Gender and Transgression in the Middle Ages, 5 – 7 June 2014

img01Registration for the annual St Andrews postgraduate conference on Gender and Transgression in the Middle Ages is now open. The conference, running from 5 – 7 June 2014, focuses on issues of gender and/or transgression in the medieval period and has a strong interdisciplinary character.  The keynote lecture will be delivered by Dr Dion Smythe, Queen’s University Belfast. 

Now in its sixth year, the conference – hosted by the St Andrews Institute for Mediaeval Studies – aims to create a lively and welcoming forum for speakers to present their research, make contacts, and participate in creative discussion on the topics of gender and transgression in the Middle Ages.

The conference programme, featuring work from postgraduates and early career researchers from around the world, has now been finalised, and interested researchers can register here. Further updates are also available on the conference facebook page and twitter feed

Mediaeval St Andrews day workshop – January 2014

On 14 January the School of History hosted a one-day workshop on mediaeval St Andrews. The workshop was organised by Dr Michael Brown, Dr Katie Stevenson and Dr Alex Woolf, and there were thirty participants drawn from a range of disciplines including history, art history, literary studies, architectural history, archaeology and linguistics. Researchers came from the universities of St Andrews, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Stirling, Guelph and Trinity College Dublin and discussion benefited from the input of postgraduate researchers, professional archaeologists, archivists and other scholars.

The workshop centred on four principal themes – St Andrew, the Church, the burgh and the university – and each session was led by an invited authority, Dr Simon Taylor of the University of Glasgow on St Andrew, Prof. Ian Campbell of the University of Edinburgh on the Church, Prof. Elizabeth Ewan of the University of Guelph (and currently ISHR Visiting Research Fellow) on the burgh, and Dr Norman Reid, Head of Special Collections, on the university.

The organisers’ research interests in mediaeval St Andrews emerged after several years of teaching the honours option ME3309 Mediaeval St Andrews, the first fully team-taught honours option available to History students. The structure of the teaching and assessment for this module encouraged Drs Brown, Stevenson and Woolf to consider the present state of knowledge and understanding of St Andrews from its earliest settlement to the years before the Reformation in 1560. While the School of History prides itself on its research-led teaching, it is also important to recognise teaching-led research; the students of ME3309 past and present have been crucial to the inception of this project.

Over half of the workshop participants are contributing to a forthcoming volume Medieval St Andrews: Church, Cult, City to be published in the St Andrews Studies in Scottish History series with Boydell & Brewer in 2015. The January workshop was generously supported by the School of History and the St Andrews Institute of Mediaeval Studies.

Call for Papers: Gender & Transgression in the Middle Ages 2014

Gender and Transgression in the Middle Ages
5-7 June 2014
Call for Papers

The School of History is pleased to announce the call for papers for Gender and Transgression in the Middle Ages 2014, an interdisciplinary conference hosted by the St Andrews Institute of Mediaeval Studies (SAIMS).

Entering into its sixth year, this conference welcomes participation from postgraduate, postdoctoral and early career researchers interested in one or both of our focal themes of gender studies or more general ideas of transgression in the mediaeval period. This year’s conference will have a keynote lecture by Dr Dion Smythe of the Queen’s University Belfast as well as an optional workshop focused on Interdisciplinary Approaches to Mediaeval Transgression. We invite proposals for papers of approximately 20 minutes that engage with the themes of gender and/or transgression from various disciplinary standpoints, such as historical, linguistic, literary, archaeological, art historical, or others. Possible topics may include, but are by no means limited to:

 – Legal studies: men, women and the law, court cases, law-breaking, marriage

– Byzantine studies

– Masculinity and/or femininity in the Middle Ages: ideas of gender norms and their

application within current historiography

– Ambiguous genders: eunuchs, transvestites, transgender

– Homosexuality and sexual deviancy

– Orthodoxy and Heresy: transgressing orthodox thought, portrayals of religious

‘outsiders’, monasticism, lay religion, mysticism

– Social outcasts

There will be three set strands of Medieval Law and Literature, Transgression in Byzantium, and Masculinity in the Middle Ages. In addition to these, there will be several other sessions within the broader conference theme. 

Those wishing to participate should please submit an abstract of approximately 250 words to by 10 February 2014. Please attach your abstract to your email as a Microsoft Word or PDF file and include you name, home institution and stage of your postgraduate or postdoctoral career. Registration for the conference will be £15, which will cover tea, coffee and lunch on two days and two wine receptions. All delegates are also warmly invited to the conference meal on Friday 6 June. Further details can be found at the conference website as they become available. 

Call for Entries: SAIMS/TMJ Essay Prize St Andrews Institute of Mediaeval Studies in conjunction with the Mediaeval Journal invites entries for its annual Essay Competition, submitted according to the following rules:

1. The competition is open to all medievalists who are graduate students or have completed a higher degree within the last three years. For PhD students the time period of three years begins from the date of the successful viva, but excludes any career break. Any candidate in doubt of their eligibility should contact the Director of SAIMS.

