Conference ‘Dress and Décor: Domestic Textiles and Personal Adornment in Scotland up to 1700’

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From left to right: Professor Roger Mason, Peryn Westerhof Nyman and Dr Morvern French, photo attrib. Chelsea Reutcke

Blog written by Dr Morvern French

On 23 and 24 March 2018 the Institute of Scottish Historical Research held a conference on Dress and Décor: Domestic Textiles and Personal Adornment in Scotland up to 1700. With a diverse range of speakers and topics, the event focussed on clothing, accessories, jewellery, tapestry, and embroidery from the medieval to early modern period in Scotland.

Dr Sally Rush opened with a study of the chafferon at the court of James V. A gold wire headdress worn by men and women, it represented the Renaissance ideals of beauty and majesty, and can be traced through written accounts, portraiture, and sculpture. This was complemented by a panel on ‘Royal Ceremony and Display in the Sixteenth Century’. Dr Lucy Dean outlined the use of dress at the marriages of James IV, James V, and James VI, arguing for its international significance. Rosalind Mearns examined a portrait of James V and Mary of Guise, comparing the fashion and accessories depicted with those in a contemporary portrait of Mary Tudor and Charles Brandon. Peryn Westerhof Nyman considered the wearing of dule – mourning cloth – by members of the Scottish court on the deaths of Madeleine of Valois, Margaret Tudor, and James V.

Helen Wyld gave an in-depth paper on the reconstruction of James V’s tapestry collection, none of which is known to survive. Documentary and visual evidence, and the identification of contemporary pieces, show that James’s taste was at the cutting edge of European design and cultural sophistication.

In the Collections Session Claire Robinson presented a pair of gauntlet gloves held by the Museum of the University of St Andrews. These were given by Charles I to Sir Henry Wardlaw, who also owned the Wardlaw Bible presented by Dr Briony Harding of Special Collections, University of St Andrews. This and a dos-à-dos devotional text on display are covered with embroidered bindings bearing heraldic and floral designs.

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Photo attrib. Chelsea Reutcke

Afterwards, we heard a panel on ‘The Production and Circulation of Textiles’. Nora Epstein considered how the adoption of Protestantism in Scotland caused religious imagery to move from the church to the home, appearing in embroidery. Professor Christopher Smout then discussed the varied types of fabric produced in seventeenth century Scotland, and the spinners, weavers, tailors, and merchants involved in its manufacture and distribution within Scotland and abroad.

Caroline Paterson then opened a dialogue on Viking graves in Scotland with a consideration of brooches, belt fittings, beads, and other accessories. The dating, metal content, and design provide a picture of cultural complexity in Viking era Scotland, with material influences from Scandinavia. Following this paper, we heard Dr Susan Freeman’s study of the textile remains found in these graves, with a focus on the skill and time investment needed to produce these items.

The next morning, Dr Mark Hall discussed the spiritual and social values attached to dress accessories in and around medieval Perth. These included coins, pilgrimage tokens, reliquary pendants, horse mounts, and seal matrices, which held religious and/or apotropaic properties. Such objects were sometimes recycled or reshaped to change in use and meaning, beyond the strictly aesthetic.

The final panel on ‘Dress, Accessories, and Jewellery: Their Role in Cultural Identity’ was opened by Lyndsay McGill. She reconsidered the accepted definition of fede rings as relating to love and marriage, when they may have also had religious or apotropaic properties. Rhona Ramsay followed with a look at ‘naken’ or itinerant metalworkers in Argyll, showing that such craftspeople were capable of producing sophisticated silver pieces for elite clients. Finally Dr David Caldwell re-examined the traditional Scottish dress of plaid, which had antecedents in the classical world but was increasingly associated with the Highlands of Scotland.

At the concluding roundtable discussion ideas for future research and collaboration were put forward. These included a publication of the conference proceedings and the holding of further conferences. In the meantime we have created an online network for anyone interested in the topic of dress and décor in Scotland. To access this please email morvern.french@hes.scot or pwn2@st-andrews.ac.uk.

