I specialize in Old and Middle English literature, book history and manuscript studies, historical linguistics and poetics. My current research focuses on the Wyclififte Bible, translation and vernacularisation more widely, and Old and Middle Engish poetry.
I am the Principal Investigator for the following research projects:
1. 'Towards a New Edition of the Wycliffite Bible’ funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (2016-2019), based at the English Faculty, University of Oxford
co-Investigator: Professor Anne Hudson
Research Assistant: Dr Daniel Sawyer
Technical Researchers: Theodore Koterwas (Lead Application Designer), Andrew Haith (Senior Analyst Programmer), Markos Ntoumpanakis (Software Developer) and Joseph Talbot (Interface Developer)
Preview version of the edition is now online: https://wycliffite-bible.english.ox.ac.uk/#/
The project is undertaking preliminary work necessary to produce a much-needed new edition of the Wycliffite Bible (WB), the most widely disseminated and arguably the most complex of all surviving Middle English texts, as well as the most learned and widely attested of medieval European translations of the Vulgate. We are conducting a study of the textual tradition of the Bible and its early history in order to establish whether the traditional classification of the surviving manuscripts into two redactions, the Earlier and Later (believed to reflect the translators' first efforts to produce an English text and its subsequent revision) correctly reflects the variety of versions in circulation. We aim to investigate the relationships between important manuscripts and their value as evidence for different parts of the text. In addition we seek to understand the methods of the translators' work through the study of repeated changes in idiom and vocabulary between surviving versions and of the scholarly and interpretative apparatus that accompanies biblical text in manuscripts.
The project is exploring ways of editing WB and how such a large body of evidence can be presented and made intelligible to a user. We are developing a methodology for editing WB and will produce trial editions of select Old and New Testament books for presentation in print and online. The online edition will act as a framework for expansion when editions of other biblical books are created in future, or when further materials, such as additional images or records of variants, are developed to supplement the trial editions. The online environment will offer new research tools to scholars of WB and Middle English literature, act as a resource for teaching palaeography, editorial principles and techniques, and will support editing the complete biblical text as a result of a future collaborative project.
WB is the most extensive and complex of surviving Middle English texts, but its problems are not unique: consequently our work will have considerable implications for the study and editing of other contemporaneous texts, many of which exist in multiple redactions.
2. 'Editing the Wycliffite Old Testament Lectionary' funded by the John Fell Fund, Oxford, and Ludwig Humanities Research Fund, New College (2017-2018), based at the English Faculty, University of Oxford
co-Investigator: Dr Daniel Sawyer
Consultant: Professor Anne Hudson
Research Assistant: Cosima Gillhammer
The OTL is a liturgically organised set of Mass readings derived mostly from the Old Testament books of the Wycliffite Bible. It was circulated with the Wycliffite Bible and survivies in 39 manuscritps. Its authorship is unknown, but it may be the work of the original translators or members of their circle. It reflects stages in the work on the translation that are not attested in biblical manuscripts proper, making it a highly important piece of evidence for textual critics of the Wycliffite Bible.
3. I am collaborating with Jeremy Catto and Anne Hudson on a study and edition of four late 14th- -- early 15th-century treatises on biblical translation. The resulting book, Butler, Palmer, Ullerston: an Oxford debate c.1400 on biblical language will be published in series British Writers of the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period by the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, University of Toronto, in 2019.
The work on the first complete English translation of the Bible, the Wycliffite Bible, seems to have been concentrated in Oxford, though the later professional copying was probably done mostly in London. In Oxford there seems to have been some academic interest, beyond the central circle of translators, in the theoretical issues raised by the work: given that the primary text used by the western church, the Vulgate, was itself a translation from the original languages of the various biblical books, was it legitimate to go further with translation into European vernaculars? if not, why were these vernaculars unacceptable? is there something about the 'ancient' languages, Hebrew, Greek and Latin, inherently superior to such vernaculars as English or French? or conversely, do such vernaculars lack a grammatical structure and vocabulary sophisticated enough to convey the ideas and material found in the Bible? Three Latin and one English treatises we are editing attempt to answer these and other questions. The texts will be presented with facing translations, an extensive introduction outlining stages of argument about biblical translation in the western church and especially in England, placing the debate in its contemporary context, and examining the structure of each text. Particular attention will also be paid to the views about language reflected in all three texts, but most especially in Ullerston's who advances a remarkably sophisticated linguistic appreciation.
