Spring 2017 Newsletter and Message from the Director

Author: Megan J. Hall

This message from our director is part of our Spring 2017 Newsletter, which you can read in full online.


Thomas E. Burman, MI DirectorThomas E. Burman, Robert M. Conway Director of the Medieval Institute

Getting from Great to Greater: New Fellows, (Possible) New Supporters, and New Manuscripts

Back in January I exhorted us all to embrace the task of making this great thing (the Medieval Institute) even greater. Over the last week or so, I’ve been pleasantly lingering over signs that this process is, in fact, well underway. On the last day of May, Neil Chase sent out our call for all medieval faculty at ND to apply or reapply for status as MI fellows. I was frankly concerned that the response would be tepid, knowing well how hard it is to get the professorial class’s attention once the scholarly pleasures of summer have begun. I need not have worried. We received twenty applications in the first week, and more are coming in. The first ingredient of success is a committed faculty, and we clearly have that.

Then on the mornings of June 2nd and 3rd we held an open house in the Reading Room during Alumni Reunion Weekend (many thanks to Megan J. Hall, Julia Schneider, and Linda Major for making this possible). We really had no idea if anyone would show up. Yet on Saturday morning alone at least fifty alumni came by to learn about medieval studies at ND. They were captivated by our beautiful facsimiles and deeply impressed by the MI’s long record of scholarly excellence. To achieve our goals, we need to develop partnerships with a much broader range of supporters. As I watched them reverently turn the pages of our Book-of-Kells and Muhammad’s-Night-Journey facsimiles, I began to feel confident that those supporters are out there, waiting for us to draw them in.

Just a few days later David Gura invited me down to the Rare Book Room to see the past year's new manuscript acquisitions:

  • a late-medieval copy of Lucan with abundant reader’s notes on nearly every leaf
  • a thirteenth-century Franciscan pocket codex containing preaching aids and related texts, all laid out in a handsome scholastic format
  • two late-medieval Greek manuscripts, one used for teaching Italian humanists the Attic tongue, the other containing works of Pseudo-Dionysius
  • a number of leaves of liturgical text in Visigothic script
  • a single leaf of a palimpsest with under-text still to be deciphered.

These are stunning resources for research and teaching, and there are more on the way. New Fellows, new supporters, new manuscripts: great to greater.

If you haven’t sent in your application for fellow status, please do so, and consider applying for funding through our new faculty/grad-student working group program. All best wishes for the summer!

Tom Burman

For more about our director, read the announcement of his appointment, an interview with him upon the start of his position at the MI, his History Department research profile, and view his c.v.