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Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (IMEMS)


The list below shows Durham University research staff who are members of IMEMS. Click the member's name to see a more detailed biography and department.

We also welcome anyone from outside the University with an interest in our work to join. Membership is free of charge. You will receive invitations to our programme of events, with a weekly emails digest about what is happening in the Insitute and further afield. To join IMEMS contact:

Dr Luke Sunderland

Contact Dr Luke Sunderland (email at


My research interests are in medieval French, Occitan and Franco-Italian literature. My monograph on resistance against royal power in medieval culture pays particular attention to the chansons de geste about rebel barons, as well as chronicle and prose rewritings. I examine these works through lenses of medieval political theory and thought about vengeance, modern thought about the ethics of violence, anthropological work on feud and rebellion, and histories of sovereignty.

I have also worked collaboratively on the culture of medieval libraries, with Emma Campbell (University of Warwick), Philippe Frieden (Universite de Lausanne), Miranda Griffin (University of Cambridge), Thomas Hinton (University of Exeter) and John O'Brien (Durham). The results can be seen in a special issue of French Studies. I am continuing to work on this topic, via reflection on the networks of people, books and ideas shaping knowledge in medieval Europe. I focus on the dissemination of vernacular encyclopaedias and of translations of Aristotle and Boethius, looking at the visual and verbal constructions of knowledge in manuscripts and at the new ontologies they vehicled. I am a member of an international group of medievalists exploring how the ideas of Bruno Latour about networks and forms might be used to examine medieval materials. I co-ordinate a research group on History of the Book, and would be keen to hear from colleagues with interests in the study of the material and visual forms of texts and the histories of libraries, book collecting and reading.

Other current research interests include medieval practices and concepts of translation, textual geographies, cross-cultural traffic and hybrid languages, including the French of Italy. I have worked collaboratively on the ethics and politics of translation in the Middle Ages, and contributed a chapter on the multilingual literary culture of medieval Venice to a literary history of late medieval Europe. I am currently thinking about medieval cosmopolitanism, and trying to imagine how the economic-historical model of the medieval world-system might be reconfigured to take into account cultural artefacts and cross-cultural encounters.

I have previously worked on cyclical narratives, with a focus on the relationship between ethics, morals and the figure of the hero in the Guillaume d'Orange cycle, the Lancelot and Tristan prose romances, and the Roman de Renart. A book based on this research came out in 2010. I have also published commentary on the Occitan troubadours.

Before coming to Durham, I was a graduate student at King's College London, and then research fellow at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. In 2014-15, I was a fellow at the Stanford Humanities Center, and in autumn 2015, I was a visiting scholar in the Department of Romance Studies at Cornell University.

Postgraduate Supervision

I would be keen to hear from students interested in pursuing research in any area of medieval French and Occitan literature. 

International Collaboration

  • Medieval Libraries
  • Medieval Translation

Research Interests

  • Medieval Encyclopaedias
  • The Visual Construction of Knowledge
  • Medieval French Literature
  • Medieval Occitan Literature
  • Franco-Italian Literature
  • Medieval Libraries
  • Medieval Translation

Selected Publications

Authored book

Chapter in book

Journal Article

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