Meetings 2007

Members’ Night Seminar: Monday Dec 10, 2007 7-9 pm. Location: CASBS (Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences), Stanford (directions).

  • Featuring presentations by: Karen Duncan on medieval medicine, Dick Jones on Lincoln Cathedral, Kathleen Much on the Templars, and Bob Nyden on 13th Century events.

Seminar: Thursday Oct 18, 7-9pm (bring a sandwich or salad and join us for a brown-bag supper on the beautiful patio, any time after 6 pm!). Location: CASBS (Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences), Stanford (directions). Jennifer Summit (Stanford)

  • Remaking Libraries in Reformation England. In 1400, most of England's medieval books were housed in monastic libraries. Following the dissolution of the monasteries, the books were scattered, and those that were not lost or destroyed were later gathered by Renaissance book collectors. Their libraries remain the major collections of medieval books in our own age, including the Parker Library in Cambridge, the Bodleian Library in Oxford, and the Cotton Library in London.
  • By examining these libraries and their foundation, this talk considers a set of larger questions that concern the future of libraries no less than their past: what is a library? how does its organization shape its uses and the meanings of the materials it holds? and how does it persist not just as a place for reading and writing, but as a symbol of the place of reading and writing in the broader world?
  • Jennifer Summit is Associate Professor of English and Director of the Medieval Studies Program at Stanford. A Bay Area native, she received her Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University in 1995, the same year that she began teaching medieval and early modern English literature at Stanford. She is the author of the forthcoming book, “Memory’s Library: Medieval Books in Early Modern England” and “Lost Property: The Woman Writer and English Literary History, 1380-1581”, as well as numerous articles on books, writing, and literary culture, with topics that include Chaucer's representations of the crusades, the poetry of Elizabeth I, and the impact of the Reformation on English ideas of nationhood and its medieval past.
poster for Jennifer Summit talk

Public lecture: Wednesday Nov 14, 7 pm Location: Stanford campus. [audio]

  • Patrick Geary (UCLA): Medieval Matters public lecture sponsored jointly by Sarum Seminar, Medieval Studies & Continuing Studies.

Seminar: Tuesday Sept 18, 7-9pm (bring a sandwich or salad and join us for a brown-bag supper on the beautiful patio, any time after 6 pm!). Location: CASBS (Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences), Stanford (directions).

  • Virginia Jansen (UCSC): A Tale of Three Medieval Towns: Salisbury, Old Sarum, and Wilton.
  • Old Sarum, depicted in Ken Follett's novel, The Pillars of the Earth, was an Iron Age hill fort in southern England, that became a governmental and ecclesiastical center after the Norman Conquest (1066). But the foremost city in the region was Wilton, ten miles away, adjacent to a famous Anglo-Saxon nunnery.
  • In the early 13th century Old Sarum’s bishop moved the site of his cathedral down from the hilltop onto the plains below, and also established a market and a new town there, called Salisbury. Within little more than a century, Salisbury had eclipsed both of the older towns. Old Sarum became completely uninhabited, and Wilton devolved into a small village.
  • What motivated the clergy to move a cathedral from Old Sarum and start afresh to create a brand new cathedral and city? How did the upstart town of Salisbury erase the viability of the other two, which never recovered? These questions will be explored in Prof. Jansen’s slide lecture and in the discussion that follows.
  • Virginia Jansen taught art history for 30 years at UC Santa Cruz. She has published widely on Gothic architecture, specializing in the buildings of medieval England and Germany, and has published three articles on Salisbury Cathedral. She is completing a book on the architectural patronage of King Henry III (1216-1272). She is a frequent and popular Sarum Seminar speaker.

Seminar: Monday June 4, 2007 from 7-9pm (brown-bag meal starts at 6pm). Location: Parish Hall of Foothills Congregational Church, Los Altos (directions).

  • William A. Christian Jr.: Saints, Animals and Humans in Spanish Fiestas.
  • Many of you will remember the fascinating seminar Bill presented on visions and miracles three years ago, while he was a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. His talk will be based on the photos of Cristina Garcia Rodero. Bill is an independent scholar who writes about Catholicism in Spain and southern Europe. His central concern has been the relationship of individuals and groups with the saints, Mary, and God. His studies involve fieldwork in contemporary communities (primarily in Spain) and archival work covering the medieval and early-modern periods. His books include Person and God in a Spanish Valley, Local Religion in Sixteenth-Century Spain, Apparitions in Late Medieval and Renaissance Spain, Moving Crucifixes in Modern Spain, and Visionaries: The Spanish Republic and the Reign of Christ.

Seminar: Monday May 14, 2007 from 7-9pm (brown-bag meal starts at 6pm). Location: Parish Hall of Foothills Congregational Church, Los Altos (directions).

  • Joshua Birk, Assistant Professor, Eastern Illinois University: Convert or apostate? The Court Eunuch, Religious Identity, and Power Politics in Medieval Sicily.
  • Professor Birk is a specialist in Medieval European history, with a research focus on the Medieval Mediterranean world. His current research focuses on interactions between Christians and Muslims in the Medieval Mediterranean. He is currently completing his dissertation at UC Santa Barbara on Sicilian Counterpoint: Power and Pluralism in Medieval Sicily. [background material]

Special visit: Thursday 12 April 2007, 7-9 PM. Location: Special Collections room, Green Library, Stanford University.

  • John Mustain hosted our now-annual Medieval Treasures and Other Delights - a visit to some wondrous samples from the Stanford Special Collections

Seminar: Friday, March 16, 2007 from 7-9pm (brown-bag meal starts at 6pm). Location: Learning center (off the courtyard) of Foothills Congregational Church, Los Altos (directions).

  • Jennifer Borland: Considering Women's Spaces: Architecture and the Bodies of Medieval Sheela-na-gigs.
  • Sheela-na-gigs, or sculptured bodies of women displaying exaggerated genitalia, appeared in a variety of architectural structures in the Middle Ages. This talk will investigate the connections between these images and some of the female audiences who may have viewed them. Dr. Borland received her Ph.D. in art history from Stanford University in 2006, and is currently teaching medieval and Islamic art history in the Department of Art and Design at CSU Fresno.

Seminar: Tuesday, February 13, 2007 from 7-9pm (brown-bag meal starts at 6pm). Location: CASBS (Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences), Stanford (directions).

  • Robert Bork: Who Killed Gothic Architecture?
  • Rob is a specialist in the study of Gothic architecture, and regularly teaches at the University of Iowa. He has won teaching awards and has numerous publications. This year he is a fellow at CASBS.
  • Summary: Gothic architecture went out of fashion with surprising speed around 1530 in spite of being, in many respects, more sophisticated than its upstart Renaissance rival. Rob uses computer-aided analysis of original medieval drawings to reveal the logic of the Gothic design process. Plausible explanations for the "murder" of Gothic involve the three “R”s: Renaissance, Royalty, and Reformation.
poster for Patrick Geary talk