Sunday, 11 September 2016

Autumn 2016 Schedule


6:15pm in 50 George Square. Room G.01

Our weekly seminars showcase the Work in Progress of postgraduate students working within the Late Antique and Medieval periods. Students of
all disciplines and stages of research are welcome to present. Papers are twenty minutes long, followed by ten to fifteen minutes of questions. We then head to Doctors for a pint to continue the discussion!

Monday, September 19th
Introduction to LAMPS
Join us for our first seminar of the term, where we will have a couple of short talks about LAMPS and what we do. We will head over to Doctors afterwards for a pint!

Monday, September 26th
“Masculinity Doesn’t Grow on Trees: Arboreal Imagery and Gender Identity in the Middle English Breton Lays”
Danielle Howarth, PhD Medieval Studies, University of Edinburgh
The Middle English Breton Lays are a collection of nine short Middle English romances displaying common preoccupations with love and minstrelsy, all composed between the late thirteenth and early fifteenth centuries. They exist within a corpus of medieval romance literature that rely on the settings of the forest, wilderness, and garden to backdrop a preoccupation with the chivalric ideal. This paper will foreground these settings and view chivalric masculinity through the lens of trees; I will explain the role of nature – and of trees in particular – from an eco-feminist perspective, examining the ways arboreal imagery enacts and asserts masculine dominance, but also highlights masculine frailty and vulnerability, and so opens up a potentially liberating feminine space of transgression, subversion, and freedom. Alongside this interrogation of the masculine/feminine binary, I will unpick the ostensibly hierarchical and straightforward human/non-human dichotomy within the lays to consider how reading medieval texts according to their trees can resonate with our understanding of the Anthropocene as is it exists today. 

Monday, October 3rd
"Embroidering the Truth: a Cunning Escape from Slander in Renart's Le Roman de la Rose ou de Guillaume de Dole"
Morgan Boharski, PhD French, University of Edinburgh
The heroine of Jean Renart’s version of the Le Roman de la Rose ou de Guillaume de Dole is Lienors, the sister of the eponymous knight. This paper will explore the trajectory of Lienors, from her introduction as the most beautiful woman man ever laid eyes on, whose very name makes the emperor swoon, to her downfall and social destruction and the way in which she saves the reputation of herself and of her family. In this romance, an evil seneschal, hoping to bring Guillaume de Dole to ruin out of jealousy, tricks Lienors’ mother into giving him privileged information and uses this information to spread a lascivious lie about Lienors’ loss of virtue. When this rumor becomes public, her patriarchal family disowns her, and Lienors is forced to become her own champion of truth. Through the active use of personally embroidered gifts and cunning, Lienors finds a means of regaining her freedom and identity. This paper will show the power of the female voice, to bring about both ruin and glory, and the importance of the courtly use of embroidery that is underpinned in this romance.

Monday, October 10th
“Towards the Freedom of Self-Representation in the Twelfth Century: Liutprecht – the Sculptor from the Crypt of St Corbinian at Freising Cathedral.”
Maria Gordusenko, PhD History of Art, University of Edinburgh
Twenty-five free-standing columns and twenty-one half-columns support the vaults of the Crypt of St Corbinian at Freising Cathedral. Not all the capitals and bases of these columns are decorated, but the carvings on those that are impress with their diversity, as neither of the subjects repeat each other. Among the variety of floral motifs, birds and various fantastic creatures that are found on the capitals, there are also figures of men, but only one of these images is accompanied by an inscription. It is found on the abacus of a capital of an Eastern column from the so-called Northern row. The inscription itself is carved in Roman majuscule and reads: LIVT / PRECHT, which is a European Christian male name. The fact that the inscription is placed above a representation of a bearded man on the same capital gives a strong impression that these two written and figurative elements correlate. Apparently for this reason the majority of art historians, who discuss the sculpture from the Crypt of St Corbinian interpret this inscription as nothing but a signature of a professional, who was involved in producing sculptural decoration of the Crypt.
This paper enquires into such topics as personality of the sculptor and the ways in which it is expressed in his work. Who was Liutprecht, a free sculptor or a monk? Why was he given a freedom of self-expression? And was it indeed a rare case in the twelfth century for a sculptor to make self-representations?

