Monthly Archives: October 2015

St Andrews Staff Contribute to ‘Medieval LEGO’ Book

Professor Robert Bartlett and Professor Emeritus Chris Given-Wilson participated in a project called Medieval LEGO, ed. Greyson Beights (No Starch Press, San Francisco, 2015). The professors described important events in medieval English history, which were then illustrated by Greyson and his colleagues using LEGO.

Professor Bartlett contributed to The Death of William Rufus, The Captivity of Richard the Lionheart, The Founding of the University of Oxford, and the Treaty of York; whilst Professor Given-Wilson covered the Treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton, The Black Death, the Peasants’ Revolt, and the Treaty of Windsor.

From the Medieval LEGO website:

lego2‘Medieval LEGO takes you through real English history in the middle ages with a unique twist, with every event illustrated by a tiny little LEGO scene. With contributions by medievalists and scholars, this book brings medieval history to life in a fun, kid-friendly way.

Inside, you’ll learn about events like the Battle of Hastings, the chartering of Oxford University, and the signing of the Magna Carta. You’ll witness the infamous Black Death, and the Great Famine, and you’ll read about famous historical figures like Robin Hood, Richard the Lionheart, Geoffrey Chaucer, and William the Conqueror.’

Bettina Bildhauer Receives Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Grant

bettina (2)Bettina Bildhauer, current co-director of SAIMS, has won a €9,450 grant for alumni of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation for a three-month “further research stay in Germany”. This is to work with Prof. Andrew James Johnston from the Freie Universität Berlin on her project “The German Tarantino”.

Bettina assures you, ‘Yes, it has to do with the Middle Ages. Everything does!’

Centre for French History and Culture Biannual Lecture

IMG_0785The Centre for French History and Culture at the University of St Andrews is delighted to announce that its autumn biannual seminar will be given by Dr Rebecca Dixon (University of Liverpool) on Wednesday 11 November 2015, from 5.30pm. Dr Dixon’s paper is entitled “Spectacular Bodies: Dress and Undress in Wavrin Master Manuscripts”.

Rebecca Dixon is Lecturer in French Studies at the University of Liverpool. Her research concerns literature and visual culture in pre-modern France (mostly 15th – early 16th century), as well as text-image relations, costume and material culture.

The seminar will take place in the New Seminar Room (69-71 South Street), and will be followed by a drinks reception in the Undercroft from 7pm. All are welcome to attend.

CFP Crusading Masculinities: International Workshop

From conference organiser Natasha Hodgson, our 2015-2016 Bullough Fellow:

University of Zürich, Switzerland, Wednesday 30th March – 1st April 2016

zurichConference Organisers: Matthew Mesley (University of Zürich), Natasha Hodgson (Nottingham Trent University, UK) and Katherine J. Lewis (University of Huddersfield, UK). The workshop has been generously funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation. We also gratefully acknowledge support for postgraduate attendance provided by the Society for the Study of the Crusades and the Latin East.

In the last decade significant research on the role and representation of women in the crusades has been produced, yet the rich varieties of ideas about medieval manhood prevalent throughout crusade sources remain largely untapped. Gendered comparisons were often used to draw distinctions between the men who took the cross and their enemies, and authors of crusade narratives regularly commented on the manliness of different individuals and groups during crusade expeditions. Masculinity was also a feature of preaching: gendered language was central to the communication of the crusade message and to its enduring popularity. Medieval men existed in a hierarchical world, but even during the short time at which crusading was at its height, social constructs such as masculinity were subject to change. Crusaders were not just a hybrid of secular and ecclesiastical ideals: they represented a spectrum of masculinities from a cross-section of medieval society: rich and poor, laymen and clergy, traders and settlers, fighters and pilgrims. They encountered and reflected on the masculine ideals of different religions, sects and cultures: Christian, Jewish and Muslim. The development of military orders in the early to mid-twelfth century represented another significant shift in elite male identity. The enormous popularity of crusading and the military orders is a testament to their central place in the developing debate over ideal manhood in medieval society.

This workshop’s aim is to bring together scholars from the fields of gender history and crusader studies, in order to examine and highlight the variety of masculinities which were represented in the context of the crusades.

Confirmed speakers include: Anthony Bale (Birbeck, University of London); Niall Christie (Langara College, Vancouver); Paul M. Cobb (University of Pennsylvania); Susan Edgington (Queen Mary University, London); Yvonne Friedman (Bar-llan University, Ramat-Gan); Natasha Hodgson (Nottingham Trent University); Linda G. Jones (Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona); Ruth Mazo Karras (University of Minnesota); Katherine J. Lewis (University of Huddersfield); Christoph Maier (University of Zürich); Matthew M. Mesley (University of Zürich); Alan V. Murray (University of Leeds); Helen Nicholson (Cardiff University); Dion C. Smythe (Queen’s University Belfast).

