IV International Congress of the John Gower Society

John Gower

MS Hunter 59 T-2-17 Portrait of Gower folio 6v John Gower Vox Clamantis Glasgow Univ Library www.lib.gla.ac.uk


Durham University

The Early Book Society and the John Gower Society are pleased to announce that the fifteenth biennial conference of the Early Book Society and the IVth International Congress of the John Gower Society will be hosted by the University of Durham, UK, from 9th to 14th July 2017. The Congress theme is ‘Gower, His Contemporaries, and Their Legacy in MSS and Early Printed Books, 1350-1550’. The local organizers are Elizabeth Archibald and Corinne Saunders (Department of English Studies, Durham), and the co-chairs are Martha Driver (Early Book Society) and Bob Yeager (John Gower Society).

Conference Materials and Information

Please direct any questions to the Congress organizers: R. F. Yeager or Martha Driver


Deadline and Costs

Our deadline for early bird registration is 21st April 2017. If you register by this date the cost of the full registration package will be £200 (£150 for unwaged/postgraduate attendees). This includes the welcome reception on Sunday 9th at Durham Cathedral; attendance at the conference, including refreshments and lunches on Monday 10th, Tuesday 11th, Wednesday 12th and Thursday 13th; the drinks reception on Tuesday 11th at St Cuthbert’s Society; and the conference dinner at Durham Castle on Thursday 13th. In your registration form you may also opt to book accommodation and a place on up to two of the excursions that are taking place on Wednesday 12th and Friday 14th (please see below for details). The price of registration will increase to £250 (£200 unwaged/postgraduate) from 22nd April 2017. There is also a day attendance rate of £20 per day (£10 for the half-day of sessions on Wednesday) for participants who are based in Durham; if you live elsewhere and wish to attend for just one day, please contact our postdoctoral research assistant, Anna Dow (a.e.dow@durham.ac.uk). Details about the conference, excursions, accommodation, Durham and travel are provided below. If you have any academic queries about the conference or your paper, please contact Bob Yeager (rfyeager@hotmail.com) or Martha Driver (mdriver@pace.edu). If you have any questions about practical arrangements for your visit to Durham, please contact Anna Dow (a.e.dow@durham.ac.uk) in the first instance.

About the conference

Panels and plenary lectures will take place in Durham on Monday 10th, Tuesday 11th, Wednesday 12th and Thursday 13th July. The welcome reception will take place in the Cloisters of Durham Cathedral on the evening of Sunday 9th (6-7.30pm). A drinks reception will also be held at St Cuthbert’s Society (one of the university colleges on the Bailey) on the evening of Tuesday 11th (6-7.30pm), and the conference dinner will take place at University College (the Castle) on the evening of Thursday 13th July. Wednesday afternoon will include time for Cathedral and Library visits. The conference will include three plenary lectures, which will be given by Professor A. S. G. Edwards (University of Kent), Professor Roberta Krueger (Hamilton College), and Professor John O’Brien (Durham University). All panels and plenary lectures will take place at Elvet Riverside, the primary Arts building of the university. Coffee and tea, and lunch, will be provided up the street in Dunelm House (the Durham Students’ Union building) on Monday 10th, Tuesday 11th, Wednesday 12th and Thursday 13th July.


A map of the University buildings can be found at https://www.dur.ac.uk/map/.


Professor Richard Gameson and the staff of the Cathedral and Palace Green libraries have generously agreed to host tours in which selections from the important manuscript collections of these libraries will be presented. Durham Cathedral Library preserves the largest in situ medieval collection in Britain. These will take place on the afternoon of Wednesday 12th July between 2 and 5pm, with three groups of a maximum of 20 each moving between Palace Green Library, the Cathedral Library and the Cathedral (visits for 20 people at each site at 2pm, 3pm and 4pm; you will be assigned your group at registration). Delegates on these tours will be able to see both libraries, and can also visit the Cathedral Open Treasure exhibition at a reduced cost of £5 (this offer is available to delegates throughout the conference). A separate tour will leave at 2.15pm by coach to Ushaw College (located 5 miles outside the city centre) to visit the college buildings and the library, again in three groups of 20. The chapel was originally designed by Pugin; the library, which descends from the English College at Douai, contains a remarkable collection ranging from ninth-century manuscripts to an extensive printed book collection of 30,000 titles, as well as significant archival resources and deposits from various collections. Due to the limited number of spaces available, attendees may sign up to see EITHER the Cathedral and Palace Green libraries OR Ushaw College on Wednesday afternoon, and tours are only open to those not based in Durham. There may be additional tours of the two Durham libraries on Friday afternoon at 2pm and 3pm at each site if the demand for places exceeds those available on Wednesday. Please see the links below for further information about the library collections in question.

