WMTC Programme 2015-2016

The next two meetings of the Workshop for Manuscript and Text Culture will be held in Weeks 5 of Michaelmas and Hilary Terms 2015-2016.

11 November 2015: Anthony Lappin (National University of Ireland Maynooth), ‘A quest for knowledge: scrutinizing the Qur’an in Western Europe, 1143–1543’

17 February 2016: Kathryn Rudy (Humfrey Wanley Bodleian Visiting Fellow), ‘Touching Skin: Why Medieval Users Rubbed, Kissed, Inscribed, Splattered, Begrimed, and Pricked their Manuscripts’

The Workshop meets in the Magrath Room at The Queen’s College on Wednesday of 5th week at 17.00. Attendance is open to all members of the University.

The convenors of the workshop are:

John Baines (Emeritus Professor of Egyptology, The Queen’s College)
Angus Bowie (Fellow and Tutor in Classics, The Queen’s College)
Charles Crowther (Fellow in Ancient History, The Queen’s College)
Henrike Lähnemann (Professor of Medieval German, St Edmund Hall)
Dirk Meyer (Fellow in Chinese, The Queen’s College)

wmtc@queens.ox.ac.uk
http://wmtc.queens.ox.ac.uk

Meeting 8, Hilary Term 2016

Touching Skin: Why Medieval Users Rubbed, Kissed, Inscribed, Splattered, Begrimed, and Pricked their Manuscripts

Kathryn M. Rudy
Humfrey Wanley Bodleian Visiting Fellow
University of St Andrews
17 February, 2016, at 5.00 pm
The Magrath Room, The Queen’s College, Oxford

Rudy-WMTC-image

Meeting 7, Michaelmas Term 2015

A quest for knowledge: scrutinizing the Qur’an in Western Europe, 1143–1543

Anthony Lappin
National University of Ireland Maynooth
11 November, 2015, at 5.00 pm
The Magrath Room, The Queen’s College, Oxford

Widcomplain 

A summation of heresies, a depraved and diabolic text, the apocalyptic harbinger of the Antichrist and the very image of the Beast. These were at least some of the rave reviews garnered by the first Latin translation of the Qur’an during the middle ages. Indeed, the impression gained from secondary literature is often that the translation of the Qur’an carried out in Northern Spain and finished by midsummer of 1143 sought only to belittle and dishonour its source. In the first part of my paper, I shall discuss how we might uncover the nature of the circulation of manuscripts that led to the official publication of the text from Cluny, its subsequent perduring popularity, and the circles in which it was copied and consulted. In the second part of my paper, I shall discuss intellectual developments around the text during the fifteenth century, focusing particularly upon the re-elaboration of the Cluniac annotations and the Qur’an’s use in philosophical discussions within learned circles of the late middle ages and early reformation period. I shall end with a consideration of how printing put a stop to the interesting developments that were fostered by a manuscript culture. Key figures discussed will be Peter the Venerable and Bernard of Clairvaux; Nicholas of Cusa; Marsilio Ficino; Iohannes Albrecht Widmanstetter, Theodore Bibliander, Melanchthon and Luther. The city councillors of Basel and Nuremburg will also gain villainous walk-on parts.

Meeting 6, Trinity Term 2014

Meeting 6, Trinity Term 2014

Writing Agents in Early China (ca. 11-8 cc. BCE): Secretaries and Makers of Slabs

Maria Khayutina
Institute of Sinology, Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich
11 June, 2014, at 6.00 pm
The Memorial Room, The Queen’s College, Oxford

 

In a recent publication, Joshua Englehardt and Dimitri Nakassis call for “examining writing systems and early texts through the lens of the agency concept,” as this, among other things, can aid “archaeological interpretation of the historically particular subjectivities of past social actors” (Englehardt and Nakassis, eds., Agency in Ancient Writing, Cambridge 2013). Secretaries shi 史 and Makers of Slabs zuoce 作册, whose occupations included producing and handling written documents, are often mentioned in inscriptions on ritual bronze vessels from Early China, mostly dating from 11-8 cc. BCE. Well observable especially in the contexts of royal rituals, administration, or, sometimes, legal matters, the shi and zuoce have been often approached by historians with regard to their functions as writing officials and the functions of writing in the Western Zhou state (1046-771 BCE). The present investigation acknowledges a dialectic, interactive relationship between structures, including states, and practice of individual social actors, by whose agency social, political and cultural realities come into existence and are being transformed. It also warns against presuming the primacy of the state in the ancient Chinese society, which sometimes leads to blending out its overall social complexity. Exploring the activities of the shi and zuoce, it argues that they should be understood not just as passive functionaries, but rather as active agents in the Zhou society, whose influence reached, but was not limited to the domain of the state, and whose actions were conditioned by a number of objective and subjective factors. Inquiring about social background and standing of the shi and zuoce, the author complements the data of epigraphy by archaeological and art-historical data. This approach may allow for a deeper understanding of the role of writing and writing specialists in social, political and cultural processes in Early China.

Meeting 5, Trinity Term 2014

Meeting 5, Trinity Term 2014

Texts and Textiles. Manuscript Fragments in Medieval Dresses

Henrike Lähnemann
Newcastle University
4 June, 2014, at 6.00 pm
The Memorial Room, The Queen’s College, Oxford

 

In March 2011, fragments of 23 medieval manuscripts were discovered sewn into the hems of dresses. These garments were made in the late 15th century by nuns at the Cistercian convent of Wienhausen (Northern Germany) to dress up sculpture groups for feast days. The talk is going to explore this form of manuscript recycling as part of late medieval devotional culture.

 

Meeting 4, Trinity Term 2014

Meeting 4, Trinity Term 2014

“Gods and Writing in Ancient Greece”

Paola Ceccarelli
Fellow of Newnham College, Cambridge
Wednesday 14 May, 2014, at 6.00 pm
The Memorial Room, The Queen’s College, Oxford

 

“Leaving to one side discussion of the arrival and diffusion, status and uses of writing in archaic Greece, I want to focus on representations of writing, and more specifically, of writing and the gods. My discussion is driven by a comparative agenda. A look at the Near Eastern tradition shows that the gods are portrayed as having played a central part in the invention of writing. My leading question will be to what extent it is possible to trace any connections between writing among men and the world of the gods in ancient Greece.”

Dr Paola Ceccarelli’s monograph study of Ancient Greek epistolography, Ancient Greek Letter Writing. A Cultural History (800 BC – 600 BC), was published by Oxford University Press in October 2013.