Meetings 2009

Singing and pot luck: Saturday, January 9 2010, 3-9pm at the home of Ann & Dick Jones

  • 3-6 p.m. Singers’ Seminar and Rehearsal
  • 5-15 p.m. Lecture with Musical Illustration: William Mahrt (Professor of Music, Stanford): Nunc Dimitis
  • 6:30-9 p.m. Pot luck

Member's night Seminar: Monday, December 14 2009, 7-9 p.m. at CASBS: Presentations by Sarum Seminar members around the theme Medieval Christmas:

    • Elaine & Randy Kriegh: In Pursuit of Henry VIII and Father Thames. Two seemingly unconnected journeys that actually complemented each other!
    • Roy Mize: Eilmer - The Flying Monk of Malmesbury - the story of a medieval monk who thought he could fly.
    • Mary Fischer: Les Santons de Provence - Mary's extensive collection of hand-made terra cotta Nativity figures from Provence honors a tradition that dates to medieval times.
    • Ann Jones: Out of the Shadows - Most medieval Christmas images focus on the Virgin and Child, but there are a lot of other characters depicted. We will bring some of these other people out of the shadows.

Film screening and discussion: Thursday, November 19 2009, 7-9 p.m. at CASBS (bring your supper and join us any time after 6pm)

  • Allan Langdale (Art Historian and Filmmaker): film screening and discussion of The Stones of Famagusta: The Story of a Forgotten City (Amazon DVD)
  • In this documentary film, Allan Langdale hops on his bicycle and takes viewers on a whirlwind tour of a remarkable and forgotten city: Famagusta, on the eastern shores of Cyprus. Considered to be the world’s richest city in the 14th century, Famagusta was the center of a French crusader kingdom for 300 years. The Venetians also ruled the city before being conquered by the Ottomans in the siege of Famagusta of 1571, when a small group of Venetians held off a massive Ottoman army for almost a year.
  • The Stones of Famagusta by Allan Langdale & Dan Frodsham (YouTube, 6 mins, Nov 2014)
  • The story of the city’s meteoric rise to prominence and precipitous collapse into oblivion is told through the architecture of the town's many conquerors. Gothic cathedrals and churches -- now with minarets, having been converted to mosques -- sit alongside Ottoman bath houses, Byzantine churches, and Venetian gates and palaces. The city walls themselves, with enormous bastions and a castle, are unique and well-preserved examples of medieval and renaissance military architecture. To this day, the picturesque ruins of the city's vast churches are still riddled with the iron cannon balls fired in the siege of 1571.
  • A new book from Allan is available: In a Contested Realm: An Illustrated Guide to the Archaeology and Historical Architecture of Northern Cyprus, ISBN 1845301285 (more info here; it's also available at

Medieval Matters Public Lecture: Tuesday, October 27 2009, 7-9 p.m. at History Corner (Building 200), Room 002, Stanford University. [audio]

Conrad Rudolph (Professor of Medieval Art History, UC Riverside) Pilgrimage to the End of the World: The Road to Santiago de Compostela.

For more than a thousand years, pilgrims from all over Europe have walked to Santiago de Compostela, believed to be the burial place of the Apostle James. In the Middle Ages, half a million people a year flocked to this holy place, trekking over the Pyrenees and all the way across Spain. Conrad Rudolph has made this grueling journey, walking 2½ months and 1,000 miles from central France. His chronicle melds the ancient and the contemporary, the spiritual and the physical, encompassing historical study and reflections on the ancient traditions of pilgrimage.

Conrad Rudolph poster

Seminar: Monday, Sep 21 2009, 7-9pm. Location: CASBS. Bring a sandwich and join us for supper, starting at 6pm.

