Late Antique and Medieval Postgraduate Society
Spring 2017 Schedule
Our weekly seminars showcase the Work in Progress of postgraduate students of all disciplines working within the Late Antique and Medieval periods. Papers are twenty minutes long, followed by ten to fifteen minutes of questions. We then head to Ushers for a pint to continue the discussion! This term our seminars will take place in 50 George Square, Room G.01 at 6:15pm and will be on the theme of Transcendence.
Monday, Jan 16th
LAMPS Pub Night at Ushers
Monday, Jan 23rd
Audrey Scardina, PhD Archaeology, University of Edinburgh
Heritage in the Digital Age: Analyzing the success of the prototype tablet guides at the Auchindrain Township Museum
Six miles south of Inveraray on the road towards Lochgilphead is the Auchindrain Township Museum. The sign on the main road declares in green, 'Welcome to Auchindrain: Please drive carefully', which may cause visitors to wonder if this is indeed a working village. What they have actually stumbled upon is the standing remains of the last Township in Scotland. This unique outdoor museum and heritage site provides a number of challenges, one of which is: if the aim is to show the site as it was left, how do you provide guests with information?
It was through asking himself this question that Bob Clark, the current museum director, decided to look into the prospect of tablet guides. Through funding received from Museum Galleries Scotland, Bob, along with software company Samteq, were able to begin the process of developing the tablet guides in 2015. In November 2015 I applied for a Scottish Graduate School of Arts and Humanities (SGSAH) internship at Auchindrain. My idea for a project was to go through the process of assessing the success of the digital guides in their first summer, and to provide an analysis of those results.
This paper will focus on the process of designing and implementing my survey, the short-term analysis of the results as they came in, and the final conclusions presented in my report to The Auchindrain Trust in December 2016. I will start by explaining the initial plan for the survey, including the way it changed over the project and the specific problems that came up. From there I will discuss the process of interviewing visitors, the kind of individual responses I would get, and then how I fed these back to Bob and Samteq. Finally I will go over the total results, including my suggestions to Auchindrain about changes in content, tech, and future projects.
Monday, Jan 30th
Alasdair Grant, PhD History, University of Edinburgh
Ab extremis terris usque ad extremum terrae: A Pseudo-Prophet of the East in an Anglo-Latin Manuscript, AD 1335
Between the 1220s-1370s, Latin Christian missionaries exploited the communication routes of the vast Mongol Empire to establish new contacts with Christian communities as far away as China and South Asia. These contacts generated a wide range of texts, from the descriptive to the fantastical. Although many of the major Franciscan narrative accounts of Asia were published in translation a century or more ago, a number of related texts have gone entirely unnoticed. One of these is the remarkable apocalyptic letter of BL MS Royal 12 C xii, ff. 13-14. Bound with a selection of prophecies pertaining to Edward II of England, this text appears to be a unique testimony of an otherwise unknown event: the appearance in summer 1335 of a messianic ascetic, bearing new scripture, riding a golden chariot, and accompanied by an armed following. It is an extraordinary case of English apocalyptic thought transcending its original context to absorb current stories of migration and cross-cultural integration in Asia.
This paper will present the text and an English translation. It will discuss its contents in relation to important contemporary parallels, such as the fictitious letters of ‘Prester John’, as well as the correspondence of Catholic missionaries (e.g. John of Montecorvino) in the Mongol world. It will suggest that the episode described by the letter is a garbled misunderstanding, in terms familiar to a Latin Catholic Christian, of Buddhism in the Mongol world, conflated with the mythology of Prester John and influenced by earlier accounts of the Mongols’ violent invasions.
Monday, Feb 6th
Maria Gordusenko, PhD History of Art, University of Edinburgh
Opening Doors to Heaven: Lion Head Doorknockers from the Treasury of Freckenhorst Collegiate Church
The Treasury of the Collegiate Church in Freckenhorst possesses two doorknockers cast in bronze. They depict enclosed in a circular shape lion’s face with stylised mane and wide-opened eyes. The two doorknockers were produced for two-wing church doors. In its teeth, each lion at the doorknockers holds a ring-shaped handle with an inscription. It is a petition for the salvation of souls of the faithful followed by a signature BERNHARDVS ME FECIT. In the inscription the author visualised people entering the Church through the doors for a prayer and asked God so that they ascend to Heaven. The entrance to the Church was perceived as a liminal space and, metaphorically, church doors were associated with the Gates of Heaven. The image of a lion decorating the doors has numerous symbolical connotations, which in a combination with an inscription adds to the semantic value of the doorknockers.
