Ralph Hanna, a professor of palaeography at the University of Oxford, has spent most of his career investigating the regional literature of later medieval England. His work integrates literary study, the local history of England, and the production history of those manuscript-books through which we know medieval literary production. He presents these issues in London Literature, 1300–1380 (Cambridge University Press, 2005), but his main emphasis has always been on the edges of England—the West Country, the March, and especially the North—rather than on the metropolis.
At the Institute, Hanna will conclude a long-term book project about the North: its books and its texts. The customary history of English literature prioritizes a London-based set of authors active at the end of the 14th century. But this account occludes the growing interest, through the 15th and early 16th centuries, in a range of works originally composed for local northern consumption. Hanna’s study encompasses the composition of these texts—some in the late 13th century, long before London had any literature at all—and their diffusion, which made them literary monuments with an appeal all over England.
Hanna received his AB from Amherst College and his MA and PhD from Yale University. Much of his past research has been generously underwritten by various academic patrons, among them the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the British Academy, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the University of California Humanities Research Institute.