Monday, November 30, 2015

The Raw and the Wrought
The Persistence of Matter in Medieval Art  
December 4 2015
The Rossell Hope Robbins Lecture
Anne Harris, DePauw University
CUNY Graduate Center
365 5th Ave (btw 34th and 35th Streets)
English Studies Conference Room (4406)

Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Boys on the Beach:
Children's Games and Baptismal Grace in the Middle Ages.
October 9 2015 
English Common Room 4406
CUNY Graduate Center

Professor Emerita, Department of History, Oberlin College 

While medieval Christians firmly agreed that baptism was a sacrament of necessity, there was considerable disagreement on what makes a baptism a valid sacrament.  One such debate was triggered by conflicting responses to a passage in Rufinus of Aquileia's Ecclesiastical History in which Alexander, bishop of Alexandria, validates the playful baptism of boys on the beach by the child Athanasius, his own protégé and successor.  Up through ca. 1300, thinkers who cited Rufinus, often in selective and garbled form, used him as a template for their appropriation of their other key  authority, Augustine's De baptismo, and framed their solutions in the light of a range of arguments on different issues.  They reached no consensus on the question itself, reflecting a larger medieval reality often lost sight of by proponents of the rise of a persecuting society in the Middle Ages:  the acceptability, within the medieval orthodox Christian consensus, of more than one position on a fundamental theological doctrine. 

co-sponsored with Friends of the Saints

Monday, August 3, 2015

Schedule of Talks Fall 2015 to Spring 2016

2015-2016 Medieval Club of New York
Schedule of Talks

Most events will be held at 7.30 p.m. in the English Studies Conference Room of the Graduate Center, CUNY (room 4406). A wine and cheese reception follows the speaker’s presentation and question time.

Titles to be announced in a future update to this post, but for now, mark your calendars.
Sept 18, 2015, 2 tours of the Morgan Library's "William Caxton and the Birth of English Printing" exhibition, at 7PM and 8PM, led by John McQuillen. **Meet at Morgan Library.
Each tour is limited to 15 persons only, so please sign up in advance, by emailing Professor Sara McDougall of John Jay College, CUNY.
Oct 9, 2015, Marcia Colish, co-sponsored with Friends of the Saints, "The Boys on the Beach: Children’s Games and Baptismal Grace in the Middle Ages"
Nov 13, 2015, Caroline Walker Bynum, co-sponsored by Friends of the Saints
**Location Graduate Center, 9205/9206
Dec 4, 2015, Anne Harris, Art History, DePauw University
Feb 5, 2016, Hal Momma, English Literature, NYU
March 4, 2016, Marilynn Desmond, English, SUNY Binghamton
April 1, Simon Doubleday, History, Hofstra

Monday, April 20, 2015

Medieval Club at Kalamazoo
Medieval Money
Saturday May 16th, 2015
3.30 p.m.
Schneider 1330
International Congress on Medieval Studies

 The Medieval Club of New York presents four papers that consider the role of money in late medieval Europe, on the one hand in its extended sense in literary and spiritual contexts and on the other in its daily banking practices and management of debt. Together the papers pose essential questions about the difference between modern and medieval money.
Frederick M. Biggs Money in Decameron 8.1, 8.2, and 8.10 and in the Shipman's Tale
Lauren Jocobi Reifying Money: Banks in Florence and Rome, ca. 1250-1500
Judith Potter Public Debt Books as a Money Substitute
David Lavinsky Alienated Labor and Sacramental Doubt: Rethinking the “valewe” of the Host in Late Medieval England

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Patricia Clare Ingham (Dept of English, University of Indiana)

The Rossell Hope Robbins Memorial Lecture: “New Worlds—Tracking an Enchanted History”

March 27, 2015    
7.30 p.m.

English Studies Conference Room of the Graduate Center, CUNY (room 4406)

The year 1492 stands first among the markers of historical rupture, as the harbinger of a New Humanist Age, one enthusiastic about novelty (Grafton). According to this view, data mined from a “New World” revolutionized a bookish commitment to old geographies, and a medieval culture enamored with the power of tradition. This talk, drawn from the culminating chapter of my forthcoming book, The Medieval New: Ambivalence in an Age of Innovation, argues instead that the apparent opposition between “tradition” and “novelty” needs to be rethought, and that the case of Columbus can sharpen this rethinking. Early editions of the Letters of Columbus (such as those held at IU’s Lilly Library) demonstrate what it means that Columbus’s “New World” claims depended on a diverse set of recursions and repetitions, some imaginative, some editorial, some technical, and some desirous. I conclude by assessing the implications of this rethinking for the state of the question of “innovation” in the contemporary University.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Christopher MacEvitt (Department of Religion, Dartmouth College)

“Good Martyr, Bad Martyr: Franciscan Death in the Early Fourteenth Century”
March 6, 2015
7.30 p.m.
English Studies Conference Room of the Graduate Center, CUNY (room 4406)     A wine and cheese reception will follow the presentation and question time.
Martyrdom had become a charged subject for the Order in the early fourteenth century. The desire for martyrdom had been an important marker of sanctity since Francis, but in the thirteenth century those who actually died as martyrs were generally ignored. The account of the three martyrs who died in Tana, India in 1321 was the immediate catalyst for the quickening of interest in Franciscan martyrs; their passio spread rapidly through Franciscan accounts and frescoes. Early fourteenth-century stories about martyrs allowed Franciscans to think about three overlapping questions: could martyrdom be a part of an effective effort to evangelize Muslims? That is, could Franciscans transform the world through martyrdom? Or did Franciscans in dying express their opposition to the mundane world of desire and possession and thereby transcend it? And thirdly, did some combination of the first two allow Franciscans to depict martyrdom as victory over “Saracens,” especially in an era when other Christian forms of confrontation with Islamdom were failing? Most immediately, the passiones must be read in the context of the controversy over poverty among conventual Franciscans (those who trusted in obedience to hierarchical authority), rigorist spirituals, and a heavy-handed pope (John XXII), which led to spirituals being burned at the stake for heresy, and the leadership of the Order (though avowedly not spirituals) escaping the papal court in Avignon and labeling John himself a heretic. The stories were an attempt to reorder Franciscan spirituality and replace poverty with martyrdom as the highest expression of imitatio Christi, and to provide the Order with a common set of heroes that both spirituals and conventuals could admire.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Professor Bob Hasenfratz (Department of English, University of Connecticut)
"The Old English Poetry Project"
Friday February 6, 2015
7.30 p.m.
The Graduate Center, CUNY (365 Fifth Avenue)
English Studies Conference Room (4406)
Bob will lay out the history, aims, and future of the Old English Poetry Project (, a growing digital archive of translations from Anglo-Saxon poetry, founded in 2014 with Miller Oberman, a poet and Ph.D. student at the University of Connecticut. This archive will eventually contain base translations of the entire corpus of Old English poetry and will invite competing translations in a variety of styles and languages from students, scholars, and poets. The talk focuses on the challenges of translating Maxims I and II and explores the advantages of embracing a “foreignizing” effect proposed by translation theorists Antoine Berman and Lawrence Venuti. Representing the radical compression of Maxims I and II in a contemporary translation can produce some remarkably alienating effects that run counter to the desire to explain this difficult, but rewarding poetry.