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About the Southern African Society for Medieval and Renaissance Studies

Sasmars aims to promote scholarly interest and research in Medieval and Renaissance Studies in Southern Africa and further afield. Its biennial conferences provide a forum for academics and senior students to present their work in congenial surroundings. The Society's journal, The Southern African Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies, is a peer-reviewed publication which is accredited for South African research subsidy purposes. The SASMARS Newsletter has grown beyond our wildest expectations and has attracted the attention of scholars from all over the world. As a result, our 20th biennial conference in 2010 attracted the largest group of international delegates ever and served to forge important links between international scholars and their Southern African counterparts.

It has become a tradition to invite the keynote speakers at our conferences to become Corresponding Fellows of the Society and we are proud to acknowledge the following in that capacity:

Professors Jerry Brotton, Gordon Campbell, Sheila Delany, Roberta Frank, Helen Fulton, Alexandra Johnston, Susannah Monta, Edward Muir and Chris Wickham.

The latest addition to this list is Professor Henry Woudhuysen, Lincoln College, University of Oxford, who was the keynote speaker at the 22nd biennial conference held at Mont Fleur from 28–31 August 2014.


Number 1, 2015

Call for Papers

Southern Africa Society of Medieval and Renaissance Studies Conference 

26 – 28th August, 2016

We are pleased to announce that the 23rd biennial conference of SASMARS will be held at Mont Fleur in Stellenbosch, South Africa on 26 – 28th August 2016.

“Texts and Transformations: Medieval and Early Modern Cultures”

Medieval and Early Modern societies weathered various socio-cultural transformations, ranging from economic developments to religious conflicts, across a range of different geographies and in urban and rural spaces.  How did poetry, theatre, prose, visual art, architecture, and other forms of art respond to such changes?  How do we historically understand and assess various kinds of social transitions?

Topics for this conference can include but are not limited to:

Adaptions of classical texts and artworks

Translation of texts and ideas

Contemporary readings of old texts

Cross-cultural interactions and influences

Historical transitions and periodisation

Religious reform

Urban renewal and development

Medieval and Early Modern studies in contemporary education

Appropriations of Medieval and Early Modern culture

Cultural responses to economic change

Representations of political dissent and rebellion

Utopias and dystopias

Gender, sexuality, and social change

Deadline:  A conference proposal and a short biography to by 30 November 2015.  Any inquires can be directed to the same email address.

Volumes 22/23 of The Southern African Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies (2012-13), dedicated to Michael Bratchel, were presented to him at London University's Institute of Historical Research in December 2014.

Michael has sent the following response:

It was a great pleasure to receive the Festschrift published in my honour as vols. 22/23 of The Southern African Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies (2012-13). At the presentation in December, at London University's Institute of Historical Research, SASMARS was represented by Victor Houliston; I greatly regret that distance made it impossible for other friends and colleagues from SASMARS to attend. I remain humbled by the fine and meticulously produced volume that has resulted from their labours. It is nearly two years since I left South Africa. Susan and I have settled in the UK in a large, rambling Victorian house in the Mendip hills of rural Somerset. The setting provides me with the peace and tranquillity to do some of the writing from which I was distracted by the obligations of a teaching post: an article on Italian vicars has appeared on-line, and will be available in the print version of the journal Urban History during the course of 2015. More will follow - once I overcome my predilection for research and my procrastination over writing. I hope that the Festschrift will serve to cement ties between the Society and medievalists working here and in Europe. I think of you often, and wish the Society every success as it prepares for the excitements of Stellenbosch 2016.

M.E. Bratchel 

[Michael's article "Vicars and citizen office-holding in the dominions of fifteenth-century Lucca, 1430-1501" has appeared in the Cambridge Journal Urban History. On-line: doi:10.1017/S0963926814000534 (2014); print version will appear sometime in 2015.]

The 22nd Biennial Conference of the Southern African Society for Medieval and Renaissance Studies on the theme The Art of Reading in the Middle Ages and Renaissance was held from 28 to 31 August 2014 at Mont Fleur, Stellenbosch, South Africa.

Keynote Address: Professor Henry Woudhuysen, 
Lincoln College, University of Oxford

Professor David Scott-Macnab, 
Department of English, 
University of Johannesburg

For the conference progamme, a reflection on the conference by the keynote speaker, Professor Woudhuysen, and photographs and other information, click here.

Victor Houliston recently attended a colloquium in Poland. He sent the following brief report:


In the past, when I have thought of ‘the Continent’ in relation to Renaissance England, I have turned to France, Spain, Italy and Holland.  Now, after attending a colloquium in Poland, I recognize how important the Baltic is as an arena of English and Scottish interest and activity.  The colloquium bore the intriguing title: ‘Underground and Across the Channel: A Colloquium on Subversive Publishing in Early Modern England Poland’.  It was organized by a group of scholars in Krakow, working mainly on Jesuit exchanges between Poland-Lithuania and England and Scotland, and drew contributors from Britain, the USA and, of course, South Africa.  Sessions were held in the Bishop Erazm CioĊ‚ek Palace in Krakow (I’ll stick to the Latin Cracovia).

Much of the discussion was devoted to the printing and translation of Edmund Campion’s Rationes decem and Robert Persons’s De persecutione Anglicana, both of which were widely distributed in the Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth and translated into Polish.  My own contribution was to revise my view of the authorship of the notorious libel Leicester’s Commonwealth: almost everyone seems to have an opinion on it!

The colloquium ended with a public lecture by Earle Havens, curator of rare books at Johns Hopkins, who warned us of the ubiquity of fraud and forgery in early modern books.  The man to watch, it seems, is Annius of Viterbo.  Verbum sap.