Monday, October 17th
Julianne McGraw, Dig It! Communications and Administration Officer
Join us for this special Monday night seminar where will hear from Julianne McGraw about her work in the heritage sector. Julianne not only works with DigIt!, but is also involved in the Scottish Heritage Social Media Group. She will talk about this, as well as her career, and will be available to answer questions about entering the heritage sector.

Monday, October 24th: Roundtable and General Meeting
“The Medieval on Film”
This week we will shake up our usual Monday night seminars with something a bit different. This roundtable style discussion will give everyone the chance to discuss the topic of “The Medieval on Film”, allowing us to enter into debate about medievalism. Come along and contribute your views!
October 24th will also be our Autumn General Meeting. Events Secretary, Seminar Secretary, and two General Member positions will be up for election. Details about the election and positions will be circulated prior to the seminar. If you have any questions about the process prior to this, please email us at

Monday, November 7th
"'The prisoner wishes to say a word’: Braveheart (1995) as an adaptation of Blind Hary’s The Wallace"
Callum Watson, University of Edinburgh alumnus 
Braveheart is a 1995 historical epic directed by and starring Mel Gibson, purporting to retell the dramatic story of William Wallace – hero of the First War of Independence. Although critically-acclaimed – being nominated for ten Academy Awards and winning five, including Best Picture and Best Director – and credited with having a hugely significant impact on tourism and interest in Scotland’s medieval heritage, with regard to its historical accuracy the film employs considerable creative freedom. The screenwriter – Randall Wallace – claims to have been inspired by The Wallace, a fifteenth-century poem produced by the otherwise obscure writer known only as Blind Hary. Hary himself takes gross liberties with the facts in recounting Wallace’s career, but Braveheart demonstrates marked deviation from this source material as well. This paper will consider these deviations and attempt where possible to explain them. These changes have been made not simply for dramatic effect. In The Wallace, the hero is knighted in a dream by St Andrew and the Virgin Mary, converts a lady to the Scottish cause by taking her to bed, and goes adventuring in France when he cannot find any more Englishmen to fight in Scotland, fighting pirates and even a lion on his way. All of these incidents are undoubtedly dramatic, but they are absent from Braveheart. Rather, I wish to argue that these changes reflect a concern on the part of both writer and director with modern conceptions of nationalism – and its associations with freedom – that tend to obscure the themes emphasised by Hary.

Monday, November 14th
“Pope Leo IX ( 1049-1054) : Dialogues and Decisions”
Andrew Smith, PhD History, University of Glasgow
This paper will analyse, for the first time, three of Pope Leo’s letters which contain accounts of dialogues that took place between Leo and his archbishops and bishops in 1049 and 1050. These dialogues are, on the face of it, about dispute resolution and the affirmation of the consecration of a saint. However, although the dialogues are located within an ecclesiastical framework they can also be seen as political discourses and negotiations of power/decisions straddling political structures, social constructs and church power and tradition. This paper will dissect these dialogues and put forward a new analysis of their meaning and importance. This analysis will throw new light on the pontificate of Pope Leo IX and will introduce perspectives to challenge the prevailing historiography.