  • Virginia Jansen (Professor Emerita, History of Art and Visual Culture, UC Santa Cruz) on The Templar code: the new choir of the Templar's church in London.
  • Like The Da Vinci Code, the search for an archetype for the unusual choir of the Temple Church traverses a vast terrain, from London to Canterbury to Jerusalem.
  • The Templars were a widespread order of military knights, like the Hospitallers, founded to protect pilgrims traveling to the Christian holy sites in Jerusalem. Their provincial headquarters in London was famous for hospitality, banking, and burials of not only renowned knights, but also of that illustrious patron of the arts, King Henry III and his queen. (Henry was eventually interred in Westminster Abbey.) The choir of the Temple Church, consecrated in 1240, takes the form of a hall church -- the central vessel and side aisles are all the same height. It was attached to the 12th-century round nave with its famous medieval effigies. This church has been praised by Nikolaus Pevsner as "… one of the most perfectly and classically proportioned buildings of the C13 in England…" and by the 19th-century architect Lewis Nockalls Cottingham, who said, "the choir … is decidedly the most exquisite specimen of pointed architecture existing."
  • Were the designers of this choir imbued with ideas drawn from the architecture associated with the government of Henry III at such sites as Salisbury, Winchester and Canterbury, or with their comrades the Hospitallers, or with holy sites in Jerusalem? And why? Come hear Virginia Jansen attempt to crack the Templar architectural code.
  • Virginia Jansen is an architectural historian who 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. Her latest book is on the architectural patronage of King Henry III (1216-1272).
Temple view to SE

Seminar: Tuesday, May 19 2009, 7-9pm. Location: CASBS. Bring a sandwich and join us for supper, starting at 6pm.

  • Bissera V. Pentcheva (Assistant Professor of Art & Art History and Director of the Medieval Studies Program, Stanford University) on "The Performative Icon" in Byzantium.
  • Byzantine mixed-media icons stood in sensually rich spaces of mosaics, silk, and incense. Sunrays moving across the rich surfaces of these objects and infused them with movement of highlights and shadows, while the shimmer of flickering candles endowed the images with life. The Byzantines called this spectacle of polymorphous appearances poikilia – presence effects sensually experienced.
  • As modern viewers we have lost this access to the polymorphous. The lighting and ambiance of museums have destroyed the medieval poikilia, and photography has tried to capture one "objective" replica of the icon. Prof. Pentcheva has turned to film as a technology suitable for the recording of kinetic poikilia, enriching this approach with the exploration of Byzantine poetic texts. Her work reveals the medieval understanding of animation as performance, and reconstitutes the meaning of the polymorphous icon in the interaction of viewer and object.
  • Bissera Pentcheva joined the faculty at Stanford in 2003 after teaching as a postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University. She received her Ph.D from Harvard in 2001 with a dissertation on the cult of the Virgin in Byzantium.

Seminar: Thursday, April 23 2009, 7-9pm at CASBS.

  • The best of Southern California Medieval Grad students (all are PhD candidates in Medieval History, UCLA):
  • Dana Polanichka: Precious Stones, Living Temples: The Sacred Space of Carolingian Churches;
  • Alison Perchuk: Architecture, Art & Identity in Twelfth-Century Lazio: The Basilica of Sant'Elia near Nepi;
  • Ned Schoolman: Beyond the Grave: Bishops and Burial in Early Medieval Ravenna.
Byzantine gold

Stanford University Department of Art and Art History 2008/09 art history lecture series: Thursday, April 16 2009, starting at 5:30 pm. Location: Nathan Cummings Art Building, Stanford (435 Lasuen Mall, room AR2).

  • Finbarr Barry Flood (Institute of Fine Arts and Art History, NYU), The Trouble with Images: Aniconism, Iconoclasm and the Representation of Islam.
  • In recent years, the spectacle of image destruction has been a regular component of media reporting on the Middle East. The destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas in 2001, the (orchestrated and spontaneous) defacement of political imagery after the invasion of Iraq, and the recent controversy about caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad all highlighted the paradoxical power of images even in an era saturated by them. Assertions about these events were often questionable in their historicity and contradictory in their implications, but most commentators assumed that they could be accommodated under the rubric of an essentially ‘Islamic’ attitude towards images. This lecture takes a two-pronged approach to these phenomena. On the one hand, it looks at the historical evidence for the perception of an ‘image problem’ in Islam. On the other, it considers the theory and practice of image making in the Islamic world, the circumstances in which images were altered by those who objected to them, and the insights that these alterations provide into the perception and status of images.

