Medieval Cultures

Detail from the 'Cobden Book of Hours'

The Medieval Cultures research theme encompasses the literature, art, history and thought of western European civilization between c.500 and c.1500, builds on the established activities of the Bristol Centre for Medieval Studies and involves the research activities of more than 25 medievalists in the Faculty of Arts.

Medieval studies at Bristol has enjoyed an international reputation for a number of years. In literary research, for example, John Burrow’s writing first drew attention to Ricardian court culture, while Charles Ross and his students opened up the study of 15th-century English history and Glynne Wickham led the modern study of early theatre.

More recently, Bristol medievalists in the Department of English have led a successful project within the World Universities Network research consortium on Multilingualism in the Middle Ages, while the Department of Historical Studies hosts an Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)-funded project on Robert the Monk and the First Crusade, and colleagues in the Department of French are partners in another AHRC-funded project on Charlemagne in England.

Medievalists in the Departments of Archaeology, Drama, English, French, German, History, History of Art, Italian, Music, Spanish and Theology and Religious Studies all contribute to the theme’s research activities and supervise postgraduate students working on a variety of topics. The theme’s distinctive character has been reflected in the titles of its recent conferences, which include:

  • Alliterative Middle English Verse
  • Space, Place and Spectatorship
  • Intellectuals and the Politics of Pastoral Care
  • Civic Display
  • Troy and the European Imagination
  • An Enigma Explored: Medieval Art and Architecture at Bristol Cathedral.

A publications series, Bristol Studies in Medieval Cultures, has been set up as an imprint of the publisher Boydell and Brewer. The first volume in the series, Beth Williamson’s The Madonna of Humility, was published in 2009.

Bristol medievalists have recently formed close working relationships with the cathedral libraries and archives of Wells and Hereford, both rich resources of original codices and documents from the Middle Ages. In addition, in collaboration with Special Collections in the Bristol University Library, medievalist colleagues have been working to make a range of original materials available to postgraduate students wishing to acquire the skills associated with handling rare and original sources.