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Calendar of Events

2021 - 2022 Events


Annual PBK Birthday Party hosted by President Seidel and Dr Gabrielle Allen:
December 14, 2021

Drinks at 6 pm followed by Dinner at their new home. All members will receive an invitation by e-mail. Contact the Secretary, Mollie Hand, to ensure you are on the roster of Resident Members.



Visiting Scholar:  March 3-4, 2022

R. Howard Bloch is Sterling Professor of French and Professor of Humanities at Yale University.

A graduate of Amherst College and Stanford University, Professor Bloch has taught at the State University of New York at Buffalo, the University of California at Berkeley, and Columbia University.  He has published numerous books and articles on medieval and modern French literature, history, and visual culture: Medieval French Literature and LawEtymologies and Genealogies: An Anthropology of the French Middle Ages; The Scandal of the Fabliaux; Medieval Misogyny and the Invention of Western Romantic Love; God’s Plagiarist: Being an Account of the Fabulous Industry and Irregular Commerce of the Abbe Migne; The Anonymous Marie de France; A Needle in the Right Hand of God: The Norman Conquest of 1066 and the Making and Meaning of the Bayeux Tapestry; and One Toss of the Dice: The Incredible Story of How a Poem Made us Modern. Professor Bloch is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society.

Public Lecture Offerings

Gothic Cathedrals and State Building in the High Middle Ages

A consideration of the relationship between the construction of the major French Gothic cathedrals—Saint-Denis, Notre-Dame Paris, Chartres, Amiens, Reims, the Sainte Chapelle—and the consolidation of monarchy in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Concentration upon crusade as a driving force of royal unity, cathedral building as an engine for the rise of cities; representations of kingship in the sculpture and stained glass of major churches; the use of religious imagery from the Hebrew and Christian bibles in the affirmation of political legitimacy; the cathedral building site as a forum for social integration; the alliance of the bishop’s cathedral and the king’s justice; the use of ritual for the performance of statehood; and, finally, the restoration of cathedrals after the French Revolution as part of the building of national unity and identity in the nineteenth century. A presentation highly saturated with images.

The Economics of Cathedral Building in the High Middle Ages

The economics of crusades and the rise of long range markets and trade; the cathedral as an engine for urban development, increased circulation of money, the rise of the commune and of guilds, the relationship between town and countryside; the sources and circulation of building materials; the role of the bishop, of an urban bourgeoisie, and noble families in the financing of cathedrals; the role of relics and miracles, pilgrimage and pious donation, preaching and learning, salvation and damnation in financing church building; the presence of money and local industry in the stained glass and sculpture of major Gothic cathedrals; the analogy between fund raising for the medieval cathedral and present-day universities. A presentation highly saturated with images.

The Making and Meaning of Chartres Cathedral

Beginning with Chartres as the site of a pagan shrine mentioned by Caesar, a presentation of the major stages in the building of this jewel of a Gothic cathedral. Topics to include: catastrophes of early churches—the Viking invasions, the fires of the eleventh and twelfth centuries—and the building, beginning in 1194, of the present structure; the role of the bishop, townspeople, noble families, the king in the financing of the church fabric; the extraordinary stained glass and sculpture inside and outside of the cathedral with special focus upon the great rose windows and the statues in and around the major portals; the representation of the building and other trades in the donor windows; the School of Chartres as a major intellectual center and the return of the liberal arts to France of the High Middle Ages. A presentation highly saturated with images.

Cathedrals and Kingship in Age of Saint Louis: The Sainte Chapelle

Louis IX’s building of a royal chapel in which to house the collection of relics he amassed as part of the affirmation of kingship in thirteenth-century France. The future Saint Louis’s purchase of major relics of the Passion from his cousin Baldwin II, Emperor of Constantinople; the long voyage of relics via Venice to Paris; the reproduction in the Sainte Chapelle, a giant reliquary, of the temple and throne of Solomon and the ark of the covenant, as an attempt to displace the sacred space of the Middle East to the left bank of Paris, a new Jerusalem; representation in the extraordinary stained glass program of the Sainte Chapelle of crowning and kingship and of royal genealogies; condemnation of idolatrous non-Christians and sanctioning of conquering armies in preparation for Louis’s departure for the Seventh Crusade just two months after the dedication of his palatine chapel; the role of the queen mother, Blanche of Castile, and stained glass representations of strong women. A presentation highly saturated with images.

Notre-Dame Cathedral and the Rise of the University of Paris

Gothic cathedrals were great engines of urban renewal in the High Middle Ages. The great religious work projects contributed to the revival of trades and to the new institutions of medieval towns. Not the least of these was the University of Paris, which grew out of the cathedral school of Notre-Dame in the second half of the twelfth century. Using three sculptural programs on the outer walls of Notre-Dame alongside the example of Abelard, we shall examine the ways in which stories carved in stone—the Miracle of Theophilus, the martyrdom of Saint Stephen, and scenes of student life—affirm the power of disputation, writing, and the book culture which flourished just up the street. A presentation highly saturated with images.

For the classroom presentation, any one of the topics above would do; but I propose a single topic which, though historically inflected, is of current interest and always sparks lively debate: The Fire of 2019 and the Rebuilding of Notre-Dame Cathedral.

Howard Bloch


Annual General Meeting & Election of PBK Students: Wednesday, March 9, 2022, 4 pm

Wednesday, March 9, 2022, at 4 pm.  A Zoom link will be sent to all Resident Members who cannot attend prior to the meeting.  The Order of Business is contained in the By-laws, Article Two, I.F.

PBK Induction ceremony


Annual Induction Ceremony for students elected to Phi Beta Kappa: Friday, April 29, 2022, Coe Library 506, 4 pm

Invitations will be sent to 2022 Members-in-Course.



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Merica Hall room 10

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