Professor Thomas Hinton
Associate Professor of French Language and Literature
My research interests focus on medieval French and Occitan literature, especially of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, with an interest in manuscripts and the material context of medieval texts; currently I am working particularly on the French of medieval England. More broadly, I am interested in the reception of literature; the uses of the past; the representation of the unfamiliar; narrative aesthetics; and theories of translation.
I offer modules on medieval French and Occitan literature and culture, as well as co-teaching on wider survey modules at all levels (UG and PGT). I also teach French language. In 2017 I won the University of Exeter Student Guild award for Best Postgraduate Supervisor and in 2023 I was shortlisted in the Champion for Students category.
Before coming to Exeter in 2013, I held research fellowships at Oxford and Durham. I completed my postgraduate studies at King's College London.
My research interests focus on medieval French and Occitan literature, especially of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, with a particular interest in manuscripts and the material context of medieval texts. More broadly, I am interested in historic multilingualism; the theory and pedagogy of language; the reception of literature; the uses of the past; the representation of the unfamiliar; narrative aesthetics; and theories of translation.
I have produced a digital edition of the seventeen manuscripts of the Tretiz by the 13th-century Essex knight Walter de Bibbesworth, the earliest French language-learning text. This work was funded by an AHRC Leadership Fellowship, and falls within a longer-term investigation of how the development of lay literacy in the thirteenth century affected the status of vernacular (non-Latin) languages and their literary traditions, focusing on the cases of French and Occitan. Where twelfth-century texts in these languages typically aim to transmit some ancient story, whose great age guarantees its significance, the thirteenth century saw the advent of alternative models for a vernacular written culture, which sought legitimacy as cultural records of the present or recent past.
From 2023 to 2028 I will be working on a project titled 'Learning Anglo-French: French Language-Learning Manuscripts in Britain, c.1200 to c.1500'. I will study the materials used to teach the language from a variety of angles, including close and co-textual reading, contextual study, linguistic analysis and sampling of DNA from the parchment.
I am a member of the international Research Team for the project Troubadours and European Identity: The Role of Catalan Courts, led by Dr Miriam Cabré (Girona) and funded by Recercaixa. From 2012 to 2014 I was part of a collaborative project on conceptualizing the medieval library, working as part of an international group of researchers; this resulted in a special issue of French Studies, published in 2016.
I am interested in hearing from potential research students with proposals relating to any topic relevant to my research expertise. I am especially keen to consider working with candidates whose interests relate to 12th- or 13th-century French or Occitan material; Arthurian literature; or medieval multilingualism in the British Isles.
If you would like to work with me, please email me a 500-word outline of your proposed research topic and a copy of your CV.
Coline Blaizeau, 'The Metafictive Marvellous in the Roman de Perceforest'
Edward Mills, 'Imagining and Enacting Education in the French Texts of Post-Conquest England'. PhD awarded 2020.
External impact and engagement
I enjoy discussing medieval culture in public contexts, and have taken part in a number of activities, including the 2018 and 2022 Translation Festivals organised by Exeter colleagues Michelle Bolduc and Eliana Maestri, Being Human 2021, and talks to various local interest groups. I am also working with local schools on the development of teaching resources.
Contribution to discipline
I am currently Secretary for the British Branch of the International Courtly Literature Society. Since 2018 I have been a member of the Editorial Board for the journal French Studies Bulletin.
- EAS1035 - Beginnings: English Literature before 1800
- EASM180 - Crossing Medieval Boundaries
- HISM019 - Critical Approaches in Medieval Research
- HISM183 - Interpreting the Middle Ages
- MLF1001 - French Language
- MLF1014 - Love and Death in French Culture
- MLF1017 - The Making of Modern France
- MLF2069 - East is East? Cross-Cultural Encounters in Medieval French Literature
- MLF3006 - The Invention of Modern Love
- SMLM235 - Key Concepts for Global Literatures and Cultures
- SMLM238 - French Language and Culture in Medieval Britain
2000-2004:BA (Hons) in Philosophy and Modern Languages at St John's College, Oxford
2005-2006: MA in Medieval Studies at King's College London
2006-2010: PhD in French at King's College London
2009-2012: Junior Research Fellow in Modern Languages at Jesus College, Oxford
2012-2013: Addison Wheeler Research Fellow at Durham University