Over the years, Freckenhorst doorknockers with a signature of Bernhardus were transferred from door to door several times, but nevertheless were taken care of and always remained affiliated with the same Collegiate Church. What was the difference in the perception of the doorknockers by their contemporaries and further generations? Did the votive inscription that mentions Bernhardus increase appreciation of these utilitarian pieces? This paper presents an enquiry regarding the doorknockers in the context of the history of the Church in Freckenhorst and analyses the inscription in relation to the objects.
Monday, Feb 13th
Meghan MacKenzie, MSc European Archaeology, University of Edinburgh
Bernard of Clairvaux and the Struggle Against the Enemy
In 1146, Bernard of Clairvaux, one of the most well-known leaders of the Cistercian
Order of monks, called for an attack against the “infidels” of the east who controlled Jerusalem and self-appointed himself leader of the Second Crusade. Bernard’s decision to become so involved in the Crusade was remarkably odd because of his monastic order’s principles. The Order was based on the belief that monks needed to remove themselves completely from what they saw as a corrupt and sinful secular world by living in self-sufficient communities and eschewing outside issues.
Scholars have attempted to explain this contradiction in Bernard’s life. William of St. Thierry, Bernard’s contemporary, blamed the Pope for Bernard’s role in the Crusade. Some scholars see the internal conflicts of the Order as a reason Bernard decided to focus on issues outside of the monastery. Or perhaps it was simply his personality; was he just another power-hungry authoritarian figure?
I propose that a long overlooked but crucial influence on Bernard’s decision to partake in the Crusades was the writings of the Desert Fathers from early Christianity. Like the Cistercians would centuries later, the Desert Fathers sought a closer spiritual connection to God by separating themselves from society. Their writings emphasize how important constant, violent battles against God’s enemies (even when living alone in the Egyptian desert) are to any good Christian’s life. Their writings thus illustrate how connected the search for spiritual transcendence and worldly warfare can be, as Bernard of Clairvaux’s actions would perfectly exemplify centuries later.
Monday, Feb 27th
Vaughn Sturdevan Feuer, MSc Medieval Literatures and Cultures, University of Edinburgh
Death in the Medieval Mind: Medieval Scottish Interpretations of Death in William Dunbar’s Poetry
Scholars have long praised Dunbar’s use of various subjects, meters, and moods. Throughout the variety of his work, a reoccurring theme is that of the inevitability of death. This is most present in his poem “I that in Heill wes and Gladnes”, also known as “The Lament of the Makars”, where he deals with the spectre of death and its relation to medieval society and his fellow poets.
Scholarship regarding this poem has long focused simply on the historicity and curiosity of the list of poets that Dunbar provides in the second part of the poem. Little has been said in regards to how this poem reflects the attitude of the poet, or of society at the time, surrounding death. I propose that a closer reading of the poem in its entirety, with a special attention paid to the relentless refrain “Timor mortis conturbat me”, exposes the poet’s stanzas regarding death as something uniquely personal, though buried in the very public lament for his fellow poets.
Monday, Mar 6th
Megan Hynek, MSc Late Antique and Byzantine Studies, University of Edinburgh
Confrontation, Creation, and Commemoration: The Synagogue Floor Mosaics at Horvat Huqoq.
Monday, Mar 13th
Round Table and AGM
Monday, Mar 20th
Claire Harrill, PhD English Literature, University of Birmingham
St. Margaret at Dunfermline Abbey
Monday, Mar 27th
Stephenie McGucken, PhD History of Art, University of Edinburgh
Transcending the Body/Soul: Female Personifications in the Anglo-Saxon Psychomachia Manuscripts
The popularity of Prudentius’ fourth-century poem Psychomachia in Late Anglo-Saxon England is witnessed by three extant illustrated copies of the poem, in addition to an individual folio from a fourth illustrated copy and several unillustrated copies of the text. While scholarship to date has focused on the poem and the gendering of certain vices, little has been done to compare the images across all of the illustrated copies in order to identify and explore key differences in figural representations.
