Dr Andrew Dunning

The Bodleian holds an incredible collection of around ten thousand medieval manuscripts from Europe and the Byzantine Empire. I am making sure that they will last for as long as they have already survived, both by managing their physical condition and ensuring that readers will continue to care about them. At a time when we are facing change and loss, preserving cultural heritage is crucial to human resilience.

My research focuses on the innovations of medieval textual communities in manuscript production, use, and circulation, especially in the twelfth through fourteenth centuries. I study and develop accessible expressions of these artefacts in digital formats.

The public has made an enormous investment in digitising the collections of libraries and museums. This has transformed specialist work, but funders are now questioning its broader value. In a recent six-month study, the Wellcome Collection found that of the 290,000 items they had photographed, 71% were never viewed; 7% were viewed once; only 0.0002% were viewed more than a thousand times. We need to make it possible for non-specialists to exploit this fascinating body of knowledge independently.

I am making this possible through research and public engagement activities with Oxford’s medieval collections. In 2020–21, we are digitising manuscripts from German-speaking lands. By tracing connections of style, production, and provenance between books, I am reconstructing the collections of medieval communities and making connections with previously unknown volumes. This results in both new historical findings and more discoverable collections.

I also produce new editions and translations of primary sources to make them accessible. I aim particularly to make source accessible that portray disadvantaged people, as with a collection of twelfth-century stories surrounding St Frideswide in Oxford. In the long term, I aim to create a publishing platform for others to collaborate with more diverse audiences on these inspiring manuscripts.

Teaching interests: palaeography, codicology, diplomatic, medieval Latin literature, history of the book, and digital manuscript studies.

Areas of research supervision: all aspects of medieval manuscripts and their historical contexts.

Joint convenor of the Medieval Latin Manuscripts Reading Group at Jesus College.

I was previously Munby Fellow in Bibliography at Cambridge University Library; a Mellon Fellow at the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies in Toronto; and Curator of Medieval Historical Manuscripts (1100–1500) at the British Library. I conducted my postgraduate work at the University of Toronto’s Centre for Medieval Studies. I have also been awarded fellowships from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Zeno Karl Schindler Foundation.

Publications