Chris Rouse

Chris Rouse

Department of History
Doctoral researcher

Contact details

PhD title: The Intellectual Colonisation of Asia in European Geographical Discourse, 1200-1500
Supervisors: Professor Naomi Standen and Dr Margaret Small
PhD Modern History


  • 2016 - 2017: MA Medieval Studies, University of York (Distinction)
  • 2013 - 2016: BA (Hons) History and Political Science, University of Birmingham (First Class)


To date, my research across undergraduate and postgraduate levels - which has covered a range of periods and geographic areas - has been thematically linked by a focus on the historic interrelationships between ideology, discourse and power. This interest in the potential of narrative and representations links my thesis with previous research I have done on early medieval Northumbrian saints and the Apocalyptic rhetoric of Gregory VII. I am interested in how representations are constructed and to what end, with an especial focus in my current work on how far these representations are one or two-way processes.

I am a firm adherent of interdisciplinarity approach in the study of the past, believing in combining a traditional historical method with Art History, literary approaches, codicology, and political sociology. I also take a keen interest in the Global Middle Ages and the interconnected nature of the politics, economies and ideas of medieval Afro-Eurasia. Both of these interests speak to my belief that parochialism and rigid compartmentalisation are barriers to our understanding of history.


My AHRC Midlands Three Cities funded research involves looking at the depictions of East Asia in medieval European cartography and travel literature, with particular focus on the representations of Asian time, space, and agency. Drawing on and critiquing theories like Edward Said's "Orientalism", narrativity and Postcolonial approaches, I analyse how the portrayal of Asia fitted into a Christian, European intellectual framework, and how far this conceptualisation can be defined as an "Intellectual Colonisation" in response to geopolitical difficulties. I am especially interested in discourse, the conceptual manifestations of Otherness and liminality, and in the topics of Prester John, Gog and Magog, and Nestorian Christians.

Other activities

Papers presented

  • May 2019 - EMREM Annual Symposium: Powerful Places, University of Birmingham: "O Prester, Where Art Thou? Placing an Absent King in Thirteenth-Century Geographies"
  • June 2019 - New Voices in Medieval Studies, University of York: ""They Make Great Rumours from Nothing" - Emptiness and Nestorian Christians in William of Rubruck's Itinerarium"
  • July 2019 - International Conference of the History of Cartography, Amsterdam: "When in the World are Gog and Magog? Ideology, Temporalities and the Apocalypse on the Hereford Mappa Mundi"

Conferences organised

  • Together with students from the Universities of Birmingham and Manchester, I have organised the AHRC M4C funded two-day conference Meaning, Memory, and Movement: Ancient and Medieval Spaces​ (23rd-24th November 2019). The aims of this conference were to provide a cross-period, cross-region, multidisciplinary platform for discussions of space and spatiality in the world before 1500.