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UK Fellow, Medieval Studies, elected in 2011

Professor Sylvia Huot FBA

Medieval French literature & manuscripts, particularly the 'Roman de la Rose', courtly allegory & prose romance.
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About this Fellow

I completed my BA in Medieval Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, in 1976, and my PhD in Comparative Literature at Princeton University in 1982. After teaching at the University of Chicago and Northern Illinois University, I joined Cambridge University in 1996.My research focuses on medieval French manuscript format and illumination in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries; the 'Roman de la Rose' and its reception; courtly allegory, with particular attention to the poetry of Machaut and Froissart; and Arthurian prose romance. I am interested in medieval conceptions of gender and sexuality, race and ethnicity, and cultural difference, and have explored these issues in literary depictions both of actual (if fictionalised) encounters, as in Crusade literature, and more overtly fictional encounters with such beings as giants or fairies. More recently I have begun investigating medieval treatments of human nature, and the ways in which humans are similar to, yet also distinct from, not only animals and angels, but also the paradigmatic figure of Jesus Christ. Important themes of this study include the importance of mortality and immortality in defining human identity; the human experience of time and eternity; and the capacity for ethical behaviour, pain, and desire.



Current post

  • Professor of Medieval French Literature, Fellow Pembroke College, University of Cambridge

Past Appointments

  • Professor of Medieval French Literature, Pembroke College University of Cambridge, 2016


From Song to Book 1987


The 'Romance of the Rose' and Its Medieval Readers 1993


Allegorical Play in the Old French Motet 1997


Madness in Medieval French Literature 2003


Postcolonial Fictions in the 'Roman de Perceforest' 2007


Dreams of Lovers and Lies of Poets 2010


Other Medieval Studies Fellows

Professor Vincent Gillespie

Medieval literary theory and the psychology of literary response; poetic identity in the Middle Ages; Nietzschean slow reading; medieval religious writing ("vernacular theology"); Syon Abbey; history of the book

Professor Peter Biller

Medieval history; heresy, inquisition & 'religions': university texts as the locus for medieval thought about contemporary social topics such as medicine, peoples and population.

Professor Simon Franklin

History and culture of Russia & Eastern Europe, Medieval & Early Modern; cultural and social history of information technologies

Professor Mary Carruthers

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