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New Edition of Wyclif’s De scientia Dei

A critical edition of Wyclif’s De scientia Dei, edited by Luigi Campi, was published recently by Oxford University Press.

Scientia dei

From the publisher: “De scientia Dei (On God’s Knowledge) is one of the few major texts by John Wyclif that has not already been published. According to John A. Robson, the De scientia Dei is ‘in some way, the most important of all the treatises’ of Wyclif’s so-called Summa de ente. It was probably written in 1372, when the editorial project of the Summa de ente was in its final stages, and when Wyclif was at the peak of his academic career. In it he deals with God’s knowledge as a divine attribute, presents his peculiar view of God’s knowledge as a relation of reason, distinguishes between God’s knowledge of creatures in their intelligible being and in their actual existence, and argues in favour of a compatibilism between God’s foreknowledge of future events and the liberty of human will. In this connection, a long section is also devoted to questions about the doctrine of salvation, and to the first elaborated exposition of Wyclif’s doctrine of grace.”

CFP: Lollard Society Sessions at Kalamazoo

The Lollard Society will sponsor the following three sessions at the 53rd International Congress on Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo, Michigan (May 10-13, 2018):

1) Unmystical Rolle
The early fourteenth-century Yorkshire hermit, Richard Rolle, has long been known as one of the premier mystical writers of the English Middle Ages. He was positioned at the beginning of “the brilliant procession of English mystics” by Evelyn Underhill (1911), a reputation supported by the early publication of Incendium Amoris, the most substantial account of his mystical experiences, by Margaret Deanesly (1915). This view of Rolle as primarily a mystical author is supported, more recently, in Nicholas Watson’s influential literary biography, Richard Rolle and the Invention of Authority (1991), where his less obviously mystical works are positioned early in Rolle’s career, thereby made explicable as juvenilia beyond which the mystic quickly moved. This session aims to balance this longstanding emphasis by attending instead to what might be called, roughly, Rolle’s unmystical works (in English and in Latin)––derivative pieces, dull tracts, boring bits of exegesis, rigidly programmatic writings, etc. How might devoting more sustained attention to these works change our understanding of this important English author, of his appeal to medieval readers, and perhaps even of the chronology of his writings that Watson proposed? Papers should focus on individual writings or groups of writings by (or attributed to) Rolle, on case studies of manuscripts containing his works, or perhaps on uses of Rolle’s texts in other late medieval literature.

2) Constructing the Wycliffite Bible
With the immanent publication of a critical edition of the Glossed Wycliffite Psalter, together with ongoing work on a new edition of the Wycliffite Bible at Oxford, we are in the midst of a new wave of textual-critical and other theoretical assessments of Wycliffite textual activity. This work will facilitate a more subtle analysis of the Wycliffite Bible in all its variants, and of how its intricate apparatus and companion texts were instrumental in its subsequent circulation. What’s especially topical about the Wycliffite Bible is how the medieval experience of its texts occurred within a wide variety of specific material circumstances even as a sense of scripture’s broader unity and coherence persisted.  A “constructed” document is always both reducible and irreducible in this way; yet the scope and transmission of the Wycliffite Bible also vividly illustrates the significance of these alternatives. Panelists might consider the reducibility of the Wycliffite Bible in relation to approaches focused on specific books and manuscript traditions or on local patterns of production, use, and circulation. At the same time, its irreducibility as a “constructed” text—that is, its abstract expressive power, its surplus value as symbol or artifact—seems equally urgent, and might suggest that we take more theoretically oriented approaches to its materiality.

