Congratulations to Katie Menendez who successfully defended her dissertation, "Time and History in the early Anglo-Norman World: Durham c. 1080–1130"! (abstract below) Thank you to supervisors, Professor Alexander Andrée and Professor Shami Ghosh, committee members Professor Jim Ginther and Professor Renée Trilling, exam Chair Professor Franz Huber, and external appraiser Professor Thomas O'Donnell of Fordham University. During Katie's time at CMS, she presented at scholarly symposiums and colloquia, and was awarded the Paul E. Szarmach First Article Prize from the Richard Rawlinson Centre at Western Michigan University for her article “Gregory the Great as Intermediary Figure Between East and West: The Eleventh-Century Manuscript Context of the Old English Dialogues,” published in Viator 51 (2020). Katie has just recently accepted a lecturer position in the Department of English at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
Our best wishes to Katie on her wonderful accomplishments!
"Time and History in the early Anglo-Norman World: Durham c. 1080–1130"
Katherine Menendez, Doctor of Philosophy, Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Toronto, 2024
This dissertation studies the multiple temporal perspectives of one monastic community, Durham cathedral priory, as a case study for the complex temporality of medieval people, especially monks, in a period of political and intellectual transition. As monks, they spent much of their lives in study of the Bible and in the performance of the Office, and so the inclusion of these elements of their intellectual formation is integral to understanding their perception of time, in addition to their historiography. Studying biblical commentaries in conjunction with historical texts reveals not only a multiplicity of temporal perspectives, but also significant overlap between the different genres. In particular, the commentaries and histories demonstrate a similar concern with the relationship between temporality and narrative structure, and share specific temporalities, such as the contrast between earthly time and eternity, or a moral temporality that speaks to an audience at any time. Each chapter considers one set of texts, including their manuscript context, to analyze how the Durham monks, and the cantor Symeon in particular, transformed the tradition at their disposal. The first chapter sets out Durham’s historical situation, as well as the theoretical background of the dissertation, especially the relationship between different forms of narrative or senses of biblical interpretation and different temporalities. Chapter two iii analyzes the exegetical methods and explicit discussions of time in Genesis commentaries to consider the relationship between different temporalities, and especially how each author makes the creation account relevant to their audience. Chapter three analyzes the extent to which three Revelation commentaries describe the Church historically, especially the way each author describes Revelation’s structure and organizes their own commentary, and their interpretation of the opening of the seven seals. In the final chapter, this dissertation turns to analyzing historical texts composed between 1080 and 1130 to argue that the Durham historical texts display a greater interest in organizing time than the commentaries, but that all the histories use a variety of temporalities to make events coherent on the page, to teach general moral truths, and to describe the monastery as a foretaste of eternity.