Meetings 2014

Seminar: Oct 6, 2014, 7-9 pm St. Bede's Episcopal Church, Menlo Park, CA

  • RON EGAN (Professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures, Stanford University): Chinese Characters: Writing in the Air, Gylphomancy, and Magical Correspondence
  • The talk will examine some ways that Chinese characters have traditionally been used and manipulated. Features of the Chinese writing system that make these unexpected uses possible will be discussed, as well as the larger issue of the relationship in Chinese between speech and the writing system.

Seminar: June 9, 2014, 7-9 pm St. Bede's Episcopal Church, Menlo Park, CA

  • CAROLYN MALONE: The rotunda of Saint-Bénigne in Dijon as a Setting for the Liturgy and Private Devotions.
  • Saint-Bénigne's eastern rotunda was built between 1001 and 1018 by William of Volpiano. Its three-storied design with a central oculus created an unusual oratory for prayer and can be interpreted as an hierarchical structure for repentance, intercession and spiritual illumination. Light descending from its oculus illuminated each level to different degrees. After prayers of repentance at the tomb of saint Bénigne in the dark crypt, the monk climbed to the second level to ask intersession at the altar of the Virgin and then finally ascended to pray before the altar of the Trinity on the third level which Saint-Bénigne's chronicle described as the "third heaven" where "light shines with an exceptional brightness."
  • Figurative capitals in the rotunda's crypt visualize the imagery evoked in the Confessio theologica, written by William's disciple, Jean of Fécamp, while a prior at Saint-Bénigne. By locating sites on the second level for singing specific chants during the feasts of Christmas and the Purification of the Virgin, the sensory and spiritual experience of the monastic community can be reconstructed at particular liturgical moments. The monks of Saint-Bénigne may have associated the unusually brilliant light from the oculus with divine light, especially while praying before the altar of the Trinity. Jean of Fécamp describes the soul in the contemplative process as, "reverberating with the immensity of heavenly light" and asks for his soul to pass from the visible world towards the invisible, from earth towards heaven, from time towards eternity. Perhaps, for the monks in Dijon the descent of light in the rotunda evoked the concept of God's descent to mankind and the hierarchy of altars on the rotunda's three levels structured a spiritual return to God.

Medieval Matters Public Lecture: May 15, 2014, Stanford [flyer]

Special Collections visit: March, 7-9 pm at Stanford Green Library

  • JOHN MUSTAIN (Special Collections Librarian): Medieval Treasures and Other Delights

Seminar: March 2014, 7-9 pm at St. Bede's Episcopal Church, Menlo Park (6-7 brown-bag)

  • BRIAN CATLOS: Interpreting a legal case from 14th C Spain.
  • Two Muslim women accuse a local Muslim official of assaulting them… but their allegations are rather suspicious… We will read English translations of the original documents in advance, and discuss possible interpretations.

Medieval Matters Public Lecture: Thursday January 30, 2014, Stanford [details, audio, flyer]

ELAINE PAGELS, Harrington Spear Paine Professor of Religion, Princeton: Art, Music and Politics in the Book of Revelation.

  • Who wrote the Book of Revelation? Why did he write it as he did? And why—and how—do people still read it today? These are the questions that catalyzed the writing of Elaine Pagels’ most recent book, which explores the astonishing cultural influence of the arguably strangest book in the Bible. In this talk, Pagels will show its interpretations in painting, art, music, and politics—from the 2nd century through the crusades and religious wars of Europe to contemporary times— and include images from Hieronymus Bosch and William Blake through contemporary African-American art.

Party: January 11, 2014, 5-9 pm Jones's house, Los Altos Hills

  • Celebrating the Sarum Seminar's 20th anniversary!