This work is supported by a grant from the British Academy/Leverhulme Trust Small Research Grants scheme (2018-2019). Among the activities funded by the grant is a workshop on medieval translations of the Bible into English and European vernaculars scheduled for 14 March 2019. The workshop will take place in Oriel College and is organised in collaboration with the Centre for the Study of the Bible in the Humanities, Oriel College, Oxford.
English literature, 650-1550; manuscript studies and textual criticism; the English Language
I currently teach the following papers:
Prelims Paper 2: Early Medieval Literature, c. 650-1350
Final Honour School Paper 2: Literature in English 1350–1550
Prelims Paper 1: Introduction to English Language and Literature, Section A, ‘Approaches to Language’; Section B, ‘Approaches to Literature’
Final Honour School Paper 4: The History of the English Language
Member of Programme Committee, Centre for the Study of the Bible in the Humanities (CBH) at Oriel College, Oxford, https://www.oriel.ox.ac.uk/cbh
Member of Advisory Board, Index of Middle English Prose
Member, New Communities of Interpretation: Contexts, Strategies and Processes of Religious Transformation in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe 2013-2017 (http://costaction-is1301.webhosting.rug.nl/)
Committee Member, Association of Teachers of Old English in Britain and Ireland
'Tolkien's medieval languages: Gothic', Bodleian Library, Oxford, 17 October 2018
'Towards a new edition of the Wycliffite Bible', Launch of the Centre for the Study of the Bible in the Humanities, Oriel College, Oxford, 17-18 October, 2018, https://www.oriel.ox.ac.uk/launch
'Towards a new edition of the Wycliffite Bible', keynote lecture at De ratione edendi: Medieval Texts and Their Editors, Masaryk University, Faculty of Arts, Department of Classical Studies, Brno, Czech Republic, 25-26 October, 2018, https://hus.phil.muni.cz/en/de-ratione-edendi-medieval-texts-and-their-editors
'Towards a new edition of the Wycliffite Bible', Medieval English Research Seminar, English Faculty, Oxford, 31 October, 2018
'An introduction to the Bodleian Library’s Wycliffite Bible manuscript collection', Oxford Society of Bibliophiles, Bodleian Library, Oxford, 8 November, 2018
'Towards a new edition of the Wycliffite Bible', Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies at the University of Kent, 15 November, 2018
Vernacular Bible in the Late Middle Ages
I am organising an international workshop on medieval translations of the Bible into English and European vernaculars funded by the British Academy/Leverhulme Trust Small Research Grants scheme (2018-2019). The workshop will take place on 14 March 2019 in Oriel College and is a collaboration with the Centre for the Study of the Bible in the Humanities, Oriel College, Oxford. The workshop will explore all aspects of biblical translation in the Middle Ages with a particular focus on contemporary theoretical contributions to the debate in England and elsewhere. It will mark the completion of work on Butler, Palmer, Ullerston: an Oxford debate c.1400 on biblical language, ed. Jeremy Catto, Anne Hudson and Elizabeth Solopova (Toronto: PIMS, forthcoming in 2019).
International Medieval Congress, University of Leeds, 2-5 July 2018
'Editing Texts from Later-Medieval England'
Organiser: Dr Daniel Sawyer
Chair: Prof. Anne Hudson
Cosima Gillhammer: ‘Editing the Wycliffite Old Testament Lectionary’
Daniel Sawyer: ‘Twenty-First-Century Edition Design: The Wycliffite Bible in Print and Online’
Elizabeth Solopova: ‘Butler, Palmer, Ullerston: an Oxford debate c.1400 on biblical language’
In association with the AHRC-funded project ‘Towards a New Edition of the Wycliffite Bible’.
