The Lighter Side of the Middle Ages

Symposium, Australian National University, Canberra

Pieter Brueghel, 'Topsy Turvy World'

An interdisciplinary symposium to celebrate the launch of Chaucer’s Landscapes, a collection of essays by renowned medievalist Professor Ralph W.V. Elliot.

It was not all plague and penury in the Middle Ages

Some of them were having a very good time.

The full program is below or can be viewed with full abstracts here (pdf)

There is no registration fee for the symposium, but for catering purposes please send an email by Wednesday 24th November to confirm that you are attending this event.

The launch of Professor Elliott’s book will be held at 6:00pm in the Common Room, University House, ANU on Thursday 25th November, followed by a symposium dinner in the Fellows’ Bar and Cafe. Please email attendances for the launch and dinner.

Email and enquiries Dr Jan Lloyd Jones

Venue: School of Cultural Inquiry Conference Room 1st Floor, A.D. Hope Building

Date: Friday 26th November 9am – 5pm



Jessica Milner Davis (University of Sydney – Letters, Art, and Media) – ‘The Fool and Topsy-Turvydom: A Social Heritage from the Middle Ages’

Phillip Sheldrick (ANU – Humanities Research Centre) – ‘What Have the Middle Ages Ever Done For Us?’ (with Jenny Huang and Brenna Harding)

John Tillotson (ANU – History) – ‘The London Drapers Hold a Feast’

10.30-11.00 Morning Tea


Janey Hadley Williams (ANU – English)  ‘Verse Satire on Pilgrimage in Late Medieval Scotland’

Elizabeth Keen (Independent Scholar) – ‘Political Animals: Emblems and Satire in Late Fourteenth-Century England’

Maxwell J. Walkley (University of Sydney – French) – ‘Light-hearted Amusement or Comic Aggression?: English Mocked in Two Old French Fabliaux’

12.30-1.30 Lunch


Louis D’Arcens (University of Wollongong – English Literatures) –  ‘Scraping the Rust from the Joking Bard: Chaucerian Wit in the Eighteenth Century’

Amy Brown (University of Sydney – Centre for Medieval Studies) – ‘Tournaments and Tweens: The Maiden with Small Sleeves Episode as Domestic Comedy’

Sabina Rahman (University of Sydney – English) – ‘The Serious Side of Merry Men: Early Robin Hood Ballads and Humour’

3.00-3.30 Afternoon Tea


Helen Appleton (University of Sydney – English) – ‘Schadenfreude and Amusingly Shaped Vegetables – Ambiguous Humour in Old English Poetry’

Anya Adair (Melbourn University – Ancient, Medieval and Early Modern Studies) –  ‘Light Hearts in the Monastery: Hidden Delights in the Old English Advent Lyrics’

Chris Bishop (ANU – History) ‘Beowulf: The Monsters and the Comics’