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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, Chris Wickham, and Henry Woudhuysen.

The latest addition to this list is Professor Carolyn Dinshaw, who was the keynote speaker at the 23nd biennial conference held at Mont Fleur in August 2016.


Number 2, 2009


1. CFP: SASMARS 20th Biennial Conference, 2010

2. Announcements: Conferences, Symposia, Seminars
  • The Annual Symposium of the Medieval and Renaissance Study Group of the University of Johannesburg
  • The Shakespeare Society of Southern Africa
  • British Shakespeare Association
  • Medieval Academy of America
  • Other International Conferences in 2009 and 2010
3.  Books and Journals

4. Personalia: News from our Members and Corresponding Fellows

Conference Announcement
Afterlives: Survival and Revival
We are pleased to announce that the 20th Biennial Conference of the Southern African Society of Medieval and Renaissance Studies will be held at Mont Fleur, Stellenbosch, South Africa, on 2-5 September 2010.

KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Alexandra F. Johnston, Ph.D., FRSC
Past President of the Royal Society of Canada.
Alexandra (Sandy) Johnston, erstwhile Principal of Victoria College at the University of Toronto, is a very active international medievalist specialising in the drama and in its records. Her initial research into the York records (along with Margaret Rogerson/Dorrell of Australia) became the first in the REED (Records of English Drama) series and is foundational for those studying English drama in its cultural, religious, civic, social context as well as for performance history. She founded Records of Early English Drama and continues to be its Director. The continental scholars have to a large extent followed the template established by REED (which was for a long time under her aegis). She is a good speaker and a very warm, friendly person. Our students in particular will find her encouraging and easily approachable. She is also keen on performance of medieval drama (reconstruction or modernisation), and has been chair of the Board of PLS, "Poculi Ludique Society", for the last 20 years. They perform several medieval and early modern plays a year to very exacting professional standards, as well as entertaining conference-goers with wagon-plays and the like. She was also (along with John Cartwright) a founder member of SITM (Societe Internationale du Theatre Medieval). From 1991-1998 she was a member of the Assembly of the World Council of Churches and served on the Mission Unit working particularly on issues concerning the intersection of the Christian Gospel with culture. In this capacity she worked with many South Africans.
Call for Papers 
The theme of the Conference is "Afterlives: Survival and Revival". In an effort to facilitate a wide-ranging, interdisciplinary conversation, we encourage scholars working in any discipline to submit abstracts addressing this theme. The conference theme is designed to promote reflection on appropriations, adaptations and continuities in cultural production. A selection of the papers presented at the conference will be published in a special issue of The Southern African Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies (accredited for South African research subsidy purposes).
Suggested topics include, but are by no means limited to:
new ways of looking at old texts
textual appropriation and imitation
textual transmission
cross-currents in word and image
ideological appropriation
political myth creation
archaeological recovery
life writing
history of music/art/theatre
Please send proposals (250-300 words) for 20-minute papers to the convenor, Michael Bratchel, by 31 January 2010. Professor M Bratchel, Department of History, University of the Witwatersrand, JOHANNESBURG 2050, South Africa.
Medieval and Renaissance Study Group
University of Johannesburg
Thursday, 8 October 2009

You are cordially invited to attend and take part in the symposium. If you wish to read a paper or make another contribution, please contact Prof. Conradie at 0833173577 ( or Mrs Strauss at 011-5592694 (
Die JAARLIKSE SIMPOSIUM van die Studiegroep Middeleeue en Renaissance van die Universiteit van Johannesburg vind plaas op Donderdag, 8 Oktober 2009. Die tema is TUIS EN WEG VAN HUIS. U word vriendelik uitgenooi om die simposium by te woon en daaraan deel te neem. As u ’n referaat of ander bydrae wil lewer, kom asb. met prof. Conradie in aanraking by 0833173577 ( of met mev. Strauss by 011-5592694 (
The Eighth Triennial Congress of the
Shakespeare Society of Southern Africa
Theme: Staging Shakespeare – Direction, Design and Reception 1–2 JULY 2009
Rhodes University, Grahamstown
Eastern Province, South Africa

Local/Global Shakespeares
11 – 13 September 2009
4th British Shakespeare Association Conference

 Click on the links below for more information.
Of particular interest to SASMARS members is the seminar organised by Natasha Distiller and Sandra Young:

18–20 March 2010, on Yale University Campus, New Haven, hosted by Connecticut College, Southern Connecticut State University, Trinity College (Hartford), University of Connecticut, Wesleyan University, and Yale University.

