Medieval Colloquium


Welcome to the Harvard English Department's Medieval Colloquium! Sponsored by Professors Daniel Donoghue, James Simpson, and Nicholas Watson, the Colloquium brings together students and faculty from Harvard and other universities to discuss current research on medieval literature and its contexts.

We meet on Thursdays in the Kates Room, Warren House at Harvard University (11 Prescott St., across the courtyard from the Barker Center), unless specified otherwise. All are welcome!

If you have any questions or suggestions, please contact one of our graduate student coordinators, Aparna Chaudhuri at or Anna Kelner at

Medieval Studies at Harvard

The Standing Committee on Medieval Studies is a great place to start for resources in interdisciplinary medieval studies at Harvard. Here, you can:
Inter Libros offers a great overview of electronic resources available for scholars in medieval studies; for more electronic resources, see below.

Houghton Library holds a wealth of incredible medieval manuscripts and related materials. Don't miss their collection of Digital Medieval Manuscripts, and be sure to check out their Search Strategies for locating other manuscripts in the collection.

Conferences and Calls for Papers

Harvard Department of English Medieval Colloquium Panels at Kalamazoo 2017

The Harvard Medieval Colloquium will sponsor two panels this coming May at the 52st Annual Congress on Medieval Studies at Kalamazoo. Each of the panels has a "featured speaker": Patricia Dailey (Columbia University) has agreed to give a paper on the panel "Affective Transformations"; Jessica Brantley (Yale University) has agreed to give a paper on the panel "Devotional Luxury, Literary Necessity."

A committee will choose three other panelists for each session by a process of blind review of the abstract submissions. The hope is that the blind review process would provide a relatively unbiased chance for junior faculty, graduate students, and adjuncts to "break in" on a panel that has the potential to draw a big audience. The sum of the idea is thus twofold: first, to start a conversation between senior faculty and those whom academic conferences often leave underexposed, and second, to provide a space for dialogue between academics at widely differing stages of the career.

All questions, abstract submissions, and required information should be sent to Helen Cushman ( and Erica Weaver ( by the congress deadline (September 15th).

1. With Patricia Dailey: Affective Transformations
This panel focuses on the idea of affective transformation in the largest sense of the term: conversion, pedagogy, metamorphosis, waning of passions, spiritual awakening, reading, etc. What can we learn from how Old English and Anglo-Latin literatures represent, incite, model, or even demean affective alteration? How might transformation be structured through a poem (in form or grammar)? How, for example, might change be spoken of and manifest in a saint’s life (visually, behaviorally, ethically) and what might this suggest about the role of affect? What strategies do texts use for locating and engaging affective or emotional involvement — and what kind of involvement is even desirable? Moreover, what happens when texts resist our emotional categories, or when they favor understatement over expression? In short, submissions are welcome to locate and question the role of “affective transformation” in the broadest sense possible.

2. With Jessica Brantley: Devotional Luxury, Literary Necessity
When we call a text “literary,” we often identify its literariness as a kind of “excess.” The literary exceeds necessity—it is a kind of luxury meant to be enjoyed for its own sake. Devotional texts, in contrast, are often considered “devotional” because of their intended use—they are objects used for religious worship. In short, unlike a literary text, a devotional text is a means to an end rather than an end in itself. What do we mean, then, when we call devotional books—such as books of hours—“luxury” items? Do “devotional” texts cease to be merely devotional when they exceed necessity or functionality in form, in performance, or in material presentation? Or is luxury an end—or a condition—for devotional reading? How do we describe the “excesses” of devotional books and, by the same token, how do we describe what we might call the “necessities” of the literary? This panel invites new research about luxury and necessity as they relate to literary and devotional reading culture. We welcome submissions that consider these questions as they relate to any topic including manuscript culture, poetic and musical form, and performance studies.

NB: These are blind review panels. Patricia Dailey and Jessica Brantley have each agreed to present a paper, but a committee will select the other papers by a process of double blind review of the submitted abstracts. Abstracts from graduate students and junior scholars are especially encouraged.

Note: travel grants are available for English Department graduate students who are delivering papers at academic conferences, or who have interviews at MLA.

For additional medieval studies conference listings, see the Medieval Academy of America's conference calendar, and the Harvard Medieval Studies Committee's list of conferences and calls for papers.

If you know of an upcoming conference or publication that you would like us to add to our list, please write to Aparna Chaudhuri at or Anna Kelner at Thank you!

Electronic Resources

Inter Libros (Michael Hemment, Harvard University)

International Medieval Bibliography (Brepols Publishers) (Harvard PIN required)

Online Resources for Medieval Art and Architecture (Jeffrey Hamburger, Harvard University)

Digital Scriptorium (Columbia University)

The Middle English Compendium, which includes an electronic version of the Middle English Dictionary (University of Michigan) (Harvard PIN required)

Lewis and Short Latin Dictionary (Choose "Lewis and Short" in drop-down menu) (Harvard University)

Douay-Rheims Bible Online

Spring 2017 Colloquium Schedule

All events take place at 5 o'clock in the Kates Room, Warren House, 11 Prescott St, unless otherwise noted.

Thursday, February 16

Michelle Karnes (University of Notre Dame) 
"The Stories that Philosophers Tell about Marvels" 

Thursday, March 2

Daniel Donoghue (Harvard University)
"The Variant Readings of Heaney's Beowulf: The Medieval History of a Postcolonial Text" 

Thursday, March 9

Erica Weaver (Harvard University) 
"Anglo Saxon In/attention"

NB: This event will take place in the Barker Center, room 114 (the Kresge Room)

Thursday, March 23

Sonja Drimmer (UMass Amherst
"Illuminating Chaucer When He Was Obscure" 
Co-sponsored with the Medieval Studies Seminar

Thursday, March 30

Helen Cushman (Harvard University)
"Pedagogical Theatre in the Plays of Christ and the Doctors" 

Thursday April 13

Eleanor Johnson (Columbia University)
"Informal Contemplation: Comedy and Participation in the Play of Wisdom"

Thursday April 20

Michael Johnston (Purdue University)
"Scribes and the Prick of Conscience"

NB: This event will take place in the Barker Center, room 403

Mailing Lists and Newsletters

To be added to the English Department Medieval Colloquium email list, write to Aparna Chaudhuri ( or Anna Kelner (

To receive emails about medieval studies events in and around Boston through the Standing Committee on Medieval Studies, write to, or sign up here.

To subscribe to The Medieval Review, an electronic review distribution list, send an email to with nothing in the subject line, and the message "subscribe TMR-L" and your name (e.g. "subscribe TMR-L Jane Doe") in the body of the email.

St. Augustine and a tale of two cities (from Houghton MS Typ 228, De civitate dei)

Professional Organizations

Medieval Academy of America

The Medieval Institute

The New Chaucer Society

Early English Text Society

Modern Language Association


Editions and Indexes
If you find any broken or erroneous links on this page, please email the colloquium coordinators. Thank you!

Feb 16, 2016, 10:42 AM
Feb 16, 2016, 10:42 AM