Category Archives: Uncategorized

Dr Suzanna Ivanič wins the Society for Renaissance Studies Biennial Book Prize 2022

Congratulations to Dr Suzanna Ivanič for winning the Society for Renaissance (SRS) Biennial Book Prize 2022 for Cosmos and Materiality in Early Modern Prague (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2021)

“From the wolf and lynx teeth found in a set of prayer beads, with a Lutheran sermon book in a sixteenth century burgher’s house in Prague, this jewel of a book sketches in a rich material environment in which Catholic and Lutheran customs happily co-existed alongside a range of popular religious practices, often within the same households. Making compelling use of objects, inventories, texts, and the natural matter within them, Ivanič challenges dichotomous understandings of confessional division in a century of religious upheaval. The complexity of personal devotion emerges, experienced within a cosmos shaped by the physical, social and the spiritual, in which individuals escaped confessional straitjackets to negotiate their own relationship with the divine. Its engagingly evidenced micro-histories of multi-confessional Prague and its clockmakers, butchers, and other burghers are triumphs in their own right. Yet Ivanič’s arguments and the convincing insight of her material lens also hold profound and lasting implications for our understanding of religious and social change throughout Europe.”

This is a momentous achievement! To read more visit the SRS Book Prize 2022.

Barbara Bombi elected to British Academy in record year

Professor Barbara Bombi, a much-admired member of the Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies, has recently been elected a Fellow of the British Academy – a remarkable achievement which reflects Professor Bombi’s expertise and dedication to Medieval studies at Kent.

The British Academy announced its new fellows on 22 July, in a record year where 56% of the new fellows were women. President of the British Academy Professor Julia Black says: “I am delighted that we have so many new female Fellows. While I hope this means that the tide is finally turning for women in academia, there is still much to do to make the research world diverse and open to all.”

Professor Bombi has been with the University of Kent since 2006, following doctoral and post-doctoral study in Italy. Since then she has been a valued teacher and inspiring colleague, working on ecclesiastical and religious history in the pivotal High Middle Ages (1200-1450). Her extensive research history has revealed fascinating and important new perspectives on the medieval papacy, diplomacy and statecraft. Currently Professor Bombi leads the Leverhulme and British Academy-funded Making of Europe project, which seeks to explore the formations of states in Medieval Europe, bringing together researchers from across the discipline – and the world.

“Barbara has worked tirelessly to educate and support our students. She has supervised dozens of excellent MAs and PhDs and she has mentored many members of staff too, offering guidance and support every step of the way,” say Emily Guerry and Rory Loughnane, co-Directors of the Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies, congratulating Barabara on her election. “Barbara is a brilliant scholar who also cares deeply about our staff and students, and we’re so grateful to her for being such an advocate for all of us in MEMS.”

A figure in red observes a number of painted portaits

PhD student wins bursary from Huguenot Society

Research success continues in the Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies with PhD student Anna-Nadine Pike winning a research bursary from the Huguenot Society of Great Britain and Ireland. The funding will have a significant impact on Anna-Nadine’s research into Huguenot identities in early-modern Scotland.

With the funding, Anna-Nadine will be able to travel to Edinburgh for a two-week research project. Whilst there she will visit the National Library of Scotland, University of Edinburgh Library and ScotlandsPeople Centre to investigate the manuscripts of Esther Inglis, a daughter of Huguenot parents who emigrated to Britain to escape religious persecution.

The manuscripts are an enterprising topic, having never been analysed as a full collection. “Esther’s beautiful, calligraphic manuscripts form the nexus of my doctoral project, and part of the challenge is viewing as many of these in person as possible,” says Anna-Nadine on her project. “They have never had a full comparative study.”

Anna-Nadine’s project will add to our understanding of Huguenot families in Britain, and reveal how Esther and others in her position thought about their identity in their new surroundings. “Her cross-cultural identity is absolutely central to how Esther presents herself in her manuscripts; her identity is clearly both Huguenot and Scottish,” Anna-Nadine explains. “‘Inglis’ is an Anglicised version of her family’s French name, “Langlois.”

Anna-Nadine’s work is just one example of the ground-breaking work taking place at the Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies. Archival work is a crucial aspect of developing our knowledge and furthering our understanding of Huguenot communities around Britain, so we are very much looking forward to seeing where Anna-Nadine’s work takes her.

Anna-Nadine is part vibrant community of researchers from around the University of Kent who have been working on historical and modern displaced communities. Find about the Migration and Movement Signature Research Theme on the University website.

