An introduction to ‘Introductions to Medieval Culture’

This is the website of the workshop ‘Introducing Medieval Culture’ taking place at the Radcliffe Humanities Building on Tuesday and Thursday of Weeks 7 and 8 of Trinity Term 2015.

This year we are piloting a workshop series designed to give undergraduates (and interested 1st year graduate students) studying medieval topics in any faculty a systematic overview of the cultural landscape of the period to allow them to properly contextualise their studies. Bringing together early-career medieval scholars from English, History, Modern Languages, Music, and Theology, this programme will consist of 4 lunchtime workshop sessions, each lasting 2 hours, which will cover the broad themes of ‘Orthodoxies’ (looking at developments in orthodox religious thought), ‘Heterodoxies’ (looking at deviation, heresy, alternative models of religious thought), ‘(Natural) Philosophies’ (tracing developments in physiology, philosophy, the Latin Aristotle, etc), and ‘The Organisation of Knowledge’ (material culture, book history, the rise of encyclopaedias and universities).

Any questions or queries can be directed to David Bowe (david.bowe [at] and Daniel J Reeve (daniel.reeve [at]

Text, artefact, and the creative process: The ‘Sad, bewildered quills’ of Guido Cavalcanti

This is a link to an article I wrote about one of my favourite Cavalcanti poems, ‘Noi sìan le triste penne isbigottite’ [We are the sad, bewildered quills] (Yes, penne the pasta means quill pens).
I find this poem so fascinating because the poet’s voice disappears almost entirely, to be replaced by his writing tools – the quill pens, the clippers, and knife (used by scribes to sharpen their quills during).
These writing implements talk directly to the reader, creating an intriguing and rather modern atmosphere. In fact, Italo Calvino, writing in the 1980s, thought Cavalcanti had written, with ‘Noi sìan le triste penne…’, the first truly modern poem.
The article contains my original translations of some of Cavalcanti’s poetry, as well as my thoughts on the poem and its context. I hope you’ll have a read, and do let me know what you think in the comments!

The last fragment falls into place

Fragments of Red

Fragments of Red


So, I’ve written about the Fragments Project before (herehere and here) and I’m about to embark on a trip back up to the Scottish Borders to sing in the last of the three ‘Fragments of…’ events, ‘Fragments of Red’. These events have staged audiovisual installations by The Red Field involving the performance of music from a C12th manuscript fragment alongside compositions inspired by the medieval chants.

There’s been music from Seán Doherty (for ‘Fragments of Blue’) and Michael Nyman (for ‘Fragments of Black’) and this time we’ll be singing new compositions by Grayston Ives in an event at Melrose Abbey alongside a variety of medieval tunes!

The music is beautiful and I can’t wait to join up with the choir in Scotland and hear it ring out in the abbey ruins.