Category Archives: member news

Patricia Crawford Postgraduate Publication Prize Announcement

ANZAMEMS is delighted to announce Anna Milne-Tavendale as the winner of ANZAMEMS’ inaugural Patricia Crawford Postgraduate Publication Prize for her article:

‘John of Paris and the Apocalypse: The Boundaries of Dominican Scholastic Identity’, published in John of Paris: Beyond Royal and Papal Power, ed. Chris Jones (Brepols, 2015), pp. 119–49.

All four judges agreed that Anna’s article was of exceptionally high quality in a field of strong entrants.

Congratulations Anna!

Philippa Maddern ECR Publication Prize Announcement

ANZAMEMS is delighted to announce Dr Heather Dalton as the winner of its inaugural Philippa Maddern ECR Publication Prize for her article:

‘A Sulphur-crested Cockatoo in Fifteenth Century Mantua: Rethinking Symbols of Sanctity and Patterns of Trade’, published in Renaissance Studies 28/5 (November 2014): 676–94.

All four judges agreed that Heather’s article was of exceptionally high quality in a field of strong entrants.

Congratulations Heather!

ANZAMEMS Member News: Chantelle Saville – PATS (2016) Report

Chantelle Saville, Doctoral Candidate, University of Auckland

In the words of Prof. Rodney Thomson: “The more you know about manuscripts before you start looking at them, the more you’ll find.” The Manuscript Book Postgraduate Advanced Training Seminar was the perfect opportunity to gain some valuable palaeographical skills, fast. The course covered two intensive days during which Prof. Thomson introduced us to the history and technology of early book production. We learnt how to differentiate between Carolingian Minuscule, Gothic and Cursive hands, as well as important codicological information such as folio numbering systems and the forms of scribal abbreviation.

One of the privileges enjoyed on the course was the chance to examine and handle the manuscripts held at the Fisher Library (University of Sydney), including the glorious Spanish Historical Music Manuscripts. Prof. Margaret Manion provided us with a wonderful discussion of the decoration and illuminations in the collection, bringing the manuscripts to our desks and explaining features in detail. Because part of my doctoral dissertation involves collating and transcribing from four fourteenth-century manuscripts, the instruction provided during the course was hugely useful to me. Most exciting, however, was the opportunity to ask Prof. Thomson for advice regarding a couple of difficulties I had had when dealing with my own primary sources. He was able to answer my questions on the spot!

It was a real delight to speak to colleagues who share my passion for palaeography, and to hear about their research. Certainly, I have come away from the seminar with many fond memories and new friends. I’d like to thank Dr Nicholas Sparks and ANZAMEMS for enabling me to attend The Manuscript Book PATS by providing a bursary for travel and accommodation. With luck, sometime in the near future I will be able to share findings from my manuscript research with others at an ANZAMEMS conference or event.

ANZAMEMS Member News: Antonia St Demiana – PATS (2016) Report

Antonia St Demiana, Doctoral Candidate, Macquarie University

On February 9 and 10 at Sydney University’s Fisher Library, I was fortunate to be one of a select group of students and researchers to participate in a Postgraduate Advanced Training Seminar supported by ANZAMEMS.

The focus of the two-day course was the Manuscript Book in which we learned about the various aspects of original western medieval manuscripts. The main features of the seminar were the lectures delivered by Professors Margaret Manion and Rod Thomson, whose direct experience with manuscripts and the libraries and museums which house them, provided us with vital information for our own work. There are many obstacles which young scholars may face when requesting access to materials such as manuscripts, and Margaret and Rod generously shared their knowledge with us in this regard.

One area which I found to be of particular relevance to my own study, were the lectures about the physical characteristics of manuscripts and the terminology used to describe them. I learned much about quires, foliation, parchments, ruling, and inks. Rod’s outline of how to catalogue and describe manuscripts was also invaluable to me. Although I am studying Coptic manuscripts, much of the terminology applies to both western and eastern books.

Another highlight of the PATS was the very rare privilege to handle the precious manuscripts in the Fisher Collection. We were free to hold the manuscripts and glance through their pages and it was wonderful to see real examples (not just photographs) of what Margaret and Rod were discussing.

