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The Third Annual UCSB Medieval Studies
Graduate Student Conference
Self, Community, and Artifact in the Middle Ages

Saturday, April 17 2004
Centennial House
Plenary Speaker: R. Allen Shoaf, University of Florida


Plenary Speaker:

R. Allen Shoaf
University of Florida
Dante’s Comedy, Chaucer’s Troilus, Henryson’s Testament: A B and C — “a pregnant argument.”

Graduate Speakers:

Jessica Andruss
Department of Religious Studies
title tba

Karen Frank
Department of History
title tba

James Maiello
Department of Music
Music, Ritual, & The Asperges

Jessica Murphy
Department of English
The Absent Victim(s) in 'The Wife of Bath's Tale' and Chaucer's Struggle

Jennifer Stoy
Department of English
Looking for Alice Perrers


Jessica Andruss
In his Kuzari or Argument and Proof in Defense of the Despised Faith, Judah Halevi (1075-1140) articulates the central tenets of classical Judaism through an imagined Socratic dialogue between a convert to Judaism and the rabbi who instructs him. Halevi's treatise is based on the historical conversion of a Khazar king (ca. 861) as well as the retelling of this event by a later Khazar king in a famous letter to the Andalusi courtier-rabbi Hasdai ibn Shaprut (915-970). Yet the Kuzari reflects Halevi's particular cultural milieu: the confluence of Aristotelian philosophy, Muslim theology, Sufi mysticism, rabbinical authority, and Karaism. Halevi seeks to preserve Judaism as a religion distinct from these traditions, but in doing so reveals his deep engagement in them. However, by the late medieval period and still today, the Kuzari is esteemed as a definitive presentation of rabbinical Judaism. How can a text so rooted in the inter-religious and intra-religious arguments of Islamic Spain come to be an acknowledged source of the essential principles of rabbinic Judaism? This paper argues that the Kuzari becomes a definitive treatment of Judaism only after Jews are expelled from Iberia and form communities in exile. In the ensuing centuries, crypto-Jews with no personal experience of their Jewish heritage leave Spain and seek to integrate into established Jewish communities. This situation, in which Jews must be taught how to participate in ritual and communal life, creates the need for a consistent account of Judaism, and allows the Kuzari to emerge as such.

Karen Frank
In the year 1460, the head of Saint Andrew, brother of Saint Peter, went on the European relic market. Throughout the Middle Ages Andrew's body had lain in the Italian city of Amalfi while his head rested on the Greek island of Patras. When the Turks invaded the Pelopennese seven years after the conquest of Constantinople, the deposed Greek emperor's youngest brother, Thomas Palaeologus, Despot of Morea, fled his principality and sought refuge in Western Europe. He refused to do so empty-handed, stopping along his way in order to collect Andrew's head.

Pope Pius II, upon hearing that Thomas wished to sell the relic, immediately put in his bid. He warned Thomas that this "most precious head of the apostle" must not fall into the hands of just anybody. Indeed, he stated that Thomas would "incur the anger of the apostles", and "be acting most impiously and cruelly if he surrendered it to anyone but the pope." Thomas turned down other lucrative offers, and agreed to trade the relic for the pope's permanent hospitality in Rome. Pius himself recounts this story of how Andrew's head came to Rome in his Commentaries. The acquisition of the head of Peter's brother clearly meant much to the humanist pope, as the story of the acquisition-and the ceremonies that he devised and orchestrated to welcome Andrew-takes up almost half of Book VIII. Curiously, this episode, with very few exceptions, has either been ignored by modern historians of the Quattrocento, or else glossed over as so much ceremony. Those who do mention the incident tend to concentrate on its propagandistic purpose. Even the briefest of readings of the event makes it excruciatingly clear that Pius intended in this ceremony to arouse the indignation of secular princes over the Turkish conquest of previously Christian lands. The speech that the Greek cardinal Bessarion delivered the Tuesday of Holy Week, April 26th 1462, on behalf of the physically present, but mute, Saint Andrew clearly associated Pius II with Saint Peter. Andrew, through his spokesman, Bessarion, implored his brother to dedicate himself to the destruction of the "barbarian" Turks. Since the materially present Peter, like Andrew, was mute, and too needed a mortal spokesperson, it was left to his representative, Pius, to swear to uphold his brother's cause, which Pius, of course, did. This part of the ceremony is no surprise considering the lukewarm response Pius received three years earlier in Mantua when he pleaded his cause-the defeat of the Turks and the subsequent protection of Christians in those lands appropriated by their foe-to secular dignitaries and princely ambassadors. Though Pius's eloquence at the Congress of Mantua failed to arouse the intended response, Pius must have hoped that Saint Andrew's forced flight from his home of 1400 years would make some impression on Christian secular leaders. This ceremonial opportunity must have been irresistible to Pius and his supporters within the curia.

