Past workshops

Iain Higgins presents the annual conference

Click on the workshop titles below to see the contributors and lectures at each workshop.

35th Annual Medieval Conference - Medieval Conspiracies, Fakes, and Follies [2022]

Medieval fakes and facsimiles are all around us. Come to this daylong event for a timely and amusing consideration of medieval forgeries, fabricated histories, bizarre plots and obsessions. Learn about imposter kings, counterfeit charters, conspiracy theories, phoney relics, and much more. It will be a chance to reflect on how people in the past sorted fact from fancy, and to what extent medieval fantasies continue to shape the modern world.

Time Session


Dr. Catherine Harding, UVic Acting Director of Medieval Studies and Art History and Visual Studies


The "Donation of Constantine" and its Contemporary Counterparts

Dr. Helene Cazes, UVic, Department of French


The Medieval Revival in the British Diaspora: An Imagined History

Dr. Michael Reed, UVic, Medieval Studies

10:15 Refreshment break

First Lansdowne Speaker

Forgery and Memory from the Middle Ages to Modernity: Bishop Pilgrim at Passau

Dr. Levi Roach, University of Exeter, History


Musical Performance

The Ancient Music Society of Victoria and The Early Music Society of the Islands

Muscians: Doug Hensley, Bill Jamieson and Gwen Jamieson


Fried Liver without Lier, Omelettes without Eggs: Detecting Frauds in the Markets of the Medieval Middle East

Dr. Marcus Milwright, UVic, Art History and Visual Studies


Fake News Arthur: The Medieval Desire for the Material Arthurian Past

Dr. Robert Rouse, UBC, English


Fake Jews, Fake News: Ritual Murder Stories and the Case of the Circumcised Child

Dr. Adrienne Williams-Boyarin, UVic, English


Second Lansdowne Speaker

Faking the Middle Ages for Racial Justice: The Power of Obvious Intervention from the Rood of Grace to Harlem Renaissance Medievalism

Dr. Cord Whitaker, Wellesley College, English

Pilgrimages [2021]

Medieval Studies goes on pilgrimage! This year’s conference is conceived as an expedition across parts of Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East, with sojourns at major pilgrimage sites associated with the three Abrahamic religions. Come hear our presenters talk about historical and social contexts and provide vivid insights into the pilgrim’s journey

Musical Preludes presented by The Ancient Music Society of Victoria and the Early Music Society of the Islands. Music performed by Doug Hensley, Bill Jamieson, Gwendolyn Jamieson and Jun Tong.

Time Session

Opening Remarks

Dr. Allan Mitchel, UVic, Medieval Studies Program Director, English


Musical Prelude

To be a Pilgrim

Dr. Catherine harding, UVic, Art History and Visual Studies


Musical Prelude

Three Depictions of Pilgrims on the Road to Canterbury

Dr. Rachel Koopmans, York University, History

10:15 Presentation of student work

Musical prelude

Journey to the West

Dr. Tsung-Cheng Lin, UVic, Pacific and Asian Studies


Musical prelude

Jewish Medieval Pilgrimage as a Form of Resistance

Dr. Shamma Boyarin, UVic, English

11:30 Lunch break

Musical prelude

A Modern (Pre-Covid) Pilgrimage Experience

Wendy Loly, Canadian Company of Pilgrims


Musical prelude

A Picnic with the Saints

Dr. Angela Andersen, UVic, Continuing Studies


Kumano a la mode: The Kii Region as a Modern Site of Pilgrimage

Dr. Cody Poulton, UVic, Emeritus, Pacific and Asian Studies


Keynote and Lansdowne speaker: Pilgrimage: Near and Far

Dr. Miri Rubin, Queen Mary University of London, History



Viking Life and Lore [2020]

33rd Annual Medieval Conference - Viking Life and Lore

Join us for a voyage to the countries we now call Iceland, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. Their Scandinavian inhabitants have long shared their stories and cultures with us. Follow the Vikings’ dragon ships, learn about the latest archaeological digs, review your Norse mythology and decipher maps of the world! The day will pass quickly with art, stories, sea adventures and history.