VOLUME 21 (2009) of Shakespeare in Southern Africa, the Journal of the Shakespeare Society of Southern Africa, will be coming out in July. Chris Thurman is the new editor.
The contents include the following:
Hybridity, Othello and the Postcolonial Critics (DANIEL ROUX) The Africa that Shakespeare Imagined; or, Notes for Aspirant Film Makers (MALVERN VAN WYK SMITH)
“News on the Rialto”: Shakespeare’s Venice (EUGENIE R. FREED)

“… the worst of models – though the most extraordinary of writers”: Shakespeare, the Romantics and Byron (MICHAEL WILLIAMS)
The Liberation of Emilia (SOLOMON IYASERE)
“Why Macbeth?” Looking Back on Umabatha after Forty Years: An Interview with Welcome Msomi (SCOTT L. NEWSTOK)
Theatre Reviews
Macbeki: written and directed by Pieter-Dirk Uys. Market Theatre, Johannesburg. April 2009. (ASHLEE POLATINSKY)
Coriolanus: directed by Debbie Lütge. Durban University of Technology. April, 2009. (BRIAN PEARCE)
As You Like It: directed by Geoff Hyland. Maynardville Open-air Theatre, Cape Town. February 2009. (SIMON VAN SCHALKWYK)
Romeo and Juliet: directed by Helen Wilkins. Port Elizabeth Shakespeare Festival. February, 2009. (KEVIN GODDARD)
The Tempest: directed by Janice Honeyman. Baxter Theatre / RSC, Cape Town. January-February 2009. (JUSTUS BALEKA)
Book reviews
Andrew Lynch and Anne M. Scott (eds). Renaissance Poetry and Drama in Context by TIMOTHY HACKSLEY
Sonia Massai (ed). World-Wide Shakespeares: Local Appropriations in Film and Performance by FRANCES M. RINGWOOD
Chris Zithulele Mann. Thuthula – Heart of the Labyrinth by ANNIE GAGIANO
Margaret Tudeau-Clayton. Jonson, Shakespeare and Early Modern Virgil by VICTOR HOULISTON
Chris Thurman was fortunate to be able to “promote” SiSA in a recent article for the Mail & Guardian that might be of interest to some SASMARS newsletter readers. It can be accessed here: Dialogue with the Ivory Tower .

Siegfried Huigen, Stellenbosch University
• July 2009
• ISBN 978 90 04 17743 7
• Hardback (320 pp., 48 colour ill.)
• List price EUR 99.- / US$ 147.-
• Atlantic World Series, 18
The establishment of a settlement at the Cape of Good Hope in the seventeenth century and an expansion of the sphere of colonial influence in the eighteenth century made South Africa the only part of sub-Saharan Africa where Europeans could travel with relative ease deep into the interior. As a result individuals with scientific interests in Africa came to the Cape. This book examines writings and drawings of scientifically educated travellers, particularly in the field of ethnography, against the background of commercial and administrative discourses on the Cape. It is argued that the scientific travellers benefited more from their relationship with the colonial order than the other way around.
Readership: All those interested in early modern anthropology, travel writing, the relationship between science and colonialism, and the representation of South Africa in the eighteenth century.
Siegfried Huigen is Associate Professor of Dutch Literature and Cultural History at the University of Stellenbosch, in South Africa. He publishes regularly on early modern representations of the extra-European world and South African politics of memory.

- an online journal dedicated to the study of European Northwest from 400-1100 AD.
The Editorial Board of The Heroic Age is very pleased to announce the publication of our twelfth issue. Point your browsers to and click on "Current Issue." Information elsewhere on the site has also been updated including the staff, links pages, and the Call for Papers.

Palgrave Macmillan and the BABEL Working Group announce the launch of

“The future of the past has arrived. Nothing quite like this journal exists: ambitious special topics issues, interdisciplinary investigations, cutting edge theory, new approaches to medieval texts and culture. The BABEL Working Group has been transforming the practice of medieval studies for quite some time. This publication will extend that influence into new realms. postmedieval is more than a journal: it's an event.”
Jeffrey Jerome Cohen
George Washington University

Anthony Lawson Mayhew and Walter William Skeat
Revised by Michael Everson
Revised edition, 2009. Cathair na Mart: Evertype. ISBN 978-1-904808-23-7 (hardcover), price: €37.95, £27.95, $39.95.

