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Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies

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.

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, including the giving of a work in progress seminar.

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 special collections in Palace Green Library, and/or Durham Cathedral, and/or Ushaw College Library, and that falls within the scope of the IMEMS’ research interests. Applications should be submitted no later than 12:00 noon on Monday 4 December 2017 to Applicants will be notified of the outcome by the mid-January 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 - please indicate your availability in 2018, 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.

Fellows 2016-17

Dr Liam Temple

Liam Temple (10th-21st April and 1st-12th May)

Mysticism among the English Poor Clares, 1580-1680

Liam Temple completed his PhD in History at Northumbria University in January 2016 with a thesis entitled ‘Holy and Peculiar People: Mysticks and Mystical Theology in England, 1605-1705’. His research explores examples of both Protestant and Catholic mysticism in the seventeenth century, drawing particular attention to the way mysticism encouraged overlap and dialogue between the two confessions. He has published two journal articles concerning mysticism in Women’s Writing and British Catholic History, and also has a chapter in a forthcoming collection entitled Protestants and Mysticism in Reformation Europe.

During his fellowship Liam will be focusing on the seventeenth-century manuscript and print material in the Poor Claires’ Library collection. Drawing on his previous research into English Benedictine mysticism, he will explore the wide range of devotional and spiritual works collected by the English Poor Clares, focusing especially on works of spiritual direction used by the nuns which were originally written for different female religious communities. He aims to explore how the library’s collection of works by Benedictine, Carmelite, Jesuit and Augustinian confessors and authors can shed new light on the interconnected nature of spiritual direction in the seventeenth century.

Read Dr Temple's End-of-Fellowship Report

Dr Derek Dunne

Derek Dunne (24th April - 24th June)

Rogues’ Licence: Counterfeiting Authority in Early Modern Literature

Derek Dunne is the author of Shakespeare, Revenge Tragedy and Early Modern Law: Vindictive Justice (Palgrave, 2016). His latest project carries the working title Rogues' Licence: Counterfeiting Authority in Early Modern England, with a planned monograph on Shakespeare's Licence: The Power of Paperwork in Early Modern Literature & Culture.

This project combines archival research on early modern licences and related documents with analysis of literary texts in terms of forgery, counterfeiting, and discourses of authority. Elizabethan and Stuart plays had to be licenced for performance, and works of literature needed a licence before going to print. While this historical fact is known, this research uses it as an interpretive entry-point into the nexus between government bureaucracy and literary production for the first time. At once a material condition of print or performance and a metaphorical promise of excess, the licence is shown to be a defining document of early modern English culture.

The holdings at Durham Cathedral and the Durham University’s special collections offer unprecedented access to a variety of pre-modern paperwork not usually preserved. This will greatly enhance the material basis so crucial to this research project.

Read Dr Dunne's End-of-Fellowship Report

Dr Matteo Binasco

Matteo Binasco (1st - 30th September)

"The Convento dos Inglesinhos". A new assessment of the English College of Lisbon and its connections with the other English Colleges on continental Europe

After completing his BA in history at the University of Genoa, Matteo Binasco earned his Masters degree at Saint Mary's University of Halifax in Canada. He completed his PhD in history at the National University of Ireland in Galway. He has been a short-term fellow at the Institute of Canadian Studies in Ottawa and a fellow at the John Carter Brown in Providence. From February 2010 - January 2013 he was research fellow at the Istituto di Storia dell'Europa Mediterranea of Italy's National Research Council (Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche). Since mid-September of 2014 he has been a post-doctoral research fellow at the CUSHWA Center for the Study of American Catholicism at the Rome Global Gateway, University of Notre Dame. His main area of interest is the development of the clerical networks within the Atlantic area during the early modern period. He authored Viaggiatori e missionari nel seicento, edited Little do We Know,and has published thirty-one articles and essays. He is also currently completing a guide to the material on American Catholicism contained in the archives and libraries of Rome. The research award offered by the IMEMS will allow Matteo to consult the relevant material pertaining to the English College of Lisbon. This is a crucial step in order to examine this still-unknown institution, and how it succeeded to establish a missionary network with the other English Colleges on Continental Europe during the early-modern period.

