Monthly Archives: April 2019

PhD Opportunity: Writing and Material Culture 1560-1660

MEMS and the School of English are delighted to announce a unique doctoral opportunity. It has arisen as a result of the award of an Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) grant entitled The Cultural Lives of the Middling Sort: writing and material culture 1560-1660. The project is led by Professor Catherine Richardson at the University of Kent (Principal Investigator); Dr Tara Hamling at the University of Birmingham (Co-Investigator) and Professor Graeme Earl at King’s, London (Co-Investigator). More information on the wider project, which examines the cultural lives of the literate, urban ‘middling sort’ in early modern England, analysing the broad range of written and material forms with which they were engaged as producers and consumers, is available here.

The studentship will be in an area related to the project – developing an aspect of early modern studies that explores either the literature or history of the period as it pertains to individuals of middling status (working people of status but below the level of the elite, including professional and mercantile individuals in an urban context, and larger farming and craft households in rural areas). The project could be focused on their own writing or social lives, or the places, products and processes which take them as subject or target audience – print, theatre, town hall etc. Professor Richardson is very happy to discuss possibilities in advance with interested candidates. The student will benefit from a close and vibrant working relationship with the project and its team of PI, Co-Is and RAs, and the skills development opportunities offered by its digital work and public engagement agenda.

Studentship Selection Criteria for 2019/20 are based on the following:

Research Proposal
~The proposal is clearly written and demonstrates engagement with an academic field at a high level of sophistication.
~The project demonstrates original thinking in its field.
~The methodology proposed clearly demonstrates the viability of the planned research.
~The planned research is described in a way that inspires confidence that it will definitely be completed within three years.
~The links to the wider AHRC research project are made clear.

Preparedness for Research
~The applicant demonstrates understanding of appropriate research skills required for successful completion of the project.
~The applicant has appropriate training at Master’s level or equivalent to undertake the project.
~The applicant’s references fully support the applicant’s preparedness for doctoral study.

Suitability of Research Environment
The applicant has given clear thought to the fit between their project and their proposed research environment, within the project but also more broadly in relation to the work of the Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies at Kent and the project partners’ interests at Birmingham, King’s London, the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and the Weald and Downland Museum.

How to apply
Students wishing to be considered for this scholarship must apply for a PhD place at the University of Kent by 17 May 2019. Applicants are advised to discuss their research project with Professor Richardson as soon as possible.

Cassandra Harrington on the Lyghfield Bible workshop

Cassandra Harrington |
PhD Candidate, Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies, University of Kent

After a rare opportunity, and successful auction bid in July 2018, the Lyghfield Bible has once again returned to Canterbury. A single volume of impressive craftsmanship, textually complete, with fine Latin script and lavish illuminated initials, this so-called ‘pocket Bible’ was produced in thirteenth-century Paris before arriving in Canterbury, likely in the fourteenth century. Not only is it an exquisitely beautiful example of a medieval manuscript, but an absolute treasure trove of cultural and historical value to the city.

On the afternoon of 4th March 2019 academics and graduate students gathered at the University of Kent for a workshop dedicated to the Lyghfield Bible, which gains its name from the sixteenth-century monk who owned it before the disbanding of the monastery at Canterbury during the Reformation. Co-organised by Kent’s own Drs David Rundle and Emily Guerry in collaboration with Canterbury Cathedral, its aim was to foster conversation and shed light on the Bible’s origins and history with short papers given by scholars from a range of institutions, and encourage the discussion of ideas and opportunities for future research.

Following a very warm welcome from David and Emily, delegates were acquainted with the Lyghfield Bible by Mrs Cressida Williams (Canterbury Cathedral Library). As Head of Library and Archives, she recalled the challenging process of its procurement: from spotting the lot in a Bloomsbury auction catalogue, to the generous funding acquisitions making its purchase possible, and navigating the final task of bringing it back home to Canterbury (via a train from London) after almost 500 years away.

The first session, chaired by Dr Robert Gallagher (University of Kent), set the scene of bustling medieval Paris, with Dr Alison Ray (Canterbury Cathedral Library) contextualising the production of books in the late thirteenth century and Paris’ status as a flourishing city and international centre of learning. This was followed by Dr Emily Guerry (University of Kent) revealing similarities in iconographical trends among the Parisian illustration workshops, and Dr David Rundle (University of Kent) examining what marginal annotations might reveal (or, indeed, don’t reveal!) about the Lyghfield Bible.