This paper will consider the Late Anglo-Saxon illustrated texts in light of their place in the corpus of illustrated Anglo-Saxon manuscripts. Boasting more than double the corpus average of the percentage of female figures, the Psychomachia manuscripts are the only statistical outliers. Each series of illuminations is slightly different, with the number of figures differing subtly across seemingly identical programmes, suggesting multiple audiences with individual concerns. Through an examination of the differences between manuscripts, this paper will present a new look at the image cycles in an attempt to understand how the Psychomachia was received in Late Anglo-Saxon England, as well how the illustrations fit into a wider pictorial dialogue concerning the place of the woman in contemporary society.
Stephenie is a fourth-year PhD Candidate in the History of Art. Her dissertation (supervised by Heather Pulliam) deals with how the depiction of women in Late Anglo-Saxon manuscripts reflects contemporary society. Her research interests also include the use of heritage in Film & TV productions and the implications and reflections of art on the lived experience of women in the Insular world.
Monday, Apr 3rd
Becky Wrightson, PhD History of Art, University of Edinburgh
Pseudo-Kufic: Islamic art in medieval Europe
Monday, Apr 10th
Martin Carver, Society of Antiquaries of Scotland
Portmahomack on Tarbat Ness – Barometer of European politics
[Society of Antiquaries Event, 6-7pm in the Auditorium National Museum Scotland (use Lothian Street doors) - see http://www.socantscot.org/event/portmahomack-on-tarbat-ness-barometer-of-european-politics/]
Saturday, January 28th: Welcome Back Movie Night
7pm, Location TBD
Join LAMPS as we start off the new term with a movie night! We will be watching a medieval-themed movie together. Feel free to bring snacks for yourself (or to share!). Keep your eyes peeled for the movie we will be watching!
Friday, February 17th: Medievalist Game Night
7pm, Location TBD
Following the movie night, we will have a medieval-themed games night! Bring along games and snacks for a night of competition.
Thursday, February 23rd: Festival of Creative Learning Trip
9:30am at Crichton Street
£11 including site entry and transportation
Join us as we visit Rosslyn Chapel, Doune Castle, and Temple Kirk to explore interactions between popular culture and heritage! Please book at: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/camelot-tis-a-silly-place-popular-culture-and-scottish-heritage-castle-trip-tickets-30516346213
Saturday, March 11: LAMPS Ceilidh
7:15pm at Assembly Roxy
We will attend this Edinburgh Ceilidh Club ceilidh together, so join us for this classic Scottish pastime. Please wear appropriate footwear and be prepared for bruises!
Sunday, March 19: Dunfermline Palace and Abbey
11:30am at Waverley Train Station
£6.50 for return train ticket, entry to the Palace and Abbey free with LAMPS
Dunfermline Palace and Abbey houses the remains of St. Margaret and Robert the Bruce. Join us on this trip to Dunfermline to tie in with Claire Harrill’s talk the day after.
Friday, March 31st: International Hug a Medievalist Day
12pm on Edinburgh Castle Esplanade
Celebrate International Hug a Medievalist Day with LAMPS by giving out free hugs and raising awareness of our field.
Saturday, April 8th: Inchcolm Trip
11am at Waverley Train Station
£4.60 for return train ticket, price of ferry TBA, entry to Inchcolm Abbey free with LAMPS
Join us as we cross the Firth of Forth to visit this beautiful Abbey on a little island. As well as a rich medieval history, this island boasts fortifications from both World Wars and some interesting wildlife!
Saturday, April 29th: Spring Castle Crawl
9:30am at Crichton Street
£25 for members, £28 for non-members
After the success of our Autumn Castle Crawl, on this trip we will visit Castle Campbell, Huntingtower Castle and Lochleven Castle. Three excellent castles to finish off the term!