CFP for Kzoo 2015: Pilgrimage, Exploration, and Travel

Hortulus will sponsor a session on “Pilgrimage, Exploration, and Travel,” a theme selected by our readers, at the 50th International Congress on Medieval Studies at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan, May 14-17, 2015. Papers presented in our session may also be considered for our Fall 2015 issue on the same theme.

Scholarly interest in the topic of pilgrimage spans many geographies and disciplines. Additionally, recent scholarship has revealed the significant impact of pilgrimage and travel upon medieval people of a variety of religious, social, and regional backgrounds, not just the pilgrims themselves. We invite proposals that explore the topics of pilgrimage, exploration, and travel from multidisciplinary and comparative perspectives. Some potential topics for papers might include relics, badges, clothing, and associated material culture; perceptions of space, including landscape, geography, and architecture; the economics and politics of pilgrimage; pilgrimage narratives and other literary evidence; miracles and healing; readings of pilgrimage that consider monastic vs. lay approaches, social class, and gender; local and “national” identity; sacred journey in general (not just Christian) in the pre-modern world; liturgy and ritual of pilgrimage; and failed pilgrimages.

Please send a 300-word abstract and a Participant Information Form (available here) to by September 15, 2014.

New Co-Editor: Melissa Ridley Elmes

The autumn issue will officially welcome our new Co-Editor Melissa Ridley Elmes to the team. We are very excited to have Melissa working in such a key role at Hortulus for the next two years and look forward to the new ideas she will bring to the journal.

Melissa Ridley Elmes is a PhD student working under the direction of Dr. Amy Vines, Dr. Denise Baker, and Dr. Jennifer Feather in the English Department and Women’s and Gender Studies program at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. Prior to this she earned an MA in English with a focus on medieval literature at Longwood University and a BA in French at the College of William and Mary. She specializes in post-Conquest through 15th century British literatures and cultures, with particular emphasis on feasts and feasting, gender, magic and monstrosity.

Articles for Fall 2014 issue on Emotion and Affect due in two weeks (Aug 15)

Hortulus: The Online Graduate Journal of Medieval Studies is a refereed, peer-reviewed, and born-digital journal devoted to the culture, literature, history, and society of the medieval past. Published semi-annually, the journal collects exceptional examples of work by graduate students on a number of themes, disciplines, subjects, and periods of medieval studies. We also welcome book reviews of monographs published or re-released in the past five years that are of interest to medievalists. For the fall issue we are highly interested in reviews of books which fall under the current special topic.

For our Fall 2014 themed issue, “Emotion and Affect,” we invite articles that engage with emotion and affect from a variety of disciplinary angles, including the depiction of emotions in medieval literature, history, philosophy, theology, and art. An article might address theoretical approaches to the study of emotion and affect, including history of the emotions, psychoanalysis, and affect theory. We would be happy to receive papers related to gender and feeling, emotion and politics, the rhetoric of affect, the relationship between emotion and memory, affective theology, and the role of emotions in material culture. Submissions examining emotion and affect in any medieval context are welcome. Most importantly, we seek engaging, original work that contributes to our collective understanding of the medieval era.

Contributions should be in English and roughly 6,000–12,000 words, including all documentation and citational apparatus; book reviews are typically between 500-1,000 words but cannot exceed 2,000. All notes must be endnotes, and a bibliography must be included; submission guidelines can be found here. Contributions may be submitted to and are dueAugust 15, 2014. If you are interested in submitting a paper but feel you would need additional time, please send a query email and details about an expected time-scale for your submission. Queries about submissions or the journal more generally can also be sent to this address.

Call for Papers: Fall 2014 Issue — “Emotion and Affect”

Hortulus: The Online Graduate Journal of Medieval Studies is a refereed, peer-reviewed, and born-digital journal devoted to the culture, literature, history, and society of the medieval past. Published semi-annually, the journal collects exceptional examples of work by graduate students on a number of themes, disciplines, subjects, and periods of medieval studies. We also welcome book reviews of monographs published or re-released in the past five years that are of interest to medievalists. For the fall issue we are highly interested in reviews of books which fall under the current special topic.

For our Fall 2014 themed issue, “Emotion and Affect,” we invite articles that engage with emotion and affect from a variety of disciplinary angles, including the depiction of emotions in medieval literature, history, philosophy, theology, and art. An article might address theoretical approaches to the study of emotion and affect, including history of the emotions, psychoanalysis, and affect theory. We would be happy to receive papers related to gender and feeling, emotion and politics, the rhetoric of affect, the relationship between emotion and memory, affective theology, and the role of emotions in material culture. Submissions examining emotion and affect in any medieval context are welcome. Most importantly, we seek engaging, original work that contributes to our collective understanding of the medieval era.