On Friday 14th July, if there is enough interest, there will be an all-day excursion to Alnwick, a market town located 53 miles north of Durham, and its spectacular castle and gardens. The eleventh-century castle is the seat of the Duke of Northumberland and has an impressive array of state rooms (including a beautiful library); the castle has also gained fame in recent years as a filming location for various film and TV franchises including the Harry Potter series and Downton Abbey. For more information on the castle and gardens, see the links below. The local bookshop, Barter Books, is also well worth a visit.

You are urged to book a place on the excursions when you register; it may still be possible to sign up when you arrive in Durham, but places on the libraries tours are limited.


A range of types of accommodation is available. Both single and double rooms are being held for conference delegates in the Radisson Blu Hotel, which is 10-15 minutes on foot from the conference venue. Single and twin rooms, some en-suite, are available in University College (the Castle) and Hatfield College, which are close to the Cathedral and about 10 minutes on foot from the conference venue. If you prefer to make your own arrangements, we would also recommend the following:

Please be aware that the accommodation in the Castle, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a Grade 1 listed building, is not suitable for those with special accessibility requirements or limited mobility; many of the rooms are accessed by a long stone staircase and there are no elevators. Please also note that Travelodge, the Castle View Guest House and the Georgian Townhouse B&B are at the top of steep hills.

About Durham

Durham City is home to several buildings of great historic interest. The Cathedral, founded in 1093, is the resting place of St Cuthbert and the Venerable Bede. It is home to the Open Treasure exhibition (with a special exhibition of Durham’s three copies of Magna Carta and Forest Charters): see https://www.durhamcathedral.co.uk/visit/what-to-visit/open-treasure. Fans of the Harry Potter series will also recognise the Cathedral Cloisters and Chapter House from the first two films. Durham Castle was built in 1072 and was for centuries the residence of the Bishop of Durham. Since 1837 it has been a Durham University college and student residence (known affectionately as ‘Castle’), in addition to being a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Both the Cathedral and Castle overlook the River Wear from the Bailey. Several other colleges (known as the Bailey colleges) occupy this area, including Hatfield College and St Cuthbert’s Society, as well as other university buildings. Elvet Riverside and Dunelm House, the conference venues, are a short walk away across the river, and up the road from these are the Bill Bryson Library, the science site and the hill colleges.

Durham is a small city, and walking is much the easiest way to get around; parking is limited and none is available near the Castle and Cathedral. Some roads in the city centre are quite steep, including those leading from the Castle and Hatfield College to the conference venue. A map of the city can be found here: http://www.thisisdurham.com/visitor-information/maps-of-durham.

How to get there

Newcastle Airport is the nearest international airport to Durham, about 40 minutes by car, or 50-60 minutes by rail. For the latter, take the Metro to Newcastle Central Station and change there for rail services to Durham – please bear in mind that the trains from Newcastle do not run after 10.30pm. Durham railway station has good access to cities across the country with major airports: rail journeys to Durham take roughly 3 hours from London Kings Cross, 2.5 hours from Manchester, 2 hours from Edinburgh and 3 hours from Glasgow. It is recommended that rail tickets be purchased in advance, as this is often cheaper. Those making multiple journeys or travelling in pairs might find it useful to look into railcard options (see https://www.railcard.co.uk/).

For those travelling by road, Durham City is 2 miles off the A1. It can be reached by leaving the A1 at junction 62 on the A690 Durham-Sunderland road and following signs to Durham City Centre. The city is 264 miles from London and 125 miles from Edinburgh. Bus services are also available between most major cities and Durham bus station, and taxi ranks are located at Newcastle Airport, Newcastle Central Station and Durham Station (on the northbound side that adjoins Platform 2). Most hotels offer parking, but do bear in mind that otherwise parking in the city centre is very limited. Prince Bishops shopping centre offers parking daily and overnight, and rates for this can be found here: http://www.princebishops.co.uk/parking. Durham City is also served by three Park and Ride sites at Belmont, Sniperley and Howlands, with a direct bus service every 10 mins to the city centre.

Taxi services from Newcastle Airport are provided by Airport Taxis (see http://www.airport-taxis.co.uk/) and Airport Express (see http://www.airport365.com/); the price is likely to be about £35, depending on the number of passengers. Some useful numbers for taxi companies in Durham are as follows (airport pickups can be booked in advance):

  • Paddy’s Taxis: 0191 3866662
  • Pratts Taxis: 0191 3864040
  • Durham Taxis: 07961 818464
  • Pollys Taxis: 07774634765
  • Dunelm Taxis: 0191 3831122
  • Macs Taxis: 0191 3841329

We are grateful to Event Durham, Palace Green Library, Durham Cathedral Library, Ushaw College, University College, Hatfield College, St Cuthbert’s Society, IMEMS, the Department of English Studies and the Faculty of Arts and Humanities for their help in organising this event, with special mention to Daryl Dowding, Richard Gameson, Lisa Di Tommaso, Sheila Hingley and Alistair Brown.




"I throw my darts and shoot my arrows at the world. But where there is a righteous man, no arrow strikes. But I wound those who live wickedly. Therefore let him who recognizes himself there look to himself."
Vox Clamantis

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