Research Aims

LambertusThe Henri Pirenne Institute for Medieval Studies (HPIMS) is a cross-disciplinary research group that brings together all medievalists at Ghent University. It draws its members - some 100 scholars spanning all career stages - from four different faculties and ten departments.

Our members mainly do research in the fields of Archaeology, Art History and Historical Musicology, Geography, History, Law, Literature and Linguistics (Dutch, English, French, Greek, Latin, Scandinavian, Slavonic, and Spanish languages), Philosophy, and Studies of the Near East. The Institute fosters cross-disciplinary research into the medieval period and advances knowledge exchange both between these different fields of study, as well as with societal partners and the general public.

Fundamental critical research of original medieval texts, images, maps, and artefacts is our core business, but the HPIMS also houses expertise in digital humanities, outreach and co-creation with archives, libraries, museums and other cultural heritage institutions and with the educational sectors and policy makers. We foster interaction with the general public as much as possible.

During the academic year, the HPIMS organises the Medieval Seminar Series, consisting of monthly Lunch Lectures and specific Source Seminars or thematic Collaborative Workshops. We also organise an annual international Autumn School for advanced MA- and PhD-students with which we cater to existing needs in research and education.

The basis for our education and our role as a knowledge broker is always the latest academic research:

Across disciplines

We work towards heightened cross-disciplinarity within Medieval Studies at Ghent University by:

  • Combining multiple specialist sub-disciplines in research projects
  • Incentivizing mutually beneficial exchange of methodological and conceptual approaches through our activities
  • Fostering a strong tradition of fundamental analysis of primary source materials with the aid of the auxiliary sciences

To this end Ghent University has mandated and funded a core Pirenne Consortium of 29 promoters to facilitate new interdisciplinary collaborations.

Across cultures

Our research spans the corners of the medieval world, looking beyond the boundaries between cultures, often within explicitly comparative project-frameworks.

Research is currently conducted on aspects of:

  • Western and Southern Europe, Nordic and Slavonic cultures, and the Near East, Islamic and Byzantine worlds

The cross-cultural approach also results in multi-period research, for instance across:

  • Late-Antiquity and the Middle Ages
  • The medieval and early-modern periods

Across periods

One of our focal points is diachronic research, tracking changes over different parts of the Middle Ages but also for instance crossing:

  • Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages
  • The medieval and early modern periods
  • The boundaries between the modern world and its medieval past (medievalisms)

Research management & consortium

The Henri Pirenne Institute for Medieval Studies is managed by an Executive Committee and a larger board or Steering Committee, both of which are elected for two years (2022-2024). The current chair is Jan Dumolyn and the research coordinator and first contact is Stefan Meysman.

In 2013 our Institute was awarded funding by the Special Research Fund (BOF) of Ghent University in a strategic effort to incentivize and consolidate cutting-edge SSH research and promote both internal, cross-disciplinary collaboration as well as internationalization and outreach. This is when the Henri Pirenne Research Consortium was founded. The promoter-spokesperson of the consortium is Jeroen Deploige.