Late Antique and Medieval Studies
2009-2010 Library Enhancement Grant
In recent years there has been growing interest in medieval history at the University of Florida. With four professors in the history department directly engaged in the field, as well as several others in the departments of English, Religion, and Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, among others, UF has more medievalists than it has ever had before; indeed, UF has a greater concentration of medievalists than many other North American universities. As a result, an increasing number of undergraduates is getting interested in the Middle Ages at the same time that UF has attracted a growing contingent of graduate students committed to research in the Middle Ages. Every semester there are multiple courses offered on medieval topics, and UF’s recent creation of the Medieval and Early Modern Studies Center (MEMS) has facilitated interdisciplinary work by undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty working on the medieval world.
With this growth of interest in the Middle Ages, the UF libraries have struggled to keep pace with the massive increase in demand for medieval primary sources. Many important works from this time period have been hard to find or expensive, and students have had to rely on interlibrary loans for essential works of medieval history. In order to help alleviate this situation, Associate Professor of Medieval History, Andrea Sterk, with the assistance of a Library Enhancement Grant provided by the Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere’s Rothman Endowment, has supplemented the UF libraries’ collection with some medieval texts vital to the study of the Middle Ages. She hopes that these sources will support the research needs of medievalists, as well as those studying the late ancient and the early modern periods, at UF. “There are three reasons I chose these books,” Sterk said. “First, because they are a must for a good research library. Second, because there is a growing interest in medieval and late antique history at UF. And third, because our graduate students need them.” At her request, the UF libraries have been able to fill gaps in their collection of the series of edited primary sources, including the Monumenta Germaniae Historica, the Sources chrétiennes, and several other miscellaneous pieces. The Sources chrétiennes is of particular importance as a mainstay of any research library serving researchers in medieval history. This compendium of essential primary source texts spanning from the second to fourteenth century will be useful to anyone studying classical languages or medieval literature. Its volumes contain facing French translations of the texts, making these works accessible to those who cannot read classical languages and providing a helpful linguistic juxtaposition for those still learning such languages. Indeed, in many cases these facing French translations are the only translation available of the works. And since these primary sources include texts from Latin, Greek, and Syriac, works as diverse as politic treatises, histories, theological tracts, and literary works, they are a diverse and invaluable addition to the UF library collection.
Additionally, Sterk used the grant money to request the purchase an English translation of the Theodosian Code, absent from Library West’s collection ever since its copy was lost some years ago. The first major attempt at codifying and systematizing Roman law, the Theodosian Code is not only a resource for students of ancient or medieval history, but also, as a result of the continuing massive influence of Roman law, a very important work for law students. A copy of the code was also included in the Sources chrétiennes, so now students will have access to it in the original Latin, as well as French and English translations. Sterk also sought to fill in holes in the university’s Monumenta Germaniae Historica collection, a series with Latin editions of primary sources concerning the Germanic peoples from the late Roman Empire to the end of the Middle Ages. The volumes acquired include histories of the Franks by Gregory of Tours, Fredegar and Nithard, hagiographies of Germanic saints, and law codes from the post-Roman kingdoms of Europe. Thus, the partnership of Sterk with Center for the Humanities and Public Sphere has brought to the library a wide array of works necessary for UF’s growing population of medievalists. “I use these sources all the time,” said Anna Lankina, a PhD student in medieval history, “I need these resources for my research.”