Congratulations to Professor Simon Gaunt from the Department of French who has been awarded a £1.7m European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Grant, for a project called The Values of French Language and Literature in the European Middle Ages.
The project is due to start on 1 September 2015 and will address two questions about linguistic identity: what is the relation historically between language and identity in Europe and how are cognate languages demarcated from each other?
‘This project will allow unprecedented interdisciplinary exchange in medieval French studies, but I also hope to use Old French as a laboratory for thinking about bigger theoretical and cultural questions that are still highly relevant today,' says Professor Gaunt.
'The use of French in and beyond Europe in the Middle Ages is in some respects analogous to the phenomenon of world English today, and the role of the use of a language as a vehicle for cultural exchange when most of its users are not native speakers urgently requires further investigation.'
The Values of French will have a team of researchers based in the French Department. It will foster collaboration between different intellectual and national scholarly traditions, drawing on expertise in codicology, critical theory, linguistics, literature, and philology; it will involve scholars from a range of European countries and North America, entailing empirical research on medieval understandings of European history and identity, but also theoretical reflection on language.
This is the fourth ERC advanced grant to be held in the Faculty, giving it a truly exceptional track record.