Stanford Humanities Center lectures and seminars: February 23-26, 2009

  • Carolyn Walker Bynum (History, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton) will be presenting a series of lectures and seminars at the Stanford Humanities Center on Christian materiality. See here for more details.
Islamic prophet

Seminar: Monday, March 16 2009, 7-9pm.

  • Brian Catlos (History, UC Santa Cruz): The Crusades: conflict of clivilzations or collateral damage?
  • Brian Catlos works primarily on the social and economic relations among different ethno-religious groups in and around the Medieval Mediterranean. His award-winning historical monograph, The Victors and the Vanquished, examined Muslims living under Christian rule in medieval Spain. Two books are now in production: Worlds of Economics and History: A Variorum in Honor of Andrew M. Watson, and Muslims in Latin Christendom, ca. 1050-1615, and he is now at work on Common Histories: Everyday Lives of Muslims and Jews in Medieval Spain. In addition, he has written guidebooks to France and Spain, and was featured in the PBS documentary, Cities of Light.

Seminar: Tuesday, February 17 2009, 7-9pm (please join us for supper beforehand: bring a sandwich or salad to the CASBS dining room any time after 6pm)

  • Rob Bork (Associate Professor of Art History, University of Iowa) on Life is elsewhere: European and American schools of gothic architectural history since 1945.
  • How can American scholars best contribute to the study of Gothic architecture, given the geographical and cultural distance between the United States and medieval Europe? Has scholarly conversation between Americans and Europeans been impeded by local patriotism, nationalism and international conflict? Rob Bork will offer some personal reflections on these questions, and will argue that Americans are likely to contribute in three main ways: by providing synthetic perspectives on themes of international scope, by studying aspects of architecture that can be considered in isolation from their archaeological context, and by participating in collaborative research programs with European scholars. The recent flourishing of electronic media facilitates all of these developments, as Bork's recent work on the geometry of Gothic drawings demonstrates: computer-aided analysis of these medieval "blueprints" reveals some heretofore unappreciated links between the architectural cultures of Gothic France, Italy, and the Germanic world.
  • With degrees in physics and architectural history, ROB BORK is a specialist in the study of Gothic architecture. He is author of Great Spires: Skyscrapers of the New Jerusalem, editor of De Re Metallica: The Uses of Metal in the Middle Ages, and a new book, Gotische Türme in Mitteleuropa.
Strasbourg spire

Medieval Matters Public Lecture: Thursday, January 29 2009. Location: Piggott Hall (building 260, room 113), Stanford.

  • Judith Bennett (History, USC) on Death and the Maiden: From Chaucer to Pearl Jam. Sponsored jointly by Sarum Seminar, the Program in Medieval Studies and Stanford Continuing Studies.
  • Buffet reception for Sarum members, 5:30-6:30pm in the Red Room of the Faculty Club, 439 Lagunita Drive, Stanford. (Parking is available in the nearby Tressider lot.)
  • Ever since the ancient Greeks, European cultures have nurtured a darkly erotic link between death and maidenhood. This connection was particularly charged during Chaucer's time when, in the wake of the Black Death, people began to cope with the challenges posed by large numbers of unmarried women in their midst.
  • How did Chaucer and his contemporaries imagine the deaths of maidens? How did the maidens approach death? And in what ways do these themes resonate in contemporary culture? Professor Bennett will place medieval imaginings of the deaths of maidens within a cultural history that extends from ancient Greek myths to contemporary American pop songs.
  • Judith Bennett has received numerous awards for teaching and research. Focusing on peasant women, women's work and feminist history, her books include Women in the Medieval English Countryside, A Medieval Life: Cecilia Penifader of Brigstock, Ale, Beer and Brewsters in England and History Matters: Patriarchy and the Challenge of Feminism. She is also co-author of the most widely used textbook on the European Middle Ages, Medieval Europe: A Short History, now in its tenth edition.

Singer's seminar + pot luck: Saturday, January 10 2009. Location: Jones home

  • Singers' Seminar with William Mahrt (Music, Stanford) followed by Pot Luck
poster for Judith Bennett talk