Professor Sylvia Huot FBA

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

Elected 2011

Fellow type
UK Fellow
Year elected
Medieval Studies

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

Pembroke College University of Cambridge Professor of Medieval French Literature

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

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