 

St Andrews Institute of Mediaeval Studies Postgraduate Reading Weekend

Blog written by Dr Sarah Greer

sarah greerphoto.pngOn a chilly Saturday morning in February, an assortment of MLitt and PhD students, postdoctoral fellows and staff arrived at Dalgairn House in Cupar for the 2018 SAIMS Postgraduate Reading Weekend. We received a very warm welcome to Dalgairn House by our hosts Hugh and Hilary Kennedy, along with a very appreciated cup of tea or coffee to warm up, before cracking on with the sessions. Over Saturday and Sunday, the postgraduate students and postdocs presented brief outlines of the current questions they’re tackling in their research projects, each followed by questions and discussion.

Our first session began with Ingrid Ivarsen speaking about her research into the transmission of law in Anglo-Saxon England and the interplay between Latin and Old English language in lawcodes. Following her, one of our taught MLitt students, Callum Jamieson, discussed his work on the invention of stories about papal legates in 12thC English chronicles and the use of these stories to comment on the disputes between the English church and king and the pope in this period. Sarah Greer then introduced her postdoctoral project on Carolingian and Merovingian burial sites in tenth- and eleventh-century Germany and France and how these dynasties were remembered – or forgotten – in the post-Carolingian world.

After quite a lengthy discussion and a caffeine break, we pushed on with the next session. Hailey Ogle spoke on her work on the Chansons de Geste in the High Middle Ages, and how the emotional and behavioural topoi of these very secular pieces of literature would be interpreted by monastic audiences. Guy Fassler then introduced his research on lordship in public spaces in Italian cities, and the release of tension through violent revolts that could still considered to be within the boundaries of acceptable political behaviour.

Lunch was accompanied by a chance to stretch our legs and explore the gardens around Dalgairn House in the sunshine. In the afternoon, we returned with Maria Merino Jaso outlining how she came to work on the exchanges of poetic riddles in Charlemagne’s court, and the problems of interpreting chains of texts where not all of the texts survive. Holger Kaasik then discussed his research on ideas of time in medieval calendars, and how and why various memories of different ways of calculating and measuring time became embedded in calendars over the Middle Ages. Eleonora Rava spoke on her postdoctoral project on female religious recluses and the fascinating case of a recluse who fled her enclosure and whose testimony was then presented as a character witness against a male cleric. Sophia Silverman, one of our MLitt students, introduced her dissertation on Eleanor of Aquitaine and Constance of Brittany and the ways in which female authority and rule were constructed in succession disputes. Finally, Mark Thakkar rounded the day off with a presentation of the problems he has faced in creating a new Latin edition of John Wycliffe’s De Logica.

After a full day of presentations, questions and stimulating discussion, we broke off for a much needed rest before our hosts provided us with an excellent – and very convivial – dinner. Everyone returned the following morning for the last few sessions of papers. Dana Weaver introduced her doctoral project, which uses post-colonial theory as a way to look at the incorporation of Anglo-Saxon imagery in Norman art in northern England. Gert-Jan van de Voorde then discussed his involvement in a collaborative project on studying lordship in late medieval Europe and the possibilities and problems posed in creating a quantitative database of material.

Our next session was slightly different: Eilidh Harris from CAPOD, who completed her doctorate in Mediaeval History at St Andrews, joined us to discuss her own experiences as a PhD student. She offered some practical advice and perspective on being a postgraduate student, which sparked a lively discussion about work practices and reflections from students and staff on their approaches to research.

Our final presentation was from our very generous host, Hugh Kennedy, who gave a summary of his work on the formation of the early Islamic empire, their use of taxation and their creation of a society in which intellectual culture was able to flourish. It was an ideal way to finish up our weekend, and after lunch and another wander around the grounds of Dalgairn House, we all made our way back home. The various presentations from students and staff made clear the diversity in approaches to studying the Middle Ages within SAIMS. The weekend offered a chance for us all to become more familiar with each other’s work and interests, building on the close-knit sense of community and collegiality that defines Mediaeval Studies in St Andrews.

