Elaine Treharne

Elaine Treharne

Roberta Bowman Denning Professor of Humanities
Professor of English
Professor, by courtesy, of German Studies
Director of Stanford's Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis (CESTA)
Affiliated faculty at The Europe Center

margaret jacks hall

450 Serra Mall



(650) 723-4609 (voice)

Research Interests

British Literature; Old and Middle English; British Literature - Poetry; British Literature - Prose; Comparative Literature; Literature and Art, Literature and History; Literature and Religion; History of the Book; Cultural studies; Digital Humanities


My main research interests are in Early British manuscripts--their intentionality, materiality, functionality, and value. I have published widely in this area over the last twenty years, focusing most specifically on religious poetry and prose, and manuscripts dating from c. 1020 to c. 1220. My current projects focus on the book as object together with the long History of Text Technologies from the earliest times (c. 60,000 BCE) to the present day. I research the hapticity and phenomenology of the Medieval book, and will be publishing The Phenomenal Book, 500-1200 based on this work. This research also extends to a more modern period of the Medieval, and to the work of artists, including William Morris, Edward Johnston, Philip Lee Warner, Eric Gill, and David Jones, and I'll be publishing on these figures in The Aesthetic Book: Arts and Crafts to Modernism eventually. I have completed work on Salisbury's early medieval manuscripts for the Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts in Microfiche Facsimileseries, and I am now planning a longer-term research project on Salisbury books and documents, entitled Collective Memories in Salisbury Cathedral Library and Archives, 1200 to 1600, which will explore this exceptional collection of early textual materials still held in situ. I'm also working on a new (short) book focused on Medieval Materiality and Culture, provisionally called Invisible Things and I am beginning work on borders and boundaries in Early Medieval Britain, building on research developing out of an article I published on this area.

I am the Director of the Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis (CESTA) at Stanford, an internationally renowned Digital and Computational Humanities hub. I am also the Director of Stanford Text Technologies (https://texttechnologies.stanford.edu), which has multiple projects underway, including an exciting research endeavor called 'CyberText Technologies,' awarded funding by Stanford's Hewlett Foundation Cyber Initiative. In this work, our team is developing models for predicting the future of Text Technologies, based on the discernible patterns and cyclical trends inherent in all text technologies from many thousands of years ago to the present day. Text Technologies' many other initiatives include an intensive Collegium on 'Distortion' in May 2015; its successor, 'NetworkX,' in June 2016; and the third (co-organized with Professor Kathryn Starkey) on Text, Textiles, and Textures in May 2017. I am the Principal Investigator of the NEH-Funded portion of an inter-institutional grant: 'Global Currents: Cultures of Literary Networks, 1050-1900' (https://globalcurrents.stanford.edu/). Formerly, I was Principal Investigator of the AHRC-funded research project and co-authored ebook, The Production and Use of English Manuscripts, 1060 to 1220 (Leicester, 2010, http://www.le.ac.uk/ee/em1060to1220/). My publications include A Very Short Introduction to Medieval Literature (OUP, 2015); Living Through Conquest: The Politics of Early English, 1020 to 1220(OUP, 2012); and Old and Middle English, c. 890-1490: An Anthology (Wiley-Blackwell), which is now moving into a new fourth edition. I'll shortly publish Text Technologies: A History, with Dr Claude Willan. Among other work, I edited The Oxford Handbook of Medieval Literaturein English (OUP, 2010) with Greg Walker, and together with Walker, I'm the General Editor of the OUP series, Oxford Textual Perspectives; the General Editor of Stanford University Press's Text Technologies Series; and I'm also the General Editor of the English Association's Essays and Studies series.

Professionally, I am keen advocate and critic of the use of digital technologies in the classroom and in research; and I am concerned about the ways in which we describe and display manuscripts, and employ palaeographical and codicological tools online. I am a qualified archivist (University of Liverpool, MArAd) and am developing archival courses and methodological scholarship, together with colleagues and graduates at Stanford. Also with colleagues at Stanford and at Cambridge, we launched an exciting online course, 'Digging Deeper', with two parts: 'Making Manuscripts' and 'Interpreting Manuscripts', both of which are available at Stanford Online. The third part, 'Reading Manuscripts' is still a work in progress, and we hope to finish it this year. I blog and tweet regularly, and my most read publication was 'Beowulf in 100 Tweets' (#Beow100), which says something! I'm involved in a number of international projects that seek to investigate and develop new ways of exploring the rich Medieval cultures of the book, including the newly founded International Manuscript Technologies Forum. I have been the Medieval Academy of America's Plenary Speaker at the International Medieval Congress in Leeds; Ida Beam Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Iowa; an American Philosophical Society Franklin Fellow; and a Princeton Procter Fellow. I'm a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries; a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society; and an Honorary Fellow of the English Assocation (and that Association's former Chair and President). I'm a member of the International Society of Anglo-Saxonists (and a former second Vice-President), Chair of the Executive Committee of the MLA's Old English Forum, and a member of the MLA's Bibliographical Work Prize Committee.

Treharne's research was featured in The Europe Center November 2017 Newsletter.