Mary Garrison



AB (Harvard-Radcliffe College), MA, PhD (Cantab)

Mary Garrison is an early medieval historian in the Department of History.



Mary Garrison's research interests range across the literary and cultural history of early Medieval Europe, with Alcuin of York often at the centre. Her publications include innovative articles on Alcuin, Carolingian court culture, letters, literacy, and communication, early medieval ideology, the contribution of Insular scholars to Carolingian Europe, Medieval Latin literature (epistolography, poetry, rhetoric, liturgy, consolation literature and the reception of the classics) and manuscript studies. The rhetoric of frank speech (parrhesia) is a current focus. Before coming to York she worked for three years at the University of Utrecht. Forthcoming publications include Alcuin's World through his Letters and Verse (Cambridge) and a co-edited volume on Latin and the Vernaculars in the Early Medieval West.


Her PhD students (including interdisciplinary doctorates co-supervised through the CMS) have worked on:

  • Concepts of the Self in Old English
  • Kinship in the Viking Diaspora
  • Perceptions of Viking Violence
  • Names for God in Old English
  • Carolingian Concepts of the Inner Self
  • The Symbolic Life of Birds in Anglo-Saxon England
  • Early Medieval Rhaetia
  • The Vitae of Saint Agnes in England
  • Boniface and his Mission

She welcomes enquires from students interested in any aspect of early medieval insular or continental cultural history and is always eager to encourage those interested in Medieval Latin


Selected publications

Articles (selected)

  • 'Alcuin's Library at York' in R. Gameson (ed.), The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain: From the Romans to the Normans c.400-c.1100 (forthcoming).
  • 'An Aspect of Alcuin: "Tuus Albinus" - Peevish Egotist or Parrhesiast?' in Ego Trouble: Authors and their Identities in the Early Middle Ages, ed. R. Corradini, R. McKitterick, M. Gillis, I. van Renswoude (Vienna, 2010), pp. 137-151.
  • 'Liaisons Dangereuses: Hiërarchie, Respect en Amicitia aan het Karolingische hof', in Middeleeuwse Magister: Feestbundel aangeboden an Árpád P. Orbán bij zijn emeritaat, ed. Mariken Teeuwen and Els Rose (Middeleeuwse Studies en Bronnen cxvii) (Hilversum, 2008), pp. 13-30.
  • 'Divine Election for nations - a difficult rhetoric for medieval scholars?' in Lars Boje Mortensen (ed.), The Making of Christian Myths in the Periphery of Latin Christendom (c. 1000-1300) (Copenhagen, 2006), pp. 275-314.
  • 'Quid Hinieldus cum Christo' in Katherine O'Brien O'Keefe and Andy Orchard (ed.), Latin Learning and English Lore: Studies in Anglo-Saxon Literature for Michael Lapidge (Toronto 2005), 2 vols, I, pp. 237-259.
  • 'Lehakir adam mi'yemei habeina'im - Alcuin umichtavav' (i.e 'Getting acquainted with a medieval man: Alcuin of York and his letters') Zmanim 89 (2005), pp. 72-77 [in Hebrew].
  • Oxford New Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford 2004): 'Hygbald', 'Joseph Scottus', 'Fredegisus'.
  • Alcuin and Tibullus' in M.C. Díaz y Díaz and J. M. Díaz de Bustamante (eds.), Poesía Latina Medieval (siglos v-xv), (Actas del IV congreso del 'Internationales Mittellateinerkomitee', Santiago de Compostela, 12-15 de Septiembre de 2002) (Florence 2005), pp. 749-759.
  • 'Les correspondants d'Alcuin', in P. Depreux and B. Judic (eds.), Actes du colloque "Alcuin à Tours" Annales de Bretagne et des pays de l'Ouest, 111, 4 (December 2004), pp. 319-332.
  • 'Praesagum nomen tibi: The Significance of Name-Wordplay in Meta Niederkorn-Bruck and Anton Scharer (eds.), Alcuin's letters to Arn' Erzbischof Arn von Salzburg 784/85-821 (Vienna 2004), pp. 107-127.
  • 'The missa pro principe in the Bobbio Missal', in Y. Hen and R. Meens (eds.), The Bobbio Missal: Liturgy and Religious Culture in Merovingian Gaul (Cambridge 2004), pp. 187-205.
  • 'The Franks as the New Israel: Education for an Identity from Pippin to Charlemagne' in Y. Hen and M. Innes (eds.), The Uses of the Past in Early Medieval Europe (Cambridge, 2000).
  • 'Send More Socks: On Mentality and the Preservation Context of Early Medieval Letters' in M. Mostert (ed.), New Approaches to Medieval Communication (Utrecht Studies in Medieval Literacy 1 (Turnhout 1999).
  • 'Letters to a King and biblical Exempla: The Examples of Cathuulf and Clemens Peregrinus' in Early Medieval Europe 7, 3 (1998).
  • 'The Social World of Alcuin: Nicknames at York and at the Carolingian Court' in L. Houwen and A. MacDonald (eds.), Alcuin of York: Scholar at the Carolingian Court (Germania Latina III) (Groningen 1998).
  • 'The English and the Irish at the Court of Charlemagne' in P. Butzer, M. Kerner and W. Oberschelp (eds.), Charlemagne and his Heritage: 1200 Years of Civilization and Science in Europe vol. 1 (Turnhout 1997).
  • 'The Emergence of Carolingian Latin Literature and the Court of Charlemagne (780-814) in R. McKitterick (ed.), Carolingian Culture: Emulation and Innovation (Cambridge 1994).




  • The Uses of Writing in the 'Dark' Ages

External activities


Mary Garrison is a member of the advisory board of the Oxford Boethius Commentary Project. She is also part of an international team of collaborators on the Martianus Capella gloss project run by Mariken Teuuwen at the Huygens Institute in the Hague.

Media coverage

Mary Garrison also has a strong commitment to communicating the excitement of early medieval cultural history to a broader audience.

Contact details

Dr Mary Garrison
Vanbrugh College V/215
Department of History
University of York
YO10 5DD

Tel: Internal 2963, External (01904) 322963