Contributions should be in English and roughly 6,000–12,000 words, including all documentation and citational apparatus; book reviews are typically between 500-1,000 words but cannot exceed 2,000. All notes must be endnotes, and a bibliography must be included; submission guidelines can be found here. Contributions may be submitted to and are due August 15, 2014. If you are interested in submitting a paper but feel you would need additional time, please send a query email and details about an expected time-scale for your submission. Queries about submissions or the journal more generally can also be sent to this address.

Review: Howard & Pullan, Architecture and Pilgrimage, 1000-1500: Southern Europe and Beyond

Architecture and Pilgrimage, 1000-1500: Southern Europe and Beyond. Edited by Paul Davies, Deborah Howard and Wendy Pullan. Farnham: Ashgate, 2013. Pp. xvii + 286.

Entering the term “pilgrimage” into a library catalogue calls up over 2,000 titles and nearly 30,000 articles. This begs the question: how much more can be said about people travelling from one place, and then back again? Examining pilgrimage, and even its architectural context in particular, is not a unique enterprise, with John Crook’s work on early medieval shrines being an excellent example of such work. [1] Architecture and Pilgrimage’s contribution to the field, however, is both valuable and entertaining, and points the way for further research. This book is a collection of papers first aired at the “Architecture and Pilgrimage 600-1600” conference held in July 2005 at the University of Cambridge. The overriding theme of the volume is the articulation of the pilgrim’s experience of the shrine, an experience which may be partly recreated by examining the architectural fabric associated with both the journey and the destination of medieval pilgrims. The value of this approach lies in the geographical focus combined with the emphasis on the structure’s role in mediating the experience of the pilgrim.

Like a great many Ashgate publications, this one is strikingly well-illustrated with both colour and black and white photography. The extensive use of images is very welcome, and the images highly complement the work’s content. Each paper is followed by its own endnotes with an extensive index and bibliography arranged at the back of the volume. The extent to which the work has been indexed makes it an especially valuable tool, with similar ideas and interpretations arising in several different papers. Indeed, some authors use the same material for making different, but not mutually exclusive arguments; hinting at the types of discussion which may have taken place during the conference itself. For example, the 1621 longitudinal section of Santa Maria Maggiore is used to examine the forms of medieval tabernacles in Claudia Bolgia’s work, while Paul Davies uses the drawing to discuss the tabernacles’ iconography of location, and is compared to analogous structures. There is an implicit conversation taking place here, one which perhaps could have been made explicit with more references made to the other papers.

In the first paper, “Pilgrimage through Pictures in Medieval Byzantine Churches,” Henry Maguire examines the relationship between the pilgrim’s expectation of holy places, and their actual experience at their destination. He writes, “Just as the image evoked the Holy Place, the Holy Place evoked the image in the mind of the pilgrim” (p. 31.). Using the example of Hosios Loukas, Maguire concludes that “truth” could be experienced via two-dimensional images and also from external reality. This tension between expectation and reality appears in many of the papers within the volume, making Maguire’s paper an excellent starting point.

Second is Avinoam Shalem’s paper, “The Four Faces of the Ka’ba in Mecca,” in which he examines the twelfth-century pilgrimage account of the Muslim Abu al-Husayn Muhammad ibn Ahmad Ibn Jubayr who completed the Hajj in 1183. In Mecca he visited the large cube shaped shrine, the Ka’ba. Shalem, like Maguire, focuses on the dissonance between the pilgrim’s expectations and the reality he confronted on arrival at Mecca. Here the experience of a three-dimensional object “involves the clash of the imagined image of Mecca […] with the real observed holy space” (p. 43). This shift from two-dimensional to three- (and even four) dimensional experience left its mark on Ibn Jubayr’s writing, and Shalem cleverly teases out these aspects in the pilgrimage account through analysis of both liturgical practices, and the materials which cover and make up the Ka’ba itself.

Wendy Pullan’s piece, “Tracking the Habitual: Observations on the Pilgrim’s Shell,” acts like a close-reading of a particular object, in this case the conch shell associated with Saint James and the pilgrimage camino to Santiago de Compostela. Pullan traces the shell’s earliest appearance in both the literature and art associated with the camino, interpreting it as part of the medieval background noise one would encounter whilst travelling. The result is a highly entertaining and useful example of material culture studies which brings to light the relatively complicated history of a familiar object, both on the camino, and more broadly as an attribute in representations of Saint James.

The final paper in part A of the volume, which examines the “Mediterranean Experience,” is Deborah Howard’s “Venice as Gateway to the Holy Land: Pilgrims as Agents of Transmission.” In a book of very fine papers, Howard’s possibly shines brightest, focusing on Venice as both a city of passage and also a pilgrimage destination in itself. Howard points out that the Crusades and the loss of Acre by Christian forces did not extinguish Venetian interactions with the Holy land, it only “complicated their interests in the Eastern Mediterranean.” Forms of buildings were traded back and forth between Venice and the Holy Land, mediated by a variety of travellers, including merchants.

