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Photo of Professor James Clark

Professor James Clark

Associate Dean for Research and Knowledge Transfer, Professor of History


01392 725684

My historical interests are focused on the period between the Black Death and the Break with Rome. While a medievalist by training, I explore themes in religion, intellectual and cultural life which reach across the traditional boundaries of medieval and early modern; likewise, my approach is informed not only by the sources and methods of the historian but also by those of researchers in literary, artistic and material culture.

Research interests

My research explores religion, learning and book culture in England (especially) between the Black Death and the Break with Rome, a period traditionally disparaged as lacking both the vitality of the high Middle Ages and vision of the Renaissance. My work seeks to unsettle – sometimes to challenge – this old orthodoxy, offering new insights into institutions and individuals, patterns of writing, reading and thought, drawn from the rich (but still somewhat neglected) body of archival, literary and material sources.

Research supervision



I welcome doctoral proposals on any aspect of church, intellectual and religious life in the later Middle Ages and pre-Reformation  period. Particular interests include (but are not confined to) monastic culture, the universities after Wyclif, the reception of the classics and the production, transmission and reading of books in manuscript and early print.



Currently, I am engaged as series consultant for the BBCTV series, Tudor Abbey Farm, which is due for broadcast in autumn 2013. I have made regular and varied contributions to TV and Radio including Making History (BBC), History of Christianity (C4), Lost Buildings (C4) and Time Trail (ITV/UKTV History).


In 2013/14 I will be taking up a Distinguished Visiting Professorship at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.                  

Modules taught


My training in medieval and  pre-Reformation history began as an undergraduate at Bristol under the guidance of Anthony Tuck, Ronald Hutton and, briefly, when a visiting professor, Geoffrey Elton. It was continued at New College, Oxford, where I completed a DPhil under the supervision of Jeremy Catto. As a Junior Research Fellow and British Academy Posdoctoral Fellow at Brasenose College, I remained in Oxford until 2001. I joined the History Department at Bristol in 2001/2, progressing to a personal chair in 2010/11. I came to the History Department at Exeter in April 2013. I was elected a fellow of the Royal Historical Society in 2008. I am a founder member of the editorial board of the Journal of Medieval Monastic Studies (Brepols). Since 2012/13 I have been Chair of the Management Board of the South West & Wales Universities Consortium which is bidding for an AHRC Doctoral Training Programme. In 2013/14 I will be Distinguished Visiting Professor in Medieval Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.