Opening remarks


The Viking Age in England: Sources and Approaches
Dr. Michael Reed, Medieval Studies, UVic


Sea Life in Viking Times
Dr. Richard Unger, History, UBC


Plácidus Saga: Saint Eustace in Medieval Iceland
Dr. John Tucker, English Emeritus, UVic


Refreshment Break


Finding Vikings in 19th Century Germany
Dr. Elena Pnevmonidou, Germanic Studies, UVic


Alt-Right Appropriations of Viking Life and Lore
Dr. Erin McGuire, Anthropology, UVic


Lunch break and Student Poster Fair


Valkyries and Vikings and Mermaids! Oh my!
Dr. Trish Baer, English, UVic


Early English Connections 
Dr. Joseph Grossi, English/Hispanic and Italian Studies, UVic


Refreshment break


Nicholas Fairbank and Lana Betts


Viking Trade with the Islamic World
Dr. Marcus Milwright, Art History and Visual Studies, UVic


Keynote: Vikings in the Mirror
Dr. Torfi H. Tulinius, Lansdowne Speaker, University of Iceland


Conclusion and closing

Medieval Music [2019]

32nd Annual Medieval Conference - Medieval Music

Organized in partnership with the Ancient Music Society of Victoria, this day of music and lectures is conceived as a unique occasion to discover and enjoy the fascinating musical world of the middle ages. Together, musicians and scholars will present and perform medieval music from various traditions.





Dean Chris Goto-Jones (Humanities)
John Tucker, Emeritus Department of English (UVic)
William Jamieson, Executive Director, Ancient Music Society of Victoria
Opening Remarks


Panel: Making Medieval Music
(Illustrations and Accompaniments by Douglas Hensley)

Musical Illumination in the Song of Hildegard von Bingen
Elizabeth McIsaac

"To Find an Unknown Melody" - The Evolving Art of Medieval Notation
Pat Unruh

The Speculative Art of Performing Medieval Folk Music
William Jamieson


Questions for all speakers

11:10 Refreshment break

Building in Four Dimensions: Designing a Fretless Medieval Lute
Travis Carey and Douglas Hensley with the participation of Gus Denhard

12:00 The Power of Music on the Shore of Dante's Purgatory
Dr. Lloyd Howard, UVic


12:30 Lunch Break
1:30 Exploring the Senses in Medieval Culture
Dr. Catherine Harding, Art History and Visual Studies (UVic)

Lansdowne Keynote speaker: Music in the Medieval Mediterranean
Dwight Reynolds, University of California, Santa Barbara

3:00 Refreshment break and poster fair
3:30 Concert
4:15 Closing Remarks

Asia in the Middle Ages [2018]

31st Annual Medieval Conference - Asia in the Middle Ages

Travelling to Asia for the year 2018, the program of Medieval Studies brings multiple perspectives on the medieval world and on the recent developments of Medieval Studies as a discipline. When and where historical and religious frameworks are not defined by the former Roman Empire nor by the rise of Christianity, the notions of Middle Ages or Renaissance do not seem to fit. Or do they? Would they allow us to think a global world, before the modern colonial empires?

Researchers from the Pacific and Asian Studies and specialists of travel, as well as historians of art, will explore the contacts and cultural exchanges beyond the imaginary Asia constructed by travelers (merchants or pilgrims) and story-tellers (such as Marco Polo or John of Mandeville). Attested by trade, literature, arts, people and objects, the dialogue between East and West before the Columbus expedition tells us about medieval conceptions of the universe, of humankind, and of cultures. On the Pacific Rim, it also tells us about our own cultural memories and projects.

The program of talks will contrast the vision of Asia transmitted by Westerners and the vision of the middle ages developed in Asia. It will highlight the diversity of these narratives with round tables about travel and travellers, in the morning, and presentations on India, China, and Japan. The noon recital, organized by Douglas Hensley, will bring us to the different musical worlds of the Silk Road.