Part B is titled “Italian Sacred Places as Pilgrimage Destinations,” and begins with Claudia Bolgia’s “Icons ‘in the Air’: New Settings for the Sacred in Medieval Rome.” Here the author examines the similarity between relic and icon tabernacles associated with the Virgin Mary and Saint Veronica in Rome. Similar two-level structures were constructed, with an altar on the ground floor and the relic or icon above; this similarity between the two indicates an interchangeable devotional function for both relic and icon, the latter standing in for the former when moved.

Joanna Cannon writes on “Dominican Shrines and Urban Pilgrimage in Later Medieval Italy.” This is a very well-structured paper which helps clarify the relationship between the shrine of Saint Dominic and subsequent shrines in Dominican churches. Cannon examines both the forms of the shrines, as well as their location in the church, as reflecting the monument devoted to Saint Dominic himself.

Donal Cooper and Janet Robson offer “Imagery and the Economy of Penance at the Tomb of St Francis.” This, in combination with Cannon’s paper above, gives the reader an overview of mendicant pilgrimage practices. The authors describe the process of moving around the shrine of Assisi in the lower church, where the famous frescoes help direct the focus the attention of the pilgrim. This is an excellent synthesis integrating text, image, and architecture, as well as their relationship with the pilgrim’s experience of visiting the shrine.

Paul Davies’ paper, “Likeness in Italian Renaissance Pilgrimage Architecture,” takes on the difficult subject of architectural iconography, although he is certainly not the only author to do so. He examines two tabernacles, one in the city of Venice and the other in Impruneta several miles to the south, and in doing so problematizes the relationship between the two as we currently understand it. Davies paper offers fascinating examples, but the language of iconography he uses is confusing. For example, having stated in the beginning he would eschew the use of the word “copy” to describe a strong formal relationship between two structures, Davies instead states he will use the term “likeness” (p. 187). This wise and prudent measure is undermined by his subsequent use of the term simulacra in many places; a word which is never explained in terms of describing a hyper-reality of devotional space, and its wider postmodernist sense. This is not to take away from the larger subject with which Davies deals, including the fascinating example of the facades of Santa Maria della Quercia, and Santa Maria del Soccorso Corchiano.

The final paper in the volume is Robert Maniura’s “Two Marian Image Shrines in Fifteenth-Century Tuscany, the ‘Iconography of Architecture’ and the Limits of ‘Holy Competition.’” Here Maniura examines the relationship between the Santa Maria delle Carceri in Prato, and Santa Maria della Pieta in Bibbona, and their relics. Both have “exclusive” and “inclusive” aspects of devotional response; the latter helps overcome institutional rivalry. Both structures share formal similarities, such as their centre-plan surmounted by a dome, and both are dedicated to Saint Mary. However, instead of competing for pilgrims, they could work together for devotional purposes and at least partly overcome the economic desires associated with lucrative pilgrimage locations

The work of Richard Krautheimer, and his famous essay on architectural iconography looms large throughout this volume. [2] It testifies to the importance of Krautheimer’s theory, whilst acknowledging that it is not without problems; it offers a framework through which the experience of architecture may be examined. In Architecture and Pilgrimage the subject, having been grounded specifically in time and place, offers a more complete reading than Krautheimer could have given. As Davies points out, Krautheimer’s description of one building “copying” another borders on the unhelpful, instead there are a variety of elements at play when visiting a shrine; one is like another, but it is not a facsimile. The journey, the time, the individual locations, the expectations, the images, the liturgy, and the layout of a shrine all combine to create an experience that is, in one way or another unique, and hence difficult for any historiography to describe completely. In the afterword, Herbert L. Kessler describes this richness of experience, quoting Jaś Elsner’s call “to conceive of a more chaotic climate of disparate, diffracted, and sectarian groups, possibly in conflict with each other, with those who run the site and with their forebears” (p. 238). The volume certainly does that, and indicates that research on the architecture of pilgrimage will continue, and that is no bad thing.

By focusing the discussion on the eastern Mediterranean Sea the authors have allowed the conversation on medieval pilgrimage architecture to expand beyond formalist readings of architectural history or archaeology, making room for an interesting and original contribution to how pilgrimage shrines were read by contemporaries. It is largely successful in this endeavour, but the nature of conference proceedings means there is no argument running through the entirety of the work. Some papers end just when a more expansive article would continue, leaving, in some cases, only a snapshot of some pilgrimage experiences. This is not the fault of the authors, but the format of the collection. However, the extensive bibliography invites the reader to explore the topics of the papers even further, and to continue the conversation in future work. The work is highly engaging, and well worth looking through if dealing with the subject of late medieval architecture, pilgrimage, as well as broader aspects of aesthetics, iconography or material culture.

Karl is a DPhil student at the University of Oxford (Keble College). His thesis is titled Edifice and Education: Structuring Thought in Twelfth-Century Europe, which examines the role of architectural imagery in medieval education and exegesis. He is the current recipient of the Hawksmoor medal for architectural history. He is also interested in a diverse range of fields, such as art history, manuscript studies, intellectual history, and the history of science.

