Centre for Medieval & Early Modern Studies

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Canterbury Cathedral hall

Centre for Medieval & Early Modern Studies (MEMS)

MEMS is a nationally and internationally recognised centre of excellence in Medieval and Early Modern Studies.

We are a diverse community of researchers who believe in the importance of interdisciplinary research and teaching. We offer exciting MA programmes taught in the historic city of Canterbury or split between Canterbury and Paris. We provide expert supervision for PhD students within a rich and stimulating research community.

From early modern drama to early medieval European culture, we believe that the cultural lives of our ancestors can be accessed in multiple ways. From buildings and art to the fragmentary documents of the past such as charters and wills, to the poetry and literatures of the pre-modern world, we believe that our students should be trained in multiple skills to access the past. Our close relationships with the world-famous Canterbury Cathedral and the Canterbury Archaeological Trust allow our students access to a wide range of unique historical, literary and material evidence. We want our students to see archives, buildings, art and the literature preserved in handwritten and early printed books as being accessible, indeed, necessary resources for their understanding of the past.

We have a staff of internationally respected researchers who come from a wide range of disciplinary backgrounds and who are dedicated to and proud of the programmes of study that are offered by MEMS. Our core courses provide key technical training in the languages and scripts of the past, and our option modules educate our students in the fundamentals of undertaking postgraduate research.

Our central focus is to turn our students into people that are capable of undertaking professional research, skills that we believe prepares our graduates for a wide variety of careers, as well as being able to pursue further research. Our incredible success of gaining funding for further research by our students has been the best testimony to the success of our MA training.

Supportive community

At the heart of MEMS is its community, and the layers of support we provide for our students, beginning with a dedicated academic advisor and our wonderful student support. MEMS convenes as a group once a week for its seminar, an opportunity to hear world-leading research by a visiting speaker, but also to meet and chat as a community. Our seminar is the best attended in the faculty and provides a touchstone for taught and research students to mingle with one another and with staff.

Our staff and PhD students are also responsible for generating a range of other events which supply opportunities for participation in academic discussion and for socialising with the MEMS community. One yearly highlight is the MEMS Summer Festival, an event entirely organised by MEMS students which attracts postgraduates and senior academics from across the UK, as well as a range of international participants.


Current research projects

The Oxford Marlowe Project

The Project provides the intellectual framework, research agenda, and impact ambition for The Oxford Marlowe: Collected Works (Oxford University Press). The edition seeks to establish and promote Marlowe’s preserved corpus of writing for scholars, students, general readers, producers and theatre-goers, and all those interested in the cultural history of early modern England.

Bishops, Canon Law and the Making of the Medieval Church, 875–1025

‘Bishops, Canon Law and the Making of the Medieval Church, 875–1025’, is running in 2018-19 and is funded by a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship.

Encounters with the Orient in Early Modern European Scholarship (1580-1800)

The aim of this collaborative research project is to document the scholarly European encounter with Oriental cultures, languages and religions between c. 1500 and 1800.

Connected worlds

Connected Central European Worlds

Cross-border connections in Central Europe in the early modern period shaped the cultures, populations and development of Central European countries and their partners. This international interdisciplinary network of scholars and museum professionals, led by MEMS's Dr Suzanna Ivanic, investigates how these connected worlds were mutually constitutive through collaborative work, addressed primarily through a focus on material and cultural analysis of artefacts.

'Picture this...'

Collaborative project that brings together academics and researchers with the aim to share the wonderfully rich collections of Canterbury Cathedral Library & Archive’s collections with the wider public.

Canterbury Cathedral hall


Discovering and augmenting historical documents in the Digital Age.

Ways of Seeing the English Domestic Interior

This research network investigated peoples’ experience of household life in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and considered how we might use this information to enhance our experience of visiting historic properties in the twenty-first century.

Canterbury Cathedral hall

European cultural, religious and intellectual history in the period 1150-1850

Professor Jan Loop of the School of History will lead a Kent team examining the many ways in which the Muslim holy book influenced European cultural, religious and intellectual history in the period 1150-1850.