9:00 Dean Chris Goto-Jones (Humanities)
Opening Remarks
9:10 Hélène Cazes, (UVic, Director of Medieval Studies)
Asia in Medieval Studies

Iain Higgins, (UVic, English)
Asia in the Middle Ages


Travels and Travelers I

Niall Christie - "No Other Climes in the World Compares": Ibn Buttuta's Travels in 14th-Century China
(Langara College, History)

Joe Grossi - "This is the Plain Truth": The Glories of Asia in the Travels of Marco Polo
(UVic, English/ Hispanic & Italian)

10:40 Refreshment Break

Travels and Travellers II

Brian Pollick - The Club of kings: The Mission to the Mongols of Friar William of Rubruck
(UVic, History of Art)

Erin McGuire - Tales from the Tombs: Death and Burial in Medieval China
(UVic, Anthroplogy)

12:00 Lunch Break
12:45 Concert

Doug Hensley and friends -Music on the Silk Road, From Venice to Persia


Middle Ages in Asia

Cody Poulton - Courtly Love in Japan 
(UVic, Pacific and Asian Studies)

Tsung-Cheng Lin - Poetry and Knight-Errantry of Seventh to Ninth Century China
(UVic, Pacific and Asian Studies)

3:15 Refreshment break
3:30 Wendy Swartz, Lansdowne lecturer (Rutgers University):
The Critical Mandate: Early Medieval China's Theories of Literature
4:30 Closing Remarks
Poster fair from Medieval Students

Full program PDF

Medieval Medicine [2017]

30th Annual Workshop - Medieval Medicine

Both a science and an art, medicine is a hot topic in the Middle Ages: inherited from Antiquity, transferred from other cultures and countries, universal in its categories and relevance but individual in its practice and diagnostication, medical knowledge is the “physics” of the physicians (an expertise on natural laws and elements) and the practice of healing through the restoration of a natural balance. This workshop will be on physicians but also botanists, nurses, healers, midwives and witches; it will explore the connections between macrocosm and microcosm (the big and small worlds), and between the realms of stars, colours, gems, elements, seasons, music, diets, and ages. Ultimately, representations of the body and definitions of health illuminate the profound union perceived between the nature and the human nature. The workshop will emphasize the many faces of medicine:  science, magic, religion, philosophy, psychology, art and society, etc.

Date: Saturday, Feb. 4th, 2017

Program Schedule (Subject to change)

Time  Session
9:00 Dean Chris Goto-Jones (Humanities), Acting Dean Richard Rush (Continuing Studies), Associate Dean Margaret Cameron (Humanities), UVic
Opening Remarks
9:15 Hélène Cazes, Medieval Studies and French, UVic
The Four Seasons of Medieval Medicine
10:00 Mitch Hammond, History, UVic
The Black Death: New Approaches to an Old Catastrophe
10:45 Library Presentation and Refreshment Break
11:30 Keynote Speaker: Faith Wallis, History of Medicine, McGill
The Medical World of Master Bartholomaeus: Theories, Therapies, and the Renaissance of the Twelfth Century
12:30 Lunch Break
1:00 Student Research and Poster Fair
1:30 Concert by the Banquo Folk Ensemble
2:30 Mini-break - No refreshments
2:50 Jamie Kemp, Adjunct Professor for Medieval Studies, UVic
Diagnosing Hildegard: The Medicalization of the Mystic Visions
3:30 Marcus Milwright, Art History and Visual Studies, UVic
The True Balsam of Matarea, Panacea of the Medieval World
4:30 Closing Remarks

Faculty Coordinator

Hélène Cazes, PhD, Director, Medieval Studies Program, UVic

Al Andalus: Jews, Christians and Muslims in Medieval Spain [2016]

Please join us for a full day of papers, music, conversations, and discoveries.

Our 29th Annual Medieval Workshop will bring you to medieval Spain - the land of Jews, Christians and Muslims.
You will take these travels along with the vibrant
medieval community of Victoria.