I am very grateful ANZAMEMS for funding my flight to Sydney and for the opportunity to participate in the PATS on the Manuscript Book. Thanks also to the librarians at the Fisher Library and to Dr Nick Sparks for a very well organised seminar.

ANZAMEMS Member News: Kriston Rennie – Medieval Monastic History

Dear members, please see the following letter from ANZAMEMS committee member Kriston Rennie:

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing to you en masse to gather some intel about past, present, and future research endeavours in the field of medieval monastic history. In anticipation of a symposium to be held in Dresden later this year (27-29 October), I am trying to assemble a complete picture of the work being done in Australia and New Zealand. I have been asked by the Forschungsstelle für Vergleichende Ordensgeschichte (FOVOG) at TU Dresden to ‘represent’ our region, with a view to establishing more active and international networks with scholars from Europe (east and west), North America, and South America. Celebrating 20 years of study into comparative religious orders, the FOVOG would ideally like to assess the international state of research, ‘to generate and illustrate new perspectives on the exploration of vita religiosa in order to envisage new projects.’ The ‘workshop’ promises to gather 40-50 scholars from around the world; all have been tasked with the same responsibility.

There is a great interest in Germany about our respective countries, and I would like to represent our research ambitions, funding opportunities, and collaborations accurately. To my mind, this is an exciting opportunity to showcase our work (projects, grants, publications, etc.), to explain the current situation of our universities and funding systems, and ultimately to initiate some profitable connections. My thinking is not limited solely to our own research, but also to the work of our MPhil and PhD students, and post-docs. Discussion on ‘research clusters’ and ‘areas of expertise’ should also, in my opinion, take into account possible supervisory arrangements with other countries and institutions. I’m certain, for example, that colleagues here in Germany would be fascinated by the possibility of ‘linkage grants’ and the Australian-DAAD scheme, and to learn about our active society, biennial conference, and postgraduate training seminars. In other words, I don’t perceive this invitation as being about drawing Australia and New Zealand into a European framework; it offers the potential to work also in the other direction, to the benefit of all invested parties.

So, in essence, I am asking for expressions of interest – so to speak. If you have an interest in the field of medieval religious orders and/comparative religious history, please contact me to share your thoughts, ideas, and plans. If you have publications and/or current work in this field, please bring them/it to my attention. If you have a firm grasp of our strengths (e.g., Dominican, Cistercian), please share your thoughts. If you’ve already got some profitable links (formal or informal), please let me know. And if there is something or someone that you feel should must not be overlooked in our presentation to an international forum, I’d be extremely grateful for your insight and perspective.

I can be reached anytime through my work address:

I look forward to hearing from you soon (preferably before 1 August. 2016).

Kriston Rennie

ANZAMEMS Member News: Anna Milne-Tavendale – PATS (2016) Report

Anna Milne-Tavendale, PhD candidate, University of Canterbury

It was a real privilege to be able to visit Sydney University and the rare books collection at Fisher library to attend this PATS: The manuscript Book. I would like to thank ANZAMEMS for the bursary, without which I would have been unable to attend, and also the event organisers for putting together what was an extremely insightful and valuable workshop.

The workshop was well planned and organised. Over the two days the group (consisting of students and more established scholars from Australia and New Zealand) were thoroughly immersed in the making and study of medieval manuscripts. Our time was divided between viewing the collection at Fisher library, expert lectures on related topics and practical sessions that covered almost every aspect of manuscript production in which we benefited from the combined experience and knowledge of Margaret and Rod, who were both engaging and inspiring. As well as covering the ‘technical’ aspects of manuscript production, they each spent time establishing the social and cultural world in which the manuscripts operated. A particular highlight for me was the detailing and explanation of the complex and demanding tasks of the paleographer/codicologist.

Working in this digital age, in which our sources have often been transcribed into modern languages or are at least available in digital formats it is often easy to forget about the importance and centrality of the manuscript to what we do – and this is certainly also compounded by our geographical location. Rod’s ‘rules’ or ‘words of wisdom’ (interspersed through the two days) were particularly influential, especially his assertion that examining the manuscript will ALWAYS yield something new/different and will tell more about the text. After the workshop, I certainly feel equipped to undertake manuscript analysis and I would highly recommend this type of workshop to any medieval scholar. I hope that ANZAMEMS will consider running this again!

