Mary Franklin-Brown is a Fellow, Director of Studies for Modern and Medieval Languages (MML) and History and Modern Languages (HML), and University Associate Professor of Medieval French and Occitan Studies.
Her research covers medieval writing and cultural expression in French, Occitan, Latin, and Catalan. She interprets this material through the dual lenses of medieval philosophy and current critical thought, and she also takes account of the material transmission of texts through performance or manuscript copy. Her Reading the World: Encyclopedic Writing of the Scholastic Age (University of Chicago Press, 2012), a Foucauldian archaeology of medieval encyclopaedias, received the Harry Levin Prize from the American Comparative Literature Association. Other book chapters and articles treat troubadour song, medieval epic, Old French translation/adaptations of classical narrative, medieval Latin poetry, the Roman de la Rose, taxonomies of knowledge, paradoxography (the description of marvels), romance descriptions of automata, and early chess.
She currently juggling two book projects. The Senses of Early Chess: Objects, Songs, Allegories takes an interdisciplinary approach to the first millennium of the game (ca. 650-ca. 1650), showing how the sensory and cognitive experience of the game shaped material culture (pieces and boards), visual depictions, and poetic creation. Voices, Forms, Profanations: The Lyric of the Troubadours offers a new understanding of troubadour song through theories of voice and form—an understanding that is, ultimately, political.
Dr Franklin-Brown completed A.B. and A.M. degrees at Dartmouth College (Hanover, New Hampshire, USA) and a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley, which she completed with an Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship and a Bourse Chateaubriand en littérature for dissertation research in France. She has been a fellow of the Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study, Harvard University, and taught for many years at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, before moving to Cambridge. With considerable experience of archival research in France, she is president of the International Medieval Society, Paris.
At Christ’s, Dr Franklin-Brown enjoys teaching everything from Renaissance essays to New Wave film (including, of course, a wonderful collection of medieval tales) in the first-year paper on French Literature, Culture, and Thought. She also convenes the fortnightly seminars on critical thought for all MML and HML students, which are devoted to big questions (How does language work? What is an author? What is the subject? What is gender?). But her proudest accomplishment in college was being part of the winning team for the languages quiz during the most recent MMLL college formal.