The French of England:
Multilingualism in Practice, c. 1100-c. 1500

27th Annual Conference of the Center for Medieval Studies, Fordham University
Friday, March 30 - Sunday, April 1, 2007
At the Lincoln Center Campus of Fordham University

Medieval England presents a historical example of European multilingualism striking for the diversity of "cultural traffic" between the English and French languages. This conference addresses the sociolinguistic plurality of French in England in its documentary and literary forms, internal and external interrelations, and cross-disciplinary importance to Middle English and continental French Medieval Studies. Speakers will come from history (including legal history); literature; religion; art history; and linguistics. The conference aims:

  1. to promote wider scholarly awareness of the French of England as a field, of medieval England as a multilingual society, and of links between insular and continental Frenches;
  2. to work towards a Middle English literary and cultural studies fully inclusive of French; and
  3. to explore beyond the traditional subdivisions (Norman French, Anglo-Norman, Anglo-French, continental French/es) towards a more inclusive account of French in England and its interrelations with other languages

The French of England Project

The French of England (FoE), a term describing the French texts that circulated in medieval England (covering both Anglo-Norman and Anglo-French), is a major but relatively under-researched field, which has largely tended to fall between the nationalizing literary and cultural histories of England and France. Inaugurated at Fordham University in 2001 and now sponsored jointly by the Center for Medieval Studies at Fordham University in New York City and the Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of York in England, FoE has received generous financial support from the National Endowment for the Humanities in the USA, the Modern Humanities Research Association in the UK, and the Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Fordham.
     The Project was created to increase awareness of and access to the francophone texts of medieval England.  For at least 400 years in England, French was a major language of literary and cultural pursuits, of documentation and record, of instruction, and of various professions. In literature alone, nearly a thousand texts have now been catalogued, many needing modern editions. Still greater bodies of French material exist in administrative, mercantile, professional and legal records. The history and literary cultures of medieval England cannot adequately be understood without investigation of England’s extensive French corpus. FoE aims to increase awareness of and access to this field by its own translations and other publications and by encouraging the research of students and seasoned scholars alike. For more information, please see the Project website at

A sister conference, The French of England: Linguistic Accommodation and Cultural Hybridities, will take place in The Centre for Medieval Studies, The King’s Manor, University of York, UK, over 13-16th July 2007 (, to be immediately followed by the York Manuscripts Conference, which in 2007 will be on “French and French-Influenced Manuscripts in England” and take place over 17th-19th July 2007. For further information, please contact Prof. Jocelyn Wogan-Browne ( and Prof. Linne Mooney ( )

Image: Edward the Confessor returns from his Norman upbringing to take up the English throne (CUL, Ee. 3. 59, f. 8v)

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