[1] John Crook, The Architectural Setting of the Cult of Saints in the Early Christian West c 300-c1200 (Oxford, OUP, 2000).

[2] Richard Krautheimer, “Introduction to an ‘Iconography of Medieval Architecture,” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 5 (1943) 1-33.

Hortulus Readers Presenting at Kalamazoo

Please join us for the following presentations by Hortulus readers & reviewers at the International Congress of Medieval Studies at Kalamazoo, May 8-11, 2014:

Thursday, 3:30 pm
Session 125: Speech, Performance, and Authority in Later Medieval Religious Literature I
Schneider 1345
Jenny C. Bledsoe, organizer

Session 127: Monsters I: Parallel Worlds
Room: Schneider 1360
Melissa Ridley Elmes and Deva Fall Kemmis: “(Not) Solving the Mystery: The Complexity of the Melusine Legendary in Medieval French and German Traditions”

Thursday, 7:30 pm
Session 153: Speech, Performance, and Authority in Later Medieval Religious Literature II
Room: Schneider 1345
Jenny C. Bledsoe, organizer & presider

Session 154: Monsters II: Monstrous Gender
Room: Schneider 1350
Melissa Ridley Elmes, organizer

Friday, 10:00 am
Session 198: Carolingian Art and Artists
Room: Schneider 1275
Elizabeth Fischer, “‘The turtledove and the swallow and the stork watched for the time of his coming': BIrds, Revelation and the Ideal Viewer in Early Medieval Gospel Books”

Friday, 1:30 pm
Session 257: Monastic Normativities
Room: Schneider 1345
Paul Brazinski, presider

Friday, 3:30 pm
Session 304: Between Europe and England: Early Middle English Sermons in a European Context
Room: Schneider 1255
Jennifer Illig, “Shaping the Words of the Gospel: Translation and Interpolation in English Wycliffite Sermons”

Session 311: Monks Going Wild
Room: Schneider 1345
Paul Brazinski, “Maximus the Confessor and Constans II: a punishment fit for an unruly abbot”

Please join us in the courtyard of the wine reception from 5:00-6:00—

Saturday, 10:00 am
Session 347: Old English Hagiography
Room: Schneider 1125
Jenny C. Bledsoe, “Intercession and Devotion: Guthlac and Bartholomew in the Old English Prose Guthlac and Vercelli Homily XXIII”

Session 365: Performance of Women’s Voices in Medieval Lyric: Theory and Evidence
Room: Schneider 1340
Sarah Kate Moore, “Come ant daunce wyt me”: Middle English Women-Voiced Carols and Their Uses”

Saturday, 3:30 pm
Session 438: Of Whom Shall I Be Afraid? Enemies in the Medieval Period
Emerson Storm Fillman Richards, organizer
Sebastian Rider-Bezerra, presider
Edward Mead Bowen, “(Former) Enemies at the Gates: Insinuations of Betrayal in ‘Pa gur yv y
Josephine Livingstone, “’Into That Vile Countreye': Figuring Ethnic Enmity with Gog and Magog in
Kyng Alisaunder
Antonella Luizzo Scorpo, “‘Ni e yo amigo, ni enemigo': Enmity, Trust, and Betrayal in Thirteenth-Century Iberia”
Daniel F. Melleno, “Franks and Scandinavians: Good Neighbors / Bad Neighbors”

Humphries’ Ascetic Pneumatology from John Cassian to Gregory the Great

Humphries, Thomas L., Jr. Ascetic Pneumatology from John Cassian to Gregory the Great. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. pp. xviii + 237. ISBN-13: 978-0-19-968503-5. Price: £65.00.

In his new monograph from Oxford University Press, Ascetic Pneumatology from John Cassian to Gregory the Great, Thomas Humphries argues that by cross-comparing ascetic and doctrinal writings of Late Antiquity on the Holy Spirit, scholars can make new discoveries about the role of the Holy Spirit and its relationship to human beings. His book is impressive, as it finds a healthy balance between an unapproachable level of detail and an overly ambitious survey of Late Antiquity. It arose out of his dissertation at Emory University, and certainly reads like a dissertation in its modular organization, depth of bibliography, and expositional tone. Yet this is by no means a criticism of Humphries’ work; he does not overwhelm readers with citation of current scholarship, and his topic is broad enough to capture a variety of interests. He draws from little-known primary sources such as letters and sermons to make important arguments about underappreciated figures like Fulgentius (d. 533) or Quodvultdeus (d. ca. 450). He often cites long block-quotes of primary text, with all of it still being relevant to his argument. In this way, the dissertation format is quite obvious. However, the text is still eminently readable, written in an engaging style (there is even a Johnny Cash quote for a section heading). Even if the reader is not particularly interested in researching pneumatology, Humphries provides enough background information about the major figures and ideas of Late Antiquity that the book can serve as a great refresher course on the 4th through 6th centuries.

