Interdisciplinary conference on materiality and material engagements with the medieval takes place today and tomorrow 19-20 January 2017, at the University of St Andrews, Scotland.
While the idea of medievalism directly impacts modern scholarship and culture at large, it encourages an engagement with a theoretical abstraction of the medieval culture. This way, the materiality of the sources, and the intrinsic materiality of our embodied engagement with the medieval, is neglected.
Beyond the digital humanities, and interested in material engagements with the medieval which takes place in the library, where manuscripts will be encountered in an intimate, skin-to-skin contact; during fieldwork, when crouching in order to enter a medieval altar; in one’s own kitchen, when recipes are reproduced from freshly transcribed manuscripts; or on the fairground, holding a replica of medieval pottery.
Dedicated to encouraging multi-mediality and non-traditional presentation methods during the conference. Interactive presentations were invited along with installations and posters, workshop and hands-on activities proposals, as well as papers on the following range of topics and their relationship to the study of materiality, physicality and embodiment in/with the Middle Ages:
- The concept of materiality and physicality as research and teaching methodology
- Bringing the materiality of the medieval to the institution or the wider public
- Semiotics and anthropology of the material Middle Ages in modern or medieval thought and practice
- The human and non-human, material and embodied, materiality and boundaries
- Medieval to modern (dis)continuities in genealogy of material
One of the speakers will be Professor Jane Geddes who teaches History of Art at Aberdeen University. A medievalist at heart, she has written books on medieval decorative ironwork, the St Albans Psalter, and King’s College Aberdeen. She has also contributed to the websites for the St Albans Psalter and Aberdeen Bestiary. She directed the production of Buildings of Scotland: Aberdeenshire and Moray for the Pevsner Buildings series. She carried out the research for St Vigeans Museum for Historic Scotland, and her publication on the Hunting Picts: Medieval Sculpture at St Vigeans, Angus is due in Spring 2017.
A New Look at the Aberdeen Bestiary, as a material object
In 1996 a team at the University of Aberdeen constructed a pioneering website dedicated to the Aberdeen Bestiary. This included a full text, transcription, translation and commentary. However, in those early days of digitisation, the photos were taken on a slide film which was subsequently scanned. In 2016 the opportunity arose to relaunch the web site, enhanced by high resolution, zoomable images which have transformed the way in which this manuscript can be studied. A much closer examination of the leaves has allowed new questions to be asked about the creation and use of the book.
Evidence emerges about its process of production, how the scribe and artist operated, and how the text and images were used. From this it is possible to construct a generic ‘photofit’ identity for its scriptorium. Is there enough evidence to suggest where it actually came from, given that the Ashmolean Bestiary probably came from the same source? It is proposed here that the Augustinian priory of Bridlington has many of the requirements for this provenance.