Monday, November 21st
“Writing religion right: the bounds of creativity in late medieval meditations on the Passion of Christ”
Katherine Dixon, MPhil Medieval Literature, University of Cambridge
Meditations on the Passion of Christ were among the most popular works of the late medieval period. These texts were designed to induce a strong affective response through their creative rendering of Christ’s crucifixion, allowing those who turned to them to imagine the events and emotions of Christ’s death in acute, visceral detail.
It was common for such works to depart from the Biblical story they sought to convey. Richard Rolle’s two short meditations on the Passion, for example, call for the reader to imagine Christ as a net, dovecot, meadow, honeycomb and book; these figurative conceptualisations of Christ serving as pedagogic aids for the lay consumer. In other instances, however, the line blurs between the use of such creative methods to harmlessly and successfully augment the affectivity of the crucifixion story and simply using one’s creative license.
The latter is the case in the Meditacio passionis (a partial translation in English of the Pseudo-Bonaventurian Latin work the Meditaciones vitae Christi) when it describes Mary crying tears of blood as she gazes upon her dying son on the cross. This image is not present in its Latin source text nor the Bible and exemplifies the very issue my presentation will consider: where were the bounds of authorial liberty in meditative literature? Where did writing designed to make the word of the Lord clearer perhaps teeter on detracting from or indeed sensationalising the meaning it intended to convey? It will do so with the Meditacio passionis as its lens, considering the nature of affective piety and discussion of what we know of the consumers of such literature to determine firstly the limits of authorial freedom within the genre and, secondly, the contemporary understanding of what now seem to be examples of ‘taking creative liberties’.

Monday, November 28th
“The Veil of Veronica: the Imago Cristi, Femininity, and Religious Artistry in Medieval Literary Depictions of St. Veronica”
Anna McKay, PhD English Literature, University of Edinburgh
Abstract TBA


Saturday, September 17th: Welcome Pub Night
7pm at Doctors Pub
Join LAMPS as we start off the new academic year with a pint at Doctors pub! Our first event of the year, this pub night provides a wonderful opportunity to get to know LAMPS as an organization as well as get first-hand accounts of the exciting events that we put on each semester for our members. Whether you are studying the Middle Ages or just love castles, LAMPS is a wonderful way to get to know Scotland and its magnificent history! This is also a perfect time for returning members to get better acquainted with our autumn schedule of events and catch up with each other!

Saturday, September 24th: Hide and Seek at Craigmillar Castle
11am outside Teviot Row House
£3.20 return bus fare, entry to the castle FREE with LAMPS
Located within easy reach on the outskirts of Edinburgh, Craigmillar Castle is a beautiful ruin with views of Edinburgh and the Firth of Forth. Join us for our annual pilgrimage to this site! Participation in a game of Hide and Seek among the ruins is encouraged but optional.

Saturday, October 8th: Autumn Castle Crawl 
9am at Crichton Street
£25 for transport, entry to the castles and abbey FREE with LAMPS
Join us on a “castle crawl” through Dumfries and Galloway with stops at Caerlaverock Castle, Morton Castle, and the ever-charming Sweetheart Abbey! (We may crawl to the pub at the end of the day as well!)

Saturday, October 22nd: National Museum of Scotland

1pm on the steps outside the NMS
Join us as we spend the afternoon exploring the National Museum of Scotland together. This beautiful building is a must-see in Edinburgh, and we will get a chance to have a good look around the new galleries, which were opened over the summer. 

Monday, October 31st: Halloween Pub Night and Ghost Tour

7pm at Doctors
Cost TBA 
Celebrate Halloween with LAMPS! We will begin with our traditional Halloween pub visit to steel our nerves before starting a private ghost tour through Edinburgh’s scariest places. We will give prizes for the best costumes, so make sure you look scary enough to ward away all the spirits we will encounter! 

Saturday, November 12th: Linlithgow Palace

11am at Waverley Train Station 
£8.10 return train fare, entry to the palace FREE with LAMPS
Join us for our last heritage site trip of the term! We will visit beautiful Linlithgow Palace, the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots, which is situated on the leafy banks of Linlithgow Loch. Just a short train ride away from Edinburgh, this impressive medieval site is not to be missed!

Monday, December 5th: Christmas Markets 
7pm outside the National Gallery of Scotland
To celebrate the end of term, come along to our annual trip to Edinburgh’s famous Christmas Markets. We will get into the Christmas spirit with mulled wine and fairy lights as we have a wander around the transformed Princes Street Gardens.

Saturday, December 10th: Christmas Dinner
Location and price TBA
Look out for details of our festive celebration! We will celebrate the holiday season with food and good company!