Humphries’ broad and balanced design is also apparent in the arguments of Ascetic Pneumatology, as Humphries never pushes his argument beyond the evidence. He limits his findings to the often-ambiguous nature of the textual evidence, but still takes important steps beyond prior scholarship to improve our understanding of figures like Prosper of Aquitaine (d. ca. 455) and John Cassian (d. 435). Ascetic Pneumatology is a significant text because it synthesizes the development of Trinitarian and anthropological doctrine in Late Antiquity with the ascetic and practical focus of the texts from which it is derived. Although this is no easy feat, Humphries accomplishes his task and demonstrates his broad competency in the thought of the Late Antique Church Fathers.

Ascetic Pneumatology is organized according to themes and figures; conveniently, Humphries often takes a comparative approach, focusing each chapter on the ideas of one thinker in light of the work of his contemporaries. For example, one chapter covers Augustinian responses to Pelagianism or Arianism, while another includes the synthesis of Augustinianism by Fulgentius and Maxentius (early 5th c.). To be sure, the reader is often tempted to ask about monastics and their ascetic pneumatology, “Did anyone think that monks did not include the Holy Spirit in their asceticism? Why bother making this argument?” Yet, Humphries is not a revisionist with a mission of promoting some innovation to Late Antique scholarship. His book is important vecause it fleshes out an unexplored area of research in early monasticism.

Humphries demonstrates the need for a new emphasis on how thinkers of the 4th-6th centuries treated the Holy Spirit, with their growing emphasis on the Holy Spirit as an agent in their asceticism (as opposed to, say, angels). It is very valuable that Ascetic Pneumatology is able to show a connection between the Holy Spirit and the human will on both sides of the Cassian-Prosper argument. Humphries helpfully traces the influence of Augustine’s Trinitarian thought on various thinkers, especially the theologians of Lérins, who, as Humphries proves, received only half of Augustine’s scriptural hermeneutics on the exegesis of Trinitarian Bible passages. The significance of close-reading Gregory the Great’s use of Augustine’s pneumatology throughout his pastoral writing about vices and virtues cannot be overstated; that the “sevenfold spirit” and its gifts are responsible for the idea of seven vices and virtues is a direct corollary to Humphries’ new pneumatological emphasis. Thanks to these and other arguments, Ascetic Pneumatology can be considered an invaluable resource.

Furthermore, because he makes few controversial claims, Thomas Humphries has written a book with few weaknesses. His dissertation-style argument is easy to follow in nine progressive chapters that are ordered chronologically, and make their arguments from rather broad to very specific (as does the progressive thought of the Fathers on whom they focus). Current scholarship is well-represented in his historiography and citations, as seen in a strong censure of applying the term semi-Pelagian to John Cassian’s Conferences, a detailed study of the complex relationship between Pelagianism and Nestorianism, and an insightful word study of Gregory the Great’s grammar of contemplation.

It is difficult to conceive of conducting any theological research on Late Antique monasticism in the future without Humphries’ book as an aid, as a result of its plentiful and specialized bibliography. Its new perspectives on well-researched spiritual and theological texts is also valuable. Humphries contextualizes his work well, which allows it to serve as a teaching text for a graduate-level seminar on Late Antique theology or spirituality. Ascetic Pneumatology surely accords well with the rest of the fine texts from Gillian Clark and Andrew Louth’s Oxford Early Christian Studies Series.

Andrew Jacob Cuff is a PhD student in Church History at The Catholic University in America in Washington, DC. His research focuses on Cistercians and other monastic theologians in the twelfth century.

Higgins’ The Theatre in the Round: The Staging of Cornish Medieval Drama

Sydney Higgins, The Theatre in the Round: The Staging of Cornish Medieval Drama (North Charleston: Alldrama through Create Space Independent Publishing, 2013). PP. iii+192. ISBN-13: 9781484947050. Price: £12.00, $19.60, €14,40.

MS depicting a play performed in Valenciennes in 1547

MS depicting a play performed in Valenciennes in 1547

Sydney Higgins has a lifelong enthusiasm with Cornwall and its medieval drama. Medieval Cornish drama is a fascinating subject that, as Higgins points out, has been largely ignored in favour of the English drama such as the so-called mystery plays of York and Chester. Yet, this is an exciting field with significant contributions still to be made, considering that the play-text of Bewnans Ke was only discovered as recently as the year 2000.

In introducing the reader to his subject, Higgins guides them through a concise but thorough account of the history and origins of medieval drama in an engaging style that makes his subject accessible beyond the academic community.

The title of the book evokes the work of Richard Southern, who in 1957 wrote The Medieval Theatre in the Round (with a second edition in 1975) on the manuscript of the medieval East Anglian morality play, The Castle of Perseverance. This is a play-text of special importance in scholarship on the performance of late-medieval drama because, uncommonly for the medieval period, there is a diagram of the stage: the earliest known example in the British Isles. Southern’s important and influential work is brought up on a number of occasions throughout Higgins’ book, which effectively challenges and argues against his claims, bringing a fresh approach to the field.