A figure sits at a table wearing a blue jacket

Anna-Nadine Pike

Exciting new doctoral funding available: Western Medieval manuscript fragments in the Bodleian Library

The Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies is delighted to share the following details of this exciting AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnership training grant for a collaborative project between the University of Kent and the Bodleian Libraries, Oxford. The grant covers four years of funding for home fees and stipend. For full project, scholarship and funding details, please see below.

We particularly welcome the applications of those from under-represented socio-economic backgrounds, and we will guarantee interviews for applicants from UK-resident Black, African, Caribbean or Black British, Asian and Asian British, mixed or multiple and other non-White ethnic groups who meet the minimum essential criteria in this subject area.

AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnership training grant: Centring the marginal: Western Medieval manuscript fragments in the Bodleian Library 

Start date: 1 October 2022 

Application Deadline: 26 May 2022, 5pm BST 

It is anticipated that Interviews will take place online on 13 June 2022 

Applications are invited for a fully-funded four-year (full-time) / up to eight years (part-time) doctoral grant under the AHRC’s Collaborative Doctoral Partnership Scheme. 

The project is a collaboration between the University of Kent and the Bodleian Libraries and will enable a student to champion the broadening of Western manuscript studies through research on overlooked fragments. The successful applicant will have autonomy to shape the project based on their interests and will divide their time between the two institutions, receiving advanced research training and benefiting from experience in a special collections library.  

The University of Kent and its Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies are committed to fostering a welcoming climate for as diverse a community of scholars as possible. In particular, we are very aware of the need to improve the representation, progression and success of students whose ethnic backgrounds have traditionally been under-represented in higher education. We are also aware that the issue becomes more acute at graduate level where, in the words of a recent report, the funding process acts as a ‘broken pipeline’, creating barriers to access. This has wider effects: recent research by AHRC has shown that fewer than 5% of the UK’s museum and heritage curators are of Black, Asian or minority ethnicity (‘BAME’ – a widely-used umbrella term but one which has multiple inherent problems and is under review). Therefore, we would especially encourage UK-resident applicants from under-represented backgrounds to apply for this studentship. In addition, we will guarantee an interview to all applicants from UK-resident ‘BAME’ communities who meet the essential eligibility criteria. 

 AHRC report: ahrc.ukri.org/documents/project-reports-and-reviews/ahrc-funded-collaborative-studentships-report  

Leading Routes ‘Broken Pipeline’ Report: https://leadingroutes.org/mdocs-posts/the-broken-pipeline-barriers-to-black-students-accessing-research-council-funding 

University of Kent: https://www.kent.ac.uk/equality-diversity-inclusivity 

For informal enquiries about the studentship, please get in touch with the supervisor at Kent of this studentship, Dr David Rundle (D.G.Rundle@kent.ac.uk). David is very willing to communicate with prospective applicants by email, telephone, or Skype/Zoom. 

The studentship 

Project details and aims 

Traditionally, manuscript studies have concentrated on complete codices, but these constitute a small proportion of what once existed. Most medieval manuscripts no longer exist, but we can sense something of what we have lost by looking at partial survivals, mostly fragments in later bindings. Each surviving fragment is a precious witness of medieval manuscript culture, and the number of manuscripts they represent probably exceeds the number of surviving codices. The surviving intact codices are a partial selection of medieval textual culture reflecting the interests and prejudices of successive librarians, booksellers, scholars and collectors. Full attention to the fragments discarded by these groups can create a more diverse history, one which challenges established canons and assumptions.  

How can the evidence of this large body of fragments transform our understanding of medieval manuscript culture? Despite important advances that question remains to be answered in detail. For a long time fragments were largely ignored, studied only if they were vernacular or of very early date. Important advances were made by Neil Ker in the mid-20th century but it is only recently that the full potential of fragments has been understood and the emerging discipline of ‘fragmentology’ begun to develop. Technological advances have made it easier to describe fragments accurately (especially in identifying texts) and platforms have begun to allow the evidence of fragments to be explored at scale, and to enable the digital unification of related fragments. Methodological advances have been made by a number of individual case-studies, and by important work in parallel manuscript traditions, notably on Hebrew fragments (exemplified by the Books within Books project). The time is ripe for research that will build on the growing body of scholarship and comparative material to go beyond isolated case studies and address broader research questions.   

The Bodleian Libraries are an obvious place for this research to take place. The extent and range of its medieval collections, the second largest in the UK, are exceptional. Moreover, in a foundational work of 1954 Neil Ker provided short descriptions of several thousand fragments in 16th-century bindings mostly in Oxford libraries. Ker’s work, together with descriptions in the Bodleian’s catalogues, is only a starting point, but the resources for exploring fragments at the Bodleian, and at the Oxford colleges, provide a very solid foundation on which to build. The combination of Oxford’s resources and the expertise of Dr David Rundle at the University of Kent provides an exceptional opportunity for a student to develop their advanced skills as a manuscript scholar in this developing field.   

