Thursday, April 20, 2017

Yale Conference on Medieval Rites This Weekend

This weekend, the Institute of Sacred Music at Yale University will host a conference which promises to be very interesting, entitled “Medieval Rites: Reading the Writing.” The subject is the actual use of liturgical manuscripts within rituals, apart from what the mere text says. As described on theirwebsite, “When we study these centuries-old documents, it is easy to assume that each text is a straightforward prescription of what was said and done. But liturgical books and texts have served many purposes; those who used them had many reasons. A ritual is, after all, an action or performance—the textual dimension is only one among many. Written texts could explain, record, order, and nuance; they could permit reflection, study, and emendation; they could give substance to otherwise intangible concepts, actions, and traditions, permitting the exchange and replication of practices; they could aid learning and memory; books could be physically carried and used within the rituals they describe; and they could communicate authority, correctness, entitlement, and power. Of course, medieval liturgical texts continued to be read in many ways long after the Middle Ages ended. We too, working in different modern fields, have a wide range of reasons for reading these texts.

Moving beyond the notion that writing was simply a means of coordinating ritual activity, or an alternative to oral transmission, Medieval Rites: Reading the Writing will explore the breadth of possible literate interactions with Christian liturgy during the Middle Ages, in both Eastern and Western traditions. ”

The complete schedule of the talks is given on the Institute’s website:

The Friday sessions of the conference will be held at the famous Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, located at 121 Wall St., in New Haven; those of Saturday and Sunday in Stoeckel Hall Room 106, at 96 Wall St. The conference is free and open to the public.

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