After the introduction to the book, Higgins discusses the Cornish theatre (or plen-an-gwary), and compares St. Just Round to Piran Round in order to scrutinise their potential as the locations for dramatic performances in medieval Cornwall. In the following chapters he then goes into detail about the stage diagrams and their interpretations, the central area, and the platea.

Higgins then puts his focus to interpreting the theatrical spaces in order to address the action of Cornish drama, with individual chapters for each of the two days of St. Meriasek. His meticulous analysis of the play-text breaks down its action and references each section of action against a diagram of the stage, corresponding the action and its stage space with numbers. All possible textual evidence is sifted through, to use details, even such as the costume arrangements, to reflect back on what is consequently suggested about the design of the theatrical space.

In the penultimate chapter, Higgins discusses the staging of The Creation of the World (Gwyrans An Bys), a play with detailed stage directions but no stage diagram. Consequently, Higgins discusses the issues of examining the stage directions of the extant manuscript of the play-text (this is dated at 1611, although it is thought that the play itself dated from the 1530s) and asks pertinent questions about both the authorship and validity of the stage directions. However, despite the lack of a stage diagram to the play-text, Higgins takes note of the play’s similarity to St. Meriasek in order to construct his arguments about the staging of the play upon this evidence.

In his final chapter, entitled ‘The Medieval Audience and its Theatre’ Higgins challenges Southern’s idea that the central area of medieval (circular) theatres would have been occupied by spectators, and in arguing against him, Higgins uses evidence from The Castle of Perseverance in addition to the plans of the Cornish plays. It is in this regard, as Higgins discusses the staging and performances of medieval Cornish drama in its broader context, that his work is applicable and valuable to any student of medieval drama.

The arguments that Higgins presents in this important work make a significant and much-needed contribution to the field, challenging over a century of misunderstanding and unevidenced claims about the staging of medieval Cornish drama. By engaging directly with the source material, Higgins makes his own, detailed interpretations of the extant stage diagrams, which he justifies with contextual evidence.

The book provides the reader with an invaluable insight into the staging of medieval drama, not just through Higgins’ own arguments that he makes in this work, but through responding to the previous assertions and assumptions about medieval Cornish drama over the centuries with a series of questions that structure his logical and carefully considered approach. In this endeavour, Higgins provides a comprehensive knowledge of the staging of the drama. He even explains and disambiguates staging terminology and its historical misuse.

Sydney Higgins also contributes to the debate over the validity of examining medieval visual culture as a source of information about the performances and staging conventions of medieval drama. Regarding the work of Giotto, he notes that scholars have either focussed on the subject of his paintings or criticised his lack of perspective, rather than asking the crucial question of why he painted the architectural structures as he did. In asking this question himself, Higgins points to the evidence that in painting familiar buildings such as the Lateran Basilica (which Giotto knew well) he chose to represent them completely differently, and in a way that therefore suggests the potential influence of the performances of medieval drama upon his paintings.

Higgins raises a number of important issues of academic scholarship in The Theatre in the Round. For instance, even though in 1936 Hélène Leclerc suggested that the Cornish rounds could have influenced the design of the Elizabethan theatres, later scholars have suggested the idea that such stages may have been influenced by pageant-wagons in inn-yards, and completely ignored theatre in the round. In addition to medieval Cornish drama, this also serves to highlight the extent of the neglect of scholarly attention to theatre in the round, since academics have been focussed so much on the pageant-wagons of the mystery plays of York and Chester.

This book is essential reading for any scholar or enthusiast of medieval drama, not just for the new arguments that Higgins puts forward, but as an indispensible example of how to analyse and understand play-texts in the context of performance. One of Higgins’ many strengths in this endeavour comes from his own experience as a director of a theatre company and his treatment of the plays as if he were staging them himself from the available evidence. Illustrated throughout with colophons, diagrams, photographs of modern performances, and medieval art, in addition to appendices, The Theatre of Round: The Staging of Cornish Medieval Drama is an accomplished work with enough detail in its 192 pages to make a valuable contribution to our understanding of the staging and performance of medieval drama.

Southern, Richard, The Medieval Theatre in the Round (London: Faber & Faber, 1975).

Helen F. Smith is a doctoral candidate at the University of Edinburgh, working on a thesis which endeavors to explore how the disabled, impaired, or transgressive body is constructed, represented, and responded to in the play-texts and performances of drama in the late-medieval period.

Stephanos Efthymiadis (ed.), Ashgate Research Companion to Byzantine Hagiography.

Stephanos Efthymiadis (ed.), Ashgate Research Companion to Byzantine Hagiography. Volume I: Periods and Places. Ashgate research companions.   Farnham; Burlington, VT:  Ashgate, 2011.  Pp. xix, 440.  ISBN 9780754650331.  $149.95.  

