Ordered Universe at Leeds IMC

The first week of July, 4th-7th, saw the annual Leeds International Medieval Congress, the UK/European equivalent to the Kalamazoo Medieval Congress. The two congresses have slightly different flavours and constituencies; and for the UK contingent Leeds has the merit of being a lot closer to home. The overarching theme for Leeds this year was food, and there were plenty of papers on topic. The Ordered Universe presented Grosseteste in a number of guises. Mike Huxtable, English Studies at Durham, explored the outworking of Grossetete’s colour theory in the court and literature associated with chivalry. The paper: ‘Grosseteste and the Green Knight: Medieval Colour Theory and Early Heraldic Writing’, formed part of a session put together by Victoria Flood, also of the English Studies Department at Durham on Scientific and Technical Writing within medieval Britain.

The second Ordered Universe paper on Grosseteste was Giles Gasper, History at Durham, talking on Grosseteste, food and care of the body. Grosseteste says quite a bit about food as both as an analogy for moral behaviour, and as part of bodily health and care. This is another context we can see his interests in science and pastoral care coming together. He describes taste, for example, as follows: ‘taste is light embodied with whatever humours doctors deem taste to consist of’. Which immediately connects taste and the care of the body with the doctrine of embodied light, and the unity of the universe.

Other Ordered Universe stalwarts in attendance at Leeds included Philipp Nothaft, Sigbjørn Sønnesyn, Rosalind Green and Kaja Kollandsrud. The latter three gave papers in a session on attitudes to spiritual and material food: the last supper in Norwegian 12th and 13th century art, the theology of the Eucharist in 12th century thought, and food and the early Carthusians. The congress was a great success, well-organised and with expert and attentive audiences. The  Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies at Durham, as well as Ordered Universe funded Durham staff and student attendance at the congress.

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