Medieval and Early Modern Studies at Manchester
The English Department at Manchester has a legacy of strong scholarship in the entire pre-modern and early modern period.
Medieval and Early Modern Studies at Manchester currently comprises six permanent members of staff, who together cover the major periods from Anglo-Saxon England to the seventeenth century.
We also host a large and thriving community of postgraduate students and enjoy close links with early modernists in related departments (including History, Modern Languages, and Art History) and the John Rylands Research Institute and Library.
We build on our collaborative community of researchers through our annual interdisciplinary research forum and collaboration with international partners, including the University of Melbourne and Eastern Illinois University.
Established in 2017, MEMS cuts across History, English Literature, Art History, Classics and Modern Languages, and is home to the MA in Medieval and Early Modern Studies.
A unique partnership between The University of Manchester Library and the Faculty of Humanities set up to conduct new research into the University's Special Collections.
Researchers working in Medieval and Early Modern Studies have a strong track record for producing internationally recognised scholarship. Recent and forthcoming books authored or edited by members of the department include:
- Plutarch in English, 1528-1603 (Modern Humanities Research Association, 2020)
- Talking with Things: Nonhuman Voices in Anglo-Saxon Literature and Material Culture (Manchester University Press, 2017)
- Consuming History, 2nd edn (Routledge, 2016)
- Medieval Science Fiction (Boydell & Brewer, 2016)
- Remaking History (Routledge, 2015)
- Medievalism: A Critical History (Boydell, 2015)
- Tudor Translation (Palgrave, 2012)
- Literature and Theology
Members of the research group also serve on the editorial boards of the following book series and journals:
Manchester offers taught master's courses in Medieval and Early Modern Studies and in English Studies.
Current master's course units in medieval and early modern studies taught by members of the research group include:
- Perspectives on Medieval and Renaissance Studies
- Troy Stories
- Shakespeare: Theory and the Archive
Prospective students should note that not all units are available each year.
We have a large and active community of PhD students and welcome applications for PhD research in most areas of Medieval and Early Modern Studies. The research interests of members of the research group are listed below. For more information on funding and how to apply, please visit the PhD programmes in English Literature and Creative Writing page.
The University of Manchester Library is one of the finest research libraries in the world. The library - the largest on-campus university library in the UK - has particular strengths in medieval and early modern studies.
The Special Collections at the John Rylands Library include a number of important manuscripts, printed texts and documentary collections for scholars working in medieval and early modern studies. It has collected some 12,500 books printed between 1475 and 1640, and some 45,000 printed between 1641 and 1700. The collections include:
- Shakespeare collection
- John Milton collection
- Edmund Spenser collection
- John Bunyan collection
- Seventeenth-century literary publications collection
- English tract collection - (many dating from the Civil War)
- G.L. Brook Theology and Drama collections
- Reformation collection
- Midgley Reference Library of Quaker writings
- Bible collection
- Incunabula collection - including the second-largest collection of editions by William Caxton, the first English printer, in the world
- English Manuscripts collection - including John Lydgate’s Troy Book and Fall of Prynces; Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales; Richard Rolle’s The Pricke of Conscience; the Brut chronicle; and a very extensive collection of manuscripts of the Wycliffite Bible
- Pluscarden Charters 1233-1565
- Irish MSS collection of the 15th, 18th and 19th centuries
The University of Manchester subscribes to a number of relevant online databases, including Early English Books Online, a massive and ever-expanding database of facsimile versions of books published in English before 1700. It also subscribes to a range of image collections, such as LUNA and ARTSTOR.
Students can also use Chetham's library, founded in 1653, which has an exceptional collection of rare books, pamphlets and manuscripts.
Medieval and Early Modern Studies at Manchester hosts a number of annual lectures:
- Toller Lecture in Anglo-Saxon
- G. L. Brook Memorial Lecture in medieval literature
- John Stachniewski Memorial Lecture in early modern literature.
The Manchester Centre for Anglo-Saxon Studies (MANCASS) runs an annual Easter conference. Medieval and Early Modern Studies at Manchester also hosts regular Post-Graduate Workshops for students working on Medieval and Early Modern Studies across the School. There are Reading Groups in Old English (convened by James Paz), Middle English (David Matthews), and Old Norse (George Walkden, LEL).
The English Literature Research Seminar regularly hosts visiting speakers on medieval and early modern studies. Many visiting scholars have also run postgraduate masterclasses. Seminar leaders have included Stephen Knight, Blair Worden, Ruth Evans, Sharon Achinstein, Ann Hughes, Martin Dzelzainis and Catherine Belsey.
Past events have included:
- A workshop on 'Craft in Medieval and Early Modern England';
- An incubator for research on collections in Manchester and Melbourne from the period between 1400 and 1700 ‘Connecting Collections’;
- A seminar on Historical Perspectives on the Regulation of Mourning, in collaboration with John Rylands Research Institute.
Visit our events section to find out more about upcoming and past events.