Research questions which might be explored include: 

  • how can the study of western fragments refine or challenge current orthodoxies about the production, circulation, popularity, and obsolescence of particular texts and manuscripts, both in the medieval period and in the sixteenth century?  
  • what has western manuscript studies to learn from scholars studying non-western fragments, in particular from the study of Hebrew fragments? 
  • how can the study of fragments contribute to our understanding of the life of medieval books in the early modern period, and to our understanding of the transmission and survival of medieval manuscripts?    
  • what defines ‘fragmentology’ as a discipline? What approaches exist to the cataloguing and curation of fragments, and what should be regarded as good or best practice?    
  • how can fragments, as distinct from whole codices, be used to develop public engagement with medieval manuscripts at a variety of levels?     

Supervision and training  

This project will be jointly supervised by Dr David Rundle, University of Kent, and Dr Matthew Holford, Bodleian Libraries, Oxford. The student will be based in the Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies (MEMS) at the University of Kent while also spending time at the Bodleian Libraries, as well as becoming part of the wider cohort of CDP funded students across the UK and being eligible to participate in CDP Cohort Development events. The student will receive advanced research training, participate in the vibrant academic culture of both Kent and Oxford, and benefit from a range of experience in a special collections library.  

Award details 

Studentships funded under the third Collaborative Doctoral Partnership call (CDP3) will receive four years of funding. The four-year duration is to enable students to undertake development activities as part of their doctoral study. Three years and six to nine months is for the doctoral research (42-45 months); three to six months is for professional development opportunities (‘Student Development Activity’). 

The studentship will cover home fees and stipend at UKRI rates for a maximum of four years full-time, or eight years part-time study, subject to institutional regulations. The National Minimum Doctoral Stipend for 2022/23 is £16,062, plus a CDP Maintenance payment of £550/year. The studentship holder will be eligible to receive an additional travel and related expenses grant during the course of the project courtesy of the Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford, worth up to £2,000 per year for up to four years. 

All UKRI studentships are open to international students and all funded students will receive a full stipend for living expenses and fees paid at the ‘Home’ (UK-resident) level (£4,596 for 2022/23). However, international fee-paying students will be required to contribute the difference between the Home and International fees (which are set at £17,400 for 2022/23).  

Criteria and eligibility 

The studentship is subject to UKRI eligibility criteria. Further details can be found on the UKRI website: https://www.ukri.org/skills/funding-for-research-training 

We encourage applications from candidates from diverse backgrounds and ethnicities, particularly welcoming applications from candidates from under-represented socio-economic backgrounds. We will guarantee interviews for applicants from UK-resident Black, African, Caribbean or Black British, Asian and Asian British, mixed or multiple and other non-White ethnic groups who meet the minimum essential criteria in this subject area. 

We are keen to hear from applicants who either have (or expect to receive) a relevant Masters-level qualification (e.g. English, History, Art History, Medieval Studies), with a focus on manuscript studies, or are able to demonstrate equivalent relevant experience. Ideally, candidates will have a broad familiarity with the history of the book in medieval and early modern England, a grounding in Latin, palaeography and codicology, and an active interest in fragment studies. If, however, you are interested in this role but do not meet all these criteria, you are welcome to make an informal enquiry as outlined below. 

How to apply 

Candidates wishing to be considered for this award must apply for a PhD place at the University of Kent by 26 May 2022, 17.00 BST. 

For more information and how to apply see https://www.kent.ac.uk/courses/postgraduate/152/medieval-and-early-modern-studies  

You must indicate your interest in this award when writing your personal statement by explaining how you might approach the project and how your academic background and experience fits the criteria. Please include the contact details of a referee who can be contacted in the case of your being invited to interview. 

You can append to your personal statement a Widening Participation Statement; this can be of any length and is available to provide any contextual explanation of factors that have impacted your progress in higher education. If you wish to be considered for the guaranteed interview scheme for ‘BAME’ candidates (UK applicants only), please indicate here your ethnic background, using the following categories: 

  1. Asian or Asian British 
  2. Black, African, Caribbean or Black British 
  3. Mixed or Multiple ethnic groups 
  4. Other non-White ethnic group 

Worried that doctoral research is not for you? We can put you in contact with a diverse range of students and staff at Kent to help you to come to the decision of whether to apply. The successful candidate will be put in contact with role models that reflect the institution’s diversity and who can share similar experiences with them. 

