Gender & Transgression Conference 2013

SAIMS Postgraduate Organisers of the Gender & Transgression Conference: Eilidh Harris, Laura Tompkins, Mike French, Anna Peterson and Miriam Buncombe

SAIMS Postgraduate Organisers of the Gender & Transgression Conference: L-R Eilidh Harris, Laura Tompkins, Mike French, Anna Peterson and Miriam Buncombe

May 2013 saw the return of the Gender and Transgression in the Middle Ages Postgraduate conference, hosted by the St Andrews Institute of Mediaeval Studies and supported by the School of History. To celebrate the fifth anniversary of the conference, the conference was expanded across three days.

The PG sessions at this year’s conference covered a broad range of subject matter and disciplines, from ‘Gender and Religious Identity’ through to ‘Cross-Dressing in the Middle Ages’. The conference was able to boast a truly international participation this year, with speakers from all over Britain, Europe and America.


Prof. Pauline Stafford gives the keynote lecture

Prof. Pauline Stafford giving the keynote lecture

A session sponsored by the Centre for Mediaeval and Early Modern Law and Literature, provided an excellent opportunity to bring together institutes with an interest in the medieval period; a lively discussion following the session spilled over into the first wine reception of the conference, also sponsored by CMEMLLProf. Pauline Stafford (University of Liverpool) gave this year’s keynote address, speaking on ‘Reading Gender in the Old English Vernacular Chronicles’. The paper was extremely well received, and Prof. Stafford’s involvement throughout the conference was greatly appreciated.


Conference participants visiting University Library Special Collections

Conference participants visiting University Library Special Collections

The expanded time frame of the conference allowed for some St Andrews-focused activities on the Friday afternoon. The Special Collections department ran an excellent session on some of the library’s most interesting medieval documents. A second group enjoyed a walking tour of mediaeval St Andrews with Dr Alex Woolf and was rewarded for their bravery in the face of torrential rain with a quick pint in the pub afterwards!  After a mentally (and for some physically!) stimulating day everyone was ready for the conference meal, this year held in the Golf Hotel.

The conference ended with a particularly stimulating round table discussion led by Prof. Frances Andrews. This highlighted many key themes that had arisen over the past few days, and was instructive for spotlighting strands for consideration in future years.  Feedback from post-graduates and staff alike has once again been very positive and the organisers hope that the conference can continue to go from strength to strength.

Donald Bullough Fellowship for a Medieval Historian 2013-14

The 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 2013-14

A section of text from La Chanson de Guillaume. It measures 157.5mm x 55mm and contains ten lines of two columns, recto and verso, with some parts of an eleventh line readable; it was cut from the middle of a folio. (Ref: MS 37223)Image by Dr Marianne Ailes, courtesy of the University of St Andrews Library

A section of text from La Chanson de Guillaume. It measures 157.5mm x 55mm and contains ten lines of two columns, recto and verso, with some parts of an eleventh line readable; it was cut from the middle of a folio. (Ref: MS 37223)
Image by Dr Marianne Ailes, courtesy of the University of St Andrews Library

The Fellowship is open to any academic in a permanent university post with research interests in mediaeval history. It covers the cost of return travel to St Andrews from the holder’s normal place of work, together with a substantial subsidy towards accommodation while the holder is resident in St Andrews.  Previous Fellows have included Dr Christina Pössel, Professor Cynthia Neville, Dr Ross Balzaretti and Dr Marlene Hennessy. The fellowship is currently held by Dr Warren Brown.

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 Director, St Andrews Institute of Mediaeval Studies, University of St Andrews, 71 South St, St Andrews, Scotland, KY16 9QW. Please mark the envelope ‘Donald Bullough Mediaeval Fellowship’.

The closing date for applications is 29 March 2013

Zacharias, from a Latin Bible in the St AndrewsUniversity Library collections

Zacharias, from a Latin Bible in the St Andrews
University Library collections

Further enquiries may be addressed to the Director, Dr Simon MacLean ( or to colleagues in the Institute, whose contact details may be found on

More on Politics and Texts in Late Carolingian Europe, c. 870–1000, July 2013

Carolingian Poster

Why write a PhD at St Andrews? by Claire Hawes

Claire-HawesI was recently asked, “Why St Andrews?”   There are many benefits to being a postgraduate student here at St Andrews, not all of which are immediately obvious from the School of History website. It talks of an ‘active research community’, for example, but it’s quite difficult to imagine what this is actually like until you’re here. So here are some examples, from my own experience.