2. A candidate may make only one submission to the competition.

3. The submission must be the candidate’s own work, based on original research, and must not have been previously published or accepted for publication.

4. Submissions are welcomed on any topic that falls within the scope of medieval studies.

5. The submission should be in the English language.

6. The word limit is 8,000 words, including notes, bibliography, and any appendices.

7. The text should be double-spaced, and be accompanied by footnotes with short referencing and a full bibliography of works cited, following the guidelines on the TMJ webpage. An abstract of 200 words should preface the main text.

8. The deadline for submissions is 31 March 2014.

9. The essay must be submitted electronically to, in both Word and pdf formats, to arrive by the deadline.

10. The submission must be accompanied by a completed cover sheet and signed declaration; the template for this is available at The candidate’s name should not appear on the submission itself, nor be indicated in any form in the notes.

11. Decisions concerning the Competition lie with the Editors and Editorial Board of The Mediaeval Journal, who can, if they consider there to have been appropriate submissions, award an Essay Prize and in addition declare a proxime accessit. In the unlikely event that, in the judges’ opinion, the material submitted is not of a suitable standard, no prize will be awarded.

12. The value of the Prize is £500.

13. A candidate whose entry is declared proxime accessit will be awarded £100.

14. In addition to the Prize, the winning submission will be published within twelve months in The Mediaeval Journal, subject to the usual editorial procedures of the journal. Any queries concerning these rules may be directed to the Director of SAIMS who can be contacted at: Mediaeval History, 71 South Street, St Andrews, Fife KY16 9QW and

Call for Applications: Donald Bullough Fellowship for a Medieval Historian

Leaves 72v-73r of the “St Andrews Psalter” (St Andrews msBX2033.A00), with full border decorations and illuminationsThe St Andrews Institute of Mediaeval Studies invites applications for the Donald Bullough Fellowship in Mediaeval History, to be taken up during either semester of the academic year 2014-15.

The Fellowship is open to any academic in a permanent university post with research interests in mediaeval history. The financial aspect of the fellowship is a subsidy (up to £3000) towards the cost of travel to St Andrews and accommodation during your stay.

Previous Fellows have included Dr Christina Pössel, Professor Cynthia Neville, Dr Ross Balzaretti, Dr Marlene Hennessy, Professor Warren Brown.  The fellowship is currently held by Dr Edward Coleman.

The Fellowship carries with it no teaching duties, though the Fellow is expected to take part in the normal seminar life of the mediaeval historians during their stay in St Andrews. Weekly seminars, held on a Monday evening, run from September – December, and February – May. You will also be invited to lead a workshop on your chosen research theme during your stay. Fellows are provided with computing facilities and an office alongside the mediaeval historians in the Institute. The university library has an excellent collection for mediaeval historians.

You should send a letter of application by the advertised closing date, together with a scheme of research for the project on which you will be engaged during your time in St Andrews.  You should also enclose a CV, together with the names of two academic referees, who should be asked to write by the closing date. All correspondence should be addressed to

The closing date for applications is 31 March 2014.

Further enquiries may be addressed to the Director, Professor Simon MacLean ( or to colleagues in the Institute.


Spotlight on Professor Frances Andrews

Professor Frances Andrews (centre left) with fellow members of the Faculty.

Professor Frances Andrews (centre left) at the launch of The Medieval Journal.

Professor Frances Andrews arrived in St Andrews in 1995 and, despite occasional sabbatical years spent researching in Berlin, Rome and Florence, has grown deep roots here. She very much appreciates being in a place with so many colleagues working in cognate areas and the wonderful students that this attracts. Her research combines investigation of the history of mediaeval Italy with work on the mediaeval Church and the boundaries of the religious life. Alongside projects encompassing the whole of Latin Europe and beyond – as reflected in The Other Friars (2006), or Ritual and Space (2010) – she has therefore been investigating the history of Italian religious movements (The Early Humiliati, 1999) and of the Italian City-States as places where the encounter between religious identity and secular utility was both creative and revealing of broader social and political change (Churchmen and Urban Government in Late Medieval Italy, 2013). Her enthusiasm for the history of the Italian peninsula has also led to a collaboration with colleagues in the USA on a volume of sources intended for use by undergraduates (Medieval Italy: Texts in Translation).

Frances frequently finds herself working on those at the periphery of the medieval world: the first Humiliati were condemned as heretics; a study of observant reform among the Dominican friars led her to investigate the legal advice given to a house that sought to avoid it; and her most recent work concerns an enthusiastic Dominican friar, Venturino of Bergamo, who led a pilgrimage to Rome in 1335 but ended up condemned by a papal tribunal and banished for 7 years. Both the Humiliati and Venturino were eventually reinstated, though with very different effects. Whether these concerns reflect anything about Frances is for others to decide, but they certainly drive the interest which led to her teaching a course investigating the treatment of Heretics and Social Outcasts in the late middle ages.