‘In Defense of History’: Broadcasting on Hong Kong’s Popular Radio Show, Summit

The following piece is by St Andrews PhD student Percy Leung, who was recently able to promote the study of history on a popular Hong Kong radio programme. Percy is carrying out research for his thesis ‘Symphonic Beneficence: The Social and Political Contributions of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and the London Symphony Orchestra during the First World War’ under the supervision of Prof. Frank Müller

 

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Chip Tsao and Percy Leung

 

Hong Kong – once a glorious British colony – has experienced substantial political, social, economic and cultural transformations since her sovereignty was transferred to China on July 1st, 1997. Indeed, these transformations permeated into the academia, where scholarships that are perceived to generate more wealth and prestige, like medicine, law, finance and engineering took precedence over traditional humanities and the arts, especially the historical, literary and musical disciplines. History, as a field of study, is seen by many Hong Kongers as a ‘dead subject’ which not only is of little relevance to modern society, but also forces students to memorise facts and data that could not help with their career advancement.

During the Christmas and New Year holiday, I had the great pleasure of meeting Chip Tsao, a well-known, if controversial broadcaster, commentator, columnist and writer based in Hong Kong. Tsao took an interest in my doctoral research but was perplexed by why a Hong Kong youngster, like me, would embark on a PhD in Modern History, the very academic degree and subject which he believed would not appeal to the prominent multinational companies. Upon hearing my explanations and arguments, Tsao immediately invited me to be the guest on his radio show on Commercial Radio, Summit, the next evening to defend history as a discipline and offer the Hong Kong public an analysis of the value and importance of studying history.

Needless to say, this was a massive challenge for me. Not only was Summit a popular radio show in Hong Kong, I also needed to think about how to deliver my ideas in a way that was both approachable and understandable to the public. And of course, I would have to speak in Cantonese, which is my second language, throughout the show as any English phrases or words would only serve to confuse the mostly Cantonese-speaking audiences.

I started the radio programme discussing my music history doctoral project, which is on the contributions of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and the London Symphony Orchestra to their countries during the First World War, before turning to how I became mesmerised by history and explaining the roles of music in history. In particular, I talked about the numerous historical occasions where British composer Sir Edward Elgar’s Nimrod (from his Enigma Variations) was performed, like at every Remembrance Sunday at the Cenotaph, Whitehall and at the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Summer Olympics. Most importantly, I reminded the audiences that this piece was also performed at the Hong Kong Handover Ceremony in 1997, which drew tears from the British delegation, including our last Governor Lord Patten and his daughters. I played a recording of Nimrod, conducted by Elgar himself, during the radio show, hoping that this nostalgic, poignant and affectionate composition would lead Hong Kongers to reminisce their remarkable days under British rule. After the broadcast, I received numerous messages from friends and audiences, expressing how this segment brought them to tears, touched their souls and resonated with their minds and emotions.

After a commercial break, I critiqued some memorable quotes about history, including George Bernard Shaw’s ‘We learn from history that we learn nothing from history’, Sir Winston Churchill’s ‘Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it’ and Stephen Hawking’s ‘We spend a great deal of time studying history, which, let’s face it, is mostly the history of stupidity’. And for the final 30 minutes of the programme, I launched into a passionate commentary on the importance of history and why students should study this subject. I analysed how history helped us to understand peoples, societies, values and changes, how history provided an opportunity for moral contemplation, how history gave us an ethnological, panoramic worldview that encourages us to appreciate the diversity of cultures, how history taught us lessons about the past, present and future and how history stimulated us to think, to problem-solve and to communicate.

Would my broadcast make a difference to the mindsets of the people in Hong Kong? Well, history will be my judge.

Workshop ‘Editors and the Editing of Scientific Periodicals, 1760-1910’

Blog written by Anna Gielas

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Photo attrib Aimee Rivers, CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

Today’s scholars and scientists have a crucial instrument in common: the learned journal. Despite its ubiquity in academia as well as our familiarity with it, scholars still know relatively little about the historical development of the learned periodical. A recent workshop at the School of History, organised by PhD student Anna Gielas and Professor Aileen Fyfe, shed light on the founders and conductors of scientific journals as well as their editorial strategies and tactics.

