The Medieval Institute welcomes back Ryan Lash ('10), who was a Medieval Studies Honors Major and Anthropology Major and now holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Northwestern, to give a seminar on his current work. You can read more about his career path on our Research and Internships page.
About the seminar: The ‘material turn’ in the social sciences and humanities reinforces and accentuates a distinctive disciplinary quality of medieval studies: detailed contextual analysis of original source materials. This seminar will discuss new theoretical and methodological approaches to materiality that enrich analysis of the interplay of textual and material culture in the medieval world. Specifically, we will consider a series of stone objects excavated at a little-known early medieval monastery on Inishark Island in the west of Ireland. Thousands of tide-worn quartz pebbles, an ironstone nodule inscribed with a geometric design, and a series of carved cross-slabs embody distinctive histories of interaction between lithic materials, humans, and other-than-human forces. Geochemical analysis, 3D modeling, and experimental recreation of carving techniques enrich understandings of these object biographies. Considering these biographies alongside theological texts, reencounters with medieval materials in the present reveal the dynamic sensory, mnemonic, and semiotic affordances of objects employed in monastic devotions.
You are welcome to bring your own lunch to the seminar. The Medieval Institute will provide light refreshments. No RSVP is required.
Dr. Lash holds a B.A. in Medieval Studies and Anthropology from the University of Notre Dame, an M.Phil. in Anglo-Saxon, Norse & Celtic from the University of Cambridge, and a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Northwestern University. He is currently a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Anthropology at Notre Dame. His works have been published in Antiquity, Medieval Archaeology, Journal of Social Archaeology, and the forthcoming volume The Routledge Handbook of Sensory Archaeology.