Robin Fleming will present at the Seminar in Cultural History on Tuesday, September 17, at 6 pm. Her talk is entitled “The Materiality of Infant Bodies and the Transition in Britain from Roman to Medieval.”

This talk explores the omnipresence, in the late-antique period, of the bodies of still-born and newborn infants in Britain, and the fate of little corpses after Rome’s fall there. It will introduce the audience to the ways that a handful of not very fancy communities dealt with dead infants; and then ponder how we might approach this phenomenon and think through what it might tell us about the lives and thought-worlds of mostly rural, low-status people living in the back-of-beyond, whose lives are unwitnessed by texts. Finally, it will illustrate how a related set of material evidence and material practices can help us catch sight of the lived experience of ordinary people, and to identify cultural and cosmological shifts that were important/noticeable/central to those constituting the bottom 99% of society during the transition from Roman to early medieval.

Robin Fleming is Professor of History at Boston College. She is the author of Kings and Lords in Conquest Britain, Domesday Book and the Law, and Britain after Rome, as well as some forty articles on Britain before the twelfth century. Her forthcoming book, The Material Fall of Roman Britain: The Roman Material Culture Regime and its End, c. 300–c. 550 (University of Pennsylvania Press), covers a period for which almost no contemporary texts survive and is based almost entirely on archaeological evidence. She became a MacArthur Fellow in 2013.