Read Dr Binasco's End-of-Fellowship Report

Fellows 2015-16

+Mark Clark (Columbia University) 'The Lectures of Peter Lombard on the Old Testament'

+Sarah McKeon (University of Hull) 'Instructing the Senses'

1 June - 26 June, 2015

Sarah McKeon is as a postdoctoral research assistant to Professor Elisabeth Salter at the University of Hull. Her recent research has explored the relevance of theories of cognition to the development of a particular literary aesthetic during the late fourteenth century in the writings of Geoffrey Chaucer and John Gower. Of late her attentions have turned increasingly to the work of John Wyclif and the Wycliffite writers as she explores the relevance of prose writing and translation works in the make-up of this literary aesthetic. Her work with Professor Salter deals with late medieval and early modern texts of religious instruction. Thus, her research project at Durham, entitled, ‘Instructing the Senses’ brings these research interests together. She will be working with a manuscript of Geoffrey Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde and using it comparatively to carry out research on the interesting relationship between intellectual ideas and the materiality of the manuscript page. Furthermore, she will examine several manuscripts related to religious instruction, paying particular attention to allusions to the senses and the important place of the sense of sight to the process of literary religious instruction in the late medieval and early modern period.

Research interests: the history of ideas – particularly Boethianism, the late fourteenth century literary aesthetic, theories of cognition, religiosity and religious instruction in the late medieval and early modern period, John Wyclif and the Wycliffite movement, the works of Geoffrey Chaucer and John Gower.

Read Dr Sarah McKeon's end-of-fellowship report

+Anne Thayer (Lancaster Theological Seminary) 'The Marginalia of Dr. Thomas Swalwell'

28 June - 31 July, 2015

Anne T. Thayer is the Paul and Minnie Diefenderfer Professor of Mercersburg and Ecumenical Theology and Church History at Lancaster Theological Seminary in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Her research focuses on early printed resources for pastors, such as model sermon collections and pastoral manuals, and their usage in late fifteenth- and early sixteenth-century Europe. She has published Penitence in the Age of Reformations (edited with Katharine Jackson Lualdi, Ashgate, 2000); Penitence, Preaching and the Coming of the Reformation (Ashgate, 2002); and Handbook for Curates: A Late Medieval Manual on Pastoral Ministry (a translation of Guido of Monte Rochen’s Manipulus Curatorum, introduction with Katharine Jackson Lualdi, Catholic University of America Press, 2011). 

During her time at Durham, she will be studying the marginalia of Dr. Thomas Swalwell, monk of Durham (1483-1539). Swalwell annotated a number of books from the Durham Priory Library as well as many of his own books. These offer a case study of the use of theological and pastoral resources, indicating the pastoral work of this conscientious monk during a time of significant religious fluidity. Dr. Thayer will focus on Swalwell’s theological education and his practice of copying significant passages from one book into another, bringing texts into conversation with one another.

Read Prof. Anne Thayer's end-of-fellowship report

+Magdolna Szilagyi (Central European University) 'Comparative Analysis of Communication Routes in Medieval North East England and the Continent'

2 November - 30 November, 2015

Magdolna Szilágyi obtained a PhD in Medieval Studies from the Central European University in 2013. Her book On the Road. The History and Archaeology of Medieval Communication Networks in East-Central Europe based on her doctoral research was published by Archaeolingua in 2014. Prior to her doctoral studies, she obtained MA degrees in English Language and Literature (2003), Medieval Studies (2004), and Archaeology (2005). She was awarded several fellowships and grants at the Central European University in Budapest, at Collegium Hungaricum in Vienna, at the University of Göttingen (DAAD Research Grant), and also at the University of Durham (Hungarian State Eötvös Fellowship; IMEMS Library Fellowship).

Dr. Szilágyi’s research interests are in the areas of medieval archaeology and historical geography. She specialises in historic routes research (dromography) including the archaeology of ancient Roman and medieval roads and bridges, medieval trade and religious travel, transhumance, and spatial networks. Her doctoral and postdoctoral research activities were mainly focused on some regions in Central and East-Central Europe. In the 2015-2016 academic year, she also starts investigating into medieval communication networks in North-East England as a visiting fellow at the Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies, Durham University. Holding a Library Fellowship, she is exploring the construction, maintenance, and use of roads and places of river crossing (bridges, ferry ports, and fords) in medieval England. Furthermore, she is analysing the function, proprietorship, hierarchy, and physical properties of medieval roads as attested by primary sources preserved in the Special Collections of the Palace Green Library.

Read Dr Magdolna Szilágyi's end-of-fellowship report

+Anne McLaughlin (Warburg Institute) 'The retrieval, use, and development of knowledge in the medieval period'

18 January - 19 February, 2016

Anne McLaughlin's thesis is on the illuminated manuscripts of Pierre Bersuire's Ovidius Moralizatus, a fourteenth century Latin commentary on Ovid's Metamorphoses under the supervision of Professor Charles Burnett and Dr. Rembrandt Duits. This study focuses on seven central illuminated manuscripts, seeking to place each within its cultural and intellectual context while examining the development, evolution, and use of both the text and its accompanying images throughout the course of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Her research interests broadly lie in the fields of cultural and intellectual history, with a specific focus on manuscript studies, palaeography, the history of the book, and the development and role of medieval libraries. Prior to embarking on her PhD, she received her degree in Art History with minors in Mathematics and Spanish from Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland USA, and completed a MSt. in Medieval Studies at the University of Oxford under the supervision of Dr. Martin Kauffmann.

