Recent Events

Below are some highlights of recent news and events for the Medieval Studies Program. For a full calendar and information about upcoming events, please visit this site.


Medieval Studies “Medieval Translation Colloquium Series”

This is the first of four lectures in our new Medieval Translation Colloquium Series, presented by UConn’s Medieval Studies program. Kristen Carella will be speaking on September 30th, 2016 at 4pm in the Stern Lounge. Her lecture is “Irish Christianity before Conversion: A Difficult Passage from St. Columbanus’s Epistula III and Its Implications.”

Charles A. Owen, Jr. Visiting Professor for the Fall 2016

The Medieval Studies program is pleased to announce the Charles A. Owen, Jr. Visiting Professor for the Fall 2016 semester: Francis Gingras, Professor in the Department of French Literature and Centre for Medieval Studies Director, Université de Montréal.

Please visit:

Course Title: Anglo-Norman Literature: From the Channel to the Mediterranean

Course Instructor: Francis Gingras

At the risk of being a little provocative, one could argue that French literature was born in England. Indeed, with some of the earliest writings produced in England at the very beginning of the twelfth century, and some more copied and transmitted throughout the Angevin Empire for the next two centuries, Anglo-Norman manuscripts have largely contributed to the validation of French as a literary language.

This course will focus on the development of French language and literature in the Anglo-Norman context. We will pay special attention to the interrelations between insular French, continental French, and the Norman Court of Sicily. For the latter, we will study the Sicilian settings in romances such as Floriant et Florete and Guillaume de Palerne, from both intertextual and political perspectives, looking at the interplay between these romances and their Arthurian counterparts, as well as the contextual questioning of Norman rule over Sicily. Through that exploration we should be able to study how, for more than three centuries, the French of England was the language of a political elite, from the English Channel to the South of Italy.

The peculiar situation of a multilingual England will also be studied through the phenomenon of translation, with particular consideration for twelfth- and thirteenth-century biblical translations and paraphrases. With these texts, we can trace how the singularity of a sociolinguistic context can change texts, even those aiming towards universality.


Charles A. Owen, Jr. Visiting Professor for the Fall 2015

Course Title: “The Medieval Church as School for Scandal”

Course Instructor: Dyan Elliott, Peter B. Ritzma Professor of the Humanities and Professor of History at Northwestern University

The term “scandal” is derived from a Greek verb meaning “to cause another to stumble.” An act need not be sinful to be considered scandalous: the salient attribute is its ability to occasion sin in another. But whether scandal was wrought by deliberate sin or a morally neutral act, it was an unmitigated evil: the more respected the figure occasioning scandal, the more heinous the offense.

This course focuses on the medieval church’s efforts to minimize scandal, especially with respect to members of the clergy. The church’s commitment to clerical celibacy would further ensure that particularly strenuous efforts would be made to suppress sexual offenses. We will be examining  a wide range of ecclesiastical sources in canon law, theology,  pastoral sources, records of ecclesiastical courts, and hagiography. Although students with Latin will be expected to use it, translations or alternative readings will be provided for those who are not Latinate. Issues concerning gender and sexuality will be highlighted throughout.

This course concentrates exclusively on the medieval church. But because the past invariably illuminates the present, this focus is bound to shed light on the predicament of the contemporary church.


Charles A. Owen, Jr. Visiting Professor for the Fall 2014

Course Title: “The Nuns’ Manuscripts”

Course Instructor: Henrike Lähnemann

Why is there such an astonishingly rich body of beautifully illuminated devotional manuscripts written by nuns in Northern Germany at the end of the 15th century? The five-week course will explore questions of literature, religion and gender by looking at the manuscripts as devotional objects in all their aspects. Each week will consist of introductory lectures (one hour) combined with practical workshops (two hours) to explore the material culture of the medieval nuns through reading, transcribing, translating, singing and performing.

We will start with an exploration of the historical setting of the Northern European Hanseatic area with Lüneburg and Lübeck as economic hubs of the network, and of the new devotional culture based in the cities which transformed the religious houses. The focus will then be on the shape of the 15th century reform movement in the Lüneburg convents Lüne, Medingen and Wienhausen, taking in architecture, objects and performance before concentrating in the second half of the course on the manuscript production of the nuns from Medingen.

After these comparative studies, which will be based on newly digitized manuscripts from the convent, the course will culminate in a hands-on manuscript study at the Houghton Library in Harvard. We will endeavour to produce a comprehensive catalogue entry and (part) edition of the Medingen manuscript held there. The course work will allow you to use this as the material basis for further studies with a specific focus which can be linguistic, historical, or based in religious or gender studies.

A full description of the course may be found here (pdf).

For more information about Professor Lähnemann and her work, see her faculty profile.


30th Annual New England Medieval Studies Consortium Graduate Conference

Abstracts from graduate students are now being accepted for the 30th annual New England Medieval Studies Consortium Graduate Student Conference, to be held at the University of Connecticut on Saturday, March 16, 2013. This year’s theme will be “Collaborations.”

“Collaborations” is a concept that pervades both the medieval period and the field of medieval studies, and provides a major theme for considering a variety of relevant subjects. In its breadth, this theme is meant to encompass a wide array of topics from graduate students working in all areas of medieval studies. Toward this end, we welcome papers from an assortment of disciplines, including:

Anthropology — Archaeology — Art History — Byzantine Studies — Classical Studies —Digital Humanities — Gender Studies — History — History of Science — Islamic Studies — Judaic Studies — Language Studies — Literary Studies — Mediterranean Studies — Manuscript Studies — Musicology — Philosophy — Religious Studies — Theology

We also look forward to papers that incorporate or deal with notions of interdisciplinary or multi-disciplinary methods; and that examine the theme of collaborations theoretically.