Cambridge Studies in Medieval Literature is extending its remit to publish studies in the literature and culture of Anglo-Saxon England. The general editor of the series is Alastair Minnis, Yale University, who is eager to receive proposals in our area and has expanded his advisory board accordingly.  Proposals for books in the series should be directed to Linda Bree at Cambridge University Press.
The Chaucer Bibliography online has recently been updated to include materials published through 2006. The bibliography for 2007 is at present being edited for publication in Studies in the Age of Chaucer 31 (2009), and the bibliographic team is in process of annotating items from 2008--to be published in SAC 32 (2010). These will be added to the online version in due course.
June, f. 23v-24
The miniature for June shows a tournament, a traditional noble pastime. Two knights fight with swords while in the background others joust with lances. These activities are echoed in the miniature below, where combatants play with wooden hobby-horses and blunt lances in a mock tournament.
July, f. 24v-25
In the miniature for July, the aristocratic pastime is in the foreground; a hunting party sets out with falcons and dogs. In the background, labourers are mowing and haymaking. Behind the labourers a group of buildings can be seen in the distance as well as a man on horseback.

Other Conferences, Symposia, Meetings

2010 Conference: March 11 - 13, 2010
The University of New Mexico, Albuquerque
Seventh Biennial Conference: Robin Hood: Media Creature
An International Conference, 22-25 October 2009
University of Rochester, Rochester NY

Photo: George Eastman House Motion Picture Department, Douglas Fairbanks Nitrate Stills Collection



Panel organised by MEARCSTAPA (Monsters: the Experimental Association for the Research of Cryptozoology through Scholarly Theory And Practical Application).  This is an organization committed to the scholarly examination of monstrosity as an area of social and cultural interest to past and present societies. Our inter/trans/post/pre-disciplinary approach allows us to explore the significance of monstrosity across cultural, temporal, and geographic boundaries. We are interested in a multivalent approach using materials on monsters and monstrosity from literary, artistic, philosophical, and historical sources.

Southeastern Medieval Association
Annual Meeting

October 15-17

The panel will be a part of the 2009 SEMA conference, and its goal is to bring together disparate readings of monsters, letting them commingle, coexist, and (perhaps) coalesce for a few minutes.

Victor Houliston: I attended the conference of the Renaissance Society of America in Los Angeles in March and also visited the California Institute of Telecommunications and Information Technology (CALIT2) to plan for an interactive presentation for an exhibition in Valladolid, Spain, to mark the 400th anniversary of the death of Robert Persons in 1610. Since then I have been at Campion Hall in Oxford doing research on the attempts of Elizabethan Catholics to influence the succession to the crown. Was Persons behind Arbella Stuart's attempt to escape from Bess of Hardwick in March 1603? Did he cause the mysterious death of Ferdinando Stanley, 5th Earl of Derby, in 1594? I presented a paper on the subject to a seminar at the Centre for Renaissance and Early Moden Studies at York University, courtesy of Bill Sheils of the History Department and David Attwell, formerly at UWC, UKZN and Wits. It was enormously encouraging to see how many bright students are working on specialised projects in early modern history and literature.
Feeling the need to connect with the Anglo-Saxons, I went walking at Maldon in Essex, and later, while visiting David Attwell in York, enjoyed Michael Wood's television programme on Beowulf, part of the BBC poetry season in which the current Archbishop of Canterbury wonders whether Newman's sermons generated religious doubt in Matthew Arnold and a comical presenter reads (very inaccurately) from Paradise Lost in various graffiti-laden and decayed parts of London, proving the point in several ways.
I am also in the early stages of preparing a 3-volume edition of the Correspondence of Robert Persons, sponsored by the Royal English College at Valladolid.
Robert Persons and his students, mural from Valladolid.

Maldon from the air.                                Tollesbury, next to Maldon, showing the mud flats and the turn to modern technology.
Pictures with thanks to Victor Houliston.
I just returned from four months in Berkeley, reconnecting with old friends and making some new ones, working on a project (see below), babysitting, dining at wonderful restaurants, and having a generally good time.

The next adventure is three months in Cassis, southern France (near Marseille) at the Camargo Foundation colony, to finish my project on a French revolutionary journalist, Sylvain Maréchal. I have translated and annotated his Nouvelle Légende Dorée and I’ll write the Intro to the volume at Camargo, where I’ll be from mid-September through mid-December, and then will be seeking a publisher for it. As to publications, I have a short piece, “Getting Anecdotal”, in the upcoming issue of Medieval Feminist Forum, which is being edited by Felice Lifshitz; a longer one, “Chaucer and the Paris Jews, 1394”, in a forthcoming volume from U. of Alberta Press: Medieval Marginalities, ed. David Gay and Stephen Reimer.
August f. 25v-26. The August miniature shows the corn harvest. This was also a scene that was often used for the occupations of the months and an almost identical version appeared in other Bening manuscripts. At harvest time, labourers worked in shifts, taking their meals in the field because the corn had to be gathered in quickly.