ANZAMEMS Member News: Derek Ryan Whaley – PATS (2016) Report

Derek Ryan Whaley, Doctoral Candidate, University of Canterbury, Christchurch

Last week, I was privileged to be among two of the foremost scholars in the world of European manuscript studies: Rodney Thomson and Margaret M. Manion. I admit that I myself am not a palaeographer or codicologist, but nonetheless I learned much at the two-day Postgraduate Advanced Training Seminar held at the University of Sydney that may well help me both in my academic studies and my own personal pursuits.

The seminar series was divided into two days to cover the wide breadth of information that Thomson and Manion wished to convey to us regarding their experiences with manuscripts and their knowledge of the Fisher Library collection. What was by far the most rewarding aspect of the PATS was the hands-on interaction with around 20 medieval and early modern codices that the library holds (not counting 14 Spanish liturgical music manuscripts presented at the end of the first day). Thomson’s frequent reminder that there is always more to learn from handling the manuscript than can ever be gleaned from simply reading a transcription or viewing a digital copy was made abundantly clear to us all.

Over the course of the two days, we explored medieval manuscript preparation, organisation, bindings, writing, copying techniques, decorations, and provenance. Via our readings and Thomson’s statements, we were able to identify telling marks in the vellum leaves that told us where pages had been cut over multiple bindings, how authors ruled their lines, what the readers thought of the work, and how they portrayed their thoughts. Just like today, readers in the Middle Ages would doodle, highlight, and write notes in the margins to help them in their studies and understanding of the text. Hearing this is one thing, but seeing it firsthand in the pages is entirely another. It made the gap of time from the thirteenth century to the present seem infinitesimally small. Despite that gap, students today are little different in many ways from students then.

For me, the most helpful aspect of the PATS was right at the end, when Thomson broke down in minute detail the system he developed for cataloguing manuscripts, using an example from one of his own publications. Taking this knowledge, I was immediately able to understand a number of previously-indecipherable or seemingly-purposeless points in a catalogue that I had been using in my own research. This alone made the entire PATS worthwhile.

What was probably the most rewarding part, however, was the one-on-one interaction with the presenters. During the multiple tea and lunch breaks, I took every opportunity to ask questions about the manuscripts, the study of manuscripts, and aspects of my own research. Furthermore, the excellent group of regional students of palaeography brought me into contact with other like minds in a way I had not experienced in Australasia before.

My time at the University of Sydney was quite rewarding and the PATS held my interest throughout, even when the topic at hand was not of specific importance to my research. This was entirely due to the charismatic presentation style of Thomson and Manion and the curiosity that the manuscripts attracted.

ANZAMEMS Member News: Matthew Firth – PATS (2016) Report

Matthew Firth, Master of History Candidate, University of New England

The Postgraduate Advanced Training Seminar (The Manuscript Book) held at the University of Sydney in February proved to be a stimulating, constructive and rewarding event; I am thankful to ANZAMEMS for the bursary I was granted that facilitated my attendance. The commitment to organise such a unique event and the provision of assistance to students at the start of their academic careers demonstrates an inspiring commitment to the future of medieval and early modern studies in Australia and New Zealand. Special thanks must go to the Medieval and Early Modern Centre at the University of Sydney (as represented by Nicholas Sparks), the good staff of the rare book collection at the Fisher Library, and Rod Thomson and Margaret Manion, who were both so generous with their time and experience.

The two day seminar had a strong codicological focus as Rod Thomson guided us through the manufacture and construction of the medieval codex on the first day, aptly illustrated by a fine selection of manuscripts held in the Fisher collection. The second day saw a brief survey of medieval palaeography before Margaret Manion delved into illumination and brought some of the treasures of the Fisher collection to life.

Medieval history in Australian and New Zealand universities is so often a minority discipline that, unlike our European counterparts, opportunities to gain practical experience with manuscripts are rare. It is little surprise then that, for me, having access to personally examine manuscripts and gain insight into their physical composition was a highlight of seminar. Combined with the instruction of two of Australia’s foremost manuscript experts, it was an experience with which reading codicology and palaeography textbooks cannot compare!

