Sarah James was delighted to join colleagues from the University of Sussex as they celebrated the launch of their Centre for Early Modern and Medieval Studies with a new lecture series. The Dove/Medcalf Lectures commemorate the work of two outstanding scholars at Sussex: the medievalist Mary Dove and the early-modernist Stephen Medcalf. As a good friend of Mary, Sarah was invited to give one of two inaugural lectures, alongside Professor Brian Cummings (University of York). Sarah’s lecture, ‘The English Elucidarium and the Politics of Reading’, examined ownership of Elucidarium manuscripts across social groups, and invited the audience to meditate upon the scholarly neglect for this important text, attributable, she suggested, to perceptions that it is ‘unacademic’.
Sarah James gave a paper entitled ‘ “Yf he shoulde a shrift fader be, hym behovid have lerned of some degree”: clerical reform in orthodox pastoralia’ in a session on orthodox pastoralia organised by Dr Stephen Kelly, Queen’s University Belfast. In her paper she explored the focus in the Elucidarium upon clerical vices, and the concomitant urge towards improved education and conduct in the text.
Sarah James spoke about the ownership of Elucidarium manuscripts in her paper ‘Monks, Millers and Men Behaving Badly: the Elucidarium in medieval England’, as part of a session jointly organised by the University of Kent and Queen’s University Belfast.
With the project funding having come to an end, we say good bye to Huw Grange, our Research Associate. Huw’s hard work and energy have been pivotal in bringing the project to a conclusion, and we are sorry to see him leave Kent. He is taking up a research position on the AHRC-funded project ‘Medieval Francophone Literary Culture Outside France’ at the University of Cambridge.
The project conference took place last week in Canterbury Cathedral Lodge. Delegates spoke on a wide range of topics, including the Eludicarium in Middle High German, Welsh, Old English and Anglo-Norman. Both members of the project team also gave papers: Huw Grange’s paper, entitled ‘Spreading the Light to Youngsters: The Lucidaires as Children’s Catechism?’, sought to debunk the view that in the later Middle Ages the text was used for the education of children, while Sarah James’s paper, ‘Beating Buttocks and Baring Souls: Performing the English Elucidarium’, explored the context within which one late English version might have been intended for dramatic performance. Keynote lectures were given by Professor John Thompson (Queen’s University Belfast) and Professor Keith Busby (University of Wisconsin-Madison). Delegates also enjoyed an exhibition of early pastoral works in the Cathedral Archives, and took the opportunity to experiment with DocExplore, an EU-funded project investigating the computer-based access and analysis of historical manuscripts.
Sarah James and Huw Grange gave a joint presentation entitled ‘Who read the Elucidarium in medieval England?’ at the Medieval French Research Seminar, University of Cambridge, to a small but very knowledgeable audience. In line with the division of labour across the project, Sarah spoke primarily about versions in English, while Huw focused on the much larger corpus of manuscripts in insular and continental French.
Huw Grange organised the session ‘Spreading the Light: Transmission and Reception of the Vernacular Elucidarium’, which was sponsored by the Centre for Medieval & Early Modern Studies, University of Kent, and chaired by Thomas Lawrence from the Centre. Huw and Sarah gave papers on the French and English manuscripts respectively, and were joined by Sarah Bowden (King’s College London) who spoke about the reception of the Elucidarium in 12th-century German vernacular texts.
Sarah James gave a paper introducing the project, as part of the session ‘The Power of Books’, sponsored by the Centre for Medieval & Early Modern Studies, University of Kent.