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Comitatus: A Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies

Vol. 43 (2012) through current issue

Comitatus: A Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies, published annually under the auspices of the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, University of California, Los Angeles, publishes articles by graduate students and new scholars (within five years of receiving the PhD) working in any field of the Middle Ages or the Renaissance. The annual journal is distributed internationally to libraries and individuals.

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Communicating with the Spirits

Edied by Gabor Gabor Klaniczay and Eva Pocs

Focuses on the problem of communication with the other world: the phenomenon of spirit possession and its changing historical interpretations, the imaginary schemes elaborated for giving accounts of the journeys to the other world, for communicating with the dead, and finally the historical archetypes of this kind of religious manifestation—trance prophecy, divination, and shamanism. Recognized historians and ethnologists analyze the relationship, coexistence and conflicts of popular belief systems, Judeo-Christian mythology and demonology in medieval and modern Europe. The essays address links between rites and beliefs, folklore and literature; the legacy of various pre-Christian mythologies; the syncretic forms of ancient, medieval and modern belief- and rite-systems; "pure" examples from religious-ethnological research outside Europe to elucidate European problems.

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The Community of St. Cuthbert in the Late Tenth Century

The Chester-le-Street Additions to Durham Cathedral Library A.IV.19

The Community of St. Cuthbert in the Late Tenth Century: The Chester-le-Street Additions to Durham Cathedral Library A.IV.19 reveals the dynamic role a seemingly marginalized community played during a defining period for the emergence of English religious identity. Based on her new critical edition of additions made to Durham Cathedral Library A.IV.19 and by questioning the purpose of those late tenth-century additions, Karen Louise Jolly is able to uncover much about the Chester-le-Street scribes and their tumultuous time, rife as it was with various political tensions, from Vikings and local Northumbrian nobles to an increasingly dominant West Saxon monarchy. Why, for instance, would a priest laboriously insert an Old English gloss above every Latin word in a collection of prayers intended to be performed in Latin? What motivated the same English scribe to include Irish-derived Christian materials in the manuscript, including prayers invoking the archangel Panchiel to clear birds from a field? Jolly’s extensive contextual analysis includes a biography of Aldred, the priest and provost of the community primarily responsible for adding these unusual texts. Besides reinterpreting the manuscript's paleography and codicology, she investigates both the drive for reform evidenced by the added liturgical materials and the new importance of Irish-derived encyclopedic and educational materials.

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Comparative Perspectives on History and Historians

Essays in Memory of Bryce Lyon (1920-2007)

edited by David Nicholas, Bernard S. Bachrach, and James M. Murray

The book features a section of appreciations of Bryce Lyon followed by three sections on the major areas on which Lyon's research concentrated: the legacy of Henri Pirenne, constitutional and legal history of England and the Continent, and the economic history of the Low Countries. Original essays by Bernard S. Bachrach, David S. Bachrach, Jan Dumolyn, Caroline Dunn, Jelle Haemers, John H. A. Munro, James M. Murray, Anthony Musson, David Nicholas, W. Mark Ormrod, Walter Prevenier, Jeff Rider, Don C. Skemer, and Marci Sortor deepen our understanding of Lyon's career and siginificance and further our knowledge of the areas in which he worked.

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The Complete Works of Liudprand of Cremona (Medieval Texts in Translation)

Liudprand of Cremona

This modern English translation of all the surviving literary compositions ascribed to Liudprand, the bishop of Cremona from 962 to 972, offers unrivaled insight into society and culture in western Europe during the "iron century."

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Confessions of a Rational Mystic

by Gregory Schufreider

Confessions of a Rational Mystic exposes both aspects of this transitional thinker through a multidimensional interpretation of his Pioslogion. It treats Anselm's famous proof for the existence of God as both a rational argument and an exercise in mystical theology, analyzing the logic of its reasoning while providing a phenomenological account of the vision of God that is embedded within it. Through a deconstructive reading of the cycle of prayer and proof that forms the overall structure of the text, not only is the argument returned to its place in the Proslogion as a whole, but the historic relationship that it attempts to establish between faith and reason is examined. In this way, the critical role that Anselm played in the history of philosophy is seen in a new light.

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Constructing a World

Shakespeare's England and the New Historical Fiction

Taking its title from Umberto Eco’s postscript to The Name of the Rose, the novel that inaugurated the New Historical Fiction in the early 1980s, Constructing the World provides a guide to the genre’s defining characteristics. It also serves as a lively account of the way Shakespeare, Marlowe, Raleigh, Queen Elizabeth I, and their contemporaries have been depicted by such writers as Anthony Burgess, George Garrett, Patricia Finney, Barry Unsworth, and Rosalind Miles. Innovative historical novels written during the past two or three decades have transformed the genre, producing some extraordinary bestsellers as well as less widely read serious fiction. Shakespearean scholar Martha Tuck Rozett engages in an ongoing conversation about the genre of historical fiction, drawing attention to the metacommentary contained in “Afterwords” or “Historical Notes”; the imaginative reconstruction of the diction and mentality of the past; the way Shakespearean phrases, names, and themes are appropriated; and the counterfactual scenarios writers invent as they reinvent the past.

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The Consumption of Justice

Emotions, Publicity, and Legal Culture in Marseille, 1264–1423

by Daniel Lord Smail

In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, the ideas and practices of justice in Europe underwent significant change as procedures were transformed and criminal and civil caseloads grew apace. Drawing on the rich judicial records of Marseille from the years 1264 to 1423, especially records of civil litigation, this book approaches the courts of law from the perspective of the users of the courts (the consumers of justice) and explains why men and women chose to invest resources in the law.

Daniel Lord Smail shows that the courts were quickly adopted as a public stage on which litigants could take revenge on their enemies. Even as the new legal system served the interest of royal or communal authority, it also provided the consumers of justice with a way to broadcast their hatreds and social sanctions to a wider audience and negotiate their own community standing in the process. The emotions that had driven bloodfeuds and other forms of customary vengeance thus never went away, and instead were fully incorporated into the new procedures.

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Conversion and Narrative

Reading and Religious Authority in Medieval Polemic

Ryan Szpiech

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Conversos, Inquisition, and the Expulsion of the Jews from Spain

Norman Roth

The Jewish community of medieval Spain was the largest and most important in the West for more than a thousand years, participating fully in cultural and political affairs with Muslim and Christian neighbors. This stable situation began to change in the 1390s, and through the next century hundreds of thousands of Jews converted to Christianity. Norman Roth argues here with detailed documentation that, contrary to popular myth, the conversos were sincere converts who hated (and were hated by) the remaining Jewish community. Roth examines in depth the reasons for the Inquisition against the conversos, and the eventual expulsion of all Jews from Spain.

“With scrupulous scholarship based on a profound knowledge of the Hebrew, Latin, and Spanish sources, Roth sets out to shatter all existing preconceptions about late medieval society in Spain.”—Henry Kamen, Journal of Ecclesiastical History

“Scholarly, detailed, researched, and innovative. . . . As the result of Roth’s writing, we shall need to rethink our knowledge and understanding of this period.”—Murray Levine, Jewish Spectator

“The fruit of many years of study, investigation, and reflection, guaranteed by the solid intellectual trajectory of its author, an expert in Jewish studies. . . . A contribution that will be particularly valuable for the study of Spanish medievalism.”—Miguel Angel Motis Dolader, Annuario de Estudios Medievales

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