MEMO is delighted to announce the publication of Reconsidering Gender, Time and Memory in Medieval Culture, edited by Elizabeth Cox, Liz Herbert McAvoy, and Roberta Magnani. The volume has its origins in a conference organised at Swansea University by (then) postgraduate students including Simon John and Tom Underwood, and appears in D. S. Brewer’s Gender in the Middle Ages series.
The Medieval and Early Modern Garden: Enclosure and Transformation
Thursday, June 4th – Friday, June 5th 2015
This interdisciplinary symposium aims to examine the many functions and meanings of the cultivated walled garden during the medieval and early-modern periods. Everywhere apparent in literature as a place of containment, love and fertility, the walled garden is also prevalent in historical and medical sources and was clearly responded to and enjoyed as a space that was simultaneously physical, spiritual, symbolic, curative and restorative. Moreover, in the Middle Ages the walled garden was often depicted as enclosing the Virgin Mary, forging a long-lasting association with female spirituality, women’s curative medicine and healing – both of the body and of the soul.
Bringing together a range of experts on the medieval and early modern garden from a range of disciplinary and professional perspectives (including history, gender studies, literature, medicine and archaeology) this symposium will explore, both academically and for wider public understanding, the uses and meanings of the walled garden in the Middle Ages and early modern period, many of which have disappeared from our cultural consciousness, but some of which still remain in various forms to the present day.
For more details and registration forms, please see: http://www.swansea.ac.uk/riah/researchgroups/memo/symposium-by-the-sea-2015/.
Congratulations to Professor Liz Herbert McAvoy, on her well-attended inaugural lecture ‘Women’s Visions, Visionary Women’. Delivered at Swansea on Thursday 29 January as part of the RIAH Public Lecture Series, this lecture blended autobiography with close reading and contextualisation of medieval visionary literature, and explored not only the significance and interconnectedness of women’s visionary writing from the thirteenth century to the end of the Middle Ages, but also how such literature can continue to speak to us today.
More information on the lecture can be found here; we at MEMO Swansea just want to say, to one of our own: congratulations, Liz, on your well-deserved Chair!
At the 8th Annual Symposium by the Sea: The Face of Battle in Medieval History & Literature, MEMO members and guests enjoyed 20 talks on topics connected with medieval warfare. Particular highlights were the two plenary lectures on key medieval battles with a major anniversary this year: the Battle of Bouvines (27 July 1214), and the Battle of Bannockburn (24 June 1314). Professor Matthew Strickland (Glasgow University) spoke on ‘Bouvines, 1214: chroniclers, historians, and the writing of battle’; his lecture was supported by the Society for the Study of French History. Dr Michael Brown (University of St. Andrews) gave a public lecture titled ‘ “Putting his hopes in the Lord”: Bannockburn and the judgement of battle in medieval warfare’, offered in conjunction with the Swansea Branch of the Historical Association and with additional support from The Learned Society of Wales.
The theme of the 8th Annual Symposium was chosen not only with the anniversaries of Bouvines and Bannockburn in mind, but also to honour Swansea’s distinguished Professor Emeritus John France. At the close of the main conference, Professor France was presented with the proof text of Crusading and Warfare in the Middle Ages: Realities and Representations. Essays in Honour of John France (Ashgate, 2014). This Festschrift, which will appear later in 2014, contains several contributions by participants in the 8th Annual Symposium, and has been edited by two historians with Swansea connections: Simon John (Oxford), who completed his doctoral studies at Swansea in 2012, and Nicholas Morton (Nottingham Trent), who was a lecturer here in 2008-2009.
Some of the speakers and participants in the 8th Annual Symposium by the Sea: The Face of Battle in Medieval History & Literature (19-20 June 2014)
Top: Nicholas Morton (Nottingham Trent), Michael Fulton (Cardiff), Simon John (Oxford)
Upper middle: Kenny Parsons (Leeds), Rabei Khamisy (Cardiff)
Lower middle: Andrew Ayton (Hull), Matthew Bennett (Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst), Matthew Strickland (Glasgow), Michael Livingston (The Citadel Military College, South Carolina), Iason-Eleftherios Tzouriadis (Leeds), Alexander Hodgkins (Leeds), Alan Murray (Leeds)
Bottom: Michael Brown (St. Andrews), Irina Metzler (Swansea), John France (Swansea), Kelly DeVries (Loyola University, Maryland), Trevor Smith (Leeds), Helen Nicholson (Cardiff), Daniel Power (Swansea)
Thursday 19 – Friday 20 June 2014
In recent years there has been a revolution in the study of medieval warfare. Traditional paradigms that emphasised pitched battles and the charge of heavily armed mounted knights have given way to a focus upon sieges and raids, as well as a more nuanced understanding of medieval generalship and of the place of war within medieval society. Yet much remains to be discovered about the place of battles in medieval warfare, and about their representation in contemporary historical and literary texts.
