Working Groups

Medieval Classroom

Each year the Medieval Institute sponsors Working Groups, an opportunity for faculty fellows and graduate students to investigate a topic relating to shared research interests.

Current Working Groups

The Transformation of Classical Texts in the Middle Ages

Faculty: W. Martin Bloomer, David Gura, Hildegund Müller, Julia Schneider
Graduate Students: Erik Ellis, Kelsi Ray

This MI working group, led by Professor Martin Bloomer, studies how the texts of pagan sapientia are accommodated to, become vehicles for, help articulate, and modify Christian ideas, institutions, and doctrine­. We are working on both the practical level of the individual text and manuscript and at a more theoretical level. We focus mainly on the commentary tradition of the Disticha Catonis, a very important text with a long and varied history in the Middle Ages, with the hope of understanding not simply allegorizing practices but, more deeply, how sapientia is reframed in a Christianizing mode. We are also considering the theoretical and methodological issues involved in recuperating modes of reading and recomposition and in determining how an object or idea from a foreign religion is accommodated to the mainstream religion.

Religion and Pluralism in the Mediterranean Region

Faculty: Thomas Burman, Gabriel Reynolds
Graduate Student: Andrea Castonguay

The primary purpose of this group is to consider the ways in which the medieval Mediterranean world was shaped by religious and intellectual pluralism and the interaction of religions, sects an intellectual movements, and  to do so in a way as to break out of the various boundaries imposed by one’s area of specialization and training.  

For the purpose of this group, "Mediterranean" is broadly defined to include the geographical regions of southern Europe, northern Africa into the Sahara, and western Asia out to the Iranian plateau. "Religion" can refer to Judaism, Christianity, Islam or one of the other faiths that existed in the region c. 500 -1550 CE. "Pluralism" can refer to interfaith interactions and experiences (e.g. a Christian's interpretation of another religion) or intra-faith interactions and experiences (e.g. the relationships between different sects of the same faith).

Jewish and Christian Books in the First Millenium CE

Faculty: David Lincicum, Hildegund Müller, Adam McCollum, Andrew Radde-Gallwitz
Graduate Students: Jeremiah Coogan, Paul Wheatley, Warren Campbell

This working group seeks to develop an ongoing conversation about the intersections between material texts and reading practices in Judaism and Christianity of the first millennium CE. As recent scholarship has emphasized, books do more than contain texts. Books are objects, always implicated in economic, ritual, and readerly matrices of production, collection, and use. One never encounters a disembodied text, apart from the material constraints and paratextual interventions that enable its physical existence. Nor do books read themselves; they are manipulated by reading communities with specific reading practices. The burgeoning discipline of book history creates and applies knowledge of the material, cultural, and theoretical aspects of the book. Associated practices of authorship, editing, reading, and collecting-ancient and modern-as well as the material culture and reading practices associated with non-book texts likewise fall within its scope. Christian and Jewish communities have often oriented themselves around books and reading and the insights of book history enrich the study of Judaism, Christianity, and their interactions with one another. This working group will thus focus on the material reception and interaction of Jewish and Christian texts from Late Antiquity into the early modern period; the Middle Ages are both chronologically and conceptually central to this conversation.


Faculty: CJ Jones, Thérèse Scarpelli Cory
Graduate Students: Jacob Coen, Marjorie Housley, Richard Jordan Lavender, Jillian Snyder

Research on emotions has blossomed into a productive and vibrant subfield of medieval studies internationally. In this MI Working Group, we seek to bridge disciplinary gaps and uncover possible cross-pollination between genres and discourses that will help to build a more complex picture of the ways in which medieval writers grappled with the fundamental human experiences of emotional response. The inherently transdisciplinary and global comparative nature of the topic will provide medievalists from various departments, disciplines and fields a common ground on which to interact. Although the core group for this proposal are Europeanists, we hope to include colleagues studying eastern, southern and non-Christian cultures. Similarly, we hope to attract scholars of the History and Philosophy of Science, since, to give just one example, humoral theory represents an important aspect of the medieval conceptualization of what we moderns call emotion.

The meetings will follow a loose reading group format, and we welcome participants to drop in on sessions of interest to them without committing to every meeting. The group will discuss pre-circulated readings, usually medieval primary texts (provided with an English translation). Faculty and students of all levels (graduate and undergraduate) are encouraged to participate. 

Readings are available on Notre Dame Box.

Submitting a Proposal

The deadline for proposing 2019-20 Working Groups is April 1st. Please review the Proposal Instructions and then submit your application online

Guidelines for Working Groups

Approved groups will want to review the Guidelines for Working Groups so they are familiar with the necessary steps for planning their events and running their groups.