Burnt at the Stake [2015]

Venice and Cairo [2014]

  • Prof Michael Miller, Associate Vice-President Research, Uvic: Opening Remarks
  • Prof Hélène Cazes, Uvic: Introduction
  • Dr. Catherine Harding, Uvic. Seeing with Other’s Eyes: Venetian Art and Orientalism
  • Refreshment Break/Special Library Display (Michael Lines)
  • Dr. Niall Christie, Lagara College, Vancouver: Stopping along the Way: Reconstructing Trade Hostelries in Alexandria and Cairo
  • Dr. Shamma Boyarin, Uvic: Hidden in Plain Sight: How the Cairo Genizah Revolutionized the Field of Jewish Studies
  • Musical Performance by Douglas Hensley (Lute) and Niel Golden (Oud)
  • Presentation of Students’ Projects
  • Prof Marcus Milwright, Uvic: Building on the Past: The Architectural Achievements of Mamluk Cairo
  • KEYNOTE: Prof Anna Contadini, SOAS, University of London: Artistic and Cultural Contacts between the Middle East and Venice
  • Prof Lloyd Howard, Uvic: Baccaccio’s Stay in Venice as Petrarch’s House Guest and their Quest for Knowledge
  • Closing Remarks

Stories of Gold [2013]

  • Evanthia Baboula, University of Victoria : Gold-studded, -scuipted, -wrapped and -lettered: Imperial Objects of Byzantium (mp3)
  • Shamma Boyarin, University of Victoria : Alexander the Great and Gold (mp3)
  • Joseph Grossi, University of Victoria : The Gold Standard of Medieval Saints' Lives: Jacobus de Voragne's Legenda aurea (mp3)
  • Iain Higgins, University of Victoria : Golden Wonders (mp3)
  • Janelle Jenstad, University of Victoria : "The Mysterie of Saint Dunstan": Medieval and Early Modern Goldsmiths in London (mp3)
  • Marcus Milwright, University of Victoria : Introduction (mp3)
  • Mariam Rosser-Owen, Victoria and Albert Museum : The Gold Route: Trans-Saharan Trade and Luxury Arts in Medieval Europe (mp3)

Magicians, Seers and Sages [2012]

  • Marcus Milwright, University of Victoria : Introduction (mp3)
  • James Acken, University of Victoria : Severed Heads, Incantation and Heroism around the North Sea (mp3)
  • Shamma Boyarin, University of Victoria : From Story to Amulet: Jewish Legends about Adam's First Wife and Methods for Protecting Against Demons (mp3)
  • Hélène Cazes, University of Victoria : Medicine and Magic (mp3)
  • Iain Higgins, University of Victoria : Love Magic (mp3)
  • Stephen Knight, Cardiff University : Merlin and the Environment (mp3)
  • Erin McGuire, University of Victoria : Gyoja, Gooi nd Volva:The many faces of Viking Age Magic (mp3)

Medieval Lives [2011]

  • Marcus Milwright, University of Victoria : Introduction (mp3)
  • Evanthia Baboula , University of Victoria : Byzantine Lives under Siege (mp3)
  • Hélène Cazes, University of Victoria : Christine de Pizan, the first Man of Letters (mp3)
  • Iain Higgins, University of Victoria : Abelard and Heloise: Lovers in a Dangerous Time (mp3)
  • Hugh Kennedy, School of Oriental and African Studies, London : The Caliph al-Muqtadir (908 - 32) and the Fall of the Abbasid Empire (mp3)
  • Erin McGuire, University of Victoria : Everyday Life in Scotland during the Viking Age (mp3)

Animals in the Medieval World [2010]

  • Marcus Milwright, University of Victoria : Introduction
  • Catherine Harding, University of Victoria : Animals on Display: Western European Menageries from the Early Middle Ages to the Renaissance
  • Margaret Cameron, University of Victoria : Do Animals Talk to Angels?
  • Erik Kwakkel, University of Victoria : From Beast to Book
  • Aleksander Pluskowski, University of Reading : Lupus: Imagining and Experiencing Wolves in Medieval Europe
  • Hélène Cazes, University of Victoria : The Tongue of the Serpent, the Eye of the Basilisk and the Breath of the Dragon: Mythical Snakes of Medieval Christianity

Medieval Mediterranean [2009]

  • Iain Higgins, University of Victoria : Introduction - The Medieval Mediterranean
  • Marcus Milwright, University of Victoria : From Cullet to Ginger: International Trade in the Medieval Mediterranean
  • Alain Touwaide, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institute: Plants and Medicine in the Medieval Mediterranean
  • Lloyd Howard, University of Victoria : Dante's Mediterranean World: Exodus Home and Away from Italy's Shores
  • Karla Mallette, Miami University : The Literatures of Medieval Sicily: Greek, Latin, Arabic and Italian
  • Eva Bampoula, University of Victoria : The Holy Cities of Jerusalem and Constantinople in the Medieval Imagination

