Scales of Knowledge. From Cosmos to Book


Medieval Studies has moved away from nationalising Eurocentric paradigms toward the ‘Global Middle Ages’ which raises questions about scales of knowledge. How do we negotiate these scales moving between the micro and the macro? What are the appropriate macro scales, geographical and chronological, for studying the period defined for ‘Europe’ as ‘The Middle Ages’? Similar questions of scale challenged the years around 1100, following the 1st Crusade, which transformed Latin Europe’s relationship with the Afro-Eurasian space.


Taking the 12th-century Liber Floridus, a manuscript created at a specific time and place, as its touchstone, this Autumn School will address the challenge of scales of knowledge in times of rapid geopolitical change. The Liber Floridus is a richly illustrated encyclopaedia, produced by Lambert, a canon in the Flemish city of St Omer, working in the early decades of the twelfth century. Instigated in response to the shock of the 1st Crusade and including the Gesta Francorum (an aggressive account of Latin Christians confronting Muslims and Byzantine Greeks), the Liber Floridus represents Lambert’s attempt to grasp the physical and metaphysical complexity of a new cosmos. Lambert addressed profound questions about  cosmography, nature and environment, the universality of time and history, and the nature of the divine, by extending his book to include many genres, illustrations and diagrams in his book, exploring the limits of verbal and visual thinking in the process.

Learning outcomes

  • confronting modern discussions that result from the globalization of modern intellectual perspectives to comparable debates in the past, notably within the fields of cosmography, intercultural exchange, knowledge transmission, the universality of time and history, and the nature of the divine
  • gain in-depth insight in the mutual influence on knowledge and literature from the different linguistic, religious areas as they came into contact by way of the settlement of Latin culture in the Near-East
  • understand the relationships between (medieval) history, art history, intellectual history, and literature when interpreting (medieval) texts or manuscripts
  • enlarge the personal network and take advantage of the presence of distinguished lecturers for discussing topics related to the PhD -research

Dates and Venue

Tuesday 19 October – Friday 22 October 2021

Campus Boekentoren, Library


Click here for the full programme.


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If the course is fully booked, you can ask to be added to the waiting list by sending an e-mail to In case of cancellations, you can take the open place.

Registration fee

Free of charge for Doctoral School members of Ghent University

Teaching material

  • articles, suggested by the lecturers
  • source material (manuscripts, facsimiles)
  • (pre-)recorded sessions

Number of participants

Max. 20 participants



Evaluation methods and criteria (doctoral training programme)

  • PhD-students: combination of attendance and active participation (aim is to support them in their PhD research, thus (parts of) the dissertation can be seen as the criteria for evaluation)
  • (RE)MA-students: combination of attendance and essay (these students get a score)

Target Group

PhD-candidates in the areas of History, History of Art, History of Science, (Western) Literature, Religious Studies, Arabic / Hebrew Studies

Organizing & Scientific Committee

Dr. Martine De Reu
Faculty: Faculty of Arts and Philosophy

Other members of the organising & scientific committee

  • Prof Dr. Wim Verbaal (UGent, LW07)
  • Elizabeth Tyler (CML & Centre for Medieval Studies, University of York)
  • Thomas O’Donnell (Center for Medieval Studies, Fordham University, New York)
  • Lars Boje Mortensen (CML, University of Southern Denmark, Odense)