Frances is also a strong believer in the intellectual advantages of collaboration between disciplines: she lives with an art historian, so perhaps it is inevitable that she thinks that the two ways of working, those of history and art history, have a great deal to learn from each other.  She has tried to put this into action in her teaching, through courses exploring textual, archaeological, and art historical evidence (on Medieval Rome, and The Early Mendicants). She was also the driving force behind the launch of the St Andrews Institute of Mediaeval Studies, combining the vast range of expertise of St Andrews mediaeval historians with that of extraordinary colleagues in the Schools of English, Modern Languages, Divinity, Philosophy and, of course, Art History. SAIMS has exploded into life in the six years since it began, with the launch of The Mediaeval Journal, annual academic visitors, lectures, conferences and seminars in addition to the numerous students successfully working across disciplines.

2013 has been an unusual year: taking on responsibility for the School of History submission to the Research Excellence Framework has given her a much greater knowledge of the research of colleagues across the School, but at the cost of hands-on understanding of over-engineered bureaucracy (something medieval Italians knew a lot about). On the other hand in April she was delighted to receive the Student Association award for best doctoral supervisor in the University.

In the latter part of AY2013-14, Frances will head to Washington for six months to work on a monograph on religious office-holding and public life in late mediaeval Italy. On her return she will be presiding at the Ecclesiastical History Society Summer Conference in Sheffield (24th-26th July 2014). Her chosen theme is ‘Doubt’. Perhaps that says it all.

Politics and Texts in Late Carolingian Europe, c. 870–1000

Bible_carolingienne_(Charles_le_Chauve)On 8–9 July, the St Andrews Institute of Mediaeval Studies hosted ‘Politics and Texts in Late Carolingian Europe, c. 870–1000’, a two-day conference organised by PhD students Roberta Cimino and Ed Roberts, and generously supported by the School of History.

This conference brought together leading specialists, young researchers and postgraduate students to explore the relationship between political authority and textual production in the late Carolingian world. The Carolingian dynasty (751–987) ruled the last pan-European empire of the middle ages, a territory spanning over one million square kilometres at its height. In the late ninth century, however, this empire began to disintegrate, and the tenth century has classically been depicted as an age of cultural stagnation and political decline. ‘Politics and Texts’ thus sought to contribute to a body of research which is increasingly questioning traditional conceptions of the tenth century as one of the darkest corners of the Dark Ages.

With roughly thirty-five delegates in attendance, the conference featured nineteen papers presented by a range of scholars and students from Britain, Europe and the USA. A number of academics were invited to speak on the conference themes. Paper topics were wide-ranging, but all fundamentally sought to examine specific written sources of the period and the contexts in which they were produced. In recent years, there has been substantial re-evaluation of traditional methodological approaches to all kinds of early medieval texts, from narrative histories to documentary sources. Historians have increasingly taken stock of the interdependence of textual aspects such as audience, reception, dissemination, authorial agenda, and the relationships between cultural and political elites. Armed with these insights, the participants of this conference set out to move beyond traditional notions of decline and failure, and to re-assess the tenth century from the ground up by looking at the sources themselves.

Types of sources examined included narrative histories (chronicles, annals), hagiography (saints’ lives), poems, charters & diplomas, wills, conciliar acts, manuscript miscellanea, and more. Many traditional assumptions about well-known narrative works were revised or shown to be in desperate need of rehabilitation, while other papers exposed lesser-known writers and texts that have scarcely been appreciated for what they reveal about the era. A number of papers were able to examine charters in novel ways thanks to recent developments in the field of diplomatics. Because of the conference’s specific themes, discussions were particularly rigorous, valuable and insightful. Younger scholars and postgraduate students in particular benefited greatly from the opportunity to share their ideas with leading experts in the field. The thought-provoking papers of this conference demonstrated just how much there is still to be said about this formative period of European history and the way we use our sources to understand it.

Beyond the intensive deliberations in the Old Class Library, the conference included a wine reception followed by dinner at the Golf Hotel on the Monday evening, and after proceedings concluded on Tuesday afternoon, many participants headed off for a walk around the castle and cathedral of St Andrews before having dinner at Zizzi. On both evenings, St Andrews’ fine assortment of pubs provided appropriate venues for further late-night discussion and merriment.

Overall, the conference was agreed to have been an intellectually stimulating couple of days. Many participants expressed an interest in continuing discussion of the issues raised in a further capacity, which the organisers are presently considering. The organisers would like to thank SAIMS and the School of History for its support and encouragement of this event.