I left the PATS enthused. I am more confident in my use of digitised manuscripts and am happily now able to understand obfuscatory scholarly manuscript analysis. Somewhat less pragmatically, I am also reasonably confident that I shan’t embarrass myself on my brief research trip to England later this year!

ANZAMEMS Member News: Pippa Salonius – PATS (2015) Report

Pippa Salonius, Independent Scholar

Thoughts on the ANZAMEMS PATS @ University of Canterbury, November 2015
ANZAMEMS: Postgraduate Advanced Training Seminar ‘Medieval and Early Modern Digital Humanities’ Report

I recently had the pleasure of attending the ANZAMEMS postgraduate training seminar hosted by the University of Canterbury in Christchurch on 18 November 2015. The day was devoted to learning about digital humanities. Two keynote speakers, Professor Evelyn Tribble (University of Otago) and Professor Patricia Fumerton (University of California, Santa Barbara) presented work in their fields of English culture and literature, considering two key academic databases: EEBO (Early English Books Online) and EBBA (English Broadside Ballad Archive). Tribble discussed EEBO in terms of affordance and materiality, drawing attention to how the database can facilitate academic research, but also pointing out its weaknesses. As an art historian, I especially appreciated her highlighting the fact that viewing an object on a screen results in a flattened distortion of its image. In response to this problem, companies such as Factum Arte use digital technology to produce three-dimensional facsimiles of our cultural heritage (see their digitalisation of the earliest known Beato de Liébana manuscript at the Biblioteca Nacional in Madrid Unfortunately, costs are high and as of yet few websites are able to provide their viewers with these types of images.

Tribble’s argument was nicely complemented by Fumerton’s description of the English Broadside Ballads Archive (EBBA). As the driving force behind this on-going digital project, Fumerton was able to give a clear description of the current database and its potential as a working tool, as well as providing insight into on-going questions of its future and development. I found the multimedia aspect of EBBA fascinating. The inclusion of images, text, and sound within a single database and the possibility of search queries in all medium was inspirational and sophisticated stuff! I have since spent many stolen moments exploring the database, moving between ballads, examining their images, and listening to vocal performances of their lyrics. Fumerton’s information has greatly expanded my own understanding of the digital platform, forcing me to reconsider the didactic value of its technology, and its capacity to promote interdisciplinary research. The papers concluded with a lively discussion on the controversial nature of open-access and funding of online digital humanities research tools, with particular reference to ProQuest’s recent revocation of EEBO subscriptions to learned societies due to a downturn in revenues.

In the afternoon workshop, Dr James Smithies (University of Canterbury) presented us with an exemplary model of a formal proposal for a digital humanities project, the ‘Digital Project Scope Document’. His practical approach was encouraging as he attempted to demystify the expectations of its content and layout held by university administrative and funding bodies, as well as external non-academic partners. Drawing on his experience in the Digital Humanities program at the University of Canterbury, Smithies was enthusiastic and convincing in his insistence on the fundamental importance of digital humanities as an integral working tool for current and future academics. His session opened the floor nicely to the critique of postgraduates who presented their own digital projects. These projects ranged from the planning stages to actual websites, and included proposals for interactive web resources tracing political dissent in medieval London, a website for open source translation of medieval European texts, and a comprehensive database mapping Byzantine and medieval art in New Zealand collections. The seminar closed with a panel comprised of Joanna Condon (Macmillan Brown Library), Dr Chris Jones (University of Canterbury), Dr James Smithies (University of Canterbury), and chaired by Anton Angelo (University of Canterbury), who highlighted various points raised during the day of discussion, confronting them with issues of change and context in the world of digital humanities.

As befits the topic, a video recording of the seminar has been posted on YouTube Many thanks to Dr Tracy Adams (University of Auckland) and Dr Francis Yapp (University of Canterbury) whose respective roles as compere and organiser assured that the day progressed seamlessly and successfully. Finally, it is always a pleasure for me to be among fellow enthusiasts of medieval and early modern times, whose ideas challenge my own and whose energy is contagious. Thank you.