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Medieval and Early Modern Studies (c. 600-1800)


LUCAS’ Medieval and Early Modern (MEM) cluster brings together expertise in the fields of art, literature and media. It focuses on the arts in society in Europe and beyond during a vast period of time, from the 7th through to the 18th centuries CE.

The MEM cluster is home to a wide range of specialists in medieval and early modern studies. Their research tends to be highly object-oriented, and takes specific forms and objects of cultural expressions (be it literature, art, architecture, books, collections, theatre etc.) as the basis for cultural-historical analyses that address questions concerning the transfer and communication of knowledge and ideas, intertextual relations, the materiality of art and literature, their reception and re-use over time, and the roles of patronage and audiences. The development and use of digital tools and computational approaches from Digital Humanities has become integrated into many aspects of the research conducted in the MEM cluster.

In medieval and early modern society, the position of the arts (arts and literatures) differed fundamentally from their position today. The arts were fully integrated in society, and their manifestations were not (yet) systematically set apart from science and religion. Research in the MEM-cluster embraces this outlook. It travels freely across current disciplinary boundaries within its timeframe, as well as across the traditional division between Middle Ages and Early Modernity, thus opening up new perspectives on (our understanding of) historical phenomena. It also reflects on the continued importance of medieval and early modern cultures in modern-day society, their uses and abuses.

Scholars affiliated with MEM initiate conferences, lectures, international exchanges, as well as exchanges with society at large by collaborating with museums, libraries, and other partners. They maintain their own international networks, serve on boards of (inter)national publication series, journals, and academic societies, and frequently collaborate with colleagues from the other LUCAS clusters (Classics, Modern & Contemporary), the other research institutes of the Humanities Faculty and the University, as well as several National Research Schools. There are also strong ties with Leiden University Libraries and Museums, which house world-renowned collections of historical materials.

Research themes

Research conducted within the MEM cluster can be grouped around four core interests and approaches, which are in various ways committed to addressing the roles of the arts in society from the interdisciplinary perspectives that the cluster fosters:

Digital Humanities

In all areas of our research, we embrace the use of innovative tools from Digital Humanities (digital and computational approaches) as research tools, methods of valorization, and innovation in teaching and presenting research results. Members of the cluster collaborate with several partners, including the Centre for Digital Scholarship (Leiden University Libraries) and the Centre for Digital Humanities.

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