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Birkbeck Annual Medieval Seminar 2016-17, Medieval Textiles: Meaning and Materiality

When? 25 November 2016, 10 am - 5 pm
Where? 30 Russell Square, Room 101

On the occasion of the V&A Museum’s unprecedented exhibition of opus anglicanum, this one-day interdisciplinary conference brings together leading and emerging scholars working on questions of meaning and materiality in medieval textiles, both real and imaginary.


  • 10.00 Introduction
  • 10.10 Session I. Clothing power
    -- 10.10 Clare Vernon: The Mantle of King Roger II of Sicily
    -- 10.30 Pippa Salonius: Gifts of Silk and Gold: finance, diplomacy and fashion at the courts of England and Rome in the thirteenth Century
    -- 10.50 Julian Gardner: Moving Pictures : cardinals in copes
    -- 11.10 Discussion
    -- 11.25  Tea and coffee
    -- 11.45 Session II.  Unravelling meaning
    -- 11.45 Lisa Monnas: Textiles in the Paintings of Rogier van der Weyden
    -- 12.05 Joanne Anderson: Unfinished Threads and Ragged Edges in Medieval Art
    -- 12.25 Katherine Harvey: The Man Behind the Mitre: Textiles and the episcopal body in medieval England
    -- 12.45 Discussion
    -- 1pm Lunch (not provided)
    -- 2.30 Session III. The long lives of clothes
    -- 2.30 Gale Owen Crocker: Clothing the Past I: recycling, refitting, repairing
    -- 2.50 Elizabeth Coatsworth: Clothing the Past II: circumstances of survival; sets and collections
    -- 3.10 Laura Jacobus: The Marchesa and the Madonna: costume and continuity in sacred performance
    -- 3.30 Discussion
    -- 3.45 Tea and coffee
    -- 4.05 Glyn Davies:  An introduction to the ‘Opus Anglicanum: Masterpieces of English Embroidery’ exhibition at the Victoria and Albert
    -- 4.25 Final summing up.  Wine and refreshments

Following the conference, participants will be invited to visit the Opus Anglicanum exhibition at the V&A, which is open until 9.30pm, (last entry, 8.15pm). Vouchers for discounted entry and exhibition catalogues have been generously provided by the V&A and will be available at the conference.

This event is free, and all are welcome. Space is limited, however, so places must be reserved via

The Birkbeck Medieval Seminar is an annual one-day seminar in which leading scholars present thought-provoking papers on a current research theme in the history and culture of the Middle Ages. It is an environment for accessing and debating current research themes across disciplines. This year it is co-organised with Birkbeck’s Department of History of Art and is supported by The Murray Bequest, established in memory of Professor Peter Murray, the department’s founder.