The two-day workshop offered an opportunity to PhD students, early career scholars, and well-established academics to present their work. The event attracted attendants from different parts of Europe, including Germany, Scandinavia and Italy. As the first of its kind, the workshop brought British historians to the table with peers working on the same questions, but with the focus on their own native countries. This contrast guaranteed many insights and even some surprises. For instance, the British scholars were astonished to learn how philosophical editorship could spur the careers of German university professors in the second half of the eighteenth century, because English philosophical periodicals began as commercial endeavours with no links to academic institutions whatsoever.

The papers featured individual case studies as well as general trends and changes in editing throughout roughly a century and a half. In addition, the workshop fostered discussions about the many ways in which editors used their periodicals to reach various audiences and ultimately advance and establish new disciplines. Moreover, the speakers highlighted vastly different editorial tactics. One extreme was a conspicuously open, inclusive approach towards submission (regardless of their quality) because editors had to fill a fixed number of journal pages each month or even each week. The opposite would be editors with highly selective approaches and strong forms of gatekeeping, who defined and perpetuated ideas of what counted as science and which authors as scientists. The speakers showed that strong gatekeeping, as well as open and inclusive editorial approaches to scientific observations, have co-existed throughout the history of the scientific journal, and both approaches have shaped scientific communities.

The individual case studies of British, German and Swedish journals also brought to light a remarkable variety of editorial set-ups: from editorship as a task undertaken by a group of peers, to editors working alone. Month after month, sole editors managed a striking workload such as maintaining international correspondence, translating foreign journal articles, and authoring their own texts. The motives of the individual editors were as eclectic as their approaches. Some of them acted out of idealistic reasons, such as wishing to change and improve existing philosophical methodologies, a motive especially prevalent during the Enlightenment. Other editors became involved with philosophical journals in order to counter their geographical isolation, while a small group of people was only in it for the money.

Every panel led to lively discussions, and the workshop was accompanied by a small exhibition of historical scientific journals from the library’s Special Collections. The stimulating two-day event was made possible by funding from the School of History, and the organizers wish to thank Gabriel Sewell (Special Collections), Lorna Harris, and Dorothy Christie (School of History) for their tremendous help.

5th Annual Late Medieval France and Burgundy Seminar

Blog written by Dr Justine Firnhaber-Baker

AudiencephotoThe fifth meeting of the Late Medieval France and Burgundy (LMFB) seminar took place at St Andrews on 1st and 2nd December. The LMFB, an annual, multidisciplinary conference, was originally set up by the literary scholar Ros Brown-Grant (Leeds) and the historians Graeme Small (Durham) and Craig Taylor (York). Different universities host the conference each year and the format often varies, but one constant is that it is a friendly and welcoming venue. A particular purpose of the seminar is to keep scholars in touch with one another’s work and to introduce early career scholars and aspiring students to more established figures in the field.

The seminar attracted many attendants, both from St Andrews and other universities, including Kent, Durham, Liverpool, and Leeds. The presentations kicked off with papers from St Andrew’s own Vicky Turner (French) and Agnès Bos (Art History), who spoke on Saracen princesses and Renaissance Gothic furniture, respectively. Trevor Smith (Leeds) then spoke about a subject of more local interest: the reputation of King David II ‘the defecator’ in French and English literature, while Rémy Ambühl (Southhampton), who did his PhD at St Andrews, revised our understanding of what it meant to be a prisoner of war, with particular attention to Jeanne d’Arc. After lunch, Ralph Moffat (Arms and Armour Department of the Glasgow Museums) explained how plate armour and poll-axes worked to a very attentive audience. The first day finished with Lindy Grant’s exploration of Capetian funerary sites and Charlotte Crouch’s discussion of the reluctance of the comital family of Nevers to carry their bishop to his installation.

