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Professor Mary Carruthers FBA

The Ciceronian rhetorical tradition in Latin & vernacular literatures of Western Europe & England; memory training & invention; Middle English literature.
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About this Fellow

I am a historian of the European Middle Ages, concerned especially with late classical and medieval ideas about human psychology, including rhetoric and meditation. My focus now is on Latin materials, but I began as a scholar of medieval English language and literature, interests that have never left me. Having been born and raised first in India, and only later in North America, embedding myself in cultures very different from those of the modern West feels natural to me. My scholarly approaches engage historical questions of language and ideas, as well as the material culture of the book. My work in Latin rhetoric began by examining its logical structures of remembering, some work which has brought me into fruitful contact with psychologists who are also interested in learning and memory, and with some interested in computer-enabled archival design. More recently, my work has concerned medieval aesthetic values and their rootedness, via theories of the bodily humours, in various medical as well as religious ideas. My current research is on 'The Art of Invention', including the various logics implied in diagrams. This engages medieval ideas about human creativity and artistic composition, including music, architecture, and design, as well as literature.



Current post

  • Remarque Professor Emeritus of Literature, New York University; Quondam Fellow, All Souls College, Oxford

Past Appointments

  • George Eastman Visiting Professor and Fellow of Balliol College, Balliol College, University of Oxford, 2005 - 2006
  • Visiting Fellow, St Hilda's College, University of Oxford, 2018 - 2019
  • Research Fellow, All Souls College, University of Oxford, 2007 - 2009
  • Erich Maria Remarque Professor of Literature, New York University, 2001 - 2011
  • Dean for Humanities, Faculty of Arts and Science, New York University, 2001 - 2005
  • Professor of English, New York University, 1991 - 2001
  • The Ohio State University, Visiting Professor, 1991 - 1991
  • Visiting Associate Professor, University of California at Santa Barbara, 1979
  • Associate Professor and Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago, 1975 - 1991
  • Assistant Professor and Associate Professor, Case Western Reserve University, 1973 - 1975
  • Instructor and Assistant Professor, Smith College, 1964 - 1973


The Experience of Beauty in the Middle Ages 2013

Other Medieval Studies Fellows

Professor Hector MacQueen

Law Private Law (Contract, Restitution, Tort) Legal History Intellectual Property and Information Law Scots Law Private Law (Property, Equity, Trusts) Private Law (Family, Persons)

Professor Paul Binski

Western European art and architecture 1100-1400; royal and ecclesiastical patronage; the art of liturgy and death; hagiography; wall, panel and manuscript painting; Cambridge illuminated manuscripts; international artistic relations.

Professor John Gillingham

Medieval history: narrative sources, primarily in north-western Europe in the 11th to 13th centuries, as evidence for the perceptions and values that shaped war and politics.

Professor Carole Hillenbrand

Islamic history 1050-1250, especially Iran and Syria; Muslim perspectives of the crusades, the scholar al-Ghazali and the caliphate.