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Branch conference 2017

At the Margins of the Court

International Courtly Literature Society, British Branch

10th - 11th April 2017

University of St Andrews

Featuring a roundtable discussion with Prof. Elizabeth Robertson (Glasgow), Dr Craig Taylor (York) and Prof. Bettina Bildhauer (St Andrews)


Building on our 2015 conference, which explored the concept and boundaries of courtliness, the 2017 meeting of the ICLS British Branch focuses on the theme of margins and asks: what can the concept of marginality tell us about the relationship between the court and courtliness in medieval literature? To what extent can we identify the/a court’s margins? Who or what resides there? When, where and how are margins determined, challenged or even rewritten? How might texts and artefacts be marginal to the court yet central to courtliness (or vice versa)? How might courtliness act as a means to create margins? Does courtliness change at the margins of the court?

Proposals are invited for 20-minute papers addressing the following themes:

· The marginalising of texts, objects, behaviours or people; the criteria for inclusion or exclusion within courtly contexts (e.g. gender, behaviour, bodies, class, race).

· Margins as physical spaces/the geography of the court (e.g. its furthest limits and reaches; its centres and peripheries; inside and outside; the court and the otherworld).

· Manuscripts and their margins, whether in a physical sense or in terms of their transmission or translation.

· Border and contact zones (e.g. between courts, texts, peoples, languages).

· Margins between the living and the dead; between the courtly and non-courtly.

· The question of boundaries, whether literary, linguistic, or generic.

· Power and marginality; the instability of margins.

Proposals on other topics relevant to the conference theme and Society’s aims are also welcome. Papers may be on any area of medieval literature and culture.

To propose a paper, please send an abstract of 200-300 words to Dr Vicky Turner ( by Friday 18th November 2016.


ICLS British Branch
Business meeting, St Andrews, 10 April 2017


1. Apologies for absence

2. Minutes of the previous meeting (circulated)

3. Matters arising not dealt with elsewhere on the agenda

4. President’s report

5. Secretary’s and Treasurer’s reports

6. Bibliography and Encomia

7. International society business

8. Publicity and social media

9. Subscriptions

10. Branch meetings 2018 and 2020

11. Election of President

12. Any other business


Present: Miranda Griffin (Secretary, chairing), Jane Gilbert (Treasurer, taking minutes), Emma Campbell, Emma Cayley, Linda Gowans (Co-ordinator of Bibliographical Team), Eleanor Hodgson, Amanda Hopkins, Linda Paterson, Karen Pratt, Ad Putter, Paola Scarpini (Publicity and Social Media), Penny Simons, Helen Swift, Victoria Turner.

1. Apologies for absence.
Apologies had been received from Patricia Harris Stäblein Gillies, Adrian Tudor, Jane Bliss, Finn Sinclair, Anne Cobby and Rebecca Dixon. Ruth Harvey (Branch President) being unable to attend due to bronchitis, the meeting sent her its best wishes for a speedy recovery. Miranda Griffin (Secretary) chaired the meeting in her place.

2. Announcements. None.

3. Minutes of the previous meeting (circulated). The minutes of the meeting held in Exeter on 14 April 2014 were agreed.

4. Matters arising not dealt with elsewhere on the agenda. None.

5. President’s report. In the President’s absence (see above), her written report was delivered by Miranda Griffin. The President had received no news from Lisbon on the publication of the proceedings of the 2013 International Congress. However, members present reported that they have received proofs, due to be returned end April 2015. We look forward to the publication, which will contain a good number of contributions from Branch members.

6. Secretary’s and Treasurer’s reports. Miranda Griffin confirmed that Jiscmail continues to work smoothly; a message will be sent out in early May to remind members that subscriptions for 2015-16 are due 1 June.
Accounts had been circulated. They show that the Branch is in reasonable funds, with £5,666 in its combined bank accounts at 8 April 2015, including £800 of subscriptions received for 2014-15. Jane Gilbert is setting up online banking, and needs to regularise the signatory situation after the change of President last year. JG is to pursue with Emma Campbell the possibility of diversifying the accounts in order to lessen risk and possibly to improve interest. A discussion about possibly pursuing charitable status was inconclusive.