SpeakerphotoThe second day of the seminar opened with a roundtable on accessing archives and bibliographies in France. It was led by Agnès Bos (St Andrews), Erika Graham-Goering (Ghent) and Kirstin Bourassa (Southern Denmark and York), but quickly became a lively and extremely helpful group discussion, sharing experiences and resources. Emily Guerry (Kent) then treated us to a reassessment of the iconography of the Crown of Thorns and its translation to the Sainte-Chapelle, followed by Emma Campbell (Warwick) on the theme of cutting in both thirteenth-century literary fiction and material manuscript reality. At lunchtime, the participants went down into the St Andrews Castle mine and countermine, a thrilling if claustrophobic (and cold!) experience. The conference finished with papers by Pierre Courroux (Poitiers and Southhampton) on a chronicle written by a mercenary about a military captain, and Michael Depreter (Saint-Louis — Bruxelles and Oxford) on the participants and interests involved in Anglo-Burgundian treaties of the late fifteenth century.

This year’s seminar was made possible by funding from the School of History, the St Andrews Institute for Mediaeval Studies, and the Centre for French History and Culture. It was organized by Justine Firnhaber-Baker, with the help of Vicky Turner (French), as well Dorothy Christie and Audrey Wishhart (Mediaeval History administrators) and Ysaline Bourgine de Meder and Gert-Jan Van de Voorde (St Andrews and Ghent). Next year, the conference will be held at Liverpool, with Godfried Croenen’s organization. If you would like to be added to the email list or the Facebook group for the seminar, please email jmfb@st-andrews.ac.uk.

PhD Induction Day 2017

Blog written by PhD student Sarah Leith

PhD Induction Day Photograph.jpegShould you have been on South Street on the first Thursday morning of the new academic year, you would very likely have seen the latest intake of history PhD students scurrying towards St John’s House. Everyone was desperate to escape the very stereotypical Scottish weather and, once safely inside, the mediaeval history department did indeed provide very welcome shelter from the dreich and dreary day. St John’s entrance hall also doubled as a space for the students to meet each other for the first time as we all gathered together there before our Induction Day officially began.

The beautiful and imposing Cambo House provided the lucky students with the venue for the School of History PhD Induction Day and we were led to an ornate drawing room, which was to be our base for the day. There we were welcomed by staff and current PhD students: the School of History’s Director of Postgraduate Research Riccardo Bavaj, the School’s Postgraduate Secretary Elsie Johnstone, lecturer Dawn Hollis and two history PhD students, Jamie Hinrichs and Matt Ylitalo.

The first order of the day was refreshment: we enjoyed tea, coffee and a selection of chocolate biscuits, as well as the chance to chat during a ‘Speed Meeting’ session (not to be confused with Speed Dating!). We were encouraged to expand our topics of conversation beyond the weather and the usual ‘Where are you from?’ and ‘What is the topic of your thesis?’ When we had all finished our coffees and had all eventually returned to twenty-first-century North East Fife, the School staff spoke to us regarding ‘Understanding how the School works for you’, which included the varied lecture and seminar series, the Centre for Academic, Professional and Organisational Development (CAPOD)’s and the School of History’s own very useful Postgraduate Skills Training programmes.

Cambo House fun times bloomsRiccardo Bavaj then discussed with us the PhD thesis itself and we spoke to our new friends about what it means to conduct original research and about the process involved with the construction of a project such as a thesis. This talk was followed by a discussion led by Dawn Hollis, Jamie Hinrichs and Matt Ylitalo and we were all encouraged to consider what we wanted to achieve both academically and in our spare time during our three years as doctoral students at the University of St Andrews. All three inspired us and our eyes were opened to all the academic and professional options available to us as PhD students.

The gong then went for lunch and we all assembled in Cambo House’s spectacular dining room. Having been very well fed, we returned happily to the drawing room for the afternoon session, during which Sukhi Bains and Kate Ferris both gave very interesting talks about equality and diversity at the University of St Andrews. When the discussion came to an end, the sun began to shine at last and both students and staff embarked on a tour of Cambo House’s stunning gardens. We then returned to St Andrews far better equipped to start our PhDs than when we had assembled in St John’s that morning.  It was a really enjoyable and informative day and many thanks are therefore due to the speakers and organisers, and also to Cambo Estate, too, for the wonderful food and marvellous setting.

