“Work in Progress” colloquium
“Work in Progress” colloquium
22 April 2024

The Centre hosts the following two talks:


1. C. Gluchowski (New College, Oxford), ‘Revising Devotion: Exploring Church Reform through Prayerbook MS. Lat. liturg. f. 4’.

The revision of prayerbooks stands as a significant yet often overlooked aspect of church reform. This article delves into this topic using the Easter prayerbook MS. Lat. liturg. f. 4 from the Bodleian Library in Oxford as a focal point, shedding light on its broader implications. Crafted in the Latin/Low-German tradition, this Easter prayerbook, a fusion of paper and parchment, hails from the Cistercian convent of Medingen near Lüneburg, Germany. This convent, renowned for its scriptorial output, contributed 64 manuscripts to history, spanning from the early 15th to the mid-16th century. Against the backdrop of two pivotal church reforms—the Northern German monastic reform of 1479 and the Lutheran Reformation of 1524/1544—the Medingen convent experienced a profound evolution. Surprisingly, over half of the Medingen manuscripts underwent revisions akin to the Easter prayerbook MS. Lat. liturg. f. 4. This article contends that these revisions serve as a testament to the Medingen nuns’ deliberate cultivation of their convent’s devotional ethos, shaped by the transformative waves of reform. By closely examining the Easter prayerbook MS. Lat. liturg. f. 4, this study seeks to unravel the nuanced role of these nuns as agents of reform—reformatrices—in the late medieval church. Employing the lenses of reframing and recycling, this article illuminates how these women navigated the complexities of religious change, leaving an indelible mark on the ecclesiastical landscape of their time.


2. P. Rea (Scuola Superiore Meridionale, Napoli / Universitat de València), ‘Non ti maravigliare che io non mi distenda nelo scrivere: Female Autographs and Kinship in an Early-Modern Italian Epistolary Corpus’.

In order to ascertain that the scribe is really a woman, palaeographers must often rely on a combination of circumstantial arguments. The aim of this paper will be to discuss some of the possible arguments on the basis of a study of a collection of charters that has just come to light in the Niccolini private archive. These charters, revolving around the Florentine Strozzi family between 1519 and 1572, include numerous letters signed by women: mainly Oretta, wife of Zanobi Strozzi, and her sisters (Caterina, Cassandra, Costanza, and Maddalena), her daughters (Smeralda, suor Alessandra, and suor Dianora), and her sisters-in-law (Lucrezia and Francesca). After identifying the autographs, I will discuss the literacy level of the individual writers, paying particular attention to any hints of a common writing education.


The session will be chaired by H. Lähnemann (SEH, Oxford).