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Dr Jonathan Morton

Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in French

Tel +44 (0)20 7848 1586
 Department of French
King's College London
Room 4.12 Virginia Woolf Building
22 Kingsway
London WC2B 6LE



After completing my doctorate at Oxford University, I was a Junior Research Fellow at New College, Oxford. I have also had stints teaching at Columbia University, Sciences-Po Paris, and Paris-X (Université de Nanterre). Prior to starting my graduate work, I was a secondary-school English teacher in London. My first monograph, entitled The 'Roman de la rose' in its Philosophical Context: Nature, Art, and Ethics will be published by Oxford University Press in February 2018.

As a side-project, I have been researching bestiaries and their relationship to traditions in medieval theology and philosophy. The project I am undertaking at King’s is entitled Ingenium: Poetry and Engineering in the High Middle Ages. An interdisciplinary study of medieval ideas of invention and ingenuity, it considers twelfth-century philosophical poetry in Latin, representations of fantastical machines in the science-fiction of Old French romances, and medieval designs for new machines and engines of war.

Research interests and PhD supervision
  • Twelfth- and thirteenth-century French poetry
  • Literature in the context of intellectual history
  • Medieval allegory
  • Animals and animality in the Middle Ages
  • The medieval technological imaginary
  • The medieval reception of Alexander the Great

I work especially on vernacular and Latin allegorical poetic works (Roman de la rose, De planctu Naturae, Cosmographia, medieval bestiary traditions). More recently, I have been looking at twelfth-century romance, especially romans d’antiquité and the romance tradition of Alexander the Great. Alongside these literary works I consider medieval philosophical and proto-scientific works, including the writings of Roger Bacon and the pseudo-Aristotelian Secretum secretorum.

 I am particularly motivated by the question of why an author would choose the medium of poetry to tackle philosophical problems and by considering the specific intellectual demands that ‘philosophical poetry’ makes of its audiences.

I am not supervising doctoral students but am very happy to work with students at a Masters level.

Selected publications
  • The ‘Roman de la rose in its Philosophical Context: Art, Nature, and Ethics (Oxford: OUP), forthcoming (Feb 2018)
  • Medieval Thought Experiments: Poetry Hypothesis, and Experience in the European Middle Ages, ed. by Philip Knox, Jonathan Morton, and Daniel Reeve (Turnhout: Brepols), forthcoming (2018)
  • ‘The Book of the World at an Anglo-Norman Court: The Bestiaire de Philippe de Thaon as a Theological Performance’, New Medieval Literatures, 16 (2016), 1-38
  • ‘Ingenious Genius: Invention, Creation, Reproduction in the High Middle Ages’, L’Esprit Créateur, 55:2 (Summer 2015), 4-19
  • ‘État présent: Le roman de la rose’, French Studies, 68:1 (January 2015), 79-86.

For a complete list of publications, please see my full research profile.


I teach all areas of medieval French literature and cross-period undergraduate survey courses in French literature.


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