A Seminar Series

Although the word ‘landscape’ entered English in the sixteenth century, the concept of the land as it shapes and is shaped by human activity is much, much older. Much more than a backdrop to narrative, much more than a passive object of knowledge, much more than patches of space to be allocated and appropriated, landscape is revealed as playing an active part in narrative, power, and knowledge. A focus on landscape allows us to ask questions about the division between culture and nature; the boundaries between countries and cultures; the agency of the non-human and more than human; the role of the supernatural and the imagination in shaping history; and the ethics of landscape management, naming, and ownership. This seminar series comes at a time in which we are all, individually and collectively, rethinking our relationship to the spaces we live in and with, and our responsibility to them: we therefore anticipate a dynamic and stimulating series of conversations. This seminar series brings together scholars from the Faculties of MMLL, English, and Classics; and from universities in the UK, Europe, and the US – we hope to elicit further interest and engagement from colleagues in other disciplines and in other locations. Although our focus is on medieval landscape (Máire Ní Mhaonaigh’s research concentrates on the history of Ireland’s literary landscapes; Miranda Griffin works on literary representations of landscape in medieval French), we aim to open out this perspective to engage colleagues working on periods both before and after the Middle Ages; and in areas beyond Northern Europe.

Seminar 5: Landscape as Theory

What theoretical frameworks does the concept of landscape offer us? This was the question explored in the May seminar by Marilynn Desmond (Distinguished Professor of English and Medieval Studies, Binghamton University, State University of New York) and Matt Lampitt (Junior Research Fellow, St John’s College, Cambridge), in papers which took us to ancient Troy, medieval islands of ruins and mysticism,…

Call for papers: conference 14-15 September 2022

Hybrid conference in Cambridge 14-15 September 2022: call for papers From maps to chronicles, from sagas and songs to emerging cities, landscape plays an active part in shaping the medieval world. Much more than a backdrop to narrative, much more than a passive object of knowledge, much more than patches of space to be allocated and appropriated, landscape is a vital force in…

Seminar 4: Landscape as Literature

This month’s seminar focused on Landscape as Literature and was led by Dr Miranda Griffin, the seminar’s co-convenor and Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics. She was joined by her Murray Edwards colleague, Dr Leo Mellor, Roma Gill Fellow in English. Ranging chronologically from the world of medieval French romance to the Arthurian landscape…

Seminar 3: Landscape as Knowledge

The Shifting Landscapes series focusses on knowledge of and concerning the medieval landscape, and the third of our seminars, Landscape as Knowledge, brought to the fore the embodiment of the landscape itself as knowledge. Our discussion was led by scholars of medieval Scandinavia and France, Dr Emily Lethbridge of the University of Iceland, and Dr Mary Franklin-Brown of the University…

Seminar 2: Landscape as History

A series that calls itself Shifting Landscapes should of course anticipate shifts of its own, and that was the case for our second seminar, on the theme of Landscape as History: in a change to our advertised line-up, our speakers were Prof Máire Ní Mhaonaigh of the University of Cambridge, and Prof Heide Estes of Monmouth University.   Medieval depictions…

Landscape, Cosmology and Cosmography

Shifting Landscapes of the Medieval World is underway! The first seminar of the series (on Wednesday 19th January 2022) addressed Landscape as Cosmology, Prof. Renaud Gagné (Faculty of Classics, Cambridge) focussing the discussion with his thought-provoking contribution, ‘Weaving the World: Altars and Cosmography in Greek Sanctuaries’. Reading the late antique world through sacrifical landscapes, he illustrated how new sacred worlds…

Welcome to Shifting Landscapes of the Medieval World

Welcome! Shifting Landscapes of the Medieval World is a seminar series at the University of Cambridge run by Prof Máire Ní Mhaonaigh and Dr Miranda Griffin. In our research, we are both interested in the role and representation of landscape in the European Middle Ages. Although the word ‘landscape’ entered English in the sixteenth century, the concept of the land…