July Catch-up 2: On the Sphere – Workshop at the University of York

As part of the preparations for the second volume in our series, various members of the Ordered Universe team gathered towards the end of July at the Centre for Medieval Studies, University of York, hosted by Tom McLeish. This was a different sort of meeting for the group from our collaborative reading and translating symposia. This time we met to share progress on chapter and section writing for the  new volume, and to plan in more detail how sections might knit together, be juxtaposed, and how different interpretations and analyses of the same text might best sit together. In response to this aim, the workshop became a combination of more formal papers, outlines, technical discussion, for example of visualisation, and structural discussion of the whole volume and the ways in which its parts should interlock. Co-writing is a very different process to co-reading, and presents a different set of questions and issues for the team as a whole and the individual authors in their various combinations. Not the least of these are the disciplinary frameworks, or, perhaps better, how individuals approach a subject with their various intellectual toolkits. Working through these can be intense, but it does mean that you end up with a deeper appreciation of how colleagues think and their creative processes for writing. In the end, a series of analyses emerge that are all the richer for the range of perspectives brought to bear on the texts under scrutiny.

On the Sphere will be presented in its own volume, not paired with any other of Grosseteste’s works: Mapping the Universe. This will explore a wonderful range of subjects connected to the text, from the medieval diagrams to the modern visualisation, source-identification and analysis, the place of the treatise in relation to the rest of the canon, themes in astronomy, geography, and time-reckoning, alongside the edition, translation, and historical context. A big world to cover – but a task made easier through teamwork. Thanks are due particularly to Tom and the Centre for Medieval Studies at York for making this meeting possible!

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