Thursday 26 September 2019

Dr Laura Cleaver joins IES with European Research Council (ERC) Consolidator Grant of €1.8 million to research medieval manuscripts in the 20th century 

The Institute of English Studies (IES) at the School of Advanced Study, University of London, welcomes Dr Laura Cleaver as a senior lecturer in medieval manuscripts from 1 October 2019. She brings to the institute the ERC Consolidator grant for her work on 'Cultural Values and the International Trade in Medieval European Manuscripts, c. 1900–1945'. She will begin recruiting the project team of four postdoctoral fellows and two PhD studentships immediately.

The CULTIVATE project, which runs from 2019 to 2024, focuses on England, France, Germany and America. It assesses the impact of a small group of very wealthy collectors on the development of library collections and scholarship, which in turn have shaped our understanding of the past and cultural heritage.

The research explores the networks of dealers and scholars that facilitated the trade in manuscripts. Through an analysis of published and unpublished accounts of manuscripts, and price data, the project aims to reconstruct the values projected onto medieval books. In addition, it addresses the impact of social, economic and political shifts in the period, including two world wars, on the trade in manuscripts and attitudes to these books as objects of national significance. 

Professor Clare Lees, director of the Institute of English Studies, says ‘CULTIVATE is an outstanding research project that complements the institute's research expertise in the history of collecting, the book trade, the 20th century, medieval manuscripts and the digital humanities. We are thrilled to have Dr Cleaver join us, and we look forward to working with her.’

Dr Cleaver was Ussher lecturer in medieval art at Trinity College Dublin, 2010–19. Her previous research has explored education as a subject in medieval art, and the illumination of books about history in the lands controlled by the kings of England c. 1066–1272.

Professor Rick Rylance, dean and chief executive of the School of Advanced Study, says ‘This is a fabulous opportunity with an exceptionally strong and interesting project. It embraces many of the qualities in which SAS takes particular pride: it is international in range, outlook and expertise; and it deals with major issues of cultural transmission and understanding and the materiality of cultural objects. I’m delighted the IES will provide its base and excited by the prospect of its reach across so many of SAS’s institutes and interests. Dr Cleaver is an outstanding scholar and I look forward to welcoming her into our academic community.’


Notes for editors

1. For further information, please contact: Maureen McTaggart, Media and Public Relations Officer, School of Advanced Study, University of London +44 (0)20 7862 8859 /

2. The Institute of English Studies (IES), founded in 1999, is an internationally renowned research centre specialising in the history of the book, manuscript and print studies, and textual scholarship. It offers postgraduate programmes and summer schools, hosts major collaborative research projects, provides essential research training in book history and palaeography, and facilitates scholarly communities in all areas of English studies. Find out more at or follow IES on Twitter at @IES_London.

3. The School of Advanced Study (SAS), University of London, is the UK’s national centre for the promotion and support of research in the humanities. SAS and its member institutes offer unparalleled resources, facilities and academic opportunities across a wide range of subject areas for the benefit of the national and international scholarly community. Last year SAS welcomed 892 research fellows and associates, held 1,903 events highlighting the latest research in the humanities, received 25.9 million online visits to its research resources and platforms, and hosted 173,493 visits to its specialist libraries and collections. The School also leads Being Human, the UK’s only nationwide festival of the humanities. Find out more at or follow SAS on Twitter at @SASNews.

4. University of London is a federal University and is one of the oldest, largest and most diverse universities in the UK. Established by Royal Charter in 1836, the University is recognised globally as a world leader in higher education. Its members are 18 self-governing member institutions and nine research institutes of outstanding reputation. Learn more about the University of London at