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  Jenny Adams

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  FEATURES
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Coming of age
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Positively medieval
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Elements of style

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image: "Positively Medieval" headlineContinued... Since 1994, five University departments have hired new faculty members with a medieval focus. A rejuvenated Medieval Studies Workshop brings together scholars from across disciplines to discuss medieval themes in their work. The library has increased its medieval holdings (see "Middle Pages," page 30). And this year, Chicago is hosting two medieval studies conferences. The first, "Genus Regale et Sacerdotale [A Royal and Priestly Race]: The Image of the Bishop around the Millennium," met in mid--October. The second, "Crafting History for the Present: Uses of the Past in the Middle Ages," takes place in February, bringing together scholars from Yale, UCLA, and Toronto--all schools with high--powered centers for medieval research--to discuss how people of the Middle Ages represented the ancient world.

image: Giovanni Boccaccio's Mythological genealogies (1385-1387), University of Chicago LibraryJohn J. Contreni, a noted medievalist and professor of history at Purdue University, believes that Chicago has always been one of the foremost places in the United States to explore medieval times. "Scholars at many universities have contributed to the spectacular efflorescence of medieval studies in North America, but no university has maintained such a consistent record of high quality scholarship in so many different fields--philology, history, religion, philosophy, paleography, art history--for so many years." Anne Robertson, the Claire Dux Swift professor in music and humanities--whose book The Service--Books of the Royal Abbey of Saint--Denis: Images of Ritual and Music in the Middle Ages (Oxford, 1991) won the 1995 John Nicholas Brown prize for the best first book in medieval studies--concurs: "We have a faculty here that I think is second to none."

That faculty has deep roots. Although medieval studies has never had its own department at the U of C, from the 1960s to the 1980s ground was broken in areas from Middle English lyrics to Latin literary traditions. Chicago medievalists included historians such as Karl Morrison and Robert J. Barlett, classicist W. Braxton Ross, English professors Theodore Silverstein and Winthrop Wetherbee, historian of Christianity Jaroslav Pelikan, PhD'46, and musicologist Howard Mayer Brown.

Many of the current senior faculty have continued to enrich Chicago's medieval tradition. Though Dean of the Humanities Division Janel Mueller now focuses on the Tudor era, she began her second book, The Native Tongue and the Word: Developments in English Prose Style, 1380--1580 (Chicago, 1984), with a consideration of "insights into the stylistic capacities of English" that occurred in the late 14th century. Bernard McGinn, the Naomi Shenstone Donnelley professor of historical theology and the history of Christianity, is completing the fourth of a five--volume series, The Presence of God: A History of Western Christian Mysticism; the second and third volumes cover the growth and flowering of mysticism from the sixth through the 15th centuries. And Richard Helmholz, the Ruth Wyatt Rosenson professor of law, has written Marriage Litigation in Medieval England (Cambridge, 1974) and Canon Law and the Law of England (Hambledon, 1987).

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  DECEMBER 1999

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