How does the concept of openness suffuse and permeate Medieval culture? A new volume by our Medieval Research Group, their fourth publication, addresses these questions and more.

The volume is co-edited by our Fellow and Tutor in German, Professor Almut Suerbaum, and Manuele Gragnolati. It contains 15 essays from Somerville scholars past and present including our Rosemary Wolf Fellow in Medieval English, Associate Professor Annie Sutherland; our lecturer in History, Dr Pippa Byrne; our former Chapel Director Dr Brian McMahon; our Fellow and Tutor in Italian Associate Professor Francesca Southerden; and our Tutor and fellow in History, Associate Professor Benjamin Thompson.

The collection challenges the persistent association of the Middle Ages with closure and fixity. Bringing together a range of disciplines and perspectives, it identifies and uncovers forms of openness which are often obscured by modern assumptions, and demonstrates how they coexist with, or even depend upon, enclosure and containment in paradoxical and unexpected ways that unsettle boundaries, binaries, and clear-cut distinctions.

“The theme was very much a response to the sense of there being increasing boundaries and borders, and a rejection of anyone different,” said Professor Suerbaum.

“We were able to reaffirm the sense of a like-minded community working together to illuminate a period shaped by a sense of European continuity, where national boundaries did not exist and texts were transmitted across a much wider region.”

Openness in Medieval Europe is published by ICI Berlin Press.

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