While at Durham, she wishes to examine, in essence, how medieval thinkers studied, how they accessed and ordered information, how these methods can inform our understanding of the past, and how these ideas changed and evolved throughout the medieval period. As such, her research at Durham Cathedral Library will focus not on a specific set of manuscripts or texts within the collection, but instead upon the medieval documentation and catalogues related to the collecting, ordering, storage and use of books related to, in the broadest sense, Durham Priory. She seeks to investigate how these catalogues, book lists, and other documents describe the storing and ordering of the books as a means of examining the larger ideas surrounding the retrieval, use, and development of knowledge in the medieval period. Furthermore, as Durham Cathedral Library has one of the most intact and thoroughly documented medieval book collections, it will be the ideal place to begin a project which she hopes to expand into looking at the development of other medieval libraries, both domestically and in Europe. She believes that in understanding how the books were stored, what determined their placement and order, and how the location of a book was related to its function in either a collegiate or monastic environment, it will be possible to gain a greater understanding of how those who used these manuscripts in their medieval setting approached and viewed the knowledge contained within the codices themselves.

+David Burke (Durham University) 'The continuing impact of the Liber de ordine creaturarum: Durham B.II.20 and its influences'

1 March -29 April, 2016

David Burke completed his PhD in History at Durham in 2015; his research investigated the interaction between the secular and clerical worlds of early medieval Ireland through the provision of penance, focusing specifically on the sin of bloodshed, and how this impacted on ideas of legitimate and illegitimate violence.

As part of the IMEMS Library fellowship, David will be examining the fourteenth-century Durham copy of the Liber de ordine creaturarm, a seventh-century Irish text which describes the universe from creation to conclusion, to discern evidence of use or alteration. This is part of a broader project which hopes to examine the family of late copies of this text made at Oxford and Cambridge (12th-15th centuries) to discover, among other things, how and why an early medieval Irish cosmological text remained relevant and popular long after it had been superseded by later works, indicative, perhaps, of a renewed interest in 'scientific' works in this later period.

Read Dr David Burke's end-of-fellowship report

+Natasha Constantinidou (University of Cyprus) 'Publishing and Marketing the Classics in the Sixteenth Century'

9 May - 10 June, 2016 

Natasha Constantinidou is a Lecturer in Early Modern European History at the University of Cyprus. She is a consultant on the St Andrews Universal Short Title Catalogue Project, and her research interests lie in the intellectual and cultural milieu of late sixteenth-early seventeenth-century Europe. Her first book, Responses to religious divisions, c. 1580–1620 is to be published by Ashgate in 2015.

The research to be undertaken during the IMEMS Library Fellowship is associated with the project 'Publishing and Marketing the Classics in the Sixteenth Century' which aims to investigate and assess the publishing and the marketing of texts by Greek Classical authors (in Greek) during the sixteenth century. It proposes to examine the rationale behind the publication of these texts in Western Europe, the uses that these were put in, their distribution and popularity and chart the development of these trends throughout the sixteenth century. The proliferation of classical texts during the sixteenth century is considered as given in the scholarship. This project will contribute to aspects of this field that still remain unclear, namely the relationship between humanism and the new editions of classics, as well as their specific output and market.

Read Natasha Constantinidou's end-of-fellowship report

+John Kuhn (Columbia University) 'The relationship between the early Stuart colonial project and theories of the apocalypse'

15 June - 15 July 2016

John Kuhn did his undergraduate work at the University of Kansas before moving to Columbia University for his English doctorate. His dissertation, Making Pagans: Non-Abrahamic Religions on London's Stages from Marlowe to Southerne, turns to material performance history to examine the theater's contributions to ideas about radical religious difference in Stuart England. In addition to his work on drama, he has published two pieces on the poetry of George Herbert and the politics of the early 1630s, one forthcoming in English Literary Renaissance and the other in a collection entitled Prophecy and Eschatology in the Transatlantic World, 1500-1700.

At Durham, he will be working with Hunter MS 27, which contains a unique contemporary Latin translation of George Herbert's "The Church Militant," as part of a larger project on the relationship between the early Stuart colonial project and theories of the apocalypse.

Read John Kuhn's end-of-fellowship report