7. Bibliography team. As announced at Exeter 2014, Linda Gowans stepped down from her role as co-ordinator of the bibliographical team, having completed the 2013 entry. The Branch thanked her very warmly for her outstanding contribution over the past years [a presentation was made at the conference dinner that evening]. The Branch is grateful to ongoing team members Natasha Romanova, for work on French and Anglo-Norman, and Pam Williams, for work on Italian. We also thanked past team members Sarah Bowden (for German) and Rebecca Lyons (for English). Currently, we lack people to cover: Art and Architecture, Celtic, English, German, Hispanic, Music, and Scandinavian. Offers and nominations are encouraged.

8. Encomia
The meeting discussed the future of Encomia in the light of Linda Gowans’ comments on the difficulty of compiling the bibliography even with a team, and the further difficulty of recruiting members to the team. Various possible ways forward were discussed, and it was resolved to explore what other Branches are doing with collaborative, online bibliographies. The President and others have been in communication with the International Society, and will continue discussions at that level, not least because there are implications for the international bibliography if the Branch alters its practice. The open access requirements of the 2020 REF were raised as an issue, particularly if Encomia were to become a journal. The President was asked to take forward a proposal to the International Congress at Kentucky, 2016.
The meeting further discussed the benefits of membership other than Encomia, and how to enhance them, for instance through funding schemes. It was suggested that some of the Branch’s funds might be drawn upon.
The 2013 entry having been completed through the efforts of Linda Gowans and team (see above), it was agreed that no action should be taken on the 2014 entry at present.
The current editorial contact is the International Editor, Prof. Logan T. Whalen,, although after the double volume 34-35 (bibliography for 2012-13) he will be handing over to Mme Florence Bouchet, The manuscript for vol. 34-35 is with Garnier, although no timetable for publication is yet available. Publication will be online (with access by subscription) as well as paper.

9. Publicity and social media. Paola Scarpini as the Branch officer reported that Twitter and Facebook are going well, and the meeting congratulated and thanked her. Linda Paterson and Paola Scarpini will liaise over moving the website to the University of Warwick. A university which allows non-members to edit the website is desirable.

10. Subscriptions. The transition to the new subscription rates agreed at Exeter 2014 has been largely smooth. No further changes at this time.

Branch meetings 2017 and 2018. The 2017 meeting will take place in Liverpool, hosted by Rebecca Dixon; the 2018 meeting in St Andrews, hosted by Victoria Turner. The meeting thanked them both in anticipation.
Delegates were reminded that the University of Kentucky is the venue for the next Triennial Congress in 2016.

11. Any other business.
The meeting thanked Emma Campbell warmly for an excellently organised, pleasant and stimulating conference.


Ruth Harvey (President), Miranda Griffin (Secretary), Sarah Carpenter, Anne Cobby, Patricia Gillies, Eleanor Hodgson, Linda Paterson, Karen Pratt, Katherine Olley, Adrian Stevens, Victoria Turner.

1. Apologies for absence
Apologies were received from Emma Cayley, Rebecca Dixon, Jane Gilbert (Treasurer), Linda Gowans, Amanda Hopkins and Paola Scarpini.

2. Minutes of the previous meeting
These were approved, with the amendment that the volume of Encomia published in 2016 in fact covered 2010-11, not 2013, as stated in the minutes.

3. Matters arising not dealt with elsewhere on the agenda
It was noted that the proceedings from the Triennial Congress in Lisbon had been published.

4. President’s report
The meeting noted with regret the death last summer of our colleague Peter Noble.

The President had been unable to attend the International congress in Lexington; she thanked Karen Pratt for summoning an informal meeting of British Branch members there.

The main item to report concerned Encomia. The President reported that Beverley Evans will be the new General Editor of Encomia; she will be stepping into the role when Logan Whalen finishes work on the issue of Encomia now in progress (Logan will be taking over the role of international President of the ICLS). Richard Trachsler, the outgoing international President, had been in touch with Ruth to propose new guidelines for compiling Encomia, to reduce the workload for bibliographers: he stipulated that abstracts for entries are desirable but not indispensable; Encomia should not duplicate other annual bibliographies (for instance, those produced by the International Arthurian Society, the Société Rencesvals), unless there is a particular emphasis on courtly material; editors of volumes should be approached for a list of abstracts.