Possible topics include (but are not limited to):
Collaborations in medieval culture
Receptions of the medieval in the modern world
Collaborations in academia
Interdisciplinary/multi-disciplinary methodologies
Theories of collaboration

The deadline for submissions is February 1, 2013. Abstracts of up to 250 words should be e-mailed to Brandon Hawk and Patrick Butler Papers should be no more than 20 minutes in length and read in English. Graduate students whose abstracts are selected for the conference will have the opportunity to submit their papers prior to the conference to be considered for the Alison Goddard Elliott Award for the Outstanding Conference Paper.

For more information about NEMSC, see our website.


Summer Psalms Symposium

The Summer Psalms Symposium, hosted by the University of Connecticut Medieval Studies Program, was held on Tuesday, August 7. The Symposium included presentations on the theme by:

Stephen Harris (English, University of Massachusetts, Amherst)
Clare Costley King’oo (English, University of Connecticut)
Fiona Somerset (English, University of Connecticut)

These presentations were followed by a round-table discussion about the subject.

As a follow-up to the symposium, the organizers and presenters compiled a bibliography as an introductory too for research. The document may be found here (Adobe Reader needed to view).

Dr. Susan Einbinder Hired as Professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies

We are pleased to announce that Dr. Susan Einbinder has been hired as Professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies. Dr. Einbinder holds a Ph.D. in English and Comparative Literature from Columbia University, and was formerly Professor of Hebrew Literature at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati.

She has published two monographs on medieval Judaism, entitled No Place of Rest: Jewish Literature, Expulsion, and the Memory of Medieval France (U of Pennsylvania P, 2009) and Beautiful Death: Jewish Poetry and Martyrdom in Medieval France (Princeton UP, 2002); and she is currently in progress on a third, entitled Detours and Delays: On Medieval Jewish History and Literature. A 2004 recipient of the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship that allowed her to pursue research on her second book, Dr. Einbinder has also received a fellowship at the Institute of Advanced Studies, School of Historical Studies, as well as a grant from the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia.

Dr. Fiona Somerset Hired as Professor of English

We are pleased to announce that Dr. Fiona Somerset has been hired as Associate Professor of English. Dr. Somerset earned her Ph.D. from Cornell University in 1995. Her appointments include a Junior Research Fellowship at Lady Margaret Hall, UK (1995-1997); Assistant Professor of English (1997-2000) and Associate Professor of English (2000-2002) at the University of Western Ontario; Visiting Associate Professor at Washington University, St. Louis (2002); and Associate Professor of English at Duke University (2002-2012).

Dr. Somerset focuses on the history of the book, multilingualism, cultural theory, legal history, medieval philosophy, historiography, and the history of emotion. She has written extensively about Wycliffism, or lollardy, a religious reform movement in late medieval England that was persecuted as a heresy. She has also written about Chaucer’s poetry, Piers Plowman, the translations of John Trevisa, Lydgate, emotions in mysticism, and Margery Kempe. She is the author of Clerical Discourse and Lay Audience in Late Medieval England (Cambridge UP, 1998) and Four Wycliffite Dialogues, EETS 333 (Oxford UP, 2009); her Classics of Western Spirituality volume on Wycliffite Spirituality (with J. Patrick Hornbeck and Stephen Lahey) is in press. She has edited two essay collections: The Vulgar Tongue: Medieval and Post-Medieval Vernacularity (with Nicholas Watson), and Lollards and their Influence (with Jill Havens and Derrick Pitard). She is now finishing a monograph on the writings of the lollard movement, Feeling Like Saints, and researching a new book on medieval social consent from 1100-1500. She is developing a digital humanities project for the collaborative, comparative study of highly variable texts in manuscript culture, and is co-editor of The Yearbook of Langland Studies.

Medieval Studies Undergraduate Minor

In spring 2012 the Medieval Studies Advisory Committee began to implement a minor in Medieval Studies for the University of Connecticut undergraduate curriculum. Sherri Olson is heading up the proposal, to be submitted in fall 2012.

Fourteenth Annual Medieval Studies Secondary Schools Outreach Seminar

The Medieval Studies Program held its annual Outreach Seminar on Friday, March 30, 2012. The subject of the seminar was “Robin Hood,” and presentations were given by Jean Givens, Robert Hasenfratz, Sherri Olson, and Kisha Tracy; Eric Rice also directed a performance by the Collegium Musicum. More information may be found on the Outreach website.


Thirteenth Annual Medieval Studies Secondary Schools Outreach Seminar

The Medieval Studies Program held its annual Outreach Seminar on Friday, April 8 2011. The subject of the seminar was “The Medieval Book,” and presentations were given by Frederick Biggs, Jean Givens, Sherri Olson, and Jeanette Zissell; Eric Rice also directed a performance of the Collegium Musicum. More information may be found on the Outreach website.


New England Medieval Conference

The New England Medieval Conference held its annual meeting at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, CT, November 5-7, 2010. NEMC was founded by Archibald Lewis (University of Massachusetts, Amherst) in 1974. The 2010 conference theme was “Other Worlds and the Otherworldly in the Middle Ages.” It featured seven papers by faculty from colleges and universities throughout New England; a musical performance by the University of Connecticut Collegium Musicum; and a plenary address by Norris J. Lacy, The Pennsylvania State University, entitled “Arthurian Interstices: The Spaces Between Worlds.”

New England Medieval Studies Consortium

The New England Medieval Studies Consortium held its annual graduate conference on April 10, 2010. The 2010 conference theme was “Medieval Perspectives from the Mundane to the Miraculous.” The program featured three session, comprising twenty papers by graduate students, two roundtable workshops, and a plenary lecture by Amy Appleford entitled “Radical Catechesis: Death and the Politics of Religious Instruction in Late Medieval England.”