The School runs several seminar series which are open to all. These are not only an opportunity to hear researchers discuss their current work, but are also invaluable for meeting others in your field, and for getting a sense of the different approaches people take to presenting their research. There are also plenty of opportunities for students to give papers of their own, at the relaxed and friendly postgrad seminars.

students st kats

I share an office with some of the most interesting people I’ve ever met. We have wildly varying research interests, and yet we regularly find many points of common or contrasting ground which never fail to precipitate a good conversation. They are also the people who know exactly how difficult doing a PhD can be at times. The other people are, of course, the staff,  who are extremely supportive of the postgrad students. I’ve had all kinds of advice and assistance not only from my supervisor, but from many others who have taken an interest in what I’m doing, and taken the time to discuss my research, and their own, with me.

historyquizThere are events throughout the year which help to develop our skills and ideas. Some of these are annual, such as the legendary Reading Weekends which the various institutes arrange, and others can be organised by students, such as conferences and workshops on particular themes relevant to our own research. We can put in proposals to apply for money from the School to help with the cost of these events, and they provide excellent opportunities to hone skills in administration and networking, allowing us to make contacts with more established academics from other universities. There are also training sessions organised by the School and the university to ensure that all of our academic skills are fully developed, whether related to writing fluently and clearly, giving interesting academic papers, clarifying argument or analysis, learning or improving a different language, pinning down a methodological approach, teaching well, discussing research with non-experts, etc…

Students in LibrarypicnicFinally, we are also lucky enough to have access to some enviable practical resources. Our library has been recently refurbished, and its Special Collections contain material as diverse as thirteenth-century muniments and nineteenth-century photography. Students are always welcome, and training can be given on how to handle the documents. In addition, each student receives an individual annual budget of £400, with an additional discretionary allowance of £325, which can be spent on research expenses such as travel or accommodation at conferences or archives, or material costs such as photocopying or printing, making attendance at important events much more manageable. In short, there’s no reason not to apply to St Andrews!

Claire Hawes is a senior postgraduate in the School of History working on a Ph.D. project ‘Kingship, Counsel and Service: Ideas and Practice of Government in Scotland, 1424-1513’ under the supervision of Dr Michael Brown. She is a member of the Institute of Scottish Historical Research and the St Andrews Centre for Mediaeval Studies. Claire’s Ph.D. research is funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council.

Call for Papers: Politics and Texts in Late Carolingian Europe, c. 870–1000

Monday 8th – Tuesday 9th July 2013, University of St Andrews

We are pleased to announce a call for papers for a two-day conference entitled ‘Politics and Texts in Late Carolingian Europe, c. 870–1000’, hosted by the St Andrews Institute of Mediaeval Studies. This conference will explore the relationship between political authority and textual production in the later Carolingian world.

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. This reappraisal has inspired renewed interest in earlier Carolingian political history. However, the so-called ‘post-Carolingian’ world of the tenth century has yet to be thoroughly investigated on the same terms. How did texts produced in the late ninth- and tenth-century political climate differ from those of the preceding century? Is it possible to refashion the traditional political narrative of late Carolingian fragmentation and decline by reassessing the foundations on which this very narrative has been constructed? Our intention is to draw together recent work on the theme of political discourse in the written sources of this period. We hope to provide an international forum for established academics, early career researchers and postgraduate students working on political culture and the functions of texts in the late Carolingian world.

Eight invited academics will offer papers on the conference themes. We invite proposals from postgraduate and postdoctoral scholars for 20-minute papers on any topic related to the interaction between politics and texts in this period.

The conference will include lunches, refreshments, wine reception, and an optional conference meal. We expect to be able to contribute towards speakers’ accommodation and travel expenses.

For details on the confirmed programme, registration and other information, please visit our website:

Please send abstracts of no more than 250 words to either of the conference organisers, Roberta Cimino ( or Ed Roberts ( The deadline for submission is 1st February 2013.