Dartmouth Medieval Colloquium to Honor Scholar Monika Otter

The biennial gathering has made Dartmouth a leader in medieval studies in the Northeast for nearly 20 years.

Medieval studies scholars affiliated with institutions across the northeast will convene at Dartmouth on Nov. 18 for the Medieval Colloquium, a biennial event that has fostered scholarship and community in the region for nearly 20 years. The 2023 colloquium will honor the memory of professor Monika Otter, a founder and champion of the series who died on May 5.


Monika Otter
Professor Monika Otter

The gathering convenes medievalists from across New England and New York for a day of discussion about emerging scholarship, with workshops at Sanborn Library followed by dinner at the Hanover Inn. Dartmouth's Medieval and Renaissance Studies faculty invites two scholars to pre-circulate and present papers of work in progress. 

This year's colloquium will feature Ardis Butterfield, Marie Borroff Professor of English at Yale University, who will speak on the subject of "Medieval Song"; and Hussein Fancy, associate professor of history at Yale, who will discuss "Impostacy and the Mediterranean."

The 2023 colloquium will be convened by Timothy Baker, a senior lecturer in religion who studies late antique and medieval religious history and manuscript traditions, and Christopher MacEvitt, an expert in the history of medieval Christian communities. 

Charles A. and Elfriede A. Collis Professor in History Cecilia Gaposchkin, a specialist in late medieval cultural history, convened the colloquium from 2011 to 2022, and will resume leading it next year. 


Dartmouth scholars Timothy Baker, Christopher MacEvitt, and Cecilia Gaposchkin
Dartmouth scholars Timothy Baker, Christopher MacEvitt, and Cecilia Gaposchkin

Between 40 and 50 scholars will take part this year, with attendees affiliated with institutions including Yale, Harvard, Dartmouth, University of Vermont, and Norwich University.

"The Northeast has an extraordinary number of professional medievalists, and our participants are drawn from a wide range of institutions," Gaposchkin says. "This program has made us a leader in medieval studies in the region, and it is one that scholars look forward to every other year."

Baker praises the colloquium for its role in building community among scholars of all ranks. "This event truly has no barriers for entry," he says. "Junior faculty and very senior, local faculty and medievalists in our community as well as international faculty all come together in Sanborn to discuss our colleagues' work, foster friendships, and share meals together." 

The colloquium plays an influential role in fostering new scholarship. "Generally what is presented becomes an important publication of a major scholar," Gaposchkin says. "Scholars often tell me that it was the best event of their writing careers."  

The Medieval Colloquium complements Dartmouth's Medieval Seminar, which convenes scholars in the region five or six times of year to discuss a scholarly paper in progress over dinner. The seminar series kicked off in the 1960s, making Dartmouth a nexus for the medieval studies community in the Northeast. Dartmouth's University Seminars initiative supports the series as part of its efforts to bring together faculty from across the institution to study topics of common interest in depth and on a continuing basis. 

Otter co-founded the colloquium in 2005 with medieval literature scholar Peter Travis, professor emeritus of English. A faculty member in the Department of English and Creative Writing from 1991 to 2023, Otter was a scholar of Latin, French, and English literature from the 11-13th centuries. She co-convened the colloquium in 2005, 2007, 2009, 2013, and 2015. 

"Monika was a cherished and enthusiastic member of the medieval studies community on campus and throughout the northeast," Dean Elizabeth F. Smith said in a message to the Dartmouth community. "She was treasured in our community for her compassion, supportive nature, and brilliance with languages."

The Medieval Colloquium is underwritten by Dartmouth's Leslie Center for the Humanities, the Office of the Provost, the Department of History, the Department of English and Creative Writing, and other departments on campus.