Monthly Archives: September 2018

MEMS welcomes Professor Rachel Koopmans

MEMS is delighted to welcome back Prof. Rachel Koopmans of York University, Toronto as Visiting Professor for the duration of the coming Autumn Term. Supported by British Academy funding, Prof. Koopmans will be examining the Saint Thomas Becket miracle windows at Canterbury Cathedral for her next book. Working closely with Dr. Emily Guerry (School of History/MEMS at Kent), Rachel will be involved in the delivery of some teaching and workshops on Medieval visual culture. Drs. Koopman and Guerry are also co-organising a series of educational events for Kent students, along the lines of the fascinating Masterclass which Dr. Koopmans led for MEMS in 2015; Reading Canterbury’s Medieval Glass:  A Primer in Stained Glass Scholarship and Text/Image Analysis.

Earlier this month, Rachel’s research with Leonie Seliger (Director of the Stained Glass Studio) and team at Canterbury Cathedral prompted national press coverage following the discovery that stained glass panels – previously thought to be the work of Victorian restorers – in fact date back to the c.1180s. One of these extraordinary panels depicts the earliest-known images of pilgrims travelling to Canterbury.

Prof. Koopmans said of the findings: “Our work was prompted by an early photograph of the window which showed these panels decades before they were thought to have been made. Careful analysis has proved that while most of the heads were replaced by a modern restorer, the majority of the glass is original and the panels are genuine medieval compositions. The date of the panels has been fixed by the distinctive aesthetic style of the glass, which is very similar to glass dated to 1180, as well as the date of the completion of the rebuilding of the chapel in which the window is found, 1182-1184.”

The School of History and the Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies at Kent are thrilled by the opportunity to learn from Prof. Koopman’s expertise and enthusiasm for the study of medieval stained glass windows at Canterbury Cathedral.

MEMS Festival 2018 a truly international success

This Summer saw the return of the ‘MEMS Festival’ – a two-day celebration of all things Medieval and Early Modern – and this year’s event welcomed a record number of attendees from as far afield as New York (Ithaca College), Pennsylvania (University of Pennsylvania), Norway (NTNU University), and Russia (Lomonosov Moscow State University) making MEMS Festival 2018 truly international!

Now in its fourth year, ‘MEMS Festival’ is organised by postgraduate students of the Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies (‘MEMS’) at the University of Kent, and welcomes researchers interested in the field from throughout the UK, EU and internationally. Sponsorship for the annual event is kindly provided by the Consortium for the Humanities and Arts of South East England (CHASE) and the School of History and the School of English at the University of Kent.

MEMS Festival 2018 featured papers that brought together scholars from a range of disciplines, academic schools and institutions which fostered conversations and created a sense of community for all.  Always popular, this year’s workshops were truly interactive and featured ‘Pens and Pigments: A Practice Based Workshop’ which was a hands-on practice-based manuscript workshop led by PhD students Hannah Lilley (MEMS) and Cassandra Harrington (MEMS).

Our own Dr Ryan Perry (MEMS) engaged us with a workshop from the Cultures of Performance Research Cluster and examined the problems inherent in punctuating Medieval texts and asked; do modern applications of punctuation alter the reader’s experience?  Our wonderful colleagues at Special Collections in the Templeman Library offered the opportunity to explore some of their Early Modern printed materials and a ‘behind-the-scenes’ look at their new storage facilities in the basement of the library, and 12 broadswords were used for the HE-MA (Historical European Martial Arts) demonstration!

An amazing 57 papers were delivered covering a diverse range of topics such as snail water (who knew there was such a thing!), the graffiti of Rochester Castle, the male homoerotic audience in Renaissance theatre and the commemorative ceramics of Charles II. Phew! We’re already looking forward to MEMS Fest 2019!

For the full programme of papers at MEMS Festival 2018, please see the event website . If you would like to register interest in attending the MEMS Festival 2019, please email

By Angela Websdale, PhD Candidate and MEMS Fest Co-Organiser