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Elaine Treharne

Roberta Bowman Denning Professor of Humanities
Professor of English, and, by Courtesy, of German Studies
Robert K. Packard University Fellow in Undergraduate Education
Director, Stanford Text Technologies
Stanford Fellow, 2017-2019
BA English, First Class Honors, University of Manchester, 1986
MA in Archive Administration, University of Liverpool, 1987
PhD Medieval Literature, University of Manchester, 1992
At Stanford Since: 
On leave


I am an early medievalist with specializations in the handwritten book and the uses of digital technologies for textual scholars. My main research interests are in Early British manuscripts--their intentionality, materiality, functionality and value; and the history of the technology of writing. I have published widely in this area over the last twenty years, focusing most specifically on religious poetry and prose, and manuscripts dating from c.600 to c.1300. I teach core courses in British Literary History up to about 1600, and courses on Text Technologies and Digital Humanities, on Palaeography, Archival Studies, and the History of the Book. Some of my new work in both teaching and research is focusing specifically on the issue of Digital Interpretative Frameworks. I supervise honors students and graduate students working in early literature, Book History, and Digital Humanities. I am committed to providing a supportive and ethical working environment for all scholars and colleagues, and I affirm my belief that it is through respect, inclusivity, and diversity that we can demonstrate best practice within our profession. My current projects focus on the book as object together with the long History of Text Technologies. I research the hapticity and phenomenology of the Medieval book, and will be publishing The Phenomenal Book,600-1450based on this work. This research also extends to a more modern period of the Medieval, and to the work of artists, including William Morris, Edward Johnston, John Gwenogvryn Evans, Philip Lee Warner, Eric Gill, and David Jones, and I'll be publishing on these figures in The Aesthetic Book: Arts and Crafts to Modernismeventually. I have completed work on Salisbury Cathedral Library's early medieval manuscripts for the Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts in Microfiche Facsimileseries, and I am now writing on this exceptional collection of early textual materials still held in situ. I am also working on borders, boundaries and topography in Early Medieval Britain, building on research completed for an article I published on 'Borders' in early Medieval England.

I am also the Director of Stanford Text Technologies (, which has multiple projects underway, including the publication of Text Technologies: A History (with Claude Willan, StanfordUP, 2019), 'CyberText Technologies' and SOPES (Stanford Ordinary People, Extraordinary Stories). In the former, we're developing models for predicting the future of Text Technologies, based on the discernible patterns and cyclical trends inherent in all text technologies from thousands of years ago to the present day. Text Technologies' other initiatives include an annual intensive Collegium: the first, on 'Distortion' in May 2015, was adapted into a book (Textual Distortion, Woodbridge: 2017); its successor, 'NetworkX', was in June 2016; a third (co-organized with Professor Kathryn Starkey) was on 'Text, Textiles and Textures' in May 2017. The fourth, the largest with 25 speakers, was a celebration of 'Parker on the Web 2.0', in March 2018. The fifth was focused on Women and Gender Minorities in Digital Humanities. I am the Principal Investigator of the NEH-Funded portion of an inter-institutional grant: 'Global Currents: Cultures of Literary Networks, 1050-1900' ( I am Co-Principal Investigator of the AHRC-funded research project and co-authored ebook, The Production and Use of English Manuscripts, 1060 to 1220 (Leicester, 2010,; the expanded version 2.0 appeared in 2018: My publications include A Very Short Introduction to Medieval Literature (OUP, 2015); Living Through Conquest: The Politics of Early English, 1020 to 1220(OUP, 2012); and Old and Middle English, c. 890-1490: An Anthology (Wiley-Blackwell), which is now moving into a new fourth edition. I'll shortly publish the Cambridge Companion to British Medieval Manuscripts, co-edited with Dr Orietta Da Rold, and Medieval Manuscripts in the Digital Age (with Georgia Henley and Ben Albritton for Routledge, 2020). Among other work, I edited The Oxford Handbook of Medieval Literaturein English(OUP, 2010) with Greg Walker, and together with Walker, I'm the General Editor of the vibrant OUP series, Oxford Textual Perspectives. I am a General Editor of Stanford University Press's Text Technologies Series; and I have just finished a long term as the General Editor of the English Association's Essays and Studiesseries.

Professionally, I am a keen advocate and critic of the use of digital technologies in the classroom and in research; and I am concerned about the ways in which we describe and display manuscripts, and employ palaeographical and codicological tools online. As the former Director of the Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis (CESTA) at Stanford--an internationally renowned Digital and Computational Humanities lab--I focused on enhancing the number of archival projects we supported. I am a qualified archivist (University of Liverpool, MArAd) and am developing archival courses and methodological scholarship, together with colleagues and graduates at Stanford. Also with colleagues at Stanford and at Cambridge, we launched an exciting massive online course, 'Digging Deeper', with two parts: 'Making Manuscripts' and 'Interpreting Manuscripts', both of which are available at Stanford Online. The third part, 'Reading Manuscripts' is still a work in progress, and we hope to finish it in 2019. I blog and tweet regularly, and my most read publication was 'Beowulf in 100 Tweets' (#Beow100), which says something! I'm involved in a number of international projects that seek to investigate and develop new ways of exploring the intersections between technology and humanities. I have been the Summers Lecturer at Toledo; the Heinz Bluhm Lecturer at Boston College; the Medieval Academy of America's Plenary Speaker at the International Medieval Congress in Leeds; Ida Beam Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Iowa; an American Philosophical Society Franklin Fellow; and a Princeton Procter Fellow. I'm a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries; a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society; and an Honorary Fellow of the English Assocation (and that Association's former Chair and President). I'm a member of ISAS (and a former second Vice-President of that early medievalists' organization), the former Chair of the Medieval Academy's Digital Humanities Committee, and involved in various other professional organizations and boards.

At Stanford, I am the Resident Fellow of Ng Humanities House, and I'm engaged in trying to create a 'new normal' to encourage students to slow down a little and spend time enjoying their work, their friends, and their many extracurricular activities. I am also a passionate advocate for Integrated Humanities in all areas of life and especially at Stanford itself.

I am on Sabbatical from September 2019 to September 2020.

Related News

Sep 1 2015 | Stanford News
Using handwriting analysis, Stanford manuscript expert Elaine Treharne shows for the first time that one of the world's most famous documents...
Feb 2 2015 | Stanford Report
By Marguerite Rigoglioso   Digital tools, including a free, public online manuscript training course, are allowing English professor and...