But the crusade that Pius longed for did not occur, despite the fact that, according to his Commentaries, not only all of Rome but many visitors from all over Europe enthusiastically received the apostle with both pomp and adoration. Though perhaps Pius failed in his endeavor to whip up popular sentiment for a crusade, he still considered the event of welcoming Andrew to Rome as one of the highlights of his papacy. He describes not only the dialogue between Andrew and the silent Peter (and his representative Pius), but also the adventus ceremony of Saint Andrew into Rome with exquisite attention to detail. The ceremony itself then, despite or in addition to its propagandistic intent, meant much to this humanist pope. My intent in this paper is to concentrate on what other historians have chosen to ignore-the centrality of the relic to this ceremony-and to examine how Pius viewed relics in the mid-fifteenth century. Close examination of Pius's description of the ceremony and a reconstruction of the late medieval city of Rome that welcomed Andrew's relic will reveal what the ceremony may have meant outside of Pius's crusade-inspiring intent.

For a financially strained papacy, ceremony for ceremony's sake is an expensive past-time. It is difficult to believe that the "gorgeous ceremony" of the Renaissance Church was just that. Instead, the triple blows of the Avignon papacy, the Great Schism and the Conciliar movement weakened the position that not only the papacy but also Rome itself possessed in the minds of the Church's faithful, forcing the pope into a position of reasserting both himself and his see. Though this is not an entirely new argument , and while other historians have emphasized the connection of ceremonies and ritual to authoritative papal claims in the fifteenth century, none have to my knowledge either examined those ceremonies in detail or questioned the reliance on relics within these ceremonies. What I hope to suggest, then, is that relics-particularly of early martyrs and Apostles-were intrinsic to papal attempts to both reclaim authority and stress the importance of the pope as the head of the respublica christiania in Quattrocento Rome.

James Maiello
"Music, Ritual, & The Asperges"
In the Roman rite, holy water is used in many rites of purification or cleansing, often accompanied by the antiphon Asperges me (or Vidi aquam in Paschal Time). One of the most common uses of holy water came to be known simply as the Asperges- the sprinkling of the altar and the congregation immediately before Mass on Sundays. The rite developed from Byzantine and monastic roots and became part of the Mass ordinary during the medieval period. It remained remarkably consistent from its origins until the mid-twentieth century. In the relevant literature, however, rarely more than a paragraph is devoted to the ritual and its accompanying music. This is particularly surprising, since these antiphons were widely disseminated throughout Europe during the Middle Ages, and the ritual was an integral part of the liturgy. In addition, polyphonic settings of the antiphons began to appear as early as the 1430s, the beginning of a polyphonic tradition that reached well into the twentieth century.

This paper aims to provide a detailed look at the Asperges and its accompanying music. It will focus on the history of the ritual, the text and music of the antiphons, and the development of a polyphonic repertory of music for the Asperges. I will also examine differences among insular, Continental, monastic, and secular Uses, as well as issues of performance practice.

Jessica Murphy
"The Absent Victim(s) in 'The Wife of Bath's Tale' and Chaucer's Struggle"
The catalyst for the action of the Wife of Bath's Tale is the rape of a young maiden, yet that maiden is absent from the tale after the three lines that describe the rape (WBT 886-8). Chaucer's Wife may have intended to tell a story that illustrates the desire of women for sovereignty, but the Wife denies a voice to the woman whose plight begins the tale. The maiden disappears, sullied and unmarriageable, from the tale after the rape because the story and the rape are no longer about the maiden. The legal concept of rape in the Middle Ages is not entirely straightforward, but there is no question that the crime of rape was the crime of one man against another man, and the female victim was relegated to the status of property. If a rape is one man's violation of another's property, then there is another victim in The Wife of Bath's Tale whose voice and concerns are absent-the maiden's father (or male guardian). The maiden's silence serves to highlight her violation and the unfair nature of its punishment, while the male victim's silence points to complications in the representation of this violation. In this paper, I argue that Chaucer, who may have been accused of rape himself, struggles with the unfair nature of the treatment of the crime in The Wife of Bath's Tale, and that it is this struggle that creates the multiple meanings in the tale that are overlooked by critics who posit a unified vision of Chaucer's representation of rape.

Jennifer Stoy
"Looking for Alice Perrers"
In this paper, I try to find a "real" medieval figure who has been all but obliterated from the records: Edward III's powerful mistress, Alice Perrers. Basically, I'm trying to find Perrers' self after the community has decided that she as an individual was too dangerous to be remembered. Looking at both historical records and William Langland's Piers Plowman, this paper/presentation will be an investigation of how gender, legitimacy, and precarious power situations coincide to remove records of one of medieval England's most interesting female figures.

Topics discussed in this paper will include if it's at all possible to find Alice Perrers, and how women's individuality is viewed with extreme distrust to outright hostility for several reasons, legal as well as social, and how the law's objectiveness is used in the Perrers case against Perrers, and how history in the form of chronicle manuscripts and idle rumor presented as fact, finishes the job. In "looking for Alice Perrers," she may be impossible to find, but a host of medieval issues about women, law, and power come to the fore.
Previous Conferences
First Annual UCSB Spring Graduate Student Conference (2002)
Second Annual UCSB Spring Graduate Student Conference (2003)


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