The Scientific Works of Robert Grosseteste: Lost Legacies and the Living Past

Research Network

Project Team:

Principal Investigator:

Dr Giles Gasper, University of Durham


Professor Tom McLeish, Durham University

Dr Hannah Smithson, University of Oxford

Professor Greti Dinkova-Bruun, Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, Toronto

Dr Cecilia Panti, Universita di Roma, Tor Vergata

Professor Brian Tanner, Durham University

Dr Michael Huxtable, Durham University

Award Information:

International network grant to edit, translate and interpret the scientific works of Robert Grosseteste (c.1175-1253) from an explicitly inter-disciplinary perspective. The medieval texts are prepared, read and commented on by medieval specialists, modern scientists, and social scientists with an interest in science education. Grosseteste was one of the greatest discoverers of the central medieval period, unlocking the secrets, as he found them, of Aristotelian science, fresh to the west in Latin translation, carrying its Arabic commentaries.

This research project thus aims to develop and apply a new methodology for the interpretation of medieval scientific thought in England between 1100 and 1400.

Without an awareness of intellectual developments in this period, modern science risks radically misunderstanding its own foundations; and it underestimates the extent to which medieval scientific thought emerges out of (indeed is an integral part of) the literary and theological movements of the period. Readings of medieval texts that are fully informed by modern scientific concepts can potentially move the study of medieval thought into different dimensions, and compel us to make new assessments of the perceptiveness and inventiveness of the texts under scrutiny. Hence, it is the premise of this project that the development of medieval scientific thinking about the structure of the universe is most effectively studied by taking a strongly interdisciplinary approach, applying the skills both of scholars trained in modern physics and of scholars trained in textual and historical studies. From this concept emerge several fundamental lines of enquiry which are forming the basis for a series of workshops and research dialogues.

Project dates: February 2013- February 2014