The Face of Battle in Medieval History and Literature will be a two-day conference held by Swansea University’s Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Research (MEMO) on Thursday 19 June and Friday 20 June 2014 to discuss the significance of the medieval battle. The year 2014 includes significant anniversaries of two epoch-making medieval encounters: the 800th anniversary of the French royal victory over Imperial, Flemish and English forces at Bouvines (27 July 1214), and the 700th anniversary of the Scottish victory over the English at Bannockburn (24 June 1314). Plenary papers will be given by Matthew Strickland (Glasgow) concerning Bouvines and Michael Brown (St Andrews) concerning Bannockburn: other speakers include Andrew Ayton (Hull), Matthew Bennett (Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst), Alan Murray (Leeds) and Kelly DeVries (Loyola University, Maryland). The symposium will be held in honour of Professor John France, Emeritus Professor of Medieval History at Swansea University, to celebrate his many contributions to the history of warfare. It will begin with a free Postgraduate Symposium on the morning of Thursday 19 June.
Booking forms for the symposium will be available soon.
This conference is organised with the generous support of the Society for the Study of French History, the Swansea branch of the Historical Association, and the Learned Society of Wales.
Thursday 10 April 2014
The Swansea Millennium Research Project has been set up by Swansea University’s Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Research (MEMO), to research the origins of the city and to see what light this might shed on Wales’s place in the world before the Norman Conquest.
It has long been recognised that Swansea’s foundation presents an intriguing gap in Welsh history. Whereas so many Welsh towns can trace their origins to the establishment of Roman settlements, it seems likely that Swansea is a later creation, albeit not one recognised in surviving early medieval material in Welsh. The particularity of the city’s name, not obviously derived from Welsh, Latin or Old English, encouraged the theory that Swansea was derived from two words from Old Norse or Old Danish, representing the personal name Sweyn and ey – generally translated as island. In the eleventh century the most prominent Danish magnate active in Britain, and therefore, perhaps, most likely to lend his name to a settlement or trading post, was Sweyn Forkbeard, who first united the crowns of Denmark and England in 1013. Sweyn died in the spring of 1014, and his death provides the terminus ante quem for the suggestion that Swansea should be celebrating its millennium.
This research workshop will concentrate on the support provided by the archaeological evidence – not in Swansea itself, where, so far, no significant evidence has emerged, but from the evidence uncovered elsewhere in Wales and in Southwest England, which support theories of Scandinavian contact with England, Wales and Ireland. It is hoped that the workshop will begin raising questions which can then be addressed more fully at a conference in July 2015.
This workshop is being organised in association with, and with the support, of The Learned Society of Wales and the Research Institute of Arts and Humanities at Swansea University (through its Research Initiatives Fund).
An English department research seminar will be held this coming Wednesday April 17th at 4pm in KH216.
Professor Diane Watt, Surrey University, ‘Fragments of a Forgotten Archive: Migratory Feelings in Early Anglo-Saxon Women’s Letters’.
‘In this paper I read the poetry and letters of early Anglo-Saxon women found in the collection that has come to be known as the Boniface correspondence alongside the more famous Old English elegies. Taken together these poems and letters comprise what I call, drawing on Ann Cvetkovich’s title An Archive of Feelings (Duke University Press, 2003), an archive of migratory feelings. While the Anglo-Saxon elegies are familiar to readers beyond the confines of academic scholarship through modern translations and lyrical re-writing, the women’s letters, which represent the earliest surviving writing unquestionably attributable to named Anglo-Saxon women, are less widely known, even to those studying women’s writing, and in that sense they represent a forgotten archive. This article examines the epistolary explorations of emotions and memories of these early Anglo-Saxon nuns, including, but not only, women missionaries who migrated to Europe in order to convert others to their beliefs; emotions that are particular to their own time, but that nevertheless still resonate today.’