Professor Earns Recognition for Work in Medieval Lit.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

PHILADELPHIA (June 6, 2011) - Medievalist Paul Patterson, Ph.D., assistant professor of English, has earned support and recognition for his academic work from several national and international organizations. He has been named an advisor for a project funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, a Penn Humanities Forum Mellon Regional Faculty Fellow, and awarded a fellowship by the Huntington Library and British Academy and a summer stipend by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). In total, he has been awarded $8,200 to pursue his personal project, an edition of the Mirror to Devout People, a stipend to participate in the Penn program, and will advise on a $70,000 sub-project with the Mellon Foundation.

The Mirror to Devout People, also known as the Speculum devotorum, was written by a monk at the Carthusian monastery of Sheen, in Surrey, England, for a sister of the Bridgettine Syon Abbey in Isleworth, Middlesex. It tells the story of Christ’s life, with an emphasis on the Passion, and was written at a time when the vernacular Bible was banned. Over the past several years, Patterson has examined a number of late-14th and early-15th century texts, and plans to complete a new edition of the Mirror to Devout People for the Early English Text Society this summer.  Patterson will conduct his research at the Cambridge University Library, which holds one of the original manuscripts of the text. Both the Huntington Library and British Academy Fellowship for study in the United Kingdom and the NEH summer stipend will support the completion of this project.

“This text is an important indicator of lay and monastic devotion,” says Patterson. “It shows the specific importance of devotional texts during the time period. This new edition will provide access to the complete text that scholars haven’t had before.”

As a Penn Humanities Forum Mellon Regional Faculty Fellow, Patterson will participate in weekly seminars at the University of Pennsylvania on the theme of “Adaptations.”  The program brings together Mellon Foundation Postdoctoral Fellows, University of Pennsylvania faculty and humanities faculty from Philadelphia-area universities for public forums held on Tuesdays. Each Fellow presents during one session and moderates another. Patterson’s presentation, which is set for February 2012, will illustrate the levels of adaptation that medieval texts passed through, from replication by scribes to modernizations.

“I’m looking forward to interacting with other scholars who are excited about a topic, in an intellectual forum,” says Patterson.

Additionally, Patterson was chosen by Alexandra Gillespie, D.Phil., associate professor of English at the University of Toronto, to serve as an advisor for “Parker’s Scribes,” a subproject to the digitization initiative “Making Medieval English Manuscripts: New Knowledge, New Technologies,” a two-year project Gillespie is helping to research. Patterson’s role will involve confirming researchers’ findings and serving as a consultant to the project, which strives to identify the original authors and writers of marginalia of texts owned by Archbishop Parker, considered an important collection of medieval manuscripts.

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