Author Archives: clt9

Thomas Becket Life, Death, and Legacy – Call for Papers

We would like to draw your attention to our call for papers for the international conference ‘Thomas Becket: Life, Death, and Legacy,’ which will take place from 11–14 November 2020 in Canterbury Cathedral, coinciding with the 850th anniversary of his martyrdom and the 800th anniversary of the translation of his relics into the Trinity Chapel. This conference is co-organised by scholars at the Cathedral, Christ Church University, and the University of Kent, and we are very grateful to the British Academy for supporting us. 

The Becket 2020 conference will be one of many cultural celebrations that commemorate and re-examine the legacy of Becket next year, so stay tuned for more news about exciting exhibitions, publications, research projects, and various public engagement events.

We would be delighted if you would please consider submitting an abstract to before the deadline on 21 October 2019. We hope that your papers offer new, interdisciplinary approaches to the study of Becket (both locally at Canterbury and within a wider European context) and we want to offer an inclusive chronology of scholarship on Becket that stretches across medieval, early modern, and modern history.

Thomas Becket – Life, Death and Legacy Conference

Thomas Becket – Life, death and legacy

A conference to commemorate the extraordinary life, death and legacy of Thomas Becket will take place between 11-14 November 2020 at Canterbury Cathedral, 850 years after Becket’s martyrdom and 800 years since the translation of his body into a shrine at Canterbury Cathedral.

When Becket was murdered by four of King Henry II’s knights inside Canterbury Cathedral on 29 December 1170, news of the sacrilegious violence spread quickly. In a matter of months, this merchant’s son from Cheapside had transformed into one of the most famous martyrs in medieval Europe.

The Thomas Becket – Life, Death and Legacy conference will provide a platform for showcasing important and innovative new research on Becket. We welcome participation from delegates interested in history, visual and material culture, archaeology, architecture, literature, liturgy, musicology, and/or reception of Becket’s cult both at Canterbury and within a wider European context. In addition to being interdisciplinary, this conference also embraces an inclusive chronology of scholarship on the medieval, early modern, and modern period.

If you would like to share your research on Becket on this special occasion, please submit an abstract of no more than 350 words with your proposed title, name, and affiliation to by Monday 21 October 2019. Each paper will be 30 minutes in length and we are hoping to produce an edited collection after the conference. If you have any questions about this conference, please contact Dr Emily Guerry ( or Professor Louise Wilkinson (

The conference is being co-organised by academic partners at the University of Kent, Christ Church University, and Canterbury Cathedral with support from the British Academy. As well as the conference an exhibition at the British Museum is being planned.

Material Witness: Taste, Contact and Memory

Our very popular graduate training programme, funded by the CHASE consortium, is back again for 2017 – book now to avoid disappointment!

Material Witness: Taste, Contact and Memory

University of Kent, 22nd-24th May 2017.

Material Witness this year is taking the form of a residential course at the University of Kent where we will work intensively to explore theoretical concepts about materiality in respect of the ideas of ‘taste’, ‘contact’ and ‘memory’. Taste has been a key concept in respect of material culture studies since the publication of Pierre Bourdieu’s Distinction (1984), with his concept of ‘cultural capital’ intimately linked to the accrual of particular, socially prestigious kinds of taste. Guided by some experts in material culture theory, the residential will explore how ideas of ‘contact’– in terms of both communication between people and the sense of touch – and the faculty of memory allow us to re-examine this critical concept. The residential will feature practical sessions, through which you will work in detail with various types of material things as critical prompts, alongside reading and discussion groups around key theory in the field. Delegates will be asked to apply readings to their own research before presenting on these findings. The residential, and the delegates’ incorporation of their readings into their own research, will feature on the Material Web (, and worked up versions will be published as a special issue in the CHASE Encounters journal.

Whilst the programme is run by pre-modernists, it strongly encourages participants from a range of disciplines and periods, so that we can debate with and learn from one another.

To book, go to:


Monday 22nd May

Session 1 (1-2): Introductions and discussion of preliminary reading; adoption of objects for discussion and writing project.

Session 2 (3-5): Beaney House of Art and Knowledge to get to know the objects.

Session 3 (6-7): Plenary lecture, Dr Kate Smith, University of Birmingham, ‘The Significance of Dispossession: Understanding Absence and Loss in Material Culture Studies’

Tuesday 23rd May

Session 1 (10-12): Discussion of reading set for the day on ‘Taste’, Dr Stephen Kelly, Queen’s Belfast.

Session 2 (1-3): Visit to Canterbury Cathedral Archive and Library to view documents and other objects.

Session 3 (4-6): Writing session for all participants (production of presentation for following morning/materials for blog), with Dr Kelly.

Session 4 (6-7): Plenary lecture, Prof William Engle, Sewanee: The University of the South, on ‘Material Traces of Early Modern Mnemonic Culture’.

Wednesday 24th May

Session 1 (9-11): Presentation on chosen objects.

Session 2 (11:30-12:30): Roundtable on Taste, Contact and Memory (Engel, Kelly, Richardson, Perry and others).

Session 3 (12:30-1): Final round-up and planning of written work.

