Member Publications

Lori Jones and Richard Nevell, "Plagued by Doubt and Viral Misinformation: The Need for Evidence-based Use of Historical Disease Images," The Lancet Infectious Diseases, published online August 10, 2016. Summary The digitisation of historical disease images and their widespread availability on the internet have been a boon to education and research, but with unintended consequences, including the misrepresentation of infectious diseases in the past and the viral spread of misinformation. Many medieval images containing scenes of infectious disease come from non-medical sources and are not meant to convey any medical meaning. Erroneous modern captions have led to the publication of several historical images labelled as depictions of the plague, although artistic and textual evidence shows that they are not. Mislabelled images lose their intended historical narrative, and their use creates a distorted view of the past and of the disease in question. Scholars should give the same careful consideration to an image's evidentiary context that they would insist on giving to all other forms of evidence. 
L'édition des notes prises en 1437 par Pierre Christofle, notaire royal d'Orléans, porte un regard original sur la fonction de l'écrit notarié, outil de légitimité et de hiérarchisation sociale au service des élites urbaines. Pourquoi allait-on chez le notaire au Moyen Âge ? La recherche sur le notariat médiéval n'a pas abordé de front cette question, pourtant essentielle à la compréhension d'une institution importante tant par la quantité de documents produits et conservés que par sa place dans le discours des historiens et des juristes. Cette édition intégrale des notes prises en 1437 par Pierre Christofle, notaire royal d'Orléans, est précédée d'un essai interprétatif qui porte un regard original sur tous les contrats enregistrés par le notaire cette année-là. Le traitement exhaustif d’une année spécifique a permis d’émettre de nouvelles hypothèses sur la fonction de l’institution orléanaise qui, établie par le pouvoir royal, semble avoir porté et servi les prétentions des élites urbaines à assurer l’ordre social. Au-delà du rôle juridique qu’on lui attribue, l’écrit notarié attesterait alors une relation sociale exprimée par un tiers en position d’autorité : les rapports sociaux qu’il expose et les normes dont il joue en faisaient un puissant outil de légitimité, de hiérarchisation et de définition d’une communauté d’intérêts. L’édition présentée ici a également fait l’objet d’une version électronique dans la collection des « Éditions électroniques de l’École des chartes » (ÉLEC, no 27).
The reappearance of alliterative verse in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries remains one of the most puzzling issues in the literary history of medieval England. In From Lawmen to Plowmen, Stephen M. Yeager offers a fresh, insightful explanation for the alliterative structure of William Langland’s Piers Plowman and the flourishing of alliterative verse satires in late medieval England by observing the similarities between these satires and the legal-homiletical literature of the Anglo-Saxon era. Unlike Old English alliterative poetry, Anglo-Saxon legal texts and documents continued to be studied long after the Norman Conquest. By comparing Anglo-Saxon charters, sermons, and law codes with Langland’s Piers Plowman and similar poems, Yeager demonstrates that this legal and homiletical literature had an influential afterlife in the fourteenth-century poetry of William Langland and his imitators. His conclusions establish a new genealogy for medieval England’s vernacular literary tradition and offer a new way of approaching one of Middle English’s literary classics. Stephen M. Yeager is an assistant professor in the Department of English at Concordia University. 
From the publisher: Religious Women in Early Carolingian Francia, a groundbreaking study of the intellectual and monastic culture of the Main Valley during the eighth century, looks closely at a group of manuscripts associated with some of the best-known personalities of the European Middle Ages, including Boniface of Mainz and his “beloved,”abbess Leoba of Tauberbischofsheim. This is the first study of these “Anglo-Saxon missionaries to Germany” to delve into the details of their lives by studying the manuscripts that were produced in their scriptoria and used in their communities. The author explores how one group of religious women helped to shape the culture of medieval Europe through the texts they wrote and copied, as well as through their editorial interventions. Using compelling manuscript evidence, she argues that the content of the women’s books was overwhelmingly gender-egalitarian and frequently feminist (i.e., resistant to patriarchal ideas). This intriguing book provides unprecedented glimpses into the “feminist consciousness” of the women’s and mixed-sex communities that flourished in the early Middle Ages. Felice LifshitzFelice Lifshitz is Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies and of Religious Studies at the University of Alberta.
From the publisher: How did medieval Europeans use and change their environments, think about the natural world, and try to handle the natural forces affecting their lives? This groundbreaking environmental history examines medieval relationships with the natural world from the perspective of social ecology, viewing human society as a hybrid of the cultural and the natural. Richard Hoffmann's interdisciplinary approach sheds important light on such central topics in medieval history as the decline of Rome, religious doctrine, urbanization and technology, as well as key environmental themes, among them energy use, sustainability, disease and climate change. Revealing the role of natural forces in events previously seen as purely human, the book explores issues including the treatment of animals, the 'tragedy of the commons', agricultural clearances and agrarian economies. By introducing medieval history in the context of social ecology, it brings the natural world into historiography as an agent and object of history itself. Richard Hoffmann, York University, TorontoRichard Hoffmann is Professor Emeritus and Senior Scholar at the Department of History, York University, Canada. As a pioneer in the environmental history of pre-industrial Europe, he is widely known for his contributions to medieval studies, environmental studies and historic fisheries.
