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Columcille in Context: Theologians and Historians in Conversation to Commemorate the 15th Centenary of the Birth of Saint Columba of Iona (521/ 2021)
J.-Michel Reaux Colvin
Modern & Classical Languages & Literatures Department
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Bede’s Historia ecclesiastica, v.15-17 and Adamnán’s De locis sanctis: Reception, Social Networks, Sacral Geography, and Cultural Brokerage in the Early-Medieval Insular Periphery

While Bede spends much of his Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum [HEGA] concerned with matters of Britain’s neighbors to the west, the only Irish author he mentions by name is Adamnán of Iona, a kinsman and abbatial successor of St Columba. Bede was intimately familiar with members of the monastic familia of Columba, who appears in the latter’s HEGA, first heroically in iii.4 and later rhetorically in iii.25. This paper focuses on Adamnán’s De locis sanctis and Bede’s reworking of these materials in HEGA, v.15-17. Bede’s reception of Adamnán’s work illuminates much about his thinking about Iona’s social network, specifically, and Ireland and its people, generally. United in genre and effect, Bede’s use of Adamnán’s periplus lays bare a complicated ethnic script underpinned by alterity, access, imagination, and iteration. Ultimately, Bede’s consumption of Adamnán’s sacral geography reveals his comity with things Irish, an opinion thereafter brokered to continental Europe in his HEGA, which furnished the interpretative script for the waves of scoti peregrini that followed in its wake.

Dec 14, 2021 07:30 PM in Dublin

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J.-Michel Reaux Colvin
@University of Tennessee, Chattanooga
J.-Michel Reaux Colvin is an adjunct professor in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga, where he teaches in both the language and culture tracks. A specialist in ethnic thinking in the late-antique and early medieval Latin west, he has taught courses on the barbarian migrations, ‘Celts’ as an ethnic category, interpretations of somatic difference in antiquity, modern receptions of Roman political ideation, ancient and late-antique historiography, late-Roman social history in the Latin west, and the uses of the natural sciences in the study of the premodern past. He is presently working on a co-authored volume with Dr. Alexander O’Hara entitled From savagery to sanctity and back again: Imagining Ireland, the Irish, and Irishness from antiquity to the coming of the English (forthcoming, 2023).
Alexander O'Hara
@Department of Celtic, Harvard University
Alexander O’Hara is a historian of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages specialising in monastic history and theology, the medieval cult of the saints and medieval Latin literary culture. He is the author of Jonas of Bobbio and the Legacy of Columbanus: Sanctity and Community in the Seventh Century (Oxford University Press, 2018), editor of Columbanus and the Peoples of Post­-Roman Europe (Oxford University Press, 2018), and translator of Jonas of Bobbio: Life of Columbanus, Life of John, and Life of Vedast (Liverpool University Press, 2017). He is co-editor of St Sunniva: Irish Queen, Norwegian Patron Saint (Bergen, 2021), a collected volume on the medieval cult of the Irish saint Sunniva, patron of Bergen and Western Norway. He is a Fulbright Scholar and Visiting Scholar in the Department of Celtic Languages and Literatures, Harvard University for the Academic Year 2021-'22.