3) Social Justice in the Piers Plowman tradition (co-sponsored with the International Piers Plowman Society)
“Social Justice” is generally understood as the quest for empowerment, equality, and equity in all matters of civics, law, and labor, and extending as well to nature and the environment. Many universities are focusing their curricula on 21st century themes of social justice due to the rising demand placed on academia to help make sense of the rapid pace of social change in the modern world. Following on recent Kalamazoo panels, of the last three years in particular, that have looked to medieval literature as a site to explore issues of contemporary urgency such as rape culture, misogyny, and ableism, this panel investigates how the great 14th-century poem Piers Plowman both treats issues of social justice in its own time and invites, in pedagogy, dynamic engagement with issues relevant to today’ world. One particular site inviting such engagement between the medieval and the modern is labor. Piers Plowman asks questions about sustainability, gainful employment, disability as it relates to labor and access, the role of institutions (e.g., governmental or ecclesiastical) and charity as it pertains to work, the integrity of labor, and a host of other issues. The session also welcomes broader constructions of the Piers Plowman tradition and social justice issues that mediate the medieval and the modern, such as: the rhetorics of patient poverty; the visibility of disability, reimagining class distinctions; the ethics of animal-human labor; and the ongoing relation between humankind and the natural world.

To propose a paper, please send an abstract to Michael Van Dussen (michael[dot]vandussen[at]mcgill[dot]ca) no later than September 15, 2017.

New Books for Summer Reading

Summer is a great time to catch up on new work related to Wycliffites and late-medieval religion. Important books from 2016 include a collection of essays that puts Wycliffism in a pan-European context and three new volumes on the Wycliffite Bible.

Europe After Wyclif
Ed. by J. Patrick Hornbeck, II and Michael Van Dussen


From Fordham University Press: “This volume brings together scholarship that discusses late-medieval religious controversy on a pan-European scale, with particular attention to developments in England, Bohemia, and at the general councils of the fifteenth century…Europe After Wyclif was designed specifically to encourage analysis of cultural cross-currents—the ways in which regional controversies, while still products of their own environments and of local significance, were inseparable from cultural developments that were experienced internationally.”

The Wycliffite Bible: Origin, History and Interpretation
Ed. by Elizabeth Solopova


From Brill: “The Wycliffite Bible: Origin, History and Interpretation brings together contributions by leading scholars on different aspects of the first complete translation of the Bible into English, produced at the end of the 14th century by the followers of the Oxford theologian John Wyclif. Though learned and accurate, the translation was condemned and banned within twenty-five years of its appearance. In spite of this it became the most widely disseminated medieval English work that profoundly influenced the development of vernacular theology, religious writing, contemporary and later literature, and the English language. Its comprehensive study is long overdue and the current collection offers new perspectives and research on this, the most learned and widely evidenced of the European translations of the Vulgate.”

Manuscripts of the Wycliffite Bible in the Bodleian and Oxford College Libraries
By Elizabeth Solopova


From Liverpool University Press: “The catalogue contains detailed descriptions of all (64 in total) manuscripts of the Wycliffite Bible in Oxford collections (the Bodleian and college libraries). This is a substantial part of the whole corpus: 250 manuscripts of the Bible survive and Oxford has the largest number of copies in any single location. The descriptions are subdivided into sections covering textual contents, decoration, dialect, physical makeup and binding of each manuscript, and are accompanied by bibliographies. The descriptions are preceded by an introduction with a discussion of the manuscript tradition of the Wycliffite Bible and the findings resulting from the study of Oxford copies. The catalogue also contains several appendices illustrating important features of the manuscripts.”

The Middle English Bible: A Reassessment
By Henry Ansgar Kelly


From the University of Pennsylvania Press: “Translated shortly before 1400, the Bible became the most popular medieval book in English. Prevailing scholarly opinion calls it the Wycliffite Bible, attributing it to followers of the heretic John Wyclif, and claims it was banned in 1407. Henry Ansgar Kelly disagrees, arguing it was a nonpartisan effort and never the object of any prohibition.”

Lollard Society at Kalamazoo International Medieval Congress

The Lollard Society will sponsor three panels at the 52nd International Medieval Congress in Kalamazoo, MI.

Constructing the Wycliffite Bible
[Update 5/10/17 – regrettably, this session has been canceled] 

Beguines and the Transformations of Urban Piety on the Eastern Periphery of Late Medieval Christendom
Sunday, May 14, 8:30am (Bernhard 205)

Organizer: Michael Van Dussen (McGill Univ.)
Presider: Michael Van Dussen (McGill Univ.)