From the publisher: The Late Byzantine period (1261–1453) is marked by a paradoxical discrepancy between economic weakness and cultural strength. The apparent enigma can be resolved by recognizing that later Byzantine diplomatic strategies, despite or because of diminishing political advantage, relied on an increasingly desirable cultural and artistic heritage. This book reassesses the role of the visual arts in this era by examining the imperial image and the gift as reconceived in the final two centuries of the Byzantine Empire. In particular it traces a series of luxury objects created specifically for diplomatic exchange with such courts as Genoa, Paris and Moscow alongside key examples of imperial imagery and ritual. By questioning how political decline refigured the visual culture of empire, Dr Hilsdale offers a more nuanced and dynamic account of medieval cultural exchange that considers the temporal dimensions of power and the changing fates of empires. Cecily J. Hilsdale, McGill University, Montréal Cecily J. Hilsdale is Associate Professor in the Department of Art History and Communication Studies at McGill University. Her research concerns cultural exchange in the medieval Mediterranean, in particular the circulation of Byzantine luxury objects as diplomatic gifts as well as the related dissemination of eastern styles, techniques, and iconographies and ideologies of imperium.
From the publisher: Although few nineteenth-century rural Canadian women could read and write well, Sarah Jameson Craig (1840-1919) was not only literate but eloquent. Unlike many women writers of her time, Craig lived at the bottom of the economic ladder. Nevertheless, she dared to dream the utopian dreams more commonly associated with educated women from the middle and upper classes. Craig vividly documented her attempt to run away at age fifteen, her plans to found a utopian colony based on alternative medicine and women’s dress reform, and her lifelong crusade for women's equality.Quoting liberally from Sarah Craig's unpublished diaries and memoir, Seeking Our Eden sets Craig's life writing within the context of her early days in New Brunswick, her later migrations to New Jersey and then westward to Saskatchewan and British Columbia, and the American-based reform and utopian movements that stirred her imagination. Convinced that the tight corsets and long skirts demanded by conventional fashion undermined the fight for women's equality, Craig wore the "reform dress" - a short dress over trousers - despite society's disapproval, and rejected opiate- and alcohol-based medicines in favour of the water cure.Even today, when the way women dress remains an issue, and skepticism about conventional medicine still fuels alternative health movements, Sarah Craig's early feminist voice from the margins of Canada continues to be relevant and compelling.
From the publisher: This is the story of Margarida de Portu, a fourteenth-century French medieval woman accused of poisoning her husband to death. As Bednarski points out, the story is important not so much for what it tells us about Margarida but for how it illuminates a past world. Through the depositions and accusations made in court, the reader learns much about medieval women, female agency, kin networks, solidarity, sex, sickness, medicine, and law. Unlike most histories, this book does not remove the author from the analysis. Rather, it lays bare the working methods of the historian. Throughout his tale, Bednarski skillfully weaves a second narrative about how historians "do" history, highlighting the rewards and pitfalls of working with primary sources. The book opens with a chapter on microhistory as a genre and explains its strengths, weaknesses, and inherent risks. Next is a narrative of Margarida's criminal trial, followed by chapters on the civil suits and appeal and Margarida's eventual fate. The book features a rough copy of a court notary, a notorial act, and a sample of a criminal inquest record in the original Latin. A timeline of Margarida's life, list of characters, and two family trees provide useful information on key people in the story. A map of late medieval Manosque is also provided. Steven Bednarski is Associate Professor in the Department of History at St. Jerome's University in the University of Waterloo. He is the author of Curia: A Social History of a Provençal Criminal Court in the Fourteenth Century (2013)
Dear Colleagues: On behalf of my colleagues Andrew Gow and François Pageau, I'm pleased to announce the publication of our new book, The Arras Witch Treatises. It presents accessible (and fully annotated) translations of two fifteenth-century texts that offer important insights into the evolution of witch-hunting ideology in late medieval and early modern Europe. Based on our recent contacts, we thought that you might be interested in knowing about the text, and in sharing the news with colleagues at your institution. A more detailed summary from the publisher is presented below, and a summary sheet is attached to this note. Please don't hesitate to contact us if you have additional questions about the volume. From the publisher: This is the first complete and accessible English translation of two major source texts—Tinctor’s Invectives and the anonymous Recollectio—that arose from the notorious Arras witch hunts and trials in the mid-fifteenth century in France. These writings, by the “Anonymous of Arras” (believed to be the trial judge Jacques du Bois) and the intellectual Johannes Tinctor, offer valuable eyewitness perspectives on one of the very first mass trials and persecutions of alleged witches in European history. More importantly, they provide a window onto the early development of witchcraft theory and demonology in western Europe during the late medieval period—an entire generation before the infamous Witches’ Hammer appeared. Perfect for the classroom, The Arras Witch Treatises includes a reader-friendly introduction situating the treatises and trials in their historical and intellectual contexts. Scholars, students, and others interested in the occult will find these translations invaluable. You can find The Arras Witch Treatises on the Penn State University Press web site at this URL: Be sure to ask for it at your local library and bookstore! -- Rob Desjardins, PhD University of Alberta
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