In preparing your application and proposal, you are encouraged to contact the supervisor at Kent, Dr David Rundle (D.G.Rundle@kent.ac.uk), who would be very glad to communicate with prospective applicants by email, telephone, or Skype/Zoom.  

Questions relating to the CDP programme within Oxford University’s Gardens, Libraries and Museums can be sent to harriet.warburton@glam.ox.ac.uk 

Statement on the use of Positive Action  

Positive action describes special measures aimed at alleviating disadvantage or under- representation experienced by those with a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010. Sections 158-159 of the Act allow the use of positive action in certain circumstances: To lessen disadvantage for those sharing a protected characteristic, meet particular needs and reduce under-representation in particular activities. Any such measures are to be a proportionate way of achieving a relevant aim.  

The forms of positive action allowed under the Equality Act (2010):  

  • General positive action, for example, reserving places for a protected group on training courses or providing mentoring to increase representation at senior levels  
  • Positive action specifically relating to recruitment and promotion, also known as the ‘tie-break provision’  
  • The availability of scholarships and bursaries to students sharing a protected characteristic  
  • in relation to disabled people  

Therefore, where Kent reasonably thinks those sharing a protected characteristic experience a disadvantage connected to that characteristic; and may have needs that are different from the needs of persons who do not share it; or participation in an activity is disproportionately low the use of positive action initiatives is considered. Kent will ensure appropriate procedures to allow continuous review for the impact of and need for its actions, to ensure these actions continue to fall within the scope of positive action.  

MEMS Fesitval 2022: Call for papers

Join us in Canterbury and online for the eigth annual MEMS Festival at the University of Kent.

We invite abstracts of up to 250 words for individual research papers of 20 minutes in length on any subject relating to the medieval and early modern periods. The research can be in its earliest or latest stages of development.

We also encourage 700 word abstracts for proposing a three-person panel, presenting on a cohesive subject or theme in medieval or early modern studies.

If you have any queties, please contact us at memsfestival@gmail.com.

MEMS students enjoy exclusive access to three London exhibitions

On Thursday 10 February, 15 MEMS MA and PhD students enjoyed a special field trip to three exciting collections in London, where we were guided by expert curators through a wealth of exciting portraits, devotional objects, locked letters, and maps. Laura Romain, a MEMS MA student, shares her reflections from these encounters in this week’s blog.

We began the day at the Philip Mould Gallery, where not even the overcast sky could discolour the enthusiasm the eponymous Philip Mould met us with as he gave us a brief introduction about his Gallery and the works of art he and his team of researchers have curated. He then left us in the capable care of Lawrence Hendra, head researcher of the gallery, whose insight and knowledge of the paintings he showed us was insurmountable. We began with the middling talent betrayed by the hands and collars of Four Portraits of the Ffolliot Brothers (pictured above). We learnt much about the relevance of the various coral items the boys were either holding or wearing, and how their posing and the items they held told us about their ages and personalities. What the image fails to capture, however, is the faint outline of a painting underneath one of the portraits, from where it is believed that the artist painted over an old commission after the patron failed to either pay his commission or collect it!

After seeing perhaps the only in-situ painting of Winston Churchill, our attentions were then guided to, what would become, my personal favourite painting in the gallery, the charming, Portrait of a Young Girl in a White Apron by Anthony van Dyke. I like to think that there is something fond in the measured exasperation of her sidelong stare, although, perhaps that is just me leaning too much into the speculation that the girl depicted in this painting is van Dyke’s illegitimate daughter. Whatever the truth of the matter, I think you can agree that this is a truly splendid painting!

Portrait of a Young Girl in a White Apron by Anthony van Dyke mounted on a golden ornamented frame.

Portrait of a Young Girl in a White Apron by Anthony van Dyke

After this, there was a short reprieve before we made our way to the Sam Fogg Gallery. Here we met the wonderful Dr Jana Gajdošová who showed us around the gallery for a very hands-on experience with the various reliquaries and sculptures the gallery had on display. Looking at a charming wooden carving of Saint Sebastian, it was an exciting deviation from the norm when, as Dr Gajdošová was telling us that the remaining arrows stuck into some of the holes riddling Saint Sebastian’s body, she demonstrated that each arrow was made to fit every wound by taking one of the arrows and moving it to a different entry wound!

A wooden carving depicting Saint Sebastian

Wooden carving of Saint Sebastian at the Sam Fogg gallery.

After this, Dr Gajdošová showed a fascinating reliquary of a virgin martyr, fascinating me once again when she told us that sometimes reliquaries such as these would contain the skull of a child. She assuaged any concerns we might have had by promptly removing the top of the head of the reliquary and showing us the, thankfully, hollow insides!

