Monthly Archives: September 2016

Publication: Piety in Pieces by Kathryn Rudy (Free Download Available)

We are pleased to announce the publication of Dr Kathryn Rudy’s Piety in Pieces: How Medieval Readers Customized their Manuscripts. You can now download a free copy of this publication via the link below:–how-medieval-readers-customized-their-manuscripts

Check out the description of the book from the website:piety-in-pieces

Medieval manuscripts resisted obsolescence. Made by highly specialised craftspeople (scribes, illuminators, book binders) with labour-intensive processes using exclusive and sometimes exotic materials (parchment made from dozens or hundreds of skins, inks and paints made from prized minerals, animals and plants), books were expensive and built to last. They usually outlived their owners. Rather than discard them when they were superseded, book owners found ways to update, amend and upcycle books or book parts.

These activities accelerated in the fifteenth century. Most manuscripts made before 1390 were bespoke and made for a particular client, but those made after 1390 (especially books of hours) were increasingly made for an open market, in which the producer was not in direct contact with the buyer. Increased efficiency led to more generic products, which owners were motivated to personalise. It also led to more blank parchment in the book, for example, the backs of inserted miniatures and the blanks ends of textual components. Book buyers of the late fourteenth and throughout the fifteenth century still held onto the old connotations of manuscripts—that they were custom-made luxury items—even when the production had become impersonal.

Owners consequently purchased books made for an open market and then personalised them, filling in the blank spaces, and even adding more components later. This would give them an affordable product, but one that still smacked of luxury and met their individual needs. They kept older books in circulation by amending them, attached items to generic books to make them more relevant and valuable, and added new prayers with escalating indulgences as the culture of salvation shifted.

Rudy considers ways in which book owners adjusted the contents of their books from the simplest (add a marginal note, sew in a curtain) to the most complex (take the book apart, embellish the components with painted decoration, add more quires of parchment). By making sometimes extreme adjustments, book owners kept their books fashionable and emotionally relevant. This study explores the intersection of codicology and human desire.

Rudy shows how increased modularisation of book making led to more standardisation but also to more opportunities for personalisation. She asks: What properties did parchment manuscripts have that printed books lacked? What are the interrelationships among technology, efficiency, skill loss and standardisation?

The University of St. Andrews Library Open Access Fund supported this Open Access publication. The Leverhulme Trust has generously contributed towards the research for this volume.

CFP Forthcoming Conference: Encountering the Material Medieval

The University of St Andrews School of Art History in collaboration with the St Andrews Institute of Medieval Studies (SAIMS) present Encountering the Material Medieval, the second edition of an international interdisciplinary conference on materiality and material engagements with the medieval, taking place on 19-20 January 2017 in Scotland.

While the idea of medievalism directly impacts modern scholarship and culture at large, it encourages an engagement with a theoretical abstraction of the medieval culture. This way, the materiality of the sources, and the intrinsic materiality of our embodied engagement with the medieval, is neglected.

Beyond the digital humanities, we are interested in material engagements with the medieval. This takes place in the library, where we encounter manuscripts in an intimate, skin-to-skin contact; during fieldwork, when we need to crouch in order to enter a medieval altar; in one’s own kitchen, when we try to reproduce a recipe freshly transcribed from a manuscript; or on the fairground, where we can hold in our own hand a replica of medieval pottery.

We are dedicated to encouraging multi-mediality and non-traditional presentation methods during the conference. Therefore, we invite interactive presentations, installations and posters, workshop and hands-on activities proposals (45-50 minutes), as well as papers (not longer than 20 minutes) on the following range of topics and their relationship to the study of materiality, physicality and embodiment in/with the Middle Ages:

  • The concept of materiality and physicality as research and teaching methodology
  • Bringing the materiality of the medieval to the institution or the wider public
  • Semiotics and anthropology of the material Middle Ages in modern or medieval thought and practice
  • The human and non-human, material and embodied, materiality and boundaries
  • Medieval to modern (dis)continuities in genealogy of material

Papers and workshops on other issues related to the study of materiality and physicality in the Middle Ages are also welcome.

Please send your submissions (250 word abstract) along with a short biography (max. 100 words) to no later than 15thof November 2016.

Keynote Speakers:

  • Prof Andrew Prescott, University of Glasgow
  • Prof Emma Cayley, University of Exeter

For more info, visit our website

Find us on Twitter: @medievalmateriality and tweeting with #medmat17


A PDF of the call for papers is available here: cfp-19-20-jan-encountering-the-material-medieval


Workshops: Methodologies and Practice in Medieval and Early Modern Research

All Postgraduate students studying at Scottish universities are welcome to attend this SGSAH-funded all-day workshops event, Methodologies and Practice in Medieval and Early Modern Research in Dundee on 29 October from 10AM-7PM, which will investigate emerging methodologies in Medieval-Early Modern research. This event will allow students the chance to consider their research in regard to prominent methodological approaches.

Workshops will be focused on the following:

  1. Gender and Medieval Studies
  2. Authorship and Appropriation
  3. Materiality and Sources
  4. Performative theory and Drama
  5. Centre for the History of the Emotions
  6. Medievalism and Film

SGSAH invites all students interested in methodological practice in the Humanities to attend this event. Travel bursaries for attendees are also available. You can register here: SGSAH looks forward to welcoming you to Dundee on the 29th of October.



Professor John Hudson Elected Fellow of the British Academy

Congratulations to Professor John Hudson who has been elected Fellow of the British Academy!

Upon receiving this honour, the University of St Andrews Press Office quoted Professor Hudson as saying, “I am delighted and honoured to be elected to the British Academy. I am particularly pleased to be elected in the fields both john-hudsonof Mediaeval Studies and of Law. The University of St Andrews has a long-held reputation as one of the top centres in the world for the study of Mediaeval History and is now establishing one in that of law through the Institute of Legal and Constitutional Research.

“I owe more than can be said to my colleagues in St Andrews over the years, taking particular pleasure in collaborative work with postgraduate and post-doctoral scholars here in recent times, and with established colleagues in Europe and North America. I hope that my Fellowship of the British Academy will allow me to extend such collaborative work in the future.”

Click here to read the full article.