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Dr I. van Renswoude (1967) has been named professor by special appointment of Manuscripts and Cultural History, with a focus on the Middle Ages (500-1500), at the University of Amsterdam’s (UvA) Faculty of Humanities. The Herman de la Fontaine Verwey Chair was established on behalf of the National Library of the Netherlands.

Credits: Dirk Gillissen

Irene van Renswoude specialises in late antique and early medieval textual culture, rhetoric, censorship and debate. At the UvA, her research will focus on identifying traces left by readers in medieval manuscripts, particularly notes added to controversial, forbidden or practically forgotten texts that fall outside the scientific or religious canon. In partnership with the Digital Humanities experts at the Huygens Institute for the History of the Netherlands (Huygens ING), Van Renswoude will investigate new methods for identifying the knowledge networks in which controversial texts circulated. She will also teach Bachelor’s and Master’s students of the programme in Book Studies.

Van Renswoude is involved in various research projects at the Huygens Institute of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). For example, in the project Marginal Scholarship: The Practice of Learning in the early Middle Ages (c.800-c.1000) she studied the role of marginal annotations in the early medieval world of debate and controversy, and of intellectual freedom and censorship. In addition, she is working – in collaboration with Mariken Teeuwen and Irene O’Daly – on the project The Art of Reasoning: Techniques of Scientific Argumentation in the Medieval Latin West (400-1400). Van Renswoude and Teeuwen’s research project is funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) and centres on the scientific methods of argumentation and reasoning from the early Middle Ages to the era of medieval universities. Van Renswoude is also a member of the Borders and Transfer of Knowledge working group, which is part of the collaborative programme The Making of a Knowledge Society in a Globalising World (1450-1800).

About Van Renswoude

Van Renswoude has worked as a postdoctoral researcher at Huygens ING’s department of History of Knowledge since 2011. Moreover, she is affiliated with Utrecht University’s (UU) Research Institute for History and Art History both as a researcher and occasionally as a lecturer. In 2018, she was a member of the Descartes working group at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Studies (NIAS).

In 2014, Van Renswoude won the Heineken Young Scientist Award for History. She was also awarded a dissertation prize by the Praemium Erasmianum Foundation for her dissertation Licence to Speak. The Rhetoric of Free Speech in late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages, which she completed in 2011 at Utrecht University. The dissertation will be published this year by Cambridge University Press.

Van Renswoude sits on the editorial board of the online journal Medieval Worlds. Comparative and Interdisciplinary Studies.