The Institute of English Studies are proud to announce Senior Research Fellow Michelle Brown has been awarded a prestigious Leverhulme Emeritus Fellowship. We asked Michelle to tell us about her plans.

1.            Can you tell us more about the topic of project?

My Leverhulme grant will allow me to bring to completion a research project very close to my heart, which is to catalogue and contextualise the corpus of Latin manuscripts I have discovered at the ancient monastery of St Catherine’s, Sinai.

2.            What will this involve?

   My findings in the monastic library challenges the traditional historical view that there was little or no direct contact between western Europe and the Near East from the end of the western Roman Empire in the 5th century until the Crusades. Research by myself and others was accumulating evidence of contact at the western end and my discovery of early Latin manuscripts in this ancient polyglot library in the middle of the Sinai shows that western books and scribes were travelling there – including some from 8th-century Britain.

Icon of Saint Catherine (Saint Catherine’s Monastery, Mount Sinai)

3.            What are you most looking forward to?

   I am looking forward to visiting the remote and moving monastery again and to encountering old friends – in both human and book form – and to researching more of the historical context for contact in some of Britain’s greatest libraries.

4.            The one thing you hope to gain by the end?

By the end of the project I hope to have raised public and academic awareness of how intertwined our international relations were in the aftermath of another period of great change in the ‘world order’, and of the formative nature of post-Roman East-West relations which stretched from the deserts of Sinai to the wild Atlantic seaboard.

Michelle Brown is Senior Research Fellow and Professor Emerita of Medieval Manuscript Studies at the Institute of English Studies, School of Advanced Studies, University of London. She is a Visiting Fellow at St Chad’s College, University of Durham, a Fellow of the Courtauld Institute and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. She was formerly the Curator of Medieval and Illuminated Manuscripts at the British Library and a Visiting Professor at the Institute of Medieval Studies, University of Leeds.