Questions came in from all corners of the room, including considerations of provenance, Parisian practices of production and design, usage, literacy, scholasticism, and the interplay between image and text. Could it have been made for a successor of Archbishop Stephen Langton (d. 1228)? How ‘standardised’ are its illuminations, and was there much scope for their customisation? What do the choices of pigments used tell us? Do we have an indication of how many scribes were working on the Bible, and can this offer us a more concrete means of dating it? How does the material evidence and the cleanness of its margins inform our understanding of how the Lyghfield Bible might have been used?

The consensus places the Lyghfield Bible in the last quarter of the thirteenth century (possibly the 1290’s), though the number of scribes working on its script is at present unknown. However, the illuminations remarkably appear to be the work of a singular artist and entirety produced by one workshop. The utilisation of spectroscopy would give us more detailed and definitive information on the pigments used for illumination, but they are undoubtedly distinctive. Interestingly, it was observed that if the Bible had an initial French owner then they were not interested in leaving their mark in any way, as all evidence of marginal annotation is English in attribution.

After some much-needed fortification (in the form of tea, coffee and a selection of biscuits) the second session, chaired by Ms Roísín Astell (University of Kent), explored the context of the Lyghfield Bible’s reception in Canterbury from Paris. Getting things underway, Dr Emily Corran (University of Oxford/UCL) shed light on the tradition of Bible study at Canterbury, while Dr Claire Bartram (Christ Church Canterbury University) presented her findings on the book-culture of Canterbury and its surrounding areas. Lastly, Dr Eyal Poleg (Queen Mary University of London) had the challenging task of discussing the Lyghfield Bible’s place in the history of the Bible in England.

Exactitude in the when and how it came to Canterbury remains unknown, but an assortment of thought-provoking questions got everybody considering the Lyghfield Bible’s equally exciting ‘afterlife’ post-production, and broader aspects of identity and social status. Who would have the means and position to purchase such an elegant textual object? Was it brought over by a visiting scholar from the University of Paris? There is unfortunately no information available on book collecting, and provenance for the Lyghfield Bible in this regard remains obscure. However, interesting observations were made about its usage. Whilst almost certainly designed for personal use, issues with the nomenclature of ‘pocket bible’ were raised: indeed, for a still relatively weighty codex comprised from 590 leaves of vellum, you would need some thick-lined pockets to avoid doing yourself any damage.

After the workshop, delegates made their way down the hill to Canterbury Cathedral for a wonderful opportunity to see the Lyghfield Bible up close in person, and marvel at its size and beauty – a very special treat! The day culminated with a brilliant Annual Archives and Library Lecture entitled ‘Illuminating The Bible in Medieval Canterbury’ by Dr Alixe Bovey (The Courtauld Institute, London), and a celebratory glass (or two) at the drinks reception. The day was not only thoroughly enjoyable for those involved, but also a great success. Animated discussion on the life of the Lyghfield Bible, from its origin in thirteenth-century Paris to its time in Canterbury through the Early Modern period to the present day, explored fresh new perspectives and encouraged the possibility for future interdisciplinary and institutional collaboration. It also facilitated the opportunity for experts across a range of periods and disciplines to meet and reflect on what we know, do not know, and might yet know about the Lyghfield Bible. One thing is for certain, however: the Lyghfield Bible has an enticingly enigmatic past, and holds an equally exciting future, here in the city of Canterbury.

Jessica Schwindenhammer on the Lyghfield Bible workshop

Jessica Schwindenhammer |
Taught MA student, Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies, University of Kent

On 4 March 2019, MEMS lecturers, Dr. David Rundle and Dr. Emily Guerry organized a workshop celebrating the return of the Lyghfield Bible to Canterbury. The workshop focused on the production of the Lyghfield Bible in Paris and its reception in Canterbury. Over the course of three hours, attendees listened to six guest speakers associated with Canterbury Cathedral and the University of Kent, as well as visiting speakers from other universities. Additional events that took place included participating in Evensong and viewing the Lyghfield Bible at the Canterbury Cathedral Archives. The day concluded with a public lecture at Canterbury Cathedral Lodge by Dr. Alixe Bovey.

Cressida Williams (Canterbury Cathedral Library) introduced the workshop by discussing how the acquisition of the Canterbury Trussel Bible (now Lyghfield Bible) was achieved. The Lyghfield Bible was spotted in an auction catalogue and acquired with the help of a private donation and a six-figure donation from the National Heritage Memorial Fund. Dr. Alison Ray (Canterbury Cathedral Library), Dr. Emily Guerry (University of Kent), and Dr. David Rundle (University of Kent) placed the Lyghfield Bible into the context of book production in Paris by examining its illumination, illustrations, and marginalia.

