A Medieval Archaeology Research Fair!

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Do not miss the day: March 30, 9:30-10:20, Cornett B235! Erin McGuire and the MEDI 360 students share their experimental archaeology projects (see poster ). Thank you!

There’s everything from coffin-building to weaving; and cooking to manuscript making.

Feel free to circulate the information/invitation. All are welcome. Enjoy!

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February Newsletter

Florilegium 02:17:16

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Global Magic!

19-20 February 2016: Global Magic, student conference, Harry Hickman Building room 120. Everyone is invited to the student conference of the year, led by the program of Religious Studies in collaboration with the students of Medieval Studies. Program is to be downloaded here. Keynote address will be delivered by Prof. Andrew Gow. An open and free event not to be missed!

February 19-20, 2016, in the Harry Hickman Building room 120.


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Beyond the Doors

The first time I went into Special Collections was for a course in my first year. Sitting in A003 looking at manuscripts is where I decided to be a medievalist, and soon I wanted to venture in on my own. The Westminster Abbey Bestiary facsimile was my first goal. I had looked it up online, found every image google had to offer, and gotten the call number (PA8445 W47 2013) – I was ready to go. Standing outside those light wooden doors in the basement as a first year, I hesitated. I ran a hand through my hair, straitened my blazer (chosen specifically for this purpose), and gave myself a pep-talk. Summoning up my confidence I walked inside and up to the call desk. It was really quiet, and I made every effort to not make a sound.

“I have the call number for the Westminster Abbey Bestiary,” I whispered to the lady behind the desk. Kindly, she showed me the forms and how to fill them out, and where to put my things, and then told me to go sit and she would find the bestiary.

Special Collections has since become my favourite place on campus and it is where feel most inspired to study manuscripts. I think those light wooden doors keep out a lot of students who might find exceptional sources and research help behind them. The Special Collections Archives range from Medieval Manuscripts to the Transgender Archives to maps from WWI and WWII. The staff of Special Collections already makes these wonderful resources accessible to students, but I thought I would post some steps of my own to encourage you to visit the collections:

1.) Don’t be afraid of the doors! Behind the doors is the reading room – a safe place for the collections, but also a quiet place to work with them.

2.) Find the call number. You can find the call number on the Special Collections website by searching within categories, such as Subject or Collection.


3.) Bring your student card. When you go through the doors the desk is straight ahead, and to your right on the desk are yellow forms and pencils. Fill out a form and give your student card to the librarian.

4.) To the left of the reading room are cubbies for your things. The only things you can bring around the collections are laptops, paper, and pencils. Everything else goes in the cubby!

5.) Take a seat, wait for your material(s), and enjoy! Handle them with care and avoid touching inks and pigments, but also take time to appreciate being able to see these objects in person.

6.) When you are done with the material(s) you carefully return them to the desk and get your card back.

I hope this post makes those doors less mysterious and encourages you to make a visit to Special Collections for your next project!  rare books

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January Newsletter!



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Studies in the Margins

Studying for exams in Medieval Studies has made me aware of two things:

1.) When we are coming up with our study methods we are standing on the shoulders of giants. People have been coming up with memory aids before universities as we know them existed!

2.) The techniques medieval teachers and students used are still useful and a great way to mix up endless hours of exam prep!

Writing this post I am taking a break from Latin – an exam I have prepared for with a combination of flash cards and the making of an illuminated encyclopedia. I am inspired to keep studying by looking at the journey these methods took before winding up on my desk next to a tall cup of tea. I look back and forth between the marginalia on my desktop and the doodles I’ve done to mark corrections; I look at the purple crowns I have done around irregular verbs in my Latin notes, and think about the Rhetorica ad Herinnium suggesting ornamenting images with purple cloaks and crowns to make them memorable(Parshall, 460).

Cloistered in the reading room, browsing Twitter once in awhile as an imaginary pilgrimage into the external world, I am glad to know centuries of students have come before me. Personally, this is one of my favourite parts about being a medievalist. I find it both reassuring and fascinating to know that, as much as we have changed, we are backed up by a rich past that has given us the tools we use to move forwards. As you proceed with your exam studying I hope you will complain in the margins of your textbooks and think of the scribes who did it before, and I hope you will feel confident in drawing bizarre creatures next to academic articles to help you remember what goes where!wretched mouse

MS., Czechoslavakia, 12th Century. De civitate Dei of Augustinus of Hippo. Detail: Hildebertus and his assistant Everwinus at work in the scriptorium, circa 1140: “Wretched mouse, provoking me so often to anger.”

Secondary source:
Parshall, Peter. The Art of Memory and the Passion. The Art Bulletin 81 (3). College Art Association: 456-72. 1999. Web.

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The new issue of Florilegium,  the newsletter of the program of Medieval Studies, is still warm from the oven! Download the latest issue here. Congratulations and many thanks to the editor-in-chief, Baylee Woodley!


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