Dr David Rundle is a Renaissance historian and a palaeographer, studying the evidence surviving manuscripts can provide for the circulation of ideas across Europe, from the Mediterranean to Britain. He is based in the Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies (MEMS), where he is Senior Lecturer in Latin and Palaeography and, for 2022/23, Acting Co-Director of MEMS. He joined the University of Kent in September 2018, having previously taught in Oxford, London, Essex and Florence.
David's research has three main elements. One is the role of books within the late medieval and early modern culture of western Europe, at a time when the majority in most societies were illiterate. Another is the movement of ideas within the shared civilisation of Western Christendom, a topic he studies by using the physical evidence of surviving manuscripts to track the availability of and responses to works. This leads to the third element: the power of ideas in politics in the period – or, more often, their lack of power. As the humanist and future pope Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini said: 'Only a fool thinks princes are swayed by books'. David is on the side of the fools.
David took all his degrees at the Oxford college of Christ Church. He renewed his association with the college when he was asked to complete the catalogue of the college's medieval manuscripts: this appeared as a volume, co-authored with Ralph Hanna, in 2017. He is now (again with Professor Hanna) working on the catalogue of the manuscripts of Magdalen College, Oxford. A monograph, The Renaissance Reform of the Book and Britain, was published with Cambridge University Press in 2019, as part of their Studies in Palaeography series. His next monograph, which is nearing completion, is provisionally titled Instaurations in the Making: England and the Identity of Italian Renaissance Humanism.
David has received grants from the British Academy, the British School at Rome, the Paul Mellon Centre, and Oxford University's Lyell Fund. He spent the spring of 2018 on a fellowship at Harvard University's Houghton Library.
David’s main duties are teaching the core modules in palaeography and Latin to MEMS MA students, as well as supporting PhD scholars in their studies in those areas. He also teaches for the School of History at undergraduate level.
David is always happy to work with any graduate student on topics in manuscript studies and in the history of the book more generally, as well as in late medieval and Renaissance history across Europe, including the British Isles.
David is Managing Editor of the journal, Medium Ævum, and a General Editor to the Oxford Bibliographical Society. He is also co-convenor (with Professor Julia Crick) of the London Manuscript Studies seminar held regularly in Senate House.
David is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and member of the Comité internationale de paléographie latine.