FACULTY RESIDENTIAL FELLOW
Fiona Somerset is Professor of English and co-Director of Medieval Studies at the University of Connecticut, where she is also affiliated with Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies. She works on the literary, cultural, and intellectual history of the high to late middle ages, especially though not only in England: her fascination with how ideas move between and across cultures has led her to work on book history and manuscript studies, theories of popular culture and media, multilingualism, the history of emotions, and digital humanities. Much of her work in recent years has focused on providing a revisionist account of the writings of Wyclif and the lollard movement, as well as the manuscript books in which their earliest copies are extant.
During 2014-2015 Somerset will focus on a topic that has fascinated her since she discovered it while writing her dissertation: a medieval theory of consent that holds one person, or a group of people, responsible for wrongs committed by another–regardless of whether that other person is their ruler, their social equal, their spouse, their child, or their subordinate. Even simply remaining silent, let alone authorizing, collaborating, advising, or not helping to prevent an action, might be construed as culpable consent to it. In the course of next year she plans to complete a draft of the book she is writing on this topic, tracing its complex multinational transmission from the late twelfth century University of Paris to Rome, to England and France again, to Bohemia, to the fifteenth-century Council of Constance and beyond.