Building a world-leading Medieval Studies research community

GW4 Medieval Studies brings together over 67 Medievalists from across the Universities of Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter. This community has developed into a cohesive and energetic research cluster, who are world-leading in their breadth of expertise. Professor Carolyn Muessig, Dr Ian Wei and Dr Beth Williamson, Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Bristol discuss how GW4 funding has benefited the Medieval Studies community.

How did you get involved with GW4?

5.1Informal links and collaborations have existed across the Universities of Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter for some time. It seemed like a good idea to formalise these links, strengthening the collective interdisciplinary expertise across the institutions.

We were successful in a GW4 Initiator bid to host a networking and workshop event. The discussions and ideas that emerged were taken forward to form a GW4 Accelerator bid. GW4 provides a truly unique environment for the study of culture and legacy of the Middle Ages.

What have you achieved so far?

We have built a collaborative community of medievalists across GW4, strengthening this rich resource into a cohesive and energetic research cluster. GW4 Medieval Studies has over 67 permanent members of staff, with collective expertise ranging across history, language, music, archaeology and law.

The possibilities for this community are wide-ranging, including enhanced resource sharing, increased grant capture and developing a prominent name on the international stage.

Our expertise has been organised under the themed topics of Power, Knowledge and Identity. Our three sub-themes include: Wales and the South West of England, Sex and Gender and Authority and Ethics.

How has being part of GW4 benefited your research community?

5.2We have strengthened links between academics working in Medieval Studies across the Alliance. GW4 funding has provided several opportunities for individuals and groups to share findings of individual research projects, and to plan collaborative projects. Our events are making GW4 Medieval Studies more visible in each of the institutions, and externally.

Our work has been showcased in a variety of local, national and international seminars, workshops and conferences. We have held four conferences, which were attended by invited speakers from across the globe, as well as colleagues from local archives, museums, libraries and cathedrals. Our three research seminars provoked a range of interesting questions and debates.

We offered three panels at the Leeds International Medieval Congress in July 2015. This event, attended by 2500 scholars from across the globe, was an ideal setting to demonstrate the strength of scholarship within our network. All three panels were extremely well attended, and provided an excellent environment in which to discuss our progress so far. Connections were made with potential international collaborators.

GW4 funding has allowed us to engage with a number of external partners including Cathedral libraries, Hereford Cathedral and the National Library of Wales.

Plans for the future?

5.3Research seminar programmes across the three institutions will feature GW4 Medievalist speakers next academic year. We are also exploring engagement opportunities with an emerging GW4 cross-period community, focussing on the history of the book and utilising the GW4 special collections.

As a result of this funding, the postgraduate student body are in the process of establishing a virtual research seminar series. This series will offer a supportive environment in which postgraduates will be able to present their research to a wider network, as well as providing an outstanding opportunity to develop professional skills.

GW4 funding has also allowed us to develop three grant bid teams, organised around our research topics. Each team has a robust research programme, offering participants the opportunity to forge new links and contacts. Three major funding bids will be submitted this year, and in the early part of 2016, targeting the AHRC and Leverhulme International Network.

GW4 Community Leads
University of Bristol: Carolyn Muessig, Ian Wei, Beth Williamson
Cardiff University: Bronach Kane
University of Exeter: James Clark

View the project summary.