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Cambridge AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership


Approaching the Medieval

Approaching the Medieval is a fortnightly reading group, organised by four graduate medievalists, which welcomes everyone with an interest in the medieval world, from undergraduates to faculty members. The group meets to discuss texts of interest to medievalists, generally recent scholarly articles or book chapters chosen by one of our participants. Texts are distributed in advance along with summaries for those who won't have time to read the whole text but who would still like to join the discussion, and tea and snacks are provided on the day. Topics discussed in 2014/15 ranged from gender and sexuality in the medieval world, to historiographical theory, to medieval eco-criticism, and discussion in 2015/16 is likely to be just as lively and wide-ranging. We aim to provide a relaxed but focused forum for discussion of contemporary approaches to medieval subjects, as well as of our own methodologies, sources and disciplinary assumptions. Medievalists of all backgrounds and levels of experience are very welcome.

If you need any more information or would like to join us, please email Katie at You can also visit our website,, or follow us on Twitter (@CamMedieval).


“If you read one thing…” Bringing interdisciplinary perspectives to bear on law, government and policy

This is a forum for the cross-fertilisation of ideas in law, government and policy by drawing on other fields, including history, philosophy, economics, technology and literary theory. The group aims to be a forum for PhD students to meet and discuss ideas outside their usual settings.

At each session, there is a brief presentation of an article or book chapter from an academic discipline outside law which has been circulated at least one week before. Presentations must begin with the phrase “if you read one thing…” and explain both why the article brings a valuable perspective to discussions about law, government and policy and why it is currently underrepresented in academic discussion. Presentations are then followed by group discussion of the article, its merits, and its potential for interdisciplinary applications.

After the session, presenters are invited to write a short blog post reflecting on the session, to be posted on the group blog. Members of the reading group and the wider academic community are encouraged to comment on blog posts and to circulate the post via social media.

If you are interested in finding out more about the group, please contact Oliver Butler (

Reading group blog:

Sessions will be held at 6:30pm on the following days:

18 January 2016: Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, Chapter 3: The Human Person and Human Rights (2004)

1 February 2016: Rudolf von Jhering, In the Heaven for Legal Concepts: A Fantasy (English translation)

15 February 2016: An extract from Eli Pariser, The Filter Bubble (2011)

29 February 2016: Peter Hall and David Soskice, An Introduction to the Varieties of Capitalism (2001)

7 March 2016: An extract from Marcel Mauss, The Gift (English translation 1954)

4 April 2016: [TBA]

18 April 2016: [TBA]

2 May 2016: [TBA]

16 May 2016: [TBA]

30 May 2016: [TBA]


Materials in Practice: What Do the Humanities Do?

Our reading group investigates several critical areas relating to materials, materiality, and practice in the humanities. This includes work identified as ‘New Materialism’ (and challenges to it), philosophies of practice (particularly in the wake of Michel de Certeau and Pierre Bourdieu), and writing from an anthropological perspective (for example by James Clifford and Tim Ingold). The programme is open to suggestions from the group, and readings are always comparative, so that the strengths and limits of one critical approach can be illuminated by those of another.

Our aim is to give participants a grounding in two important recent areas of thought in the humanities, and allow them to develop new perspectives on the intertwining of the material and the practical, both in their own discipline and in others. This broad focus allows members of the group to stay alert to connections between the materials/practices that they are investigating and others on which their research may usefully impact.

The group meets fortnightly, and activities in the 2015-16 academic year include visiting speakers from King’s College London and the University of Edinburgh, and an end-of-year symposium.


Paul Merchant, Jack Belloli, or visit