Meetings 2020

Online seminar: 7 December 2020, 7-9 pm [video]

  • ELAINE TREHARNE on The Real Santa Claus: Patron Saint of the Virtual.
  • Prof. Treharne introduces Saint Nicholas, focusing on him as a figure in the historical and contemporary imagination. What was it about this early fourth-century eastern Mediterranean bishop that caught the attention of worshipers? How did his obscure beginnings lead to his veneration as one of the major saints in the medieval calendar and now one of the most famous characters in the modern world? We’ll look at the evidence for his existence then and now, and focus on the transmission of his legend and his miraculous abilities from c.600 onward. She will argue that among other things, this saint has the best claim to be patron of our new virtual world at a time of global pandemic.

Online seminar: 16 November 2020, 7-9 pm [video]

  • ASSA MITTMAN on Mapping the Global Middle Ages
  • There is considerable interest now in the notion of the “Global Middle Ages,” but this is a term not often well-defined. In this talk, Professor Mittman will investigate the question from two cartographical angles: first, he will look at how medieval Europeans defined their world, and then will compare this to medieval Islamic understandings of the world. Time allowing, he will also consider medieval Chinese maps, which present a substantially different paradigm.

Online Seminar: 12 October 2020 [video]

  • BOB SCOTTon Insights into the 'Why' of Medieval Cathedral Building
  • Bob's talk focuses on the two basic questions that animate much of the scholarship about Medieval Cathedral building: How did they do it and why did they feel the need to do so? More attention has been given to the “how” question than to the question of “why”. This talk suggests at least one of the bases for the urgent impulse among medieval theologians, and their communities, to engage in monumental building projects.
  • Bob is the former Associate Director of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences and the author of The Gothic Enterprise: a Guide to Understanding the Medieval Cathedral, was well as Miracle Cures: Saints, Pilgrimage, and the Healing Powers of Belief.

Online Seminar: 18 May 2020

  • BRIAN CATLOS: The End of Coexistance? Berbers, Andalusis & the Fall of the Caliphate of Córdoba.
  • Histories of al-Andalus (Islamic Spain) tend to imagine the culture of the Caliphate of Córdoba and the taifa kindoms that followed it as an era of creativity, cosmopolitanism, and convivencia [coexistance] among Christians, Muslims and Jews. This period, according to these histories, was brought to an end by the arrival in al-Andalus of puritanical Berber groups. Drawing on research from his latest book, Kingdoms of Faith: A New History of Islamic Spain, Brian suggests that narrative reflects a long-standing anti-Berber bias in the scholarship of al-Andalus, and fails to appreciated dynamics of conflict within Andalusi society.
  • Related pre-reading includes Brian's book (if you have access to it) and this Wikipedia entry on Islamic Spain.

Online seminar: 20 April 2020

  • ALLAN LANGDALE: Three Venetian Colonial Towns: a Merchant's Journey from Venice to Famagusta in 1555.
  • Abstract: This lecture follows the sea voyage of a hypothetical Venetian merchant from Venice, along the Adriatic Coast—the Mare Veneto—to Venice’s easternmost colonial outpost, the port of Famagusta, on Cyprus. Along the way, we’ll see how Venice fashioned a string of fortified anchorages and seaside towns for its merchant and military navies, thus allowing the Republic to maintain its hold on Eastern Mediterranean trade. We’ll also visit the remarkable bulwark of the Fortezza San Niccolo at Šibenik, the small island town of Korčula, and the Montenegrin port of Kotor before the long sail to Cyprus where we’ll witness Venice’s impressive ability to reproduce venezianitá, ‘Venetianness’ in its colonial holdings, no matter how far from the center of power.
  • Biography: Allan is an art and architectural historian, photographer, filmmaker, and travel writer who received his Ph.D. in art history from UC Santa Barbara. He has taught courses in Italian Renaissance art, Greek, Roman, Byzantine (including Georgian and Armenian architecture), and Indian and Islamic art and architecture. He currently teaches art history at UC Santa Cruz as a lecturer. Along with several articles, Allan wrote the definitive field guide to the little-known region of Turkish Cyprus, In a Contested Realm (2012) and also made the award-winning documentary film The Stones of Famagusta: the Story of a Forgotten City (2008). His travel books include Palermo: Travels in the City of Happiness (2015) and The Hippodrome of Istanbul / Constantinople: An Illustrated Handbook of its History (2019). Allan has traveled extensively in the eastern Mediterranean, the Black Sea region, the Middle East—including Jordan and Egypt—and India.

Visit to Special Collections 28 March 2020 (cancelled by COVID-19 restrictions)

Seminar: 10 February 2020, 7-9 pm St. Bede's Episcopal Church, Menlo Park, CA

  • ALLAN LANGDALE: The art and architecture of Ravenna, Italy

Medieval Matters Public Lecture: 30 January 2020, 7:30pm, Stanford

  • GREG WALKER: The Greatest Play You’ve Never Heard Of: Sir David Lyndsay, Scotland’s Lyon King, and the Story of The Three Estates
  • In this evening program, Greg Walker, Regius Professor of English Literature at the University of Edinburgh (the oldest chair of English in the world), tells the story of a 450-year-old play, A Satire of the Three Estates, and of its remarkable author, Sir David Lyndsay. Despite being virtually unknown outside its native Scotland, and rarely performed even there, Sir David Lyndsay’s monumental political morality play is actually one of the most remarkable dramas ever produced. Performed in three versions—the longest, played outdoors in Edinburgh in 1554, lasted nine hours—The Three Estates is a bold critique of a church and nation in decline as daring and radical as anything written in the medieval period or the Renaissance, and still has the capacity to shock modern audiences with its political and sexual boldness. Professor Walker’s presentation draws on his experience as one of the researchers behind the first full professional production of the play since 1554 in Linlithgow Palace in 2013.
  • Greg Walker held professorships at Leicester and Edinburgh before being appointed by the Queen to his Regius Chair in 2010. His research interests span Medieval and Renaissance cultural history and literature. His books include Writing Under Tyranny: English Literature and the Henrician Reformation, and the forthcoming John Heywood: Comedy and Survival in Tudor England. He has been a visiting professor at Stanford, and received a PhD in Tudor history and literature from the University of Southampton.