Hagiography was one of the most flourishing literary genres in Byzantium. Historians of Byzantine Studies can obtain information about political, religious, social, and economic life from the fourth to the fifteenth century from hagiography. The dynamics of this field have been portrayed and practiced in many Oriental and Slavic languages, such as Slavic, Russian, Arabic, Coptic, and Armenian. This two-volumed work (the second volume is expected to be published shortly), is a serious attempt to present Byzantine Hagiography. The first volume is divided in two sections: the first part dedicated to the periods, authors’ texts, and inter-influences of Byzantine Hagiography, while the second part deals with the Hagiography of the Byzantine periphery (Armenian, Syriac, Arabic, Slavic Hagiographies, etc.). The Companion begins with the editor’s introduction; Stephanos Efthymiadis presents the discipline of hagiography, its cultivators (e.g. Hippolyte Delehaye, Francois Halkin) and the various scholarly series dedicated to the field (Acta Sanctorum, Analecta Bollandiana, Subsidia Hagiographica). The first section consists of five chapters referring to the four periods of Byzantine Hagiography: Late Antiquity (4th-7th centuries), “Dark Age” (8th-10th centuries), the 11th and 12th centuries, and the Late Byzantine period (1204-1453). Of course, because of the Companion’s length, it is impossible for a reviewer to discuss all the topics in detail; so I will try to focus on the main points of this book.

The first chapter, written by the late Tomas Hägg, is titled, “The Life of St. Antony between Biography and Hagiography”. The article is dedicated to the exemplar of Christian biography and hagiography and the model of Christian anchoret and saint, the Life of St. Antony, composed by Athanasius of Alexandria. Hägg discusses the various versions of the Life (Greek, Latin, Syrian), and he analyzes in detail the basic elements of the plot. Hägg gives a new sense to the term “biography” as the literary genre that describes the life of a historical figure; Christian Hagiography is the continuation of this biographical genre. Hägg’s contribution is in reality a detailed presentation of the Life of Anthony, relying on the rhetoric patterns of the text borrowed by classical authors (cf. Porphyry’s and Iamblichus’ Lives of Pythagoras), the identification of Life’s loci with real places, as also about the intertextualities of the different versions. Hägg concludes that Athanasius with the Vita of Anthonius wished to give the model of the Christian ascetic.

The second chapter, “Greek Hagiography in late Antiquity (Fourth-Eighth Centuries)”, by Stephanos Efthymiadis with contributions by André Bingelli and Zissis Aïnalis, deals with late antique hagiography. The chapter begins with the Church Fathers of the early Christian era who dealt with the writing of saints’ Lives, such as Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory of Nazianzus, and John Chrysostom. These Church Fathers, according to Delehaye, engaged in the composition of Vitae, paying honour to martyrs, holy bishops, ascetics, and virgins. The rest of the chapter deals with monastic biographies (Pachomian Hagiography, Palladios’ Historia Lausiaca), Vitae of the desert fathers (Life of Arsenios the Great, Life of St. Mary of Egypt), and monastic collections, such as the sayings of the desert fathers (Apopthegmata Patrum, Gerontika, Paterika, Meterika), Historia Monachorum, the famous Historia Lausiaca by Palladios Bishop of Hellenopolis, the Spiritual Meadow by John Moschos and Philotheos Historia by Theodoret Bishop of Cyrrhus in Syria. The last section of Efthymiadis’ contribution deals with the monastic collections of Constantinople and its provinces, Asia Minor, Cyprus, and Thessalonike’s two Miracle Collections (those supposed to have been composed by John Bishop of Thessalonike (±560-±626) in honour of St. Demetrius, the patron saint of the city). Efthymiadis offers an image of early monasticism and anchoritic life in Constantinople and its provinces (e.g. St. Symeon Stylites the Younger, St. Theodore of Sykeon, Hermit Isaac, Patriarchs Nektarios & Anatolios, St. Thecla, St. Symeon the Fool etc.). Most Vitae, he concludes, were composed for the canonization of a saint.

The third chapter, again by Efthymiadis, “Hagiography from the ‘dark age’ to the age of Symeon Metaphrastes (8th–10th centuries)”, deals with the hagiography in the so-called “Dark Age” that is the hagiography of both the pre- and post- iconoclastic periods. These periods saw the evolution of hagiography with the composition of new martyrs’ and saints’ vitae – nearly 100 extant biographies, Encomia and Translations of relics – in honour of those who suffered because of their veneration of the holy images and their dedication to Orthodoxy. This period is also the era of the first Arab attacks against the Byzantine Empire, which resulted in the fact that many vitae were composed in order to praise men and women who refused to espouse Islam. Efthymiadis first makes special mention of the re-writing of early Christian martyrs’ and saints’ Vitae and their compiler John, Bishop of Sardis, a forerunner of Symeon Metaphrastes. This era is the transition from Late Antiquity to the Middle Ages in terms of social, economic, and cultural changes. According to many scholars who deal with Byzantine Hagiography, this period sees the beginning of “family cults”, i.e. Saints’ Lives, which were written to commemorate the memory of Byzantine noble families’ members. An extraordinary example is that of St. Theodore the Stoudite and his family, all of whom were dedicated to monasticism and many of whom were sanctified. Efthymiadis refers also to other learned hagiographers (Ignatios the Deacon, Michael Synkellos, Methodios, the Patriarch of Constantinople) who have contributed in their own way to the hagiography of this period. The author dedicates the rest of the third chapter to the hagiography and its characteristics after Iconoclasm, as well as to  hagiography during the age of the Emperor Leo VI the Wise (r. 886-912). The chapter concludes with a special reference to the Synaxarion of Constantinople and the Metaphrastic Menologion, two of the most pivotal Hagiographic works of this period.

