Dr Peter Auger and Dr Sheldon Brammall, Lecturers in Early Modern Literature in the Department of English Literature, have secured a grant of £5,000 through the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s (AHRC) flagship Open World Research Initiative (OWRI) to fund their project ‘Multilingualism in Early Modern Literary Culture’.

The project is being organised in association with the University’s ‘Centre for Reformation and Early Modern Studies’ and its ‘MOSAIC Centre for Research on Multilingualism’. It will bring together early modernists working in English, modern languages, Neo-Latin and history to develop interdisciplinary perspectives on how multilingualism was used in early modern literature.

Multilingualism was normal in early modern (c. 1500-1700) European culture and society. Latin was used internationally for scholarly and scientific communication, and other modern languages and versions of them were routinely studied and used for personal and professional reasons. For instance recent work has drawn attention to how writers worked in second languages, and people reading texts written in the both the original language and others.


This project will assess how early modern readers, writers and printers used different languages for different purposes. By doing so it will examine historical precedents for modern multilingual practices such as the unintentional integration of multiple language systems, known as translanguaging, observed by researchers in linguistics and education.

The project may be of wider interest for a couple of reasons. First, it ties into the AHRC’s wider theme of promoting the value of modern languages in society, and this project in particular shows the value of language skills for scholars and students working in English literature.

Second, is that the symposium, in bringing together scholars from the UK and other European Union countries, will show how English culture and language was related to continental culture in the early modern period, and will demonstrate the value of research collaboration across Europe. This will be especially timely when the symposium takes place in early 2019, which will be within weeks of Brexit.