Ruth reported that she was taking early retirement, and would be stepping down from her role as President. She thanked the members of the Society for their support.

5. Secretary’s and Treasurer’s reports
The Secretary reported that she regularly communicates with the 60 registered members on jiscmail. Most communication in the past 18 months concerned Encomia and Florence Bouchet’s survey. The jiscmail is used sparingly for information about the national and international branch conferences, as well as information about conferences and publications which may be of interest to members. Miranda thanked Ruth for all her work as President.

Jane Gilbert had given her apologies, and will send her treasurer’s report through at a later date. The meeting agreed that the British Branch preferred to use Society funds to subsidise attendance at branch meetings by postgraduates and independent scholars.

6. Bibliography
Since Linda Gowans stepped down as Bibliographer, she has proved, as predicted, to be literally irreplaceable. The British Branch still has two specialist contributors – Natasha Romanova for French and Anglo Norman, and Pam Williams for Italian – who now send their material directly to the General Editor. Ruth will email Natasha and Pam to check that they still wish to carry on in their posts. In terms of finding bibliographers, the problems articulated at the Warwick meeting in 2015 still apply: it is difficult to fill posts, or to ask colleagues to take on this unpaid work which is not recognised by the REF and uses valuable research time. While Richard Trachsler’s proposals go some way to alleviating the burdens of bibliographical work, finding members to take on the role is still difficult.

7. Encomia
Encomia is now available online. In 2016 the British Branch purchased 54 online and 6 hard copies. The price paid to Librarie Garnier Classiques for Encomia 34-35 (2012-13) was £886 (including bank charges). This represents a price of €17 per online copy, €29 per hard copy (this is the reduced price for ICLS members; the price for non-members is €6 more for both kinds of copy). Members were urged to order online rather than hard copies to reduce costs. However, a new system of charging for Encomia will be introduced for the next issue, with Garnier charging the ICLS €6 less per copy provided for members, in order to reduce bank fees and currency related fees.

Although the responses to the survey had been sent to Florence Bouchet, the results of the survey were unknown.

Issue 34-35 of Encomia covered work published in 2010-2011; the next issue, on which Logan Whalen is currently at work, will cover 2012-13. It is hoped that this issue will appear this summer.

After discussion, it was agreed that British Branch members themselves should send entries to General Editor (Logan Whalen for now; Beverley Evans when he steps down). It was further agreed that the Secretary would email members once or twice a year to remind them to send in their entries. Ruth will email Beverley to consult her about the best format in which to send entries. The meeting agreed to ask the incoming President, along with the Secretary and Treasurer, to raise this issue at the next Triennial Congress.

8. International society business
The next Triennial Congress will be in Exeter in 2019. Karen Pratt was thanked for presenting the Exeter bid at the Lexington congress in July 2016.

9. Publicity and social media
Paola Scarpini maintains the Twitter feed and the Facebook page. Paola having given her apologies, the conference was livetweeted by Cory Hitt, a St Andrews postgraduate. The meeting expressed its thanks to Cory.

10. Subscriptions
There were no plans to raise the subscriptions: members were reminded that subscriptions were due on 1 June, and urged to pay by direct debit/standing order if possible, to take advantage of the lower rate.

11. Branch meetings 2018 and 2020
The 2018 meeting is scheduled to take place in Liverpool. Miranda reported that Rebecca Dixon has indicated that she is happy to organise it. 9-10 April was tentatively suggested as the best date in 2018. The Triennial Congress will take place in Exeter in 2019, so there will be no separate British Branch meeting. Miranda Griffin offered to host the 2020 branch meeting at St Catharine’s College, University of Cambridge; the meeting accepted this offer.

12. Election of President
In the light of Ruth Harvey’s early retirement, nominations had been sought. Emma Cayley was nominated by Miranda Griffin, seconded by Ruth Harvey, and elected unanimously and enthusiastically.

13. Any other business
The meeting thanked Vicky Turner for organising a stimulating and well-run conference.
The meeting thanked Ruth Harvey for all her work as President. (Post-meeting note: Vicky and Ruth were both presented with gifts at the dinner after the meeting).

MG 18/04/2017