Prof Orietta Da Rold, St John's



Biographical Information

I am Professor of Medieval Literature and Manuscript Studies, Fellow of St John’s College, and the Academic Director of The Cambridge University Library Research Institute (CULRI).  Before coming to Cambridge, I was at Leicester and before that I covered research positions at Oxford, Birmingham and Leeds. I am a member of the Center for Material Texts, an affiliate member of Stanford Text Technologies and Cambridge Digital Humanities

Research Interests

My research focuses on the intersection between the study of medieval literature and texts c. 1100-1500, Chaucer, and the digital humanities. I am interested in studying manuscripts and materiality. I also work on editorial practices of medieval texts, codicology, paleography, and scribal production techniques. More broadly, I am interested in social and cultural ideas of change as part of a wider holistic framework for the study of medieval literature.

I have published in diverse media such as digital editions and ebooks as well as in traditional academic forms. I am the editor of The Dd Manuscript: A Digital Edition of Cambridge University Library, MS Dd.4.24 of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales and the author of Paper in Medieval England: From Pulp to Fictions. I edited several collections of essays, more recently I have co-edited the Cambridge Companion to Medieval British Manuscripts, with Elaine Treharne (Stanford)Building on the 'Mapping Paper in Medieval England Project', I am now working on a project provisionally entiled Paper in Time and Space. A codicologically focused project which re-considers the significance of paper for dating and localising the hundreds of paper manuscripts which were produced in England before the advent of print. This project formed the basis of my Sandars lectures (2020-21), entitled 'Paper Past and Paper Future' and dovetails with the 'Thinking Paper' Project, which I co-direct with Dr Suzanne Paul (CUL). A parallel project, currently under development, relates to how networks of knowledge are created in medieval book production and Chaucer's library/ies.  

I have also worked on how digital technologies and models can be integrated with the study of medieval manuscript culture. I have participated and directed large digital humanities projects, such as 'The Production and Use of English Manuscripts:1060 to 1220', and AHRC funded project which explored handrwitten culture in the early medieval period.  In the Manuscripts Online Project, co-directed with Michael Pidd (HRI, Sheffield), the team looked at ways in which a very large and diversed body of online primary data, relating to written and early printed culture in Britain during the period 1000 to 1500, could be integrated and searched from one portal. The Manuscripts Lab builds on this experience and brings together students and colleagues to explore the powerful connection between teaching and research in Manuscript Studies. I am involved with the Quadrivium Project, and more recently with the Hackathon. I was a recipient of the Technology-Enabled Learning Programme pilot projects (2019-20) in collaboration with Huw Jones and  James Freeman (CUL).

In my research, I acknowledge the generous support of the British Academy (Mid-Career Fellowship); the Cambridge Humanities Research Grant; The Research and Collection Programme (Cambridge); The Association for Manuscripts and Archives in Research Collections (Conference Fund); The European Science Foundation (Exploratory Workshops Programme); and JISC (e-Content Capital Programme).

I am the Series Editor, with Holly James-Maddocks, ‘York Manuscript and Early Print Studies’, York Medieval Press, Boydell & Brewer. 

I tweet on Digital Humanities, Manuscripts in Byte Size, Medieval Texts and more: @orietta_darold. Views my own.

Areas of Graduate Supervision

I have supervised a number of postgraduate projects and PhD theses in medieval manuscript studies, medieval languages and textual cultures. I teach on the MPhil in English Studies. If you are interested in the MPhil and medieval research in the Faculty more generally, see

I would welcome research proposals on:

Medieval literature in context, including Chaucer;
Multilingualism in medieval manuscripts;
Authorship, reading-habits and book production (1100-1500);
Manuscript studies (1100-1500);
Medieval material textual cultures, including focused codicological, palaeographical and linguistic studies;
Medieval studies and digital humanities;
Editing and textual studies.

