New course (January 2018): #mdvl310c – MARVELS

See also: UBC Medieval Studies Program & its brochure

Topics in Medieval Studies
(3 credits)
2017 Winter Term 2
January-April 2018
Tuesday & Thursday 2:00-3:30 p.m.
Dr Juliet O’Brien
Department of French, Hispanic and Italian Studies

Wonder. Delight. Awe. Joy. Imagination. Marvellousness (mirabilis, merveille, merveillos) (more…)

Teaching the “Roman de la Rose” in hyper-really allegorical times: Apocalypse Now

Previously on UBC Medieval Studies 301A: European Literature from the 5th to the 14th Century – “THE LIBERAL ARTS”:

Expanding an excerpt from the previous post, going beyond embedded screenshots, welcome to The Middle Week of the course en direct. 17-23 October 2016; with classes on the 18th and the 20th.

At the midpoint of the term, the course, and the book: expect chiasmic hinges. A week before Samhain: expect a thinning of the veils between realities. I didn’t expect that this would be the class where we digressed the most from The Rough Plan and where those digressions were all relevant: this was the set of class notes that expanded the most, from the preparatory pre-class version to the full version after the week’s classes. I certainly didn’t expect that this would be the class that really brought us all together, in delighted fascination at the actual mathematics of the number 666, as shown by an actual mathematician (whose final project was an allegory, a dystopian speculative fiction short story).

Expect the unexpected, as ever, in teaching.


Constructing and deconstructing a medieval joke (2)

And so the uncomfortableness continues: with thanks again to Discarding Images for the above, from their fine collection of medieval emoticons.

As with the previous post, this continuation will contain images that are NSFW.

Constructing and deconstructing a medieval joke (1)

Jean de Meun, Roman de la Rose (13th-c. French): Reason explains Fortune and her wheel to The Lover (as it were, so to speak, phnar phnar (or not)).

Morgan Library MS 948 f. 61r (French, c. 1520) c/o The Roman de la Rose Digital Library (Johns Hopkins University & the BNF)


  • May contain jokes
  • Does not contain any jokes about construction
  • Does not knowingly contain any actual deconstruction
  • Images and words may be NSFW (not just because they’re medieval)
  • Contains double entendres


On good government

Ambrogio Lorenzetti, The Allegory of Good Government (Sala dei Nove, Palazzo Pubblico, Siena: 1338-39)


This piece started out as some Tweets yesterday. It is intended as a friendly useful guide to our Board of Governors on the art of good government; be that as is, or in using ideas from it and adapting them to new ideas of governance. Medievalists are, as ever, here to help in the here and now …

UBC, a public university, is currently celebrating its centenary. And in the midst of governance crises. Here are two reasons why some frescos in a council chamber can help.