Medieval Inventions [2008]

  • Iain Higgins, University of Victoria : Introduction - The Wide World of Medieval Technology
  • Marcus Milwright, University of Victoria : Silver Trees and Water Clocks: Mechanical Devices in the Royal Courts of Constantinople and the Islamic World
  • Jonathan Bloom, Boston College : Paper before Print: How Paper Traveled from China to the West and Transformed Civilization along the Way
  • Erik Kwakkel, University of Victoria : Turning over a New Leaf: The Invention of the Page in Medieval Europe
  • Bert S. Hall, University of Toronto : Leonardo da Vinci's Mechanical Inventions: The Problem of Originality
  • Richard Unger, University of British Columbia : New Beer in New barrels: Inventive Medieval Brewers

Medieval Paris [2007]

  • Rebecca A. Baltzer, University of Texas at Austin : Paris: Musical Capital of Medieval Europe
  • Hélène Cazes, University of Victoria : Secret Paris: Rogueries and Miracles in the Fifteenth Century
  • Sharon Farmer, University of California, Santa Barbara : The Making of Europe's Fashion Capital in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries
  • Catherine Harding, University of Victoria : Monumental Paris
  • Erik Kwakkel, University of Victoria : Books in Tatters: The fortunes and Misfortunes of a Student's Textbook from the University of Paris
  • Musical Interlude : Liber unUsualis
  • Theatrical Interlude from the streets of Paris: The Washtub, A Medieval Farce

Nature Tamed and Wild [2006]

  • Hélène Cazes, University of Victoria: Secret Gardens and Orchards: The Landscape of Love
  • Jean Givens, University of Connecticut: Liars, Fools, and Truth-Tellers. Medieval Art and the Case of the Wandering Elephant (Observing and Describing Nature in Gothic Europe)
  • Catherine Harding, University of Victoria: To everything there is a season...: Representing the Labours of the Months in Medieval Illuminated Manuscripts
  • Iain Higgins, University of Victoria: Literary Dream Gardens
  • Vickie Ziegler, Pennsylvania State University: An Introduction to the Medieval Gard

The Medieval Family [2005]

  • Hélène Cazes, University of Victoria: Babies' Lib? Swaddling Bands, Diapers, and Discipline
  • Paul Dutton, Simon Fraser University: Charlemagne's Dysfunctional Family
  • Catherine Harding, University of Victoria: Introducing the Medieval Family. From Birth to Death: Life Stages for Medieval Men and Women
  • Eva Kushner, University of Toronto: Imagining the Late Medieval/Early Modern Child
  • Nicholas Orme, University of Exeter: Everyday Life in the Fifteenth Century: The Evidence of Schoolbooks

Heroes and Heroines in the Middle Ages [2004]

The workshop was co-sponsored by the Beck Trust.
  • Tom Shippey, University of St Louis: Beowulf and the Origins of England (mp3)
  • Marcus Milwright, University of Victoria: Tamerlane in Late Medieval/Reniassance Europe: Hero or Tartar Terror?
  • Andrew Wawn, University of Leeds: Viking Heroes and Heroics: from Sognefjord to Chicago
  • John Lindow, University of California, Berkeley: Gods and Heroes in Medieval Scandinavia: Myth, Legend and History
  • John Tucker, University of Victoria: Heroic Sanctity: Joan of Arc in Fact and Fiction
  • Elizabeth Archibald, University of Bristol: What Makes an Arthurian Hero/ine?

