Dartmouth Hosts Inaugural Conference for Brut Chronicle Scholarship

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Dartmouth presents “From Medieval Britain to Dartmouth: Situating the English Brut Tradition” on Friday, May 20, and Saturday, May 21. The conference is dedicated to the introduction of the Dartmouth Brut Chronicle manuscript, which records a comprehensive version of British history from the Trojans to King Arthur to Henry V.

The conference “From Medieval Britain to Dartmouth: Situating the English Brut Tradition” will introduce the Dartmouth Brut Chronicle manuscript to contemporary scholarship.

Dartmouth acquired its rare c. 1425 copy of the Brut Chronicle from a private source, making this conference the first time the Dartmouth Brut has been widely examined by scholars.

“The Dartmouth Brut is part of a rich tradition of history writing in medieval England, but it is also a unique document,” says conference organizer Michelle R. Warren, professor of comparative literature. “By comparing this manuscript to others, we can refine our understanding of how people understood the past, how they made and used books, and how varied the life of a single document can be.” She continues: “These lessons are pertinent today as our relationships with texts change with each technological innovation. Indeed, this conference wouldn’t have been possible without the digitization of the manuscript.”

Speakers at the conference, Warren notes, will focus on illustrated images, marginalia, and the transmission of texts across centuries into the digital age. “With so many medievalists at Dartmouth and in the greater New England area, we have a wonderful opportunity to share knowledge across many different specialized fields.”

Conference lectures take place Friday, May 20, from 2 to 6 p.m. in Haldeman 041.  Presenters hail from a range of colleges and universities, including the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Brown University, Michigan State University, Queen’s University of Belfast, North Carolina State University, and the University of Notre Dame.  Also speaking on Friday is Emily Ulrich ’11, a history and linguistics double major who is systematically documenting the annotations of the Brut for her senior honors thesis.

Emily Ulrich ’11

Emily Ulrich ’11 (photo by Joseph Mehling ’69)

“I was first introduced to the Brut tradition my freshman year, and was immediately drawn to its fascinating blend of myth and history,” says Ulrich.  “I am immensely excited about the Brut conference because I will meet face-to-face with scholars whose work has directly influenced my intellectual development. I’ve been staring at its pages for about a year now, and it’s rare to have the opportunity to share that kind of detailed analysis with anyone, let alone enthusiasts and specialists in the field.”

A reception and manuscript exhibit, curated by eight undergraduate medievalists, will be held at Rauner Library following the Friday lectures. Rauner will also host “Scholarship and Preservation into the Digital Age” on Saturday, May 21, from 9:15 a.m. until 12:30 p.m., which includes a tour of Preservation Services, a lecture by Collections Conservator Deborah Howe, and a concluding seminar.

This event is sponsored by the Dartmouth College Library and the Leslie Humanities Center, and co-sponsored by the Departments of Comparative Literature, English, and History, and the associate deans of Arts and Humanities and of Interdisciplinary Studies.  This event is free and open to the public. A complete schedule of events is available online.