Selected Publications

 Books, E-books and Editions:

  • Paper in Medieval England: From Pulp to Fictions (Cambridge University Press, 2020), ISBN: 978-1-108-84057-6, i-xx, 270 pp.
  • Companion to British Manuscript Studies, ed. with Elaine Treharne (Cambridge University Press, 2020), ISBN: 9781316182659
  • Writing Europe 500-1450: Texts and Contexts, ed. with Philip Shaw and Aidan Conti, special issue for Essays and Studies (2015), ISBN: 978-1-84384-415-0.
  • The Multitext Edition: Eight Manuscripts of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, The Norman Blake Editions of The Canterbury Tales, ed. with Simon Horobin, Michael Pidd, Estelle Stubbs and Claire Thomson with Linda Cross (HRI online),, ISBN: 978-0-9571022-1-7.
  • The Dd Manuscript: A Digital Edition of Cambridge University Library, MS Dd.4.24 of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, ed., The Norman Blake Editions of The Canterbury Tales (HRI online, 2013), ISBN: 978-0-9571022-0-0,
  • New Medieval Literature, guest ed. with Mary Swan and Elaine Treharne, 13 (2012 for 2011). ISBN 978-2-503-53653-8.
  • E-medieval: Teaching, Research, and the Net, ed. with Elaine Treharne, Special issue, Literature Compass (2012),
  • English Manuscripts before 1400, ed. with A.G.S. Edwards, English Manuscripts Studies: 1100-1700 (British Library Publishing, 2012), ISBN 9780712358835.
  • The Production and Use of English Manuscripts, ed. with  Takako Kato, Mary Swan and Elaine Treharne (eds.) First published 2010; updated 2013, School of English, University of Leicester SBN 095323195x, version 1.0 (; updated 2018, Stanford University (
  • Textual Culture, Cultural Texts, 1000-2010, ed. with Elaine Treharne, special issue of Essays and Studies (Boydell & Brewer, 2010) ISBN: 9781843842392.

