UCSB Program in Medieval Studies

announces its

Medieval Studies Winter Conference

Cultural Conflicts and Collaborations in the Middle Ages

Saturday, January 31, 2004, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

McCune Conference Room, 6th Floor HSSB

E. Jane Burns, L. M. Slifkin Distinguished Term Professor of Women’s Studies, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Saracen Silk and the Virgin’s chemise at Chartres Cathedral: Cultural Crossings in Cloth

In twelfth-century France, pilgrims visiting Chartres cathedral often returned home wearing small leaden badges depicting the site’s most venerated relic: the tunic supposedly worn by the Virgin when she gave birth to the Christ child. The relic was known alternately as the "sainte chemise" or the "sainte tunique" until 1721, we are told, when the reliquary was opened. The item removed from the case was then revealed to be not a western European garment made of linen, as the faithful had imagined, but an ample silk "veil" of eastern provenance, possibly from Syria or Constantinople.

The aim of this paper is to read the extant images of western-style chemises portrayed on medieval pilgrim badges from Chartres against a number of surviving miracle stories that describe that same chemise as made of eastern or Saracen silk. It is through the process of reading through clothes—literally by paying attention to the details of the Virgin’s underwear, in this instance—that we can chart complex patterns of trade and mercantile exchange that accompanied both pilgrimage and crusade in the 12th and 13th centuries.

Annemarie Weyl Carr, University Distinguished Professor of Art History, Division of Art History, Southern Methodist University

Crusader Cyprus. Forms of Confluence in a Complex Land

I am interested in the way artifacts illuminate cross-cultural relationships in complex societies. The society that engages me is that of medieval Cyprus, a Greek-speaking, Orthodox island governed as an independent kingdom from 1191 to 1489 by western European lords. I look at a type of holy icon distinctive to Cyprus: an icon accompanied by an inscription recording a death. Consistently commissioned for Orthodox patrons, these funerary icons nonetheless emerge from an interplay of Orthodox and Catholic rituals of death on the island. The light they cast on modes of interaction is not readily visible in other media, and contributes to the immensely intricate tessellation of accommodation and resistance that made up Cypriot life.

Steven A. Epstein, Ahmanson-Murphy Distinguished Professor of Medieval History, Department of History, University of Kansas

Faithless Franks and Complex Identities in the Eastern Mediterranean

This paper looks at the phenomenon of the renegade in the crusader east from the twelfth to the early fourteenth century. Defining the "faithless Frank" brings forward a small group of warriors and merchants accused, fairly or not, of becoming too closely allied with the Muslims. The subject here is not those who converted to Islam, but those whose sympathies, or instincts for self-preservation or profit led them to make accomodations across the boundaries of creed, culture, and ethnicity. By straining or breaking ties with their own group, these faithless Franks entered new, mixed relationships that complicated identities and what it meant to be a renegade.


Patricia Clare Ingham, Associate Professor, Department of English, Indiana University

Medieval Alterity

"Medieval Alterity" explores questions of whether/how an earlier historiographic overemphasis upon historical difference (Medieval alterity from Modernity) has now been replaced by an overemphasis upon certain kinds of cultural alterity within the Middle Ages. Important skepticism about the categorical alterity of medieval to modern has, however and inadvertently, recently given way to an overemphasis upon ethnic and cultural alterity in the Middle Ages, specifically with regard to categories of "East" and "West," an issue that emerges in some recent postcolonial readings of Chaucer’s Man of Laws Tale. These readings at times seem to be replacing the "absolute historical alterity" of medieval to modern with the notion of an absolute cultural alterity of "East" to "West," perhaps because such alterity resonates so deeply with contemporary postcolonial interests and contemporary cultural chauvinisms. In this paper, I interrogate the limitations of such a view and the tendency of such categories toward reification. The Middle English "Floris and Blanchfleur" will serve as my literary example.


Debra Blumenthal, History, UCSB, at Radcliffe Institute for 2003-04

Sharon Kinoshita, Literature, UC Santa Cruz

Lisa Lampert, Literature, UC San Diego

Sharon Farmer, History, UC Santa Barbara