Second year students at the University Library’s Special Collections

UGs in special collections Jamie PageOn 2 December, thirty-five students of the sub-honours module ME2003: Europe in the High Middle Ages enjoyed a day of sessions dedicated to viewing manuscripts from the St Andrews University Special Collections‘ extensive collection. The sessions, organised by Muniments Archivist and Deputy Head of Special Collections Rachel Hart and Dr Jamie Page, allowed students to handle original mediaeval material, including a volume of Augustine’s works written in St Andrews ca. 1190, a fourteenth-century Roll of Kings discovered recently in the attic of a professor of the University, and fifteenth-century commercial documents from Germany and Italy recently acquired at auction. Participants also retraced the steps of their forbears by leafing through textbooks of philosophy penned by early students in St Andrews – though were glad not to be facing the oral disputations endured by their fifteenth-century predecessors.  Regular updates on activities taking place in Special Collections are posted on the departmental blog, Echoes from the Vault, also accessible via the newly-launched website.

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.