CML seeks to establish theoretical frameworks for the study of medieval literature on a European scale, recognizing that a 21st-century understanding of medieval textual culture cannot build exclusively on national narratives.
Our scope is a broad European cultural space without clearly defined borders towards south or east. We are interested in all medieval written languages and all kinds of writing – not restricted to the modern sense of literature as fiction.
The projects within CML cover a broad range of topics within, and especially beyond, the canon. At the moment they include research in the history of science, text and image, Hebrew legal literature, Byzantium, Iberia, the Empire and the Baltic, Silk Road translations, Old English and the Empire, historiography in Iceland, Normandy, France and Palestine, hagiography around the North Sea, political literature in French and English, translations for the Papacy and more.
Our methods are collaborative, historical, literary, comparative, entangled, and connective; we see ourselves as working against increasing ‘siloed’ specialization and towards the discovery of social, intellectual and textual connections which have been overlooked by a traditional focus on modern languages and countries.
For a discussion of the theoretical foundations of the scope and the methodology, see "What is Medieval European Literature?" and the whole first issue of our journal, Interfaces.
In the first phase of CML, we organized our work along three trajectories: Canonisation, studying medieval textual popularity and dissemination trends as well as modern systems of relevance for medieval literature (e.g. Mortensen, Lars Boje. “Comparing and Connecting: The Rise of Fast Historiography in Latin and Vernacular (Twelfth to Thirteenth Century).” Medieval Worlds, no. 1 (2015): 25–39); Fictionality, which expanded on the conversation about the rise and character of fiction beyond the canonical romances (e.g. Høgel, Christian and Elisabetta Bartoli, eds. Medieval Letters: Between Fiction and Document. Turnhout: Brepols, 2015); and Languages, which aimed to cross boundaries and to facilitate conversations between specialists in the traditionally strong Western languages but also, among others, Greek, Hebrew, Church Slavonic, Dutch, Czech, Arabic, Georgian, and Armenian, and to substitute the dominant category of national languages with other guiding concepts (e.g. Younge, George. "The New Heathens: Anti-Jewish Hostility in Early English Literature," in Writing Europe, 500–1450: Texts and Contexts, edited by A. Conti, O. Da Rold and P. Shaw, Cambridge: Brewer, 123-45).
The second phase of CML focuses on three new, but related research strands: Imperial Languages, Canon and Library, and Transformations and Translocations.
‘Imperial Languages’ operates as a powerful supplement and alternative to the traditional concept of ‘sacred languages’ and the more recent ‘cosmopolitan languages’. Operating on a Eurasian scale, focused on written language and with explanatory power from antiquity to the present day, ‘Imperial Languages’ aims to continue our broad coverage of medieval European languages as well as to foster a step change in our understanding of the complex linguistic hierarchies and exchanges of medieval Europe, for example by allowing explorations of new typologies beyond a binary between imperial and ‘vernacular’ languages.
Canon and Library
This research strand enables us to draw links and contrasts between medieval textual production and consumption and modern scholarly and educational practices that involve medieval texts. Canon and library aims to productively bridge very specialized research on specific medieval libraries and broader intellectual, literary and institutional history, and to bring the materiality of literary history into focus.
Transformations and Translocations
‘Transformations and Translocations’ seeks to integrate and extend literary and historical methods and goals by focusing on the intersection of formal change and connections between people. By holding shared literary and aesthetic forms up against the actual networks of people that exchanged and cultivated them, shared intellectual, conceptual and narrative worlds, in writing as well as beyond, become visible to us, displaying causes, goals and values.
Interfaces: A Journal of Medieval European Literatures
Interfaces: A Journal of Medieval European Literatures is published by the University of Milan in collaboration with the Centre for Medieval Literature.
Full CML Publications List
For the complete CML bibliography, please see our public Zotero library.