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Peopling Poetic Anthologies: Medieval European Anthologies and Social Networks

Workshop, St John's College, University of Cambridge, 16-17 February 2018. Organisers: Máire Ní Mhaonaigh (University of Cambridge), Thomas O’Donnell (Fordham University), Elizabeth Tyler (Centre for Medieval Literature, University of York) and Wim Verbaal (Ghent University)


Our first poetic anthologies meeting (Ghent, November 2016) explored the range of anthologizing practices in the medieval west and on the myriad motivations that led scribes and authors to make anthologies. We focused primarily on anthologies as texts and as material objects, but time and again our discussions led us to question (but not address directly or answer) how different kinds of social connections shaped medieval anthologizing practices. The question of the social emerged, in distinct ways, in many papers: people appeared in medieval anthologies as authorial figures, as audiences, as agents of transmission, as groups of scribes, as annotators, and as preservers, and these people made connections with each other synchronically and diachronically. In the current meeting, we would like to consider how an analysis of the people surrounding an anthology as sources, creators, and users helps us better understand the practice of anthologies and better understand the social networks of literary culture more generally. We might think here, for examples, of the very visible social networks created through the composition and sharing of poetry in mortuary rolls, or of the connections forged between Virgil, Statius, Boethius and the medieval poets who responded to them in a monumental anthology like Cambridge, University Library MS Gg 5.35. In the later Middle Ages, the practice of anthologizing poetry could bring together people across wide regions (such as happened with Occitan poetry) or express the identity of a single distinctive community (such as is sometimes claimed for the Harley Manuscript of Middle English and Old French poetry).

All theoretical and disciplinary perspectives are welcome, but we do hope that our discussion of anthologizing people will encourage reflection on how anthologizing can help us revise current structuralist and post-structuralist explanations of the social basis of literary practice (such as those that focus on class, identity, gender, community and network or ignore diachronic connections). This workshop is more exploratory than the first one, and we encourage colleagues to give less formal, more question-driven papers, though ideally focused on a specific anthology or anthologies. The workshop will bring together scholars whose specialisms span the languages of Latin Europe from Late Antiquity to the late Middle Ages as both presenters (giving papers) and participants (key to discussion).

The workshop is supported by the Centre for Medieval Literature at the University of Southern Denmark and the University of York and the Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic and St John’s College at the University of Cambridge.

  • Máire Ní Mhaonaigh (Cambridge)
  • Thomas O’Donnell (Fordham)
  • Elizabeth Tyler (York)
  • Wim Verbaal (Ghent)

peopling poetic anthologies

Medieval european anthologies and social networks

Friday, 16 February

10:30-11:00 Coffee and Tea available
11:00-11:130 Chair, Thomas O'Donnell.
Poetic Anthologies - Introduction to the Project and Workshop
11:30-12:30 Introductions: Introducing Ourselves to Each Other
12:30-13:30 Lunch, Foyer, Fisher Building, St John's College

Chair, George Younge, University of York

Elizabeth Tyler, University of York and Wim Verball, Ghent University ('Anthologia Latina' and its Afterlife)




Manuscript Visit - St John's Mortuary Roll N31 - Social Networks in Action (Orietta da Rold)


Walk and Talk


Chair, Michael Rand, University of Cambridge

Michael Clarke, NationalUniversity of Ireland, Galway

Mikael Males, University of Oslo


Reception and Dinner (Wordsworth Room, St John's College)

Saturday, 17 February


Chair, Rosa Rodríguez Porto, University of Southern Denmark

Helena de Carlos, University of Santiago de Compostela

Sarah Bowden, King's College London




Chair, Jane Gilbert, University College London

Nicola McDonald, University of York

Máire Ní Mhaonaigh, St John's College, Cambridge




Concluding Methodological Discussion (Chair, Thomas O'Donnell)


  • Sarah Bowden (KCL)
  • Helen de Carlos (Santiago)
  • Mark Chinca (Cambridge)
  • Michael Clarke (Galway)
  • Jane Gilbert (UCL)
  • Ruth Harvey (Royal Holloway)
  • Philip Knox (Cambridge)
  • Mikael Males (Oslo)
  • David McCay (Cambridge)
  • Nicola McDonald (York)
  • Máire Ní Mhaonaigh (Cambridge)
  • Thomas O’Donnell (Fordham)
  • Aaron Peltarri (Edinburgh)
  • Michael Rand (Cambridge)
  • Rosa Rodríguez Porto (University of Southern Denmark)
  • Orietta da Rold (Cambridge)
  • Jens Schneider (Paris-Est)
  • Elizabeth Tyler (York)
  • Wim Verbaal (Ghent)
  • George Younge (York)
Editing was completed: 16.02.2018