It was really amazing to be allowed to interact with art and sculpture so personally, reminding us that art was not merely made to be looked at, but interacted with.

As we left the gallery to collectively travel to the British Library, the sky at last succeeded in waking the city up for us, bathing us all in the resplendent golds of mid-afternoon sunshine. Spring was in our steps and the crispness of the air, both fitting accompaniments to the reconstitution of the narratives surrounding Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots we would find in the British Library exhibit, Elizabeth and Mary: Royal Cousins, Rival Queens. Introducing us to this brilliant show was Anna Turnham, who is a PhD student based in MEMS as part of her CDA with the British Library. And she helped to curate this exhibition!

Being an early modernist myself, and one who is particularly interested in Elizabethan drama, from an early age the life and reign of Elizabeth I has always captured my interest. Needless to say, I found myself in wordless awe through much of the exhibit! From their early lives, so different in experience, but alike in trauma and heartache, it was eye-opening to see the course of their lives plotted out, and the red string of fate tying their lives together, looked to me more like a river of blood.

On a slightly less morbid note, I was especially captivated by the research behind the ciphers used and developed by Mary and her confidants. All brought to life by a digital display which began by unpicking the base of the cipher, revealing how it was made and how it was then applied to the letters Mary wrote and exchanged with those still loyal to her. Secrets and history were to be unravelled before our very eyes.

In all, I believe that this sentiment is the true sum of the day those of us spent in London. A day where hidden gems were found to us, and the history of the world we live in was made richer for all the art, sculpture, and lives we were introduced to.

If you have the chance, please do yourself the kindness of visiting these galleries, as well as the British Library, and may your world be made even a little bigger than it was before.

MEMS students take part in special St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre walking tour

By Jessica Falkner, MA student, Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies

In the early hours of 24 August 1572, the Saint Bartholomew’s Day Massacre began. It was a week-long massacre of Huguenots by Parisian Catholics believed to be instigated by Queen Catherine de Medici, mother to King Charles IX. This massacre led to similar massacres in cities throughout France. The total death toll is disputed among historians, with estimates varying between 2,000 – 10,000 in Paris alone. Our walking tour, led by Dr Rory Loughnane (Co-Director of the Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies) and Prof. Anne-Marie Miller-Blaise (Sorbonne III) gave a sense of the chaos of the massacre within Paris. It is not too hard to imagine that during the time of the massacre, Paris streets were crowded with buildings, with even the bridges containing numerous structures. On our tour on February 10th 2022, MEMS students were joined by students from Sorbonne III who were also learning about the history of Paris.

Our tour began outside the Panthéon which was not constructed yet at the time of the massacre. This area of the modern 5th arrondissement was the outer limits of Paris in 1572. It is situated near the Collège de France where Petrus Ramus was a leading professor of philosophy and a convert to Protestantism. As a result of his role at the Collège, Catholics feared that he, and others at the Collège, would lead a movement to convert others to Protestantism and therefore became a target during the massacre.

We walked from the Panthéon to Rue St. Jacques, where Ramus hid in a bookstore for three days before returning to his lodgings on 26 August. We followed Ramus to Collège de Presles, a secularized chapel at 14 Rue des Carmes, where Ramus was fatally stabbed. As we learned, it is possible that his fame across Europe increased because of his untimely death.

Leaving unfortunate Ramus, we went to Cathédrale Notre-Dame where the wedding ceremony of Henri Navarre, future King Henri IV of France, and Margaret of Valois was performed. The wedding was arranged as a method of peacekeeping between the Catholics and the Huguenots. However, Pope Gregory XIII would not grant a dispensation for the interfaith marriage so Henry and the other leading Huguenots who were there to celebrate the wedding were forced to remain on the square outside the cathedral while a proxy stood in for Henry. This, understandably, irritated the Huguenots.

Professor Rory Loughnane introduces students to Cathédrale Notre-Dame.

Professor Rory Loughnane introduces students to Cathédrale Notre-Dame.

Our next stop was Place de l’Hôtel de Ville, which was known as Place de Grève until early in the seventeenth century. It is in this inviting, lively square that we were reminded of the ever-changing nature of public spaces. Despite its pleasant appearance now, the square was the site of many particularly gruesome executions, including that of François Ravaillac. Ravaillac, a Catholic, assassinated King Henri IV by stabbing and was drawn and quartered in the square.