1) Henry Harrer’s Tractatus contra beghardos: The Polish and Czech Dominican Response to Early Fourteenth-Century Heresies
Tomasz Gałuszka, Univ. Papieski Jana Pawła II w Krakowie

2) The Bohemian Beguines Lost in Oblivion
Pavlína Cermanová, Centrum medievistických studií, Prague

3) The Inquisitor at Work: John of Schwenkenfeld, O.P., and His Inquiry into the Beguines in Świdnica
Paweł Kras, Katolicki Univ. Lubelski Jana Pawła II


(Reformation in Faith and [Feeling) Like Saints]
Sunday, May 14, 10:30am (Bernhard 205)

Organizer: Michael Van Dussen (McGill Univ.)
Presider: Michael Van Dussen (McGill Univ.)

1) The Wordes of Poule
Michael Sargent, Queens College, CUNY

2) Hilton on Paul
Fiona Somerset, Univ. of Connecticut

3) “[H]o so haþ clene affectioun in his soule”: Conservative Affectivity and the Middle English Meditationes de passione Christi
Ryan Perry, Univ. of Kent

4) Love: Is it More than a Feeling?
Robyn Malo, Purdue Univ.

Cfp: Reformation on the Record

A conference sponsored by The National Archives (UK) will be held Nov. 3-4, 2017, to mark the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. The organizers, who welcome papers on lollardy, describe the conference as follows:

“The National Archives holds an enormous collection of public records that document the changes and continuities in governance of the Church and State in 15th, 16th and 17th century Britain and Ireland, and shed light on religious practices and popular piety. Many of these records have not been used extensively in the historiography and have the potential to offer deeper insight into this period.

It is our intention to create a network of scholars and postgraduates researching the Reformation using our documents, and to develop the profile of The National Archives as a hub for Reformation studies. The conference will form a key part of the network, bringing together current research on the Reformation and drawing on the holdings of The National Archives.”

Abstracts for papers are due April 30. Please see the cfp poster for more information.

Cfp: The Fifteenth Century Conference 2017, including sessions in honour of Margaret Aston

The 38th Fifteenth Century Conference will be held at the University of Essex, Colchester
Thursday 31st August to Saturday 2nd September 2017.

The conference, which has met in most years since 1970, will bring together established as well as younger scholars of all aspects of fifteenth-century studies. We invite proposals for papers showcasing all aspects of current research into the fifteenth century and new trends in the field, relating to both England and the wider world, and of all disciplinary backgrounds.

In honour of Margaret Aston (1932-2014), we propose to include a stream of sessions focusing upon the religious history of the long fifteenth century. We particularly invite papers on subjects such as heresy and non-conformity, martyrdom, and iconoclasm, as well as pre-Reformation and Reformation religion in a broader sense.
Contributions from current research students are especially welcome. Papers should normally be of 20 minutes; additional time will be allowed for discussion. Subject to peer review, papers may be published in Boydell & Brewer’s series The Fifteenth Century.

To propose a paper please submit a title and short abstract (no more than 300 words) by email no later than Friday 28th April 2017. Contact: Dr Justin Colson (jcolson [at] essex [dot] ac [dot] uk) and Dr Tom Freeman (tfreeman [at] essex [dot] ac [dot] uk)

The conference will be held at the Colchester Campus of the University of Essex, located in the beautiful grounds of Wivenhoe House, around 60 minutes from central London. The conference will take advantage of the many medieval features of Colchester, including an exclusive evening private view and wine reception at the newly refurbished Colchester Castle museum, the largest Norman keep in Britain, constructed upon the foundations of the Roman temple of Claudius. Tours will include the Red Lion, the Duke of Norfolk’s fifteenth century townhouse; the gatehouse of St John’s Abbey; the ruins of St Botolph’s Priory, and eight surviving medieval parish churches.

Conference: Studying the Arts in Medieval Bohemia

On 8-9 December, the Institute of Philosophy at the Czech Academy of Sciences will hold a conference relevant to Wyclif’s reception in Bohemia:

Studying the Arts in Medieval Bohemia: Production, Reception and Transmission of Knowledge at the Arts Faculty of Prague University in the Middle Ages

More information and the schedule of presentations can be found here.

Conference: Before and After Wyclif

The Università degli Studi di Milano hosted “Before and After Wyclif: Sources and Textual Influences” on 12-13 September 2016.


The conference aims to “enhance our understanding of Wyclif’s thought and his place within his contemporary intellectual milieu from the standpoint of textual dependence and/or influence.”

More information, including a list of speakers, can be found here.

CFP: Fourth Annual Symposium on Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Saint Louis University

The Annual Symposium on Medieval and Renaissance Studies provides a convenient summer venue in North America for scholars in all disciplines to present papers, organize sessions, participate in roundtables, and engage in interdisciplinary discussion. The goal of the symposium is to promote serious scholarly investigation of the medieval and early modern worlds.

We invite proposals for papers, sessions, and roundtables on all topics and in all disciplines of medieval and early modern studies. Proposals from learned societies and scholarly associations are particularly welcome. The deadline for proposals submissions is December 31.

The plenary speakers for this year will be Barbara Newman, of Northwestern University, and Teofilo Ruiz, of the University of California, Los Angeles.

The Symposium is held on the beautiful midtown campus of Saint Louis University, hosted by the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies. On-campus housing options include affordable, air-conditioned apartments and a luxurious boutique hotel. Inexpensive dorm meal plans are available.

All sessions take place in state-of-the-art classrooms and auditoriums with complete audiovisual facilities. All sessions, events, meals, and housing are located within easy walking distance of each other. A rich variety of restaurants, bars, and cultural venues are also only a short walk away.

During their stay, participants are welcome to utilize the Vatican Film Library as well as the rare book and manuscript collections of the nearby Pius XII Library. Those interested in using the Vatican Film library, should contact Susan L’Engle (lengles [at] slu [dot] edu) by email or phone at 314-977-3090. Participants may also use the library’s regular collections, which are especially strong in medieval and early modern studies.

All sessions are 90 minutes long. A variety of session formats are welcome. Preference will be given to organized sessions that involve participants from multiple institutions.

To register, follow this link:

CFP: Kalamazoo, 2016

The Lollard Society will sponsor two sessions at the 51st International Congress on Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo, MI (May 12-15, 2016):

1. What Do We Mean by Devotion?
In scholarship on later medieval religiosity, the terms “devotion” and “devotional” can signal a wide range of dispositions, behaviors, teachings, and textual forms: just what do we mean by this term? For this panel, we seek papers that explore the variety of external behaviors and internal states we might consider devotional. Questions papers might engage with include, but are not limited to: What are the scope and limits of this terminology? How does devotion relate to form, genre, emotion, cognition, contemplation, or theology? Papers might also ask how devotion meaningfully differs from or overlaps with pastoral instruction, guidance for right living, examination of conscience, or communal ritual. Likewise, they might explore to what extent manuscript contexts determine how we categorize religious texts. We welcome papers addressing the texts, codices, and experiences of lay people or clerics, whether dissenters, reformers, or more mainstream Christians.

2. Lollardy and Literature
As a part of the so-called “religious turn,” the study of lollardy (or Wycliffism) in Middle English literature has flourished over the past two decades. This panel aims to take stock of what such scholarship has achieved and to identify directions for future research. Do we read Chaucer, Langland, Hoccleve, or Lydgate differently in light of lollard studies? If we don’t, should we? What place do lollard texts hold in the corpus of Middle English literature or within English literature curricula? How do we better understand anticlerical, antifraternal, or other dissenting discourses within English literary history? Alternatively, how might emphasis on lollardy distort the literary landscape, such that we become too prone to “smelle a loller in the wind”? We welcome discussion of the assumptions, methods, and research questions that shape our understanding of dissent, reform, or heterodox belief in Middle English literature.

Please send your abstract (approx. 200 words) and a completed Participant Information Form to Mary Raschko (raschkml[at]whitman[dot]edu) no later than September 15, 2015.