Dr Jessica Berenbeim, Jesus




Biographical Information

University Associate Professor of Literature and Visual Culture

Fellow, Jesus College

BA, PhD Harvard; Junior Research Fellowship, Magdalen College, Oxford; Frances Yates Long-Term Research Fellowship in Cultural and Intellectual History, Warburg Institute. I’ve also held fellowships at or collaborated with a number of cultural institutions, including the British Library, the British Museum, and the National Archives.

Research Interests

The principal themes of my research are: interdisciplinary and global medieval studies, museums and archives, the visual cultures of reading and writing, and the philosophy of history. My central concern is the power inherent in representation of the past, wherever it is manifested—literature, art, institutions. I approach this concern by a number of intellectual routes, most recently through a theoretical exploration of objects in modern national archives, as well as through studies of literary manuscripts informed by conversations in both material philology and historical philosophy.

Positions and other recent collaborations:


Areas of Graduate Supervision

For the MPhil in English Studies, I teach a specialist seminar called 'Archaeologies of Reading', and I co-teach the Material Texts Research Frameworks Seminar. I also teach topics in palaeography and codicology for the Textual and Related Studies course. If you are interested in concentrating on medieval studies for the MPhil, please see our page here: https://www.english.cam.ac.uk/research/medieval/mphil/

For both the MPhil and the PhD, I supervise research on the following topics:

  • Medieval literature and visual culture
  • Manuscript studies (especially design, decoration, and palaeography)
  • Material texts more broadly (e.g., epigraphy, archival studies, typography, sealing practices, material-text criticism)
  • Global medieval studies

I also encourage enquiries from research students interested in working with museums, libraries, archives, and heritage management institutions.


Selected Publications


—'Iconoclasm and the Epigraphic Image', in Form and Power in Medieval and Early Modern Literature, ed. D. Donoghue et al. (2024)

—‘Fictions of the Archive’, RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics, 75–76 (2021).

—‘The Past of the Past: Historical Distance and the Medieval Image’, New Medieval Literatures, 21 (2021).

—‘Hannibal’s Journey: Ancient History, Material Philology, Medieval Illumination’, in Beyond Words, ed. J. Hamburger et al. (PIMS/Toronto, 2021).

—‘Recapitulation: A Medieval Table of Contents’, in Studies in Gothic Art, Architecture, and Ideas, ed. J. Luxford (Harvey Miller/Brepols, 2021).

—‘Domesday in Disguise’, in Illuminating the Middle Ages, ed. A. Bovey et al. (Brill, 2020).

—‘Medieval Treaties and the Diplomatic Aesthetic’, The Medieval Globe, 4 (2018).

—editor, with J. Cherry and L. de Beer, Seals and Status: The Power of Objects (British Museum, 2018).

—editor, with T.A. Heslop, Invention and Imagination, special issue, British Art Studies, 6 (2017).

Art of Documentation: Documents and Visual Culture in Medieval England (PIMS/Toronto, 2015).

—‘The Tomb of Virgil’, in The Virgil Encyclopedia, ed. R. Thomas and J. Ziolkowski (Blackwell, 2013).

—‘Personal and Institutional Patronage in the Sherborne Missal’, in Patrons and Professionals in the Middle Ages, ed. P. Binski and E.A. New, Harlaxton Medieval Studies, 22 (2012).

—‘Script after Print: Juan de Yciar and the Art of Writing’, Word & Image, 26 (2010).

—‘Milanese Chant in the Monastery?’ (with M. Röder), in Ambrosiana at Harvard: New Sources of Milanese Chant, ed. T.F. Kelly and M. Mugmon (HCL/Harvard, 2010).

—translator, A. de Schryver, The Prayer Book of Charles the Bold: A Study of a Flemish Masterpiece from the Burgundian Court (Getty Museum, 2008).

—‘An English Manuscript of the Somme le roi’, in Cambridge Illuminations, ed. S. Panayotova (Harvey Miller/Brepols, 2007).

Contributions to Catalogues

Illuminated Manuscripts in Cambridge: A Catalogue of Western Book Illumination in the Fitzwilliam Museum and the Cambridge Colleges, selected entries for volumes on France, Britain, Italy, and the Iberian Peninsula (Harvey Miller/Brepols, 2009–).

British Library Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts, selected entries on manuscripts in the Harley Collection (Digital open-access catalogue, 2005–).