Carley appointed Leverhulme Visiting Professor to Oxford

James P. Carley, distinguished research professor in the English Department of York’s Faculty of Arts, has been appointed Leverhulme Visiting Professor at the University of Oxford, UK, for 2005-2006.

James P. Carley

Carley,  who is a specialist in Old and Middle English, the history of manuscripts, and bibliography and the early Tudor period, took up his duties at Magdalen College, Oxford, on Nov. 1. While in the UK, Carley will give guest lectures at several universities, including the University of London, the University of Exeter, Bristol University and the University of Sheffield, on “The 16th century English library: monastery and private collection” as well as four public Leverhulme Lectures in the summer term on John Leland’s De uiris illustribus, the first Dictionary of National Biography. He has also been asked to speak at the Sorbonne in Paris in the spring and to give a series of research seminars at Oxford’s Bodleian Library.

Right: James Carley

The visiting professorship award by the Leverhulme Trust is to facilitate the enhancement of the skills of researchers and teachers at the host institution in the UK. The criteria for selection include the academic standing and achievement of the visitor. In its application for the visiting professorship, Oxford said “Prof. Carley is a world leader in the study of sixteenth-century antiquarian activity, in the emergence of the Royal library, and in the early modern inheritance of medieval library collections. He is also an expert on Arthurian literature. His work effortlessly crosses disciplinary boundaries and is used by historians, literary critics and antiquaries alike. His extensive editorial and analytical work on John Leland, and on the libraries of Henry VIII, have made him very familiar with Oxford’s library collections and he will be of great value to us as we plan their future development and exploitation.”

Right: Bust of John Leland

While at Oxford, Carely plans to finish an edition and translation of John Leland’s De uiris illustribus for the Oxford University Press Oxford Medieval Texts series. “Leland is a key figure in sixteenth-century studies,” said Carley, “and his dictionary of learned writers gives us an eyewitness account of the last days of the English monastic libraries just before Henry VIII’s cultural revolution reduced them to rubble.” The autograph manuscript of De uiris illustribus is in the Bodleian library and Carley plans to subject it to detailed codicological scrutiny and compare it with his transcription of Leland’s work to show precisely the process by which it was put together. Carley said he also plans to travel throughout England and France to find evidence – primarily marginalia in Leland’s hand – to indicate just what medieval manuscripts he actually handled.

Elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2002, Carley has published many books including The Chronicle of Glastonbury (1985), Glastonbury Abbey: History and Legends (1988; revised edn. 1996), and has co-edited The Archeology and History of Glastonbury Abbey (1991). He has written extensively on Glastonbury, John Leland, sixteenth-century book culture, the Arthurian legend, and Lawrence Durrell. He is co-editor of Culture and the King: The Social Implications of the Arthurian Legend (1993), of Books and Collectors 1200-1700 (1997), and of ‘Triumphs of English’. Henry Parker, Lord Morley, Translator to the Tudor Court (2000). He is one of the editors of Shorter Benedictine Catalogues, Corpus of British Medieval Library Catalogues (1996) and editor of The Libraries of King Henry VIII in the same series (2000, see story in the Nov. 3, 2004 issue of YFile). His most recent publication is The Books of King Henry VIII and his Wives (2004, see story in the Jan. 20 issue of YFile.) Carley was also visiting professor at All Souls College, Oxford, in 1999-2000.