Wycliffism and Hussitism: Contexts, Methods, Perspectives
23 May - 25 May 2018, St Anne's College, Oxford
Organisers: Kantik Ghosh (Oxford); Pavel Soukup (Prague); Mishtooni Bose (Oxford); Elizabeth Solopova (Oxford)
International Congress on Medieval Studies, Medieval Institute at Western Michigan University, 10-13 May 2018
'Constructing the Wycliffite Bible' (Friday, May 11, 1:30pm, Schneider 1235)
Organizer: Michael Van Dussen, McGill Univ.; Presider: Fiona Somerset, Univ. of Connecticut
‘Toward a New Edition of the Wycliffite Bible’, Elizabeth Solopova, Univ. of Oxford
‘Literacy and the Constructed Artifact’, David Lavinsky, Yeshiva Univ.
‘Bodleian Library, Oxford MS Bodl.554 and William Thorpe’s Psalter’, Michael Kuczynski, Tulane Univ.
Towards a New Edition of the Wycliffite Bible: Research Meeting
English Faculty, St Cross Building, Seminar Room K, 18 April 2018
9.30am –11am New research on the Wycliffite Bible; chair: Daniel Sawyer
Daniel Sawyer, Welcome and opening remarks
Anne Hudson, ‘How many manuscripts make up a version? Some questions in the Wycliffite Bible’
Cosima Gillhammer, ‘The Wycliffite Old Testament Lectionary: new insights’
Elizabeth Solopova, ‘Chaucer, Trevisa, Rolle, Caxton: where does the Wycliffite translation technique fit in?’
11am – 11.30am Break: coffee served in the foyer.
11.30am – 1pm New edition of the Wycliffite Bible; chair: Cosima Gillhammer
Elizabeth Solopova, ‘The Wycliffite Bible: an editor’s dream or a nightmare?’
Daniel Sawyer, ‘A new digital edition: some nuts and bolts’
Theodore Koterwas, ‘Research-led design of a 21st-century digital edition’
1pm-2pm Sandwich lunch served in the foyer.
Nicholas of Lyra (c. 1270–1349) and the Late Medieval Bible
McGregor-Mathews Room, New College, Oxford; 17 March 2018
9.30-11.00 Chair: Elizabeth Solopova
Ian Christopher Levy (Providence College), ‘Nicholas of Lyra on the nature and authority of Holy Scripture’
Jeremy Catto (Oxford University), ‘Lyra in Oxford, 1330-1430’
Zuzana Lukšová and Andrea Svobodová (Czech Language Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences), ‘The reception of Lyra’s Exegesis of the Gospel of Matthew in Late Medieval Bohemia’
11.00-11.30 Break: coffee served in the Beer Cellar
11.30-12.45 Chair: Mishtooni Bose
Deeana Copeland Klepper (Boston University), ‘Nicholas of Lyra on the difference between the Latin Vulgate and the Hebrew letter: constructing an authoritative literal sense’
12.45-1.45 Lunch: sandwich lunch served in Hall
1.45-3.00 Chair: Kantik Ghosh
Anne Hudson (Oxford University), ‘“Lire cam late to me” (General Prologue to WB): was it too “late” for the Wycliffite Bible?’
Michael Kuczynski (Tulane University), ‘Handling Lyra: the Postilla in totam bibliam and late medieval Bible translation and exegesis’
3.00-3.15 Break: coffee served in the Beer Cellar
3.15-4.30 Chair: Ralph Hanna
Lesley Smith (Oxford University), ‘Nicholas of Lyra: why does he bother with pictures?’
Elizabeth Solopova (Oxford University),‘The study of the Wycliffite Bible in Oxford and manuscripts of the Bible in New College’
Manuscripts of the Wycliffite Bible and Postilla of Nicolas of Lyra will be on display during this session.
In association with AHRC-funded project ‘Towards a New Edition of the Wycliffite Bible’.
With generous support from the Ludwig Humanities Research Fund, New College, Oxford.