Killam Postdoctoral Research Fellow J. R. Mattison is researching how late medieval manuscripts, particularly from England and France, develop new ideas of the relationship between language and nations.
I research how late medieval manuscripts, particularly from England and France, develop new ideas of the relationship between language and nations. While today we might associate England with literature in English, medieval England was multilingual and produced books in a variety of languages, including French and Latin. Understanding the meaning of England's multilingualism is important not only for the ways that we understand literary history, but also for our conceptions of the past's complex, diverse cultures. I focus on how scribes, the people who created manuscripts, traveled and influenced each other across Europe to create books that test our notions of national literatures. By attending to scribes' transnational roles, we can gain a better understanding of how medieval books connected people across time and space.
Why did you decide to pursue a postdoctoral fellowship at UBC? Did you consider other opportunities?
UBC has an amazing number of scholars working in medieval studies and book history. Having such colleagues means that it's a wonderful place to pursue my project.
What advice do you have for new postdoctoral fellows?
My advice for new postdoctoral fellows would be to get to know your new academic community and city. Because postdoctoral fellowships are often a limited number of years, it's important to take advantage of opportunities while you can.
What is the most enjoyable aspect of your postdoctoral fellowship?
At the moment, I'm enjoying collaborating with other academics on new projects. As a graduate student in the humanities, you often focus on your own project. Having a postdoctoral fellowship means that you have more freedom to co-write an article or develop research networks. I've also been enjoying returning to look at rare books in special collections. Because many libraries were closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, I have been relying on digital resources since March 2020. It's wonderful to have a chance to visit special collections again!
What does receiving this award mean for your career?
Receiving this award means I have the opportunity to continue and develop my research. Especially as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, it is also motivating to have this support.