Monthly Archives: March 2020

New research grant award for MEMS’ Dr Ryan Perry

Many congratulations to Dr Ryan Perry (University of Kent) and to Dr Stephen Kelly (Queens University of Belfast) who have just been awarded £367,000 by the Leverhulme Trust for a project entitled, ‘Whittington’s Gift: Reconstructing the Lost Common Library of London’s Guildhall’.

The three-year project will employ two postdoctoral research associates, and include the input of two expert consultants, Emeritus Professors James Carley (York, Toronto) and Ralph Hanna (Keble College, Oxford).  Whittington’s Gift will aim to trace the parts of the now lost Guildhall collection of ‘theological works’ that the project team contend engendered an explosion in pastoral writing in fifteenth-century London.

Whittington’s Gift aims to demonstrate that London citizens created new programmes of religious education for both the City’s clergy and for literate lay communities that have hitherto gone largely unnoticed by scholarship.

Thanks to the legacy of Richard Whittington (d. 1423), perhaps London’s most storied mayor, an extraordinary resource for religious education emerged under the auspices of Whittington’s innovative executor, John Carpenter, common clerk of London’s Guildhall, who founded a new ‘Common library’ as part of the Guildhall’s complex of buildings. By tracking the transmission of texts that the applicants contend were sourced from the Guildhall Library, the project aims to radically complicate understanding of fifteenth-century devotio-literary culture in the capital and beyond.

MEMS study trip to Florence and Rome

In February of this year’s Spring term, a group of twelve MA Medieval and Early Modern students took part in a five-day study trip to Italy to explore the history of libraries and of post-classical Latin epigraphy in Florence and Rome.

The trip was organised and led by Dr David Rundle, Lecturer in Renaissance History at the University of Kent, and made possible by the generous support of the University’s Internationalisation Fund.

Designed to enhance the learning that students had already gained in the MEMS core modules of palaeography and ab initio Latin, some highlights of the trip included a private view of the Bliblioteca Riccardiana, facilitated by Prof. Stefano Baldassarri (International Studies Institute, Florence) and a tour of the Basilica of San Clemente by Prof. Paul Gwynne (American University of Rome).

The full itinerary of the trip was as follows:-

Day 1:   Arrival in Florence – introductory walking tour

Day 2:  Morning: Visit to San Marco, with particular attention to its prototypical library space (but also time to see the Fra Angelico frescoes); Afternoon: Visit to the Uffizi, with special interest shown in the depiction of script in paintings

Day 3:  Morning: Private view at the Biblioteca Riccardiana, facilitated by Prof. Stefano Baldassarri (International Studies Institute, Florence), with a seminar, led by Dr David Rundle, discussing five fifteenth-century manuscripts; visit to the Biblioteca Laurenziana, designed by Michelangelo; Afternoon: Visit to Santa Croce, with the tomb of the leading humanist Leonardo Bruni, and the Pazzi Chapel

Day 4:  Visit to Rome
Morning: The Capitoline Museums, with discussion of the Latin inscriptions
Afternoon: tour of the Basilica di San Clemente, guided by Prof. Paul Gywnne

Day 5:   Free time so students could explore before getting the flight home

Students were wholeheartedly enthusiastic about the trip, describing it as a ‘once-in-a-lifetime experience’ (as their @mems_ukc Twitter takeover in Florence and Rome can testify to!) and on their return, they wished to share the following reflections:

‘I thoroughly enjoyed the MEMs field trip to Florence and Rome guided by Dr David Rundle with special excursions led by Professors Stefano Baldassarri and Paul Gywnne…The trip enhanced my learning as I was able to immerse myself in the art and architecture of the Renaissance and visualise what the humanists were really looking at in terms of Roman architecture and wanting a return to the classical era’ Eleanor Barrell

‘The MEMS trip to Florence proved as interesting as it was eye-opening… The trip allowed for numerous opportunities to apply the skills learnt in seminars to important pieces of history and art across museums in Florence and Rome, and such endeavours really put the usefulness of a MEMS skill set into perspective… The freedom that we had as students to explore churches, museums, and galleries on our own was much appreciated, but so too did I take solace in the fact that any questions that I had could easily be asked and answered. I feel that I got a lot out of the trip; I saw a country that I have never been to before through the framework of MEMS, seeing pieces that I wouldn’t have thought to have gone to see and learnt things that I surely wouldn’t have learnt had I gone on my own’Kim Walsh

‘I would like to thank the Internationalisation Fund and MEMS for funding the trip to Florence, it was an incredibly valuable learning experience and I really appreciate the opportunity. It was a fantastic experience to see the Latin inscriptions we studied at the start of this year in situ, really contextualising them and bringing the course full circle. The trip also really enhanced my palaeographical skills as I was able to study up close inscriptions in roman capitals at the Capitoline Museums and thus gain a fuller understanding of the script. My understanding of these was further enhance by our tour of San Clemente and the discussions surrounding the use of spolia, particularly those containing roman inscriptions’Ellen Meade

‘The MEMS and Humanities funded trip was absolutely fantastic. I would never have dreamt that I would have been able to go to this wonderful city, but thanks to your generosity I have been enlightened and my dream fulfilled. David’s organisation was top notch with an excellent agenda, his knowledge is second to none on the various libraries and churches we entered’Peter Stiffell

‘I am so glad that I have had the opportunity to have experienced this foreign excursion as a part of my Masters, thanks to the generous funding from the university, which in my eyes now so lives up to its name as the UK’s European University’ – Emma South

The 2020 Anselm Lecture

MEMS and The School of History at the University of Kent are delighted to welcome Professor Nicholas Paul, of Fordham University, New York State to give this year’s Anselm Lecture on Thursday 12th March at 6pm in The Guildhall, CanterburyViolence, Value and Virtue in the Crusading Experience.

Dr Nicholas Paul’s research concerns the world of the lay nobility in the central Middle Ages, and the intersection between that world and the experience of crusading. His work seeks to uncover how shared concepts such as ‘nobility’, ‘lordship’ and ‘lineage’ were shaped and to discover more about how attitudes toward the crusades developed over time among the aristocracy. His research explores topics such as the uses of the past in the formation of the political identity of the nobility and on the uses of literacy by the laity in the early twelfth-century.

All are welcome at this open lecture.