School of Canon Law • 345 Caldwell Hall
The Catholic University of America • 620 Michigan Avenue NE
Washington • DC • 20064
robinsonj [at] cua edu or jon robinson [at] utoronto ca
As of September 2011 I am a post-doctoral researcher at the School of Canon Law at The Catholic University of America. If the 'location' of this webpage seems surprising, it is to be explained by the fact that I did my doctoral work at the Centre for Medieval Studies (CMS) at the University of Toronto. As a post-doc is a temporary position, I decided to leave my page here for now as a minor 'island of stability' among the short half-lives of many web pages.
Lately, my research has focused on the mid- to late-medieval intellectual history of medieval Europe, particularly legal, economic, and political philosophy; however, I am also interested in medieval institutional and religious history, as well as (medieval) Latin. I wrote my dissertation on William of Ockham's theory of property rights, and I remain interested in the mendicant poverty controversy, but, for now, my main research lies with Bartolus of Saxoferrato, one of the great jurists of the middle ages. (See below for a working(!) edition of his tract on Franciscan poverty.)
In 2010–2011, I taught a course at Trent University (Oshawa campus) on medieval warfare (more details here), and Latin III–V at St. Philip's Seminary in Toronto, which covered introductory-intermediate ecclesiastical Latin (III), Vulgate and scholastic Latin (IV), and patristic Latin (V).
In spring 2009, I taught a course at York University entitled 'Structure and Function in Institutions of Medieval Europe' (History 3200). More information can be found here.
I have also taught in the CMS' summer Latin programme. I taught the M.A. course in 2008 (now known as 'Level One') and the Ph.D. course in 2007 ('Level Two'). A list of the texts we read is listed here. Before that I held various Latin teaching assistantships at the CMS.
In what I now recognize as an example of structured procrastination, over the last few years I have translated a few texts pertaining to the mendicant poverty controversy of thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. I have since then widened my perspective some, with the goal of providing a series of texts that may be used in the classroom free of charge. However, I encourage students who wish to use anything from this website to speak to their professors beforehand.
I have aimed to provide literal rather than elegant translations, much like (one gets the sense) the original authors themselves aimed for clarity of expression over elegance. However, errors both small and large are no doubt present. If you notice any, I would appreciate it if you could let me know, no matter how trivial they may be.
These texts undergo sporadic revision at irregular intervals. Most of the time I remember to increment the 'version' number found at the bottom of the first page—so you can easily check which version is the newest—but I do forget occasionally. If the version number on the .pdf does not match the number list below, please contact me for the more recent version (and I can fix my mistake!).
Finally, those interested in other translations pertaining to the poverty controversy should visit the website of Professor John Kilcullen, first for translations of some of the relevant papal bulls, and for translations of some of William of Ockham's writings (and indeed much, much more).
My new project, loosely speaking:
Below are a few texts, so far mainly only a few papal bulls, which I have found useful over the years to have lying around. I include them here because they are not already available online and I know I wish they had been. The bulls following are based on the versions found in the Bullarium franciscanum (Rome, 1759–1904). The Constitutiones are based on the versions found in Analecta franciscana 13 and 17, and the document is (as of May 2011) under active development.
The files found on this website were (almost entirely) written using the versatile text editor, Gnu Emacs (with AUCTeX), and formatted with LaTeX, using the pdfTeX or (recently) LuaTeX engines. (Of course, vim was also used on occasion, but, as this cartoon suggests, what you really want is emacs.)
All are free and open source software—which is, of course, the only kind of software one should use.
Although TeX and LaTeX are used more often by people in mathematics and the physical sciences, the program offers many benefits to those who work in the humanities. I encourage you to take my word for it, but sceptics should look here. Would-be editors of (medieval) texts will probably find the ledmac package extremely useful as well. It is designed for meeting the demands of critical editions: footnotes keyed to line numbers, multiple footnote apparatus (i.e., with 'paragraph'-style notes), etc.; a related package allows for parallel editions, such as the critical text alongside a facing-page translation. There is also ednotes, which is another LaTeX package meant to facilitate the typesetting of critical editions. It is similar to ledmac, but not identical; I recommend taking a look at both and using the one that suits your needs best.
BibTeX is a type of reference management software initially designed to work with LaTeX. However, because the BibTeX format is plain ASCII, it is a convenient, platform-independent way to share bibliographical data. Virtually all reference management software can import and export .bib formats (even EndNote, I'm told), which is partly why I use it here. Emacs+AUCTeX is all anyone needs, of course, but I've heard good things about JabRef; and I have used Zotero myself on occasion (its BibTeX export function works quite well, but, unfortunately, the entries it reads from library web catalogues tend to be poorly structured and/or incorrectly entered).
I should also mention Biber and biblatex, which represent a complete reimplementation of BibTeX. Although the BibTeX format is still usable by biblatex-biber, much more is possible. There is, for example, full unicode support, which is crucial for multi-language bibliographies. Looking ahead, biblatex-biber will also support a XML format, which will (I suspect) increase its portability across applications. — Even so, none of this denies the basic virtues of the BibTeX format, even for non (La)TeX users.
For what it's worth, I use GNU/Linux, usually a form of Ubuntu because it is easy to use and because I like the Apt system of package management. For my window manager, I use Openbox (with conky, tint2, dmenu), but most my actual work is done inside a tmux session: emacs for most things; mutt, offlineimap, and notmuch (etc.) for email; mpd for music, which I usually use control through openbox itself or ncmpcpp (this goodsong script is also highly recommended). For my browser, I typically use conkeror; if you like emacs, I recommend it.