Mission Statement

The CML works to establish theoretical models for the study of medieval literature on a European scale, set within wider Eurasian and Mediterranean contexts, from c. 500 CE to c. 1500 CE. Our research is interdisciplinary and multilingual, combining literary study with history, history of art, history of science, and other disciplines. We cover a broad range of topics, looking across and beyond the established medieval literary canons, in order to open up the movement of texts across both space and time. We look at medieval literatures within a wide geographical area, considering, for example, the multilingualism of Constantinople, Iberia and Anglo-Saxon England, Byzantine literature’s place along the Silk Road and the literary consequences of the geographical and linguistic extent of the German Empire. Equally, we are engaged with how texts create links back and forth between the past and the present, whether that past is ancient or medieval and whether that present is medieval or modern. 

We pursue our work in three main research strands. Within ‘Canon and Library’ we draw links and contrasts between medieval textual production and consumption and modern scholarly and educational practices that involve medieval texts. ‘Imperial Languages’ operates as a powerful supplement and alternative to the traditional concept of ‘sacred languages’ and the more recent ‘cosmopolitan languages’; in particular it includes the dimensions of military and political power. ‘Transformations and Translocations’, by looking at form and social networks together, focuses on the intersection of formal change and connections between people, in order to study medieval literature across the geographies and chronologies of medieval Europe.

The CML is committed to collaborative work which poses ambitious and challenging questions, including, most fundamentally, interrogating the value of ‘medieval’, ‘European’ and ‘literature’ as frames of reference. Through these questions, we seek to understand the connections which medieval literatures created across diverse peoples, regions, languages and religions. Connected methodologies enable us to see what is shared, the commonalities which bind European literatures, and at the same time what is not shared, the distinctions and absences which mark out the different literary cultures of the Middle Ages. We aim to contribute, from literary study, to twenty-first century concerns about how Europe, and the wider environments of which it is a part, fits into global history.

The CML works closely with an international network of scholars, the Interfaces Network. With the University of Milan, we have founded Interfaces: A Journal of Medieval European Literatures.

See also: "What is Medieval European Literature?" by Paolo Borsa, Christian Høgel, Lars Boje Mortensen, and Elizabeth Tyler in Interfaces no. 1 (2015).