from The Courtauld and elsewhere, as well as Sophie Kelly, PhD student from the University of Kent. The focus of our session was objects in the British Museum collection with links to the Trinity.

We looked at eleven objects with Trinitarian iconography, the earliest of which was the walrus ivory seal die of Godwin the Thane, dating from the early eleventh century. Beautifully carved with iconography inspired by Psalm 109 (110), ‘The Lord said unto my Lord: Sit thou at my right hand and I will make thine enemies thy footstool’. The decoration on the handle consists of God the Father and Son in relief, enthroned over a prostrate human figure. We were very interested to investigate the evidence of damage above the two figures which, we agreed, was likely to have once included a symbol of the Holy Ghost in the form of a dove.

The Trinity also features on a fourteenth-century circular bronze seal-matrix (with wax impression) with a loop at top. Here the Trinity is depicted as three near-identical figures with an inscription ‘SCA TRINITAS.VHVS.DEVS’. The third seal which we saw was the fifteenth-century circular bronze seal-matrix (with wax impression) of the Friars of the Holy Trinity, Hounslow. Under a Gothic canopy with side-tabernacles the Trinity is depicted in a manner which allowed us to discuss different ways of representing the Trinity in the Middle Ages. Here, the iconography known as the Throne of Grace (Gnadenstuhl), is used. In these depictions of the Trinity, God the Father is seated and holds the cross upon which Jesus Christ is crucified in front of his lap, with the dove of the Holy Spirit alongside. This iconography became popular from the thirteenth century and is seen across a wide range of artistic media, including manuscripts, stained glass and stone carving. The Trinity depicted as the Throne of Grace also appeared on a late Medieval gold finger ring. With the help of a magnifying glass we were able to appreciate the detailed depiction of the Trinity on the oval bezel of the ring, which included the dove which is shown between Christ’s right arm and God the Father.


Black Prince badgeWe discussed Plantagenet devotion to the Trinity evidenced through the lead Badge of the Black Prince of c.1376 which shows the Black Prince kneeling before Trinity (although the dove is missing). The Black Prince wears a tabard with Arms of England and has thrown down his gauntlet before him; above him is an angel in clouds holding his shield. We also looked at two Anglo-Saxon ivory plaques depicting the Crucifixion. Above the head of Christ, the Hand of God is depicted, thereby alerting us to the presence of two persons of the Trinity. This led to discussion related to how we might understand images where one of the member of the Trinity is ‘missing’; can the presence of the other person be implied?


An object which we all found challenging was a wood-carved relief representing the Trinity (also in the Throne of Mercy composition) dated 1450-1500 and including depictions of the Annunciation, St Francis of Assisi, St Bernardino and St Sebastian. The largest object encountered was a late Medieval alabaster Coronation of the Virgin which still shows traces of painting and gilding. Here the Virgin is surrounded by the persons of the Trinity represented as three crowned figures.

close looking

In preparation for the handling session we read the following texts and discussed them at a reading group the night before:


Bernard McGinn, ‘Theologians as Trinitarian Iconographers’, In: Jeffrey Hamburger and Anne-Marie Bouché The Mind’s Eye. Art and Theological Argument in the Middle Ages, Princeton, 2006, 186-207

André Grabar, ‘Dogmas Expressed in a Single Image’, In: Christian Iconography. A Study of its Origins, London, 1969, 112-127

Jacobus De Voragine, ‘The Holy Spirit’, In: The Golden Legend, Princeton, 1993, 299-306

We looked at the definition of the Trinity in The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford, 1997), and were interested to explore the tension between theology and iconography. In particular, how can dogma such as the Trinity be represented? Grabar and McGinn have contrasting views on what constitutes ‘successful’ iconography; McGinn sees artistic experimentation and lack of iconographic stability as positives, whereas Grabar suggests that the fact an image appears in limited or isolated circumstances makes it a failure. To aid our discussions, we looked at some manuscript images of the Trinity. These included: British Library, MS Cotton Tiberius C vi (Tiberius Psalter); British Library, MS Cotton Titus D. xxvii (Ælfwine’s Prayerbook); British Library, MS Add. 34890 (Grimbald Gospels); British Library MS Cotton B IV (Aelfric’s Hexateuch); British Library, MS Harley 603 (Harley Psalter); MS Lansdowne 383 (the Shaftesbury Psalter); Winchester Bible, Winchester Cathedral; and St John’s College, Cambridge, MS K 26 (St John’s Psalter). We discussed the experimental nature of Trinitarian iconography and how this might help us understand the chancel wall painting of the Throne of Grace at the Church of St Mary, Houghton-on-the-Hill, Norfolk which is unique, and the earliest known appearance of this motif.

Call for Papers The University of Birmingham EMREM Postgraduate Forum 8th Annual Symposium Truth, Lies and Deception Deadline 03/03/2018


We invite all postgraduates working on the Middle Ages and Early Modern periods to submit papers for and attend our 8th Annual Symposium at the University of Birmingham on Thursday 17th and Friday 18th May 2018.

This interdisciplinary 2-day event welcomes papers and/or images of research from History, Literature, Archaeology, Art-History and Music.

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CFP: Living in a Magical World: Inner Lives, 1300–1900, St Anne’s College, Oxford, 17–19 September 2018

conference_cfp_5Call for Papers: Living in a Magical World: Inner Lives, 1300–1900, St Anne’s College, Oxford, 17–19 September 2018
Deadline: Friday 12 January 2018

Historians have learned to regard the supernatural as integral to past lives. No longer are magical and occult beliefs anachronistically condescended to as mere ‘superstitions’, entertained only by a credulous minority and for the most part ancillary to temporal existence. Instead, the near-constant presence of unseen yet powerful forces – both benevolent and malign, and across domestic, communal, and cosmic environments – now seems central to a subtle and pervasive worldview held by sane, intelligent people whose outlook on the universe was no less sophisticated or coherent than our own. At the same time, supernatural beliefs were unstable, inconsistent, and contested.

Taking this insight as its starting point, this conference will explore the meanings, practices, and everyday consequences of living in a magical world, with special reference to its complex relationship to the inner lives of our forebears, from the late medieval to the modern period. We invite papers from all geographical contexts and disciplinary perspectives, and from researchers at all stages of their careers, that relate the history of magic, witchcraft, ghosts, and other supernatural phenomena to the following themes and research questions:

  • The history of selfhood, personal identity, phenomenology, and subjectivity;
  • The history of the emotions, and the significance of feeling states – insofar as we can ever recover them – for understanding and appreciating past experiences and interiorities;
  • And the extent to which interactions with occult realms and unseen worlds – which often engendered powerful feelings of anger, terror, and grief, but also of wonder, hope, and security – are privileged sites for understanding past emotional repertoires and experiences and, in turn, inner lives.

We hope that the assembled papers will shed new light on the role of the supernatural encounter in shaping the textures and meanings of lived experience over an unprecedentedly wide variety of time periods, national boundaries, and spatial and perceptual dimensions (from courtrooms, households, and urban and rural landscapes to dreamscapes, memory, and fantasy). Publication of an edited collection and/or journal special issue featuring a selection of the papers will be considered, while the conference will also incorporate a drinks reception at and private view of the project’s associated exhibition on the history of witchcraft and magic at the Ashmolean Museum. Provisionally entitled Spellbound: Thinking Magically, Past and Present, this will show from 6 September 2018 to 6 January 2019.

To propose a twenty-minute paper, please send a title and abstract of no more than 300 words, together with a short academic CV, to james.r.brown@uea.ac.uk by Friday 12 January 2018. Please also direct any queries to James in the first instance.