Love of Learning in the Middle Ages [2003]

  • Catherine Harding, University of Victoria: Books, Students, Schools and Universities: Learning to Love Schoolbooks in the Middle Ages
  • Farouk Mitha, University of Victoria: Al-Ghazali: Theologian, Mystic, and Public Intellectual
  • Giles Constable, School of Historical Studies, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton University: Mary and Martha in the Middle Ages
  • David Ferry, University of Victoria: The Miller's Tale, from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales
  • Deborah Hatfield Moore, University of Victoria: Did you hear the one about the naughty vicar?: Learning to Love Learning in the Middle Ages
  • John Van Engen, University of Notre Dame: From Beguines to the "Modern Devout": Learning and Writing Among Self-Made Religious Women
  • Baba Brinkman, University of Victoria: "The Knight's Tale" in performance: A Rap Retelling of Chaucer

Medieval Jerusalem [2002]

  • Catherine Harding, University of Victoria: Visualizing Jerusalem's Past, Part I: The Material Layers of History before the First Crusade
  • Iain Higgins, University of Victoria: Jerusalem, Centre of the World: Medieval Pilgrims and Mapmakers
  • Leah Kinberg, Tel Aviv University: Celestial Jerusalem in the Medieval Muslim Imagination
  • Tonus Peregrinus: Musical Performance
  • Andrew Rippin, University of Victoria: Visualizing Jerusalem's Past, Part II: The Material Layers of History to the End of the Middle Ages
  • Shlomo Hasson, Hebrew University of Jersualem: Jerusalem Past, Present and Future: Urbanism, Culture, and Power

Pleasure, Pomp, and Power: Aspects of the Medieval Courtly World [2001]

  • John Osborne, University of Victoria: Sex and the City: The Exotic Court of Byzantium and the Western Imagination
  • Iain Higgins, University of Victoria: Merchants, Missionaries, and Eastern Potentates: Western Travellers at Foreign Courts
  • Sian Echard, University of British Columbia: Dressing for Success: The Importance of Appearance in Medieval Courtier Narratives
  • Paul Williamson, Victoria and Albert Museum: Small-scale Sculpture at the Courts of Europe: Gothic Ivories, Their Ownership and Context
  • Ensemble Laude: Musical Performance of Medieval Courtly Music
  • Gregory Andrachuk, University of Victoria: The Beginning of the End: The Court of Naples, 1508-1512
  • D. Fairchild Ruggles, Cornell University: Convivencia in Islamic Spain: Caliphs, Concubines, and Their Sons

Rome in the Late Middle Ages [2000]

  • Catherine Harding, University of Victoria: Rome Reborn: The Eternal City on the Eve of Jubilee 1300
  • Brenda Bolton, Queen Mary Westfield College, UK: Innocent III and Rome. A Pope at Work in His City
  • Lloyd Howard, University of Victoria: Dante's Two Romes: Where Christ is a Roman — Where Christ is Bought and Sold Daily
  • Valentino Pace, University of Udine, Italy: Roma triumphans: Art in Rome 1275 to 1300
  • Amanda Collins, Wolfson College, Oxford University: Who Killed Cola di Rienzo? Revolution, Murder, and Intrigue in the City of Rome
  • Toronto Consort: Lecture/Demonstration: Improvisation in Medieval Music

Raiders and Traders in the Middle Ages [1999]

  • John Tucker, University of Victoria: "Entrepreneurs" of the Middle Ages: Raiders and Traders
  • James Graham-Campbell, University College London: The Vikings in the West
  • Maya Shatzmiller, University of Western Ontario: Muslim Women Traders: Gender Limitations
  • John Osborne, University of Victoria: "A Morbid Taste for Bones": Relics as Commodities in Early Medieval Italy
  • Steven Epstein, University of Colorado at Boulder: Raiding and Trading in Human Beings
  • Elizabeth Archibald, University of Victoria: Merchants in Medieval Literature

Florence in the Middle Ages [1998]

  • Lloyd Howard, University of Victoria: An Overview of Factional Strife in Medieval Florence: From One Florentine's Perspective
  • Brendan Cassidy, University of St. Andrews, Scotland:Art in Florence After the Black Death
  • Catherine Harding, University of Victoria: Giotto's Tower: Cosmology, Art, and Religion in Fourteenth-Century Florence
  • John Osborne, University of Victoria: Popular Piety and Artistic Patronage: Exploring the Painted Madonnas of Giotto and Duccio
  • Marguerite Chiarenza, University of British Columbia: Dante's Return to Florence from Exile: "If Ever it Comes to Pass"
  • Kenneth Bartlett, University of Toronto: Commune and Community: The Building of Florence from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance