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Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies

Launch of the IMRS

In 2010-11 Durham celebrated the launch the new Institute of Medieval and Renaissance Studies with a series of lectures, conferences, seminars and events marking. A keynote lecture by Prof. Faith Wallis (McGill University) began the final celebrations in June, followed by a day conference led by our postgraduates and integrating Durham staff and visiting international researchers followed. Thank you to all who participated and attended and made this a year to remember.

Imagining Bede's Ordered Universe in Anglo-Norman England

By Prof. Faith Wallis, Dept. of History, McGill University, Montreal, Canada

In the century following the Norman Conquest, the English Church and especially the monastic order underwent profound and sometimes painful changes. For both natives and incomers, Bede was an important symbol as well as a source of authoritative teaching. His writings encouraged pride in the English past, and at the same time stood as an emblem of England's integration in the universal Roman church. Post-Conquest monastic and cathedral libraries eagerly multiplied their copies of Bede's historical, hagiographical and exegetical works, but they also produced copies of his scientific books: On the Nature of Things, On Times, and The Reckoning of Time. Some of these manuscripts are exceptionally handsome, with unique glosses in striking graphic forms; moreover, they reveal networks of exchange linking religious communities in Durham, the Fenlands, and the Severn-Wye region. This address explores why English monks were interested in the Bede's picture of the physical universe and time-reckoning, in an age when natural science and ideas about the calendar were rapidly transforming in fresh and un-Bedan ways.