Project Leaders: Elizabeth Archibald, James Clark, Beth Williamson
The aim of this project is to initiate a re-examination of the culture, and cultural dynamics, of the West Country in the Middle Ages and their role in shaping the identity of Medieval England as a whole. It was within West Country landscapes that were formed the legends on which much national history was founded. The churches and clerical communities of the region were a source of ecclesiastical leadership and spiritual inspiration; the region generated an early and energetic tradition of learning and literature, and between the twelfth and the sixteenth centuries it was also renowned for its creativity and innovation in architecture and the production of books, indeed even for early experimentation in printing. The West Country was also a frontier between the English polity and its expanding dominion in Wales and Ireland and, at least in the later Middle Ages, what might be termed the emerging Atlantic world. As such it served as a point-of-exchange, where a wide variety of cultural commodities – language, textual traditions, doctrines – were traded and transmitted. Here London English confronted rich variations in vocabulary and usage.
The rich, diverse cultural traditions of the Medieval West have attracted much attention from researchers, but for the most part they have been the subject of discrete studies. The aim of this project is to engender an integrated approach, examining these themes from a variety of disciplinary perspectives and within the context of the region as a whole. The project builds on a number of recent projects completed by members of the Centre for Medieval Studies; it also seeks to extend extra-mural partnerships which have been fostered over a number of years with the Library and Archives of Hereford Cathedral and Wells Cathedral. In the course of developing the project, it is hoped to add further partners, such as the Library and Archives of Gloucester and Exeter Cathedrals, Bristol Public Library and Bristol Record Office, and Berkeley Castle.
The principal objectives for 2010/11 were to convene three, thematic research workshops, involving researchers within and beyond Bristol, listed below.
A symposium was held on 20th January 2012, to be followed by an application for a major research grant.
The three exploratory workshops that took place in 2011 are as follows:
Myth, History, Identity (23rd February) speakers included Thorlac Turville-Peter (Nottingham) and Simon Meecham-Jones (Swansea/Cambridge)
Church and Cult (27th April) speakers included Nicholas Orme (Exeter and Oxford) and Clive Burgess (Royal Holloway) with contributions from Bristol colleagues Jon Cannon and James Clark.
Textual Communities (8th July), speakers included Ralph Hanna (Oxford), Andrew Butcher (Kent) and Peter Fleming (UWE)
If you would like to receive further details about the project and forthcoming events please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.