Summer Round Up

News

519qpjslulL._AC_US218_Congratulations to Mlitt student Ashley Atkins and Dr Malcolm Petrie for winning the Royal Historical Society Rees Davies Prize and David Berry Prize respectively!

Congratulations also  to Arthur der Weduwen, who has been awarded the James D. Forbes Prize.  The prize is awarded to a student collector who has assembled a collection of books, printed ephemera, manuscripts or photographs, tied together by a common theme. Arthur was awarded the prize for his developing collection of the everyday books of the Dutch Golden Age.

 

Staff Activity

9781138195837Andrew Pettegree appeared in the documentary Sing, Fight, Cry, Pray: Music of the reformations

The USTC hosted the Printed Book in Central Europe Conference

On July 25, Professor Roger Mason and Principal Sally Mapstone took part in the roundtable ‘Literary Culture in Medieval and Renaissance Scotland: Perspectives and Patterns’ at the International Conference on Medieval and Renaissance Literature and Language

Dr Emily Michelson recommended her favourite neighbourhoods in Rome in the Times Higher Education

On August 24-5, the Spatial History and Its Sources workshop took place

James Palmer was a guest on BBC Radio 4’s Take it to the Brink on August 27

Recent Publications

The Future of Early Modern Scotland Conference has posted its video proceedings online

Rory Cox, ‘Gratian’, in Daniel R. Brunstetter, Cian O’Driscoll (eds), Just War Thinkers: From Cicero to the 21st Century, (Routledge, 2017)

Timothy Greenwood, ‘A Contested Jurisdiction: Armenia in Late Antiquity’ in E. Sauer (ed.), Sasanian Persia: Between Rome and the Steppes of Eurasia (Edinburgh University Press, 2017)

— ‘Armenian traditions in ninth and tenth-century Byzantium: Basil I, Constantine VII and the Vita Basilii’ in I. Toth, & T. Shawcross (eds.), The Culture of Reading In Byzantium: Festschrift for Professors Elizabeth and Michael Jeffreys (Cambridge University Press, 2017)

Bridget HealA Magnificent Faith: Art and Identity in Lutheran Germany (OUP, 2017)

John Hudson, ‘Emotions in the early common law (c. 1166–1215)‘ Journal of Legal History, (38.2), pp. 130-154.

Caroline Humfress, ‘Gift-giving and inheritance strategies in late Roman law and legal practice’, in O-A Rønning, H Møller Sigh & H Vogt (eds.), Donations, Inheritance and Property in the Nordic and Western World from Late Antiquity until Today. (Routledge, 2017)

Tomasz Kamusella, ‘The rise and dynamics of the normative isomorphism of language, nation, and state in Central Europe’ . in M Flier & A Graziosi (eds.), The Battle for Ukrainian: A Comparative Perspective (Harvard University Press, 2017), pp. 415-451.

Dimitri Kastritsis, ‘Legend and historical experience in fifteenth-century Ottoman narratives of the past’ in P Lambert & B Weiler (eds.), How the Past was Used: Historical Cultures, c. 750-2000 (Oxford University Press, 2017) 9781474401012_1

Chandrika Kaul, ‘Gallipoli, media and commemorations during 2015 select perspectives‘ Media History, 1-27.

Konrad Lawson, ‘Between Postoccupation and Postcolonial: Framing the Recent Past in the Philippine Treason Amnesty Debate, 1948’ in Kerstin von Linged (ed.), Debating Collaboration and Complicity in War Crimes Trials in Asia, 1945-1956 (Palgrave, 2017)

Gillian Mitchell, ‘’Mod Movement in Quality Street Clothes’: British Popular Music and Pantomime, 1955-1975’, New Theatre Quarterly XXXIII Part 3 (August 2017): pp. 254-276.

Richard WhatmoreSaving republics by moving republicans: Britain, Ireland and ‘New Geneva’ during the Age of Revolutions History, (102.351) pp. 386-413.