We moved on to the Hôtel de Guise, home of the Duke of Guise. The Duke of Guise was a leading Catholic and it was here that the plot to massacre the Huguenots was conceptualized. Because of the wedding of Henri and Margaret, many leading Huguenots were in Paris and Guise and others decided to take advantage of the chance to kill them. The first attempt was had when Gaspard II de Coligny, Admiral of France, a leading Huguenot, the day after the wedding, was shot. However, Coligny was only injured. In an attempt to smooth over the heightened tensions the shooting caused, Charles IX sent his doctor to treat Coligny. Unfortunately, Coligny’s shooting just caused the Catholics to fear retributions from the Huguenots.

A stone memorial for Gapard de Coligny

Memorial of Gaspard de Coligny

On our way to the church where the plot came to a head, we passed a couple noteworthy places. First, we passed the spot where King Henri IV was assassinated by Ravaillac, now a busy street with nothing more than a simple sign to mark the important event. We also traveled down Rue de Rivoli, formerly known as Rue de Béthisy, to the spot where Coligny was brought for treatment after he was shot. Unfortunately, once the massacre started, Coligny was stabbed and thrown out a window.

We arrived at the Church of Saint Germain l’Auxerrois. It was at this church, located across from the Louvre Palace, that the signal was given for the beginning of the massacre, when its bell was rung in the early morning hours. It was from here that Catholics traveled to the Tuileries Palace, where many of the leading Huguenots were staying, to begin the massacre.

We ended the tour at the Église Réformée de France, the largest Protestant church in France, across the opposite street from the Louvre Palace than the Saint Germain. Here, there was a large statute of Coligny. While it was originally a royal chapel, it was given to the Protestants by Napoleon.

Overall, the walking tour was a great way to envision the history of Paris while also bringing new perspectives about how history has shaped modern spaces.

Graduate profile: George Knight (MA Medieval and Early Modern Studies)

“I loved the passion that was apparent in both the students and staff, and the close working relationships that I could have with my lecturers.”

What are you doing now?

After graduating from my BA in History, I went on to complete an MA in Medieval and Early Modern Studies with the Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies (MEMS) at Kent, which was undertaken with the Centre’s annual scholarship. Through the connections made during my MA, I was able to get onto a training program with Canterbury Archaeological Trust (CAT), where I am currently working as a newly qualified Archaeologist.

Whilst studying for my MA, I helped co-organise ‘MEMS Festival’, an annual academic conference and began working as a co-administrator for ‘MEMSLib’, an initiative that aims to collate digital resources for medieval and early modern study; both projects are hosted by MEMS at Kent. I have also volunteered in Canterbury Cathedral Archive, which has been done in tandem with my MA research on the 13th century manuscripts of Canterbury’s Christ Church Priory.

What attracted you to your course, and to Kent?

When I was applying, I was always advised to prioritise the course content above other factors. I was impressed by Kent’s diverse range of modules, ranging from ancient, to medieval and modern, and since I wanted to get a broad perspective, the course seemed perfect for me. I thoroughly enjoyed honing my interest in the medieval period by experiencing such a diverse curriculum.

In addition, I loved Kent’s campus and community. Being a dyslexic student, the ethos and sense of engagement I felt on the open days was incredibly influential in my final decision. I loved the passion that was apparent in both the students and staff, and the close working relationships that I could have with my lecturers. If you want to learn more about my experience of studying with dyslexia at University, then I encourage you to listen to my article recently recorded for MEMSLib.

Which aspects of your degree did you enjoy the most, and why?

I personally loved the researching and academic communities I found at Kent. I loved the range of materials that were presented to me and the interactions with fellow students; it really felt like I was working in a dynamic learning environment where we could explore the ideas that had formed historical study. As I gained confidence and became more proficient in my work, I found that my lecturers recognized my strengths and encouraged me to go further with my work. It is down to their guidance that I decided to pursue my MA and current job in archaeology.

What impressed you most about our academic staff?

I loved how open, interdisciplinary, and engaging they were. I felt in my classes that I was interacting deeply with the literature presented and I relished the avenues of opportunities and feedback my lecturers gave me. I personally consider Dr Barbara Bombi, Dr Emily Guerry and Dr Edward Roberts as key influences in helping me decide to pursue my passion for history. Their enthusiasm and support were truly inspiring, and especially helpful when my dissertation research was hindered during the pandemic. Having gone on to work with them further in my MA, and now also in Canterbury’s thriving heritage community, I can honestly say I consider them as more than just admired colleagues and mentors, but also as good friends.

Are there any aspects of your degrees which have influenced your career?

If I had to highlight the most crucial skills, they would be the abilities to research, write and critically engage. I have applied these talents in all areas of my professional life, even beyond the heritage sector, and they have benefited me in every project I have been involved with thus far. Most notably, they gave me the ability to write my MA dissertation on Christ Church Priory’s medieval cartulary ‘Register E’ – a project I am especially proud of as it has been recognised by Canterbury Cathedral Archive and which will likely form the basis for my first published academic article.