We would like to invite offers of twenty-minute papers relating to the crusades on the following themes:

  • Competing masculinities/men and social status
  • Masculinities and public display/rituals
  • Clerical and/or lay masculinities
  • Gender and Late Medieval Crusading Ideals
  • Masculinities and violence/non-violence
  • Masculinities and the family
  • Female masculinities
  • Women as audience/women in relation to masculinities
  • Representations of masculinities in art/material culture/music
  • Individual exemplars of masculinities and leadership roles
  • Military Orders and masculinities
  • Crusading Memory and Masculinities
  • Cross-cultural encounters: gendering the ‘enemy’
  • Muslim and Byzantine perspectives
  • Spanish and Eastern-European perspectives
  • Crusading Medievalism and Masculinity

Papers can be in relation to any historical forum where crusading formed a relevant ideological component, and we also welcome papers from scholars who explore non-textual sources. We are happy to accept submissions over a broad chronological timescale, in relation to crusading activity or representation across Europe, the Mediterranean and the Middle East – from a range of disciplinary perspectives. We are particularly keen to encourage postgraduates to offer papers and hope to be able to provide postgraduate speakers with financial support towards travel costs, accommodation, and registration. There is space for up to thirty participants.

If interested please send an abstract of not more than 300 words to, by November 15th 2015

Questions and queries about the conference programme or the call for papers can also be directed to the email above.


PDF available: CFP-Crusading Masculinities Zurich 2016

“Diverging Paths?” Receives Stellar Review

Diverging Paths? The Shapes of Power and Institutions in Medieval Christendom and Islam” (Brill 2014) received a stellar review to be included in the “The Medieval Review”. The book is edited by our own John Hudson and long-time friend of St Andrews Ana Rodríguez (CCHS-CSIC), and it emerges from work undertaken in the related projects “Diverging Paths” and “Power and Institutions in Medieval Islam and Christendom“, including contributions from John Hudson, Caroline Humfress, and Simon MacLean.

From the forthcoming review by Thomas W. Barton (University of San Diego):

This sophisticated volume illustrates the impressive, thought-provoking results an accomplished, diverse group of scholars can produce in pursuit of a simple and open-ended yet ultimately difficult and complicated question. Based on the level and manner of institutionalization of Islamic and Christian societies in the early medieval period, one would have expected their respective development by the late Middle Ages to be the reverse from what,Diverging Paths in fact, transpired. For example, whereas Christendom witnessed the development of sophisticated medieval states and other exclusive economic and political organizations, Islamic societies were seemingly prevented by the nature of Islamic law from developing similarly elitist institutions. How can scholars account for this unexpected reversal in “institutionalisation and institutional continuity” (xi)? Funded by Spain’s Ministry of Science and Technology, a gathering of handpicked experts on premodern Islamic and Christian societies from around the world (but predominately Europe) participated in a number of meetings convoked by Ana Rodríguez and Eduardo Manzano at their Centro de Ciencias Humanas y Sociales of the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC) in Madrid between 2009 and 2013. The project took the same name now borne by this handsome volume and pursued a fascinating and timely inquiry into the comparative institutional development of societies of the premodern Mediterranean, a topic that has of course interested historians for generations. Yet with a plethora of highly trained and interested experts and arguably more collaboration between scholars working on the formerly much too isolated Islamic and Christian sides of the Mediterranean world (encouraged by numerous and proliferating networking associations), academia has never been better prepared to tackle such a project.

It is uncommon to find an edited volume for which the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Nevertheless, such is the case with Diverging Paths?, which manifests an impressive degree of synergy among its widely varied contributions. Nearly every essay could stand alone as a significant contribution to its respective field, yet the individual arguments become all the more intriguing and meaningful when presented within the broader context and comparative framework generated by the volume. This cumulative effect must be at least partly the result of sustained collaboration by these scholars over several years, enabling them to tweak their theoretical approaches and assumptions and ruminate adequately over the meanings of their results. It is also clearly owing to the hard work of the editors, who were evidently committed to expending the additional thought and work to generate the introductory and concluding materials necessary to tie these diverse studies together into a more meaningful aggregate for their readership. In sum, this well-presented volume offers its readers an array of perspectives on a subset of the comparative historical issues that are intriguing premodern scholars in a mode that will be challenging yet still accessible to non-specialists, while both highly engaging and valuable for experts.

When published, a full version of the review will be available here.