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Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (IMEMS)

IMEMS Library Fellowships

Durham University’s Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (IMEMS) is an international centre for research in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Period situated at the heart of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We are a hub for interdisciplinary research with a vibrant community of scholars and postgraduate researchers working across all three faculties of the University.

Durham’s UNESCO World Heritage Site comprising the great Norman and later Cathedral and Castle is also home to major research holdings. These include medieval manuscript collections and a medieval monastic archive which are hard to parallel in their completeness, as well as rich collections of early printed books and manuscripts.

Palace Green Library houses Durham University's archives, early printed books and other special collections. It is home to a number of historic libraries including Bishop John Cosin’s Library, still housed in its original building, the Bamburgh Library, and the Routh Collection.

Durham Cathedral Library is the most in situ medieval library in the UK, with manuscripts dating from the 6th century to the modern day. Its archive, which dates back to the late eleventh century, forms the largest to survive at any English cathedral.

Ushaw College Library has very extensive collections, manuscript and printed, for recusant studies and the history of 18th-19th century Catholicism in England, especially in the North. Over 40,000 printed titles, including much rare pamphlet literature, 16th-19th century. Other holdings include medieval book manuscripts, especially books of hours.

The Oriental Museum has outstanding collections from China, Egypt and Sudan, the Himalayas and Central Asia, India and South Asia, Japan, Korea, and the Near and Middle East. These range in scope from ceramics to textiles, furniture, sculpture, musical instruments, woodcarvings, armour, manuscripts, prints, photographs, and painting. The Japanese collections comprise the Muromachi (1336-1573 CE), Momoyama (1573-1615 CE), and Edo (1615-1868 CE) periods. There is also a brick dated to Nebuchadnezzar II, excavated by Lawrence of Arabia and passed by him to Gertrude Bell!


We are delighted to invite applications from postdoctoral researchers for visiting fellowships within the Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies. Successful applicants will be reimbursed expenses of up to £1,500 per month for up to three months, to go towards travel, accommodation and living expenses during the fellowship.

Applications from those interested on working on the surviving contents of the Durham Cathedral’s medieval priory library are particularly welcome as this collection is currently the focus of a large-scale digitisation project (see

Fellows will be encouraged to work collaboratively with curators and other subject specialists to realise the collections’ research potential, and to adopt innovative research methodologies. They will also be encouraged to participate actively within the life of the Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies: they may, for instance, give a work-in-progress seminar or offer a show-and-tell session for MA students.

How to Apply

Applicants should submit a CV and a brief summary of what they propose to work on (maximum one side of A4). Applications should demonstrate a serious research interest that focuses on primary source material within the above-mentioned special collections, and that falls within the scope of IMEMS in terms of period and/or research topic. Applications should be submitted no later than 12:00 noon on Monday 1 October 2018 to Applicants will be notified of the outcome by 15 October 2018. Please note that by applying you agree for your application to be shared with staff in Durham Cathedral and Durham University libraries.

We aim to be flexible with fellowship dates; to ensure a healthy audience for your presentations, you should phase at least part of your fellowship within term time (October to mid-December; late January to early March; or late April to mid-May).

Please indicate your availability in 2018/19, and your preferred fellowship duration (i.e. one, two or three months). Please note that fellows will be expected to arrange their own travel and accommodation.

We are grateful to Joanna Barker for the sponsorship that allowed this scheme to become established.

IMEMS should be cited as sponsor in all dissemination material and in any publications arising from the award. Events and publications will be publicised on the IMEMS website and, where relevant, on social media and will be advertised to the wider IMEMS membership.