“These opportunities gave me invaluable insight into the realities of modern industry and helped solidify my desire and confidence to work in the heritage sector.”

Did you undertake any work experience whilst at Kent?

My primary extra-curricular activity alongside my degree was with InQuire Media, Kent’s student publication. I began as a writer and then was subsequently elected as Head of Marketing and then Editor-in-Chief. In these roles, I managed the production of a bi-weekly newspaper and nearly 160 student volunteers. During my tenure, we received numerous awards from the SPA and BBC. Not only did this opportunity develop my writing and management skills, but it also gave me experience with industry standard tools and introduced me to so many amazing people. If you would like to learn more about my time with InQuire at Kent, then please read my profile about my experience with the University.

In addition, I also heavily utilised Kent’s ‘Employability Points Scheme.’ Through the scheme, I undertook an archival work experience with the Royal Engineers Museum (read the case study here) and then two marketing internships, first with a confectionary company, and then with the digital marketing agency Reflect Digital (read the case study here). These opportunities gave me invaluable insight into the realities of modern industry and helped solidify my desire and confidence to work in the heritage sector.

Could you describe a typical day in your current role?

No two days are the same as an archaeologist. I specifically work as a commercial field archaeologist, which means I am one amongst a team assigned to excavate and record any potentially historic features on a site before any development, usually construction, takes place.

Where and what I’ll be doing varies dependent upon each project. I could be assigned to a major development that will require numerous staff for several weeks or months, with potentially thousands of archaeological finds and features; or I could also be assigned to very small projects which could just be myself, a supervisor and external contractors which will only last a few days, and which will have very few finds. In addition, I could also be working in CAT’s offices, either processing (which often means washing and archiving) finds brought from site or aiding with the collation of the paper records, which will often be used for reports, research, or publication.

What is your favourite memory of Kent?

There are honestly too many memories to recount, but if I had to recall some they would be; 1) having a farewell barbeque with my Park Wood house at the end of my first year; 2) the summer balls, both in 2018 and 2019; 3) seeing my own article on the front page of the InQuire newspaper and subsequently discovering it was our most quickly picked up edition within memory.

“Once you’ve arrived, take advantage of every opportunity given.”

What advice would you give to somebody thinking of coming to Kent?

Rigorously investigate all the aspects of the course. Look at who is teaching and what you’ll be learning. Consider if the content and assignments are something you will find engaging and developmental. Take the time to contemplate what it is you want to get out of your degree and apply that in your application. Then, once you’ve arrived, take advantage of every opportunity given and ‘drink deep from the Pierian Spring.’

Also, take the time to properly consider the other aspects of University life. Although your degree should be your top priority, you will also be living and working at Kent. What extra-curricular opportunities do you want to explore? What other skills do you want to develop? The answers to these and other questions will not be immediately apparent, but they are important to think about going forward.

How would you describe your time at Kent in three words?

Inspiring, transformative, unforgettable.

Are you currently working on any interesting projects that you would like to tell us a bit more about?

Personally, I have written an article and filmed a talk for Canterbury Cathedral’s ‘Picture This’ series and MEMS Festival 2021 on a 15th century pilgrim guide. I also an administrator for MEMSLib which I highly recommend to any doing research into medieval and early modern materials, or indeed anyone interested in historical research.

As an employee of CAT, I must highlight their new project ‘Unlocking Our Past’, which has recently been developed with a grant from Historic England. This project showcases numerous historical objects found by the Trust over the last 50 years and gives a detailed, yet accessible insight into the rich history of Kent.

Students join in hybrid field trip in Paris

The Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies (MEMS) offers its MA students the unique opportunity to study in both Canterbury AND Paris. Some of optional modules, including ‘Gothic Architecture,’ are taught across both sites – the Gothic style emerged in Paris around the mid-twelfth century and continued to develop in Canterbury.

Dr Emily Guerry, module convenor of ‘Gothic Architecture’, is using a Go Pro to help with the delivery of her seminars this term. Due to ongoing public health concerns, the use of a Go Pro enables her to simultaneously live-stream all Gothic site visits for hybrid teaching. This method allows the Gothic field trips to be accessible if anyone needs to shield.

On Monday 31 January, the Gothic MA students enjoyed their first field trip to the basilica of Saint-Denis, built from 1137–1144 under the aegis of Abbot Suger (d.1151). Six staff and students joined in-person and six joined virtually for this exciting examination of the ‘first’ Gothic project.

