Iberia"All events are held at the Annmary Brown Memorial (21 Brown Street) at 5:30 PM and free of charge unless otherwise indicated.


The Rhode Island Medieval Circle Lectures

FALL 2016

  • Thur., Sept. 29 - Lester Little (Smith College,) "The Wine Porters of Northern Italy: Reconstructing the History of a Forgotten Trade and its Patron Saint"

Lester LittleLester LittleL. Little PosterL. Little Poster





  • Thur., Oct. 27 – Robert D. Fulk (Indiana University Bloomington,) “Some Verses Not in Njáls saga” 

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Njáls saga
, the greatest (and longest) of the Icelandic family sagas, was composed about 1280. Sometime shortly thereafter an anonymous poet composed thirty stanzas of skaldic verse for insertion into the saga, and these are found in a limited set of manuscripts. A close examination of these stanzas sheds intriguing and often amusing light on the aesthetics of saga composition ca.1300 and on the function of poetry in the sagas.

  • Mon., Nov. 14 - Cord Whitaker (Assistant Prof. of English at Wellesley College,) "Shimmering Philological Mirage: Chaucer’s Miller’s Tale and the Spiritual Side of Race" 

C. Whitaker PosterC. Whitaker Poster

C. WhitakerC. Whitaker







Cord J. Whitaker is Assistant Professor in the English Department at Wellesley College. The recipient of numerous fellowships and grants, Whitaker publishes on medieval romance, religious conflict, and the history of race. He recently edited the award-winning “Making Race Matter in the Middle Ages,” a special issue of postmedieval: a journal of medieval cultural studies. Whitaker will present a portion of his book-in-progress, Black Metaphors: Race, Religion, and Rhetoric in the Literature of Late Medieval England.

  • Thur., Dec. 1 - Maria Doerfler (Yale University,) "Women as Avatars of Wisdom in Late Ancient Homiletic Discourse" M.Doerfler-PosterM.Doerfler-Poster

Maria DoerflerMaria Doerfler






Maria E Doerfler serves as Assistant Professor of Eastern Christianity in the Department of Religious Studies at Yale University.  Her work focuses on late ancient strategies for reading and interpreting authoritative texts in times of personal or communal crisis. She is currently working on a monograph on Christian responses to the death of children and infants in late antiquity.



  • Thur., Feb. 23 - Anders Winroth (Yale University,) "Forgery and Due Process: Two Medieval Bishops and Human Rights"

The Middle Ages are not generally known for any particular devotion to human rights. In this talk, Prof. Winroth wishes to complicate that image by highlighting how some of the intellectual seeds of modern human rights were planted in perhaps unexpected contexts. The tumultuous and violent political history of the 830s, and in particular the unhappy fate of several leading churchmen inspired one of the most massive legal falsifications of the premodern period, the so-called Pseudo-Isidorian forgeries. The mysterious forger, who almost certainly was a bishop, forged a system of procedural law that, if it had been scrupulously observed, would have rescued him and his colleagues from deposition and imprisonment. At the time, Pseudo-Isidore were unable to impose his ideas on suspicious contemporaries, but over time, his legal system gained acceptance. When the future bishop Gratian three hundred years later, in the 1130s, needed to summarize procedural law for his handbook of ecclesiastical law, he drew his materials from Pseudo-Isidore. Gratian’s Decretum became foundational for the development of modern procedural law, for instance in its insistence on the rights of the accused and on fair trials. Gratian provided a corrective to the harsher and stricter rules of Roman procedural law, which at about the same time became highly influential.


Anders WinrothAnders Winroth








  • Thur., March 16 - Lillian von der Walde Moheno (Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Itzlapalapa, México,) "Obscene laughter at Court. An example from the fifteenth century"

Prof. Lillian von der Walde Moheno currently holds the Presidency of the Asociación Internacional de Teatro Español y Novohispano de los Siglos de Oro. Her publications include more than 80 articles or academic chapters. In her lecture Prof. Walde Moheno will refer to a comic poem that is entitled El pleito del manto and will problematize the combination of high culture and obscene laughter, since the structure of the composition is that of a legal dispute.

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  • Thur., April 20 -Vasileios Marinis (Yale University,) "Death and the Afterlife in Byzantine Thought"

What did the Byzantines believe happened to the soul after death and until the final resurrection and Last Judgment?  In order to answer this question, Prof. Marinis investigates two important sources: the tenth–century Life of Basil the Younger, which contains the most complete account of a soul’s fate after death in the form of a vision; and the codification of Byzantine beliefs formulated in the Council of Ferrara–Florence in the fifteenth century.  Despite some similarities, the two sources present fascinating variations. In this talk Prof. Marinis traces their origins, investigates their functions, and explains—or at least contextualizes—some of their peculiarities.

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