Poetry in the Medieval World

New TORCH Network approved

by Ugo Mondini

Poetry in the Medieval World is a network that explores premodern literature from a global perspective. Its aim is to address broad questions and seek answers building on contemporary discussions in comparative and world literature through a cross-disciplinary approach.

Our case study is currently poetry between c. 600 and c. 1250 CE. Poetry is a multifaceted phenomenon: it answers to different needs, travels across communities, and undergoes continuous changes. It is rooted in shared culture and knowledge; its intercultural communication or its appreciation by posterity can, at times, fail. There are recurring features: vivid images, complex words and rhythm, but also recitation music and singing. It is an expression of beauty and harmony. Even if poetry requires specialised experts to be scrutinised, yet its study should be easily approachable and crucial to the understanding of premodern literature, but also of literature as a whole. This – and way more – is the realm of poetry the Network will explore.

The Network creates an infrastructure for an open dialogue on medieval poetry with reading groups every two weeks, lectures by national and international scholars, and two annual meetings. The focus of our discussion is the production and transmission of poetry, its historical reception, and the challenges of translating it into modern languages, with a particular emphasis on English.

The Network connects people driven by scholarly curiosity. Therefore, we are extremely keen on receiving expressions of interest for collaboration from people at any phase of their career. If you are interested in this project and want to contribute to it actively, please email Ugo Mondini. The first events in Hillary 2024 will be shared in the coming weeks on the TORCH Networks website and the network’s X account (@PoetryMedieval), both of which are currently under development.


  1. Fujiwara no Yukinari (Kōzei), Excerpt from Bai Juyi’s “Autobiography of a Master of Drunken Poetry Recitation”
  2. David singing, MS BNF Par. gr. 139, f. 1v