The last two chapters of the first section, by Symeon Paschalidis (“The Hagiography of the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries”) and by Alice-Mary Talbot (“Hagiography in Late Byzantium (1204-1453)”), deal with late Byzantine Hagiography. Specifically, Chapter Four deals with hagiographic collections, such as Menologion and Synaxarion of the Church of Constantinople. According to Paschalidis, the eleventh century was not suitable for the elevation of new saints. Paschalidis rightly argues that this phenomenon was mainly due to the philosophical opinions of diverse Byzantine literati (e.g. John Italos) who disputed all miracles attributed to Christ, the Theotokos, and the saints. Nevertheless, some vitae make their appearance in this period: the vitae of St Symeon the New Theologian, St Loukas of Steiris, and St Lazaros of Mt. Galesion, to name a few. Paschalidis suggests that three factors affected the hagiographic production of 11th-12th centuries. The first is that we now have a consolidation of the saints’ cult, “institutionalized” by the Menologion and the Synaxarion. These two “collections” would establish for the next centuries the official cult of the saints in the Byzantine Church; the second reason is that on the one hand many believed that the saints’ cult had expired, while on the other hand others believed that the saints were not able to help people posthumously and that their honour and cults were useless. The above phenomenon is due to the evolution of sciences, philosophy, and logic during these centuries (e.g. Michael Psellos and John Italos). The third factor is that during these centuries there was a “decentralization” of hagiographic production in provincial centres, from major cities such as Constantinople and Thessalonike, to other “hinterland” areas such as Cyprus, Asia Minor, Southern Italy, and Sicily; these provinces suffered from invasions and conquerors (Seljuk Turks, Normans, Crusaders). This circumstance favored the “creation” of new saints and martyrs of the Christian faith. In the last chapter of the first section Talbot deals with the hagiographic production of the last two and half centuries of the Byzantine Empire (1204-1453). Talbot suggests that during this period, an era of general decline, there was also an efflorescence of hagiography with over 60 practitioners of the genre. In addition, she demonstrates that women are noticeably absent among the new saints of this period.

The second section presents the Hagiographic production of the Byzantine periphery and the Orient. The authors of this section cover a wide linguistic, geographical, chronological, authorial, and topical range of dense and complex material on innumerable holy men and women. The different geographic hagiographic traditions that are represented are Italy, Syria, Georgia, Armenia, as well as hagiography in Coptic, Arabic and Slavic languages and Latin hagiographic literature translated into Greek. In this section the authors present the various themes, motifs and special characteristics of each locus Hagiographicus of the Byzantine oecumene. Each chapter of both sections is followed by a thorough list of both primary and secondary sources.

Above I tried to sketch the basic points of the papers contained in this volume. The contributors of the volume, all eminent scholars in their fields, have attempted to present an overall view of the Byzantine Hagiography, from the 4th up to the 15th century. Some of the reasons that the present volume is important to scholarship are as follows: a) we have for the first time a complete view of the Byzantine Hagiography. The selections of contextual Byzantine hagiography place it within its respective provincial, political, and social atmosphere. The book’s wide geographic and chronological scope also provides a well-rounded and holistic picture of the genre, regarding periods, topics, genres, places; b) Each Hagiographic period is presented within its social, economic, political period; c) New evidence is provided and new hagiographic topics are discussed in detail. At the end of each chapter, extensive literature, both primary and secondary, is cited; d) Prominent hagiographers, both Constantinopolitan and provincial, are presented (e.g. Theodoros of Stoudios, Ignatios the Deacon, Michael Synkellos, Leontios of Neapolis, John Mauropous etc.; e) Hagiography is connected to other genres such as 12th century Rhetoric.

Many congratulations are owed to the editor, Professor Stephanos Efthymiadis, as he succeeded in presenting a serious study to modern scholarship, an important study not only to Byzantinists, but also to scholars, interested in theology, literature, and social history of Byzantium. Given the major names of the contributors and the well-written content, there is no doubt that this companion will be the primer for years to come. Every university library should have a copy. I await with great interest the second volume, which will be dedicated to aspects of hagiography as a literary genre.

Spyros P. Panagopoulos is an independent scholar of Byzantine and Patristic studies in Greece. His current research is focusing on Byzantine scholarship and Hagiography during the Palaiologan period.


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