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EducationUniversity of Groningen Summer Schools

Law and Literature, c. 1150-1550

Penn-Groningen Summer School
Medieval script

This intensive seminar introduces MA and PhD students to law and literature in medieval and early modern England. Students will be given hands-on experience with manuscripts and rare books, including historical records at the National Archives and books of canon law at the British Library. Instructors will also guide students through scholarly criticism in the field of law and literature, navigating such topics as marriage, insurgency and treason, witnessing, homicide, personhood, disability, and property.

Students will be expected to develop a topic throughout the week and present it on the final day of the seminar in front of a panel of leading experts in the field.

Practical information

Dates & location 6 - 10 July 2020, London UK
Level MA/PhD/Postdoc
Fee € 500 - includes lunches, tea and coffee breaks, the final dinner, textbook, and a tour of the Inns of Court
Academic coordinators Prof. Sebastian Sobecki, University of Groningen
Prof. Emily Steiner, University of Pennsylvania
Contact steinere or s.i.sobecki

The summer school will consist of seminars and workshops held in central London, at the National Archives, and the British Library.

National Archives
Middle Temple, Inns of Court © David Iliff via Wikimedia Commons .

NB Participants need to arrange their own accommodation. For a list of possibilities, kindly contact the organisers.


This school is intended for MA and PhD students at all levels, postdoctoral researchers. No prior knowledge of medieval law and legal history is required, but we expect participants to be following a graduate course with a medieval or early modern concentration in history, literature, or a related area.

It is expected that the participants have a sufficient command of the English language to actively participate in the discussions and to present their own work in English .

Learning outcomes

After this course you will be able to:

  • Understand medieval England's legal system
  • Recognise and distinguish different types of legal genres and documents
  • Analyse various forms of interaction between law and literature
  • Develop and pursue your own research project on law and literature

Workload and certificate
Workload & Certificate

The workload is estimated at 56 hours.

Preparation: 16 hours
Seminars, workshops, and lectures: 30 hours
Presentation: 10 hours

Participants who attend all sessions will receive a certificate of participation signed by the coordinators of the summer school. Upon request the certificate can mention the workload of 56 hours (28 hours corresponds to 1 ECTS). Students can apply for recognition of these credits to the relevant authorities in their home institutions, therefore the final decision on awarding credits is at the discretion of their home institutions. We will be happy to provide any necessary information that might be requested in addition to the certificate of attendance.

Application procedure

The deadline for application for the summer school is 15 November 2019. Please send your application to Prof. Emily Steiner, (steinere, or to Prof. Sebastian Sobecki, (s.i.sobecki Please include the following documents with your application:

  • Curriculum Vitae (max. 2 pages)
  • Motivation letter, clearly stating why you want to join this summer school, what you will bring to the school and what you hope to learn (max. 1 page)

Decisions will be communated by 1 December.


University of Pennsylvania
Emily Steiner

Prof. Emily Steiner, University of Pennsylvania

Emily Steiner received her BA from Brown University and her PhD from Yale. She is the author of two books, Documentary Culture and the Making of Medieval English Literature (Cambridge University Press, 2003) and Reading 'Piers Plowman'  (Cambridge University Press, 2013). She has co-edited several collection of essays, The Letter of the Law: Legal Practice and Literary Production in Medieval England (Cornell University Press, 2002), with Candace Barrington, Thinking Historically About Historicism (a special issue of the Chaucer Review, 2014), and, with Lynn Ransom, Taxonomies of Knowledge: Information and Order in Medieval Manuscripts (forthcoming, 2015). Her articles have appeared in The Yearbook of Langland Studies, New Medieval Literatures, Studies in the Age of Chaucer, Representations, and Exemplaria, among other journals. She is presently completing a book on medieval macrogenres called John Trevisa's Information Age: Knowledge and the Pursuit of Literature, c.1400.. She is also editing, with Jen Jahner and Elizabeth Tyler, the forthcoming Cambridge History of History Writing: England and the British Isles, 500-1500.  Her research interests extend to Lollard literature, medieval drama and ritual erformance, and Jewish-Christian relations in the Middle Ages. Her teaching interests also include Old English literature, Chaucer, and poetry of all periods.

Sebastian Sobecki

Prof. Sebastian Sobecki, University of Groningen

Sebastian Sobecki is Professor of Medieval English Literature and Culture at the University of Groningen. His research concentrates on literature from the fourteenth century to the Reformation, especially scribes, archives, and manuscripts; ideas of authorship and literary culture; and law, travel, and politics in literature. He is the author of Unwritten Verities: The Making of England's Vernacular Legal Culture, 1463-1549 (University of Notre Dame Press, 2015) and The Sea and Medieval English Literature (D.S. Brewer, 2008). His other books include Medieval English Travel: A Critical Anthology (OUP, 2019), edited with Anthony Bale; A Critical Companion to John Skelton (D.S. Brewer, 2018), with John Scattergood; and The Cambridge Companion to Medieval English Law and Literature, edited with Candace Barrington. His forthcoming books are Last Words: The Public Self and the Social Author in Late Medieval England (OUP, 2019) and the first two volumes of Oxford's 14-volume edition of Richard Hakluyt's Principal Navigations (2020). He is preparing Medieval Travel Writing: A Global History for Cambridge, and he edits the journal Studies in the Age of Chaucer. He is currently working on identifying the hands of fifteenth-century privy seal and signet clerks.

Last modified:09 October 2019 10.13 a.m.