Book production in Paris was centred on the studies that took place at universities such as the arts, theology, and scripture. Both secular and vernacular texts were created alongside the sacred and Latin texts. Additionally, people began to desire ‘pocket bibles’ similar to that of the Lyghfield Bible. In terms of illumination and illustration, the Lyghfield Bible was similar to other manuscripts produced in Paris. These other manuscripts seem to have been created by the Johannes Grusch Atelier. This group of artists created manuscripts in short periods of time by following a template that the artists knew would look aesthetically pleasing. The shared characteristic between the Lyghfield Bible and these other Grusch Atelier manuscripts included flat figures, C-shaped chins, and thick, spaghetti curls for hair. The marginalia provided in the Lyghfield Bible should provide information about previous owners and dating when it was in someone’s possession. What the marginalia does provide, however, is evidence of how it can misdirect us: early modern hands add a date of writing of 1353 and this has been thought to be based on an inscription that ends with ‘Aug.’ and a set of figures which have been read as a date. In fact, the inscription is a quotation from a work of Augustine, and the following figures a citation – there is no date there, and no basis for the claim elsewhere that it was produced in 1353. More work needs to be done to gain a complete understanding of the production and history of the Lyghfield Bible.

In the second session, Dr. Emily Corran (University of Oxford/University College London), Dr. Claire Bartram (Christ Church Canterbury University), and Dr. Eyal Poleg (Queen Mary University of London) examined the study of bibles and book culture in Canterbury. The study of bibles was inspired by the Parisian approach to education, so to read the book, people had to read both the actual text on the page as well as interpreting its spiritual meaning. While the text provided an understanding of biblical characters, events, and what people thought, the spiritual meaning provided theology and morality.

To obtain bibles as well as other books, markets were used to transmit information. People could own books, copy them, and trade them with other people. In Canterbury alone, there were 200 shops with various trades and workers. Some of these various shops enhanced book culture through the production of books. Looking at bibles, there is a typical layout which is also shared by the Lyghfield Bible. Every point is connected and is divided using chapter divisions. For the Lyghfield Bible, there is plenty of space for marginalia, but there is little evidence of annotations in the text. On the back flyleaf, there is a liturgical calendar paired with a list of biblical readings. To conclude, the Lyghfield Bible was used for individual use rather than public lectures. Despite the interest in bible study and book culture, readers did not leave many annotations in the Lyghfield Bible although there was space to do so.

The day culminated with a public lecture by Dr. Alixe Bovey, ‘Illuminating the Bible in Medieval Canterbury.’ Held in the Claggett Auditorium at the Canterbury Cathedral Lodge, Dr. Bovey’s lecture did not seem to have an empty seat in the room. In her lecture, Dr. Bovey examined Canterbury’s exchange of information through people and books, the sense of material culture which existed in the bible by using translations of text, images, stained glass, etc., and the concept of scale. To examine these themes further, Dr. Bovey incorporated various manuscripts that were recently featured in the British Library’s Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms exhibition such as the Codex Amiatinus, the Paris Psalter, and the Utrecht Psalter to name a few.

Throughout her lecture, attendees were told about the exchange of books and ideas between Canterbury and various other areas of Europe. In the case of material culture, by examining the Utrecht Psalter, Harley Psalter, and Eadwine Psalter similarities are shared between all three in the form of illustrations. Additionally, in the Eadwine Psalter, there are various Latin versions as well as Old English and Anglo-Norman French translations.

Lastly, scale was examined by including images of the manuscripts alongside her ruler. Dr. Bovey showed the evolution of scale for bibles starting with the notably large Codex Amiatinus to the ‘pocket-sized’ Lyghfield Bible. To conclude, Dr. Bovey made the same statements about the Lyghfield Bible that were made during the day’s earlier sessions such as its origins, similarities in illumination with other Johannes Grusch manuscripts, and that more is to be learned about its production. Dr. Alixe Bovey’s lecture was received well and was followed by a wine reception to celebrate the event.

This workshop has proved to be exciting for both the Canterbury Cathedral and MEMS at the University of Kent. The speakers provided insights on the future work that can be done on the Lyghfield Bible to be able to fully understand its production, contents, and history over time. Since the acquisition of the Lyghfield Bible, work has been completed to understand a small bit of its production and history. Now students, lecturers, and professionals can continue studying the Lyghfield Bible in its entirety. Additionally, what this workshop provided was insights into the work that can be done for manuscripts in general.