Electronic Resources

Manuscripts Online,

Articles and Essays

  • ‘Medieval Clerical Culture: The Sociology of Script and the Significance of Scribal Quirks', Speculum, forthcoming July 2024
  • Nick Posegay and Orietta Da Rold, 'A Preliminary Study of European Paper in Late Medieval Cairo (ca. 1350-1600)', The Library, forthcoming
  • Grossmann, T.G., Schönlieb, CB. & Da Rold, O. 'Extracting chain lines and laid lines from digital images of medieval paper using spectral total variation decomposition', Heritage Science, 11, 180 (2023).
  • 'Hengwrt', The Chaucer Encyclopedia, eds. Richard Newhouser, Vincent Gillespie, Jessica Rosenfeld, and Katie Walter, Wiley-Blackwell, 2023.
  • 'Pratt, Robert', The Chaucer Encyclopedia, eds. Richard Newhouser, Vincent Gillespie, Jessica Rosenfeld, and Katie Walter, Wiley-Blackwell, 2023.
  • ‘The Endurance of Early English Literary Traditions’, Routledge Companion to Medieval English Literature, edited by Raluca Radulescu and Sif Rikhardsdottir (Routledge, 2022), pp. 237-247.
  • 'Early Italian Paper-Stocks in British Archives', in La rivoluzione della carta nel Mediterraneo: produzione e commercio, ed. by Livia Faggioni e Mauro Mussolin (2022), pp. 99-114.
  • 'Networks of paper in late medieval England’, in The Paper Trade in Early Modern Europe. Practices, Materials, Networks, eds Anna Reynolds and Daniel Bellingradt (Brill: Leiden and Boston, 2021), pp. 148-166.
  • 'Tradition and Innovation in Cataloguing Medieval Manuscripts', Anglia, 139 (2021), 32-58.
  • Introduction: the matter of manuscripts and methodologies’ with E. Treharne, in Companion to British Manuscript Studies (CUP, 2020), pp. 15-23.
  • Networks of writers and readers’ with E. Treharne, in Companion to British Manuscript Studies (CUP, 2020), pp. 143-162.
  • ‘A note on Cambridge, Corpus Christi College, 210’, in Medieval Manuscripts in the Digital Age, ed. Benjamin Albritton, Georgia Henley, and Elaine Treharne, Digital Research in the Arts and Humanities (London: Routledge, 2020), pp. 57-63.
  • ‘Paper in Medieval English Books’ in Pádraig Ó Macháin, ed, Paper and the Paper Manuscript: A Context for the Transmission of Gaelic Literature (Cork, University College Cork, 2019), pp. 1-7.
  • 'Prefazione/Afterwords’ in Emauela di Stefano, Fra le Marche, Il Mediterraneo, L’Europa. Pioraco: radici ed Espansione di un Centro Cartario (Napoli; Edizioni scientifiche Italiane, 2019), pp. 17-23.
  • ‘Codicology’, The Encyclopaedia of Medieval British Literature, ed. Sian Echard and Robert Rouse (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2017), pp. 531-38.
  • ‘Preface’ with Aidan Conti and Philip Shaw, Essays and Studies (2015), pp. xiii-xv.
  • ‘Medieval Manuscript Studies: an European Perspective’ with Marilena Maniaci, Essays and Studies (2015), pp. 1-24.
  • ‘Codicology, Localization and Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS. Laud. Misc. 108’ in The Makers and Users of Medieval Books, edited by Derek Pearsall and Carol Meale (Boydell & Brewer, 2014), pp. 48-59. 
  • Digital Humanities, Libraries and Federated Searching: The Manuscripts Online Project’, Digitale Rekonstruktionen mittelalterlicher Bibliotheken (Reichert, 2014), pp. 71-79.
  • 'New Challenges to the Editing of Chaucer’, in Editing Medieval Texts from Britain in the Twenty-First Century, edited by Anne Hudson and Vincent Gillespie (Brepols, 2013), pp. 481-92.
  • ‘Making the Book: Cambridge, University Library Ii.1.33’, New Medieval Literature 13 (2012 for 2011), pp. 273-88.
  • ‘Linguistic Contiguities: English Manuscripts 1060 to 1220’, with Mary Swan, in Conceptualizing Multilingualism, edited by Elizabeth Tyler (Brepols, 2012), pp. 255-70.
  • ‘Materials’ in The Production of Books in England c.1350–c.1530, edited by Alexandra Gillespie and Daniel Wakelin (CUP, 2011), pp. 12-33.
  • 'Editing Chaucer after Manly and Rickert', Studies in the Age of Chaucer, 32 (2010), 375-82.
  • Authored several manuscript descriptions, in The Production and Use of English Manuscripts, Orietta Da Rold, Takako Kato, Mary Swan and Elaine Treharne (eds.) (Leicester, School of English University of Leicester, 2010), ISBN 095323195x, version 1.0 (
  • 'Manuscript Production before Chaucer: Some Preliminary Observations' in Textual Culture, Cultural Texts, 1000-2010, edited by Orietta Da Rold and Elaine Treharne,special issue of Essays and Studies (Boydell & Brewer, 2010), pp. 43-58.
  • 'Textual Copying and Transmission' in Oxford Handbook of Medieval English Literature, edited by Greg Walker and Elaine Treharne (OUP, 2010), pp. 33-56.
  • ‘The Linguistic Stratification in the Cambridge University Library Dd Copy of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales’, with Jacob Thaisen, Neuphilologische Mitteillungen, 110 (2009), 283-297.
  • ‘Fingerprinting Paper in West Midlands Medieval Manuscripts’ in Essays in Manuscript Geography: Vernacular Manuscripts of the English West Midlands from the Conquest to the Sixteenth Century, ed. W. Scase (Brepols, 2007), pp. 257-71.
  • ‘The Significance of Scribal Corrections in Cambridge University Library, MS Dd.4.24’, The Chaucer Review, 41.4 (2007), 393-436.
  • Authored and contributed to several manuscript descriptions, Manuscripts of the West Midlands: A Catalogue of Vernacular Manuscript Books of the English West Midlands, c. 1300 - c. 1475, with Rebecca Farnham and Wendy Scase (Birmingham: University of Birmingham, 2006), <>
  • ‘Re-sourcing the Production and Use of English Manuscripts 1060 to 1220’, Literature Compass, 3.4 (2006), 750-66.
  • ‘The Quiring System in Cambridge, University Library MS. Dd.4.24.’, The Library, 7th series, 4 (2003), 10-24.

Blogs and media