Lou Docherty, a MA student based in Paris, reports on the experience of visiting this “Gothic masterpiece” in the late January sunshine:

A photograph of

The basilica of Saint-Denis

“We began outside Abbot Suger’s magnificent tripartite doors which, while imposing today, would have originally been made of bronze. The façade of the Basilica had recently been cleaned, giving us the amazing opportunity to see it as it would have been when Abbot Suger oversaw the creation of this Gothic masterpiece in the 12th Century. The central tympanum depicts the Last Judgment, with Christ enthroned in Heaven while bodies resurrect from their graves on the lintel below.

“I particularly enjoyed seeing the image of the resurrection of Suger, the patron, positioned in the lintel as the first to be resurrected (and as the closest to Christ’s nail-wounded foot), alongside an inscription in Latin that calls for his plea to be “numbered among [Christ’s] sheep.

Two photographs of the entrance of the basilica Saint-Denis

The basilica of Saint-Denis’ tripartite doors and tympanum.

“Walking into the church and through the nave, one of my favourite encounters of the day was the sight of the rose windows in the north and south transepts, which have been beautifully restored since 2015 and looked radiant thanks to the winter sunshine! I also enjoyed walking around the Merovingian crypt of the Basilique, where we saw a sea of sarcophagi that once surrounded the martyrium of Saint Denis, the patron saint of the kings of France.

An image of the rose windows and the martyrium of Saint-Denis

The one of the basilica’s rose windows and the martyrium of Saint-Denis.

“We then explored the other major Gothic initiative led by Abbot Suger: The rib-vaulted chevet in the east end, which would have surrounded the new location for the Gothic shrine of Saint Denis. By bringing the martyr’s relics out of the darkness of the crypt and into the light of a new Gothic choir, it glorified the devotional experience. This translatio, according to Suger in his writings On the Administration of the abbey in his time, also accommodated health and safety concerns; he explained that feast days, the small crypt would be so crowded that women would be run on top of men’s heads in attempt to see and touch the sacred relics of Saint Denis.

“Suger’s chevet has elements that typify Gothic architecture, with long, inter-connected, spider-like ribs that lift the weight of the walls and allow for colourful stained glass to fill the surrounding vertical space. In one of the windows, showing the earliest-known representation of the Tree of Jesse in glass, Abbot Suger (once again!) inserted himself into the sacred scene. He appears in the lower right-hand corner of the lancet, holding a miniature version of this very window.

An image of Abbot Suger's chevet, with characteristically Gothic arched vaults and vertical stained-glass windows.

Abbot Suger’s chevet, with characteristically Gothic arched vaults and vertical stained-glass windows.

“Finally, as a lover of royal history, it was amazing to see so many tombs of French kings and queens as Saint-Denis served as the royal necropolis seventh until the nineteenth centuries. The early modern transi cadaver tombs of Henri II and Catherine de Medici and Louis XII and Anne of Brittany were thrilling to see in person. Life-like effigies of their decaying, naked bodies lie in state below idealised statues of the pairs of rulers at prayer, facing the shrine of Saint Denis.

“Overall, it was an enriching visit lead by Dr Guerry, who made the whole tour interesting and even funny in places. If you have the opportunity to visit the Basilique de Saint-Denis I highly recommend it, not just for the history but also for the beauty.”

Dr David Rundle to deliver the University of London’s annual Coffin Palaeography Lecture

Dr David Rundle will be delivering the University of London’s annual Coffin Palaeography Lecture on 15 June at 6pm (via Zoom) on ‘The Long Reach of Paleography.’

Palaeography, simply defined, is the study of old handwriting but that definition tends to hide rather than to announce the discipline’s significance. ‘To study’ is not merely ‘to read’ and the evidentiary power of the skills palaeography teaches us are foundational in so many ways: they allow us to take a manuscript and to read out from it to the human connexions which created it and the cultures it has inhabited. This lecture will address two other fundamental issues with that definition: when does ‘old’ end? And: how does writing relate to other forms of lettering? Answering these questions can take us beyond that male-dominated minority for whom, up to the nineteenth century in much of Europe, full literacy was their preserve. The materials susceptible to palaeographical analysis are not confined to medieval codices held in special collections; palaeography is everywhere.

Dr David Rundle is Lecturer in Latin and Manuscript Studies in the Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies at the University of Kent. His research examines the role of books in late medieval and early modern culture in western Europe. He is the author of The Renaissance Reform of the Book and Britain: The English Quattrocento (Cambridge, 2019).

The lecture takes place on the 15th June at 6pm via Zoom.

For more information and registration, please visit the event webpage.