Bristol's 'Next Generation' Visiting Researcher Professor Scott G. Bruce, Fordham University, USA


A‌nticpated visit dates 17 - 25 April 2021


Professor Scott G. Bruce teaches medieval history at Fordham University in the Bronx, New York. A native of Canada, he earned his Ph.D. at Princeton University (2000) and taught at the University of Colorado at Boulder for sixteen years (2002-2018) before moving to Fordham, where he holds the rank of full professor. A scholar of the history of Christianity in the Middle Ages, his research interests encompass monasticism, hagiography, and the reception of classical and patristic traditions. Much of his work centres around the monks of the abbey of Cluny, including Silence and Sign Language in Medieval Monasticism: The Cluniac Tradition, c. 800-1200 (Cambridge University Press, 2007); Cluny and the Muslims of La Garde-Freinet: Hagiography and the Problem of Islam in Medieval Europe (Cornell University Press, 2015); and (with Christopher A. Jones) The Relatio Metrica De Duobus Ducibus: A Twelfth-Century Cluniac Poem on Prayer for the Dead (Brepols, 2016). He has recently published two historical anthologies with Penguin Classics: The Penguin Book of the Undead (2016) and The Penguin Book of Hell (2018). His essay “The Dark Age of Herodotus: Shards of a Fugitive History in Early Medieval Europe” appeared in Speculum: A Journal of Medieval Studies 94 (2019). Professor Bruce is currently the recipient of a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Fellowship (2020/21) in support of his new research initiative: The Lost Patriarchs Project. This project investigates and illuminates the impact and influence of the Greek patristic tradition in early medieval Europe through a study of the surviving manuscripts and monastic library catalogue entires for Christian Greek in Latin translation.


In his new collaborative project ‘The Literary Underworld of Medieval Monasteries’, Prof Scott Bruce (Professor of History, Fordham University) together with his academic host, Dr Benjamin Pohl (Senior Lecturer in Medieval History, University of Bristol), will explore the hidden corners of medieval monastic libraries to bring to light the clandestine and unexpected reading habits of premodern monks. The centrepiece of this project is the presence of Christian Greek literature in Latin guise in medieval abbeys and its lasting impact on western thought and devotion, both past and present. The influence of Greek patristics on western European thought and culture remains an important, but largely overlooked, aspect of the history and legacy of medieval Latin literature. Between the second and the thirteenth centuries, Latin translations of the works of almost one hundred Christian Greek authors found their way into the libraries of western Europe. Evidence for the consumption of Greek patristics among medieval Latin readers is widespread, but with very few exceptions, these texts have not received modern critical editions or translations into English. Our blind spots concerning Latin translations of eastern patristics are deeply rooted in prejudices dating back to the sixteenth century. Our preference for ‘original’ Greek texts over medieval Latin renderings of them is a regrettable legacy of Renaissance humanism, the essential feature of which was the possibility of a return to the original Greek. To study eastern patristic works surviving in Latin translation, scholars must shift the course of inquiry away from the original authors and toward the cultural and intellectual histories of the western medieval reading communities who read the Latin renderings of these works. During Prof Bruce’s tenure as Next Generation Visiting Professor at Bristol in 2021, he and Dr Pohl will co-author a case study laying important groundwork for future research and collaboration.

Professor Bruce is hosted by Dr Benjamin Pohl, History

Planned events include:

Public Lecture
Forbidden Books and Clandestine Classics: The Literary Underground of Medieval Abbeys

Departmental Lecture
Weeping with the Greeks: The Influence of Eastern Patristics on the Devotional Habits of Latin Christians in Medieval Europe

Postgraduate Seminar
Medieval Miscellanies & Modern Mixtapes

Dates, times and venues will be confirmed in due course