Material Culture Web Workshop May 2017

Material Culture and Writing Practice from Antiquity to the Early Modern period: an interdisciplinary workshop

25th to 26th May 2017

Sibson Building, Seminar room 6, University of Kent

Registration fees: £40 or £20 (discounted price). Bookings open.

Organised by the Centre for Late Antique Archaeology, and Centre for Early Medieval and Modern Studies, University of Kent, and the Department of Archaeology, University of Reading,

Supported by the School of European Culture and Languages and School of English, University of Kent, the Roman Society, and the Department of Archaeology, University of Reading.

Literacy is a central aspect of society from antiquity to the present day, but there is often a disconnect between the study of written texts and the attention paid to the materiality of their production and consumption. This workshop aims to address the particular qualities of the materiality of writing in the pre-modern period, an era in which the technologies of writing by hand were paramount. Scholars researching material aspects of writing exist within diverse disciplines (Archaeology, Art-history, Calligraphy, Classics, English, History, Papyrology and Palaeography). Methods and approaches are diverse, ranging from studies of writing form and style, to technologies of writing and the wider social context of literacy and cultural transmission. Within individual disciplines, there are established traditions of scholarship that tend to constrain how the material is approached, and there is little cross-fertilization between scholars working either in different periods, or from different disciplinary perspectives. The workshop brings together scholars and experts across a wide range of periods and disciplines to foster new perspectives and to explore future directions that encourage interdisciplinary collaboration. This will include a consideration of writing as a material practice, the subsequent treatment and curation of writing documents, and the relationship between writing equipment and written documents. We will provide a fresh exploration of writing practices from Antiquity to the Early Modern period and consider the interplay between practices of literacy and diverse aspects of social and cultural identities and experience. A practical calligraphy session and a trip to Canterbury Cathedral Archive are included in order to foster an awareness of the material processes and equipment of writing, enabling scholars to gain new perspectives on the historical material culture that they study.


Thursday 25 May from 11 a.m. – 5.00 p.m. (Sibson Building, Seminar Room 6, University of Kent)
11.00 a.m. – 12.00 p.m. Coffee and registration (Foyer of Sibson Building)
Papers are 15 minutes long with 5 minutes for questions.

Session: Economy of Manuscripts
12.00- 12.20 p.m. Alison Wiggins: Material meanings and Tudor bookkeeping: the case of the production and reception of Bess of Hardwick’s household financial accounts (c.1548-1608)
12.20- 12.40 Julia Crick: Calligraphy and cursivity in Insular writing before 1050.
12.40 – 1.00 p.m. Ryan Perry: Utility Grade Scripts and Manuals of Religious Instruction
1.00 p.m. – 2.00 p.m. Lunch (Foyer of Sibson Building)

Session: Writing Equipment and Writing Practice
2.00 – 2.20 p.m. Peter Kruschwitz: Thinking about writing
2.20- 2.40 p.m. Ellen Swift: Investigating the relationship between writing equipment and writing practice: book hands and Roman and late antique reed pens
2.40- 3.00 p.m. Susan Moor:  Framing the Page: measurement and freedom in medieval manuscripts
3.00 – 3.30 p.m. Coffee  (Foyer of Sibson Building)
3.30-3.50 p.m. Hella Eckardt: Writing in ink – the archaeology of Roman inkwells
3.50- 4.10 p.m. Ewan Clayton:  A craftsman’s perspective on scribal workplaces: ancient and modern (keynote)

4.10 – 5.00 p.m. Discussion

Friday 26 May from 10 a.m. – 4.00 p.m. (Woolf College, Seminar Room 6, University of Kent)
Session: Transmission of writing/circulation of texts
10.00  – 10.20 a.m. Matthew Nicholls: Libraries and writing in the Roman world
10.20 – 10.40 a.m. Simon Horobin:  “Go litel bok”: The Manuscript Circulation of Chaucer’s Works
10.40 – 11.00 a.m. Daniel Smith: Unfolding action: letters as props in the early modern theatre
11.00 – 11.30 a.m. Coffee (Foyer of Woolf College)
11.30 – 12. 00 p.m. Discussion
12.00 pm. – 1.30 p.m. Lunch (Foyer of Woolf College)
1.30  – 2.00 p.m. Cherrell Avery, Calligraphy Drop-in session (Woolf Seminar Room 6)
2.00 – 4.00 p.m. Cherrell Avery, Calligraphy Workshop on Uncial Script (Woolf Seminar Room 6).
3.00 – 4.00 p.m. Cathedral Archive Tour  (Cathedral staff)

We are pleased to confirm that we are able to accommodate everyone’s first choice for Friday afternoon activities. For those taking the archive tour, you may wish to attend the calligraphy drop-in session before leaving campus.

It takes about half an hour to walk into the centre of town from campus, or there are regular buses.


Unlocking Canterbury


Many stories about Tudor and Stuart Canterbury can be unlocked from the Cathedral Archives. You can journey on our enormous floor map of historic Canterbury, hearing tales of ordinary people in their own words – from poor immigrants and single mothers to Cathedral officials and local governors.

Catherine Richardson, Avril Leach, Zoe Hudson and Danielle van den Heuvel (Medieval and Early Modern Studies)

Part of the Questions of Space Festival, Canterbury Cathedral, 20 &21 June 2016.

Listen to Programme here