Ordered Universe in Toronto May 2016

May 8th-17th: Ordered Universe team members, along with staff and students from Durham University’s Department of History and Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies, joined the annual medieval migration to the International Congress on Medieval Studies, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan. We travelled via Toronto, and held a joint conference on Monday 9th May, hosted by colleagues and friends at the Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Toronto. This was the third joint Durham-Toronto pre-Kalamazoo Conference, and we are very grateful to Professor Nicholas Everett, Associate Director of the Centre, for making all the of the arrangements. Jon Turnock, Stephanie Britton and Sarah Gilbert, Durham PhD students and Ordered Universe participants, spoke to their doctoral research.

Sigbjørn spoke for the Ordered Universe project, on the subject of ‘experimentum’ and experience, tracing Grosseteste’s thought on the matter especially with reference to his commentary on Aristotle’s Posterior Analytics. The importance of twelfth century conceptual frameworks of experience, as exemplified by monastic reading practices (lectio divina), also received attention. Starting with Jimi Hendrix, possibly for the first time in comparison to Grosseteste, the paper ended with a reminder that the judgment of a good  human being remains the measure of truth.

The following day, May 10th, saw further collaboration with Toronto students and colleagues. The History of Medicine and Science seminar featured a presentation by Sarah Star on the Centre for Medieval Studies’s Henry Daniel project. Daniel, active at the end of the fourthenth century in England, was a remarkable figure in the expansion of scientific literature in Middle English. As Sarah’s paper laid out, his linguistic innovation was extensive, creating a Middle English vernacular scientific terminology. The implications for the cultural history of science are considerable. From an Ordered Universe perspective this provides a lot of food for thought with respect to the early 15th century treatise on the Seven Liberal Arts and its Middle English translation and adaptation of Grosseteste’s treatises On the Liberal Arts and On the Generation of Sounds. In the second part of the seminar Giles presented the Ordered Universe project, and its interdisciplinary methods and outputs. Possibilities for future collaboration were explored.

Collaboration and discussion continued into the evening, and then, together with Toronto friends, old and new, we set off on the following day for Kalamazoo.

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