Paul Russell

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Paul Russell is Professor of Celtic in the Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic in the University of Cambridge. He holds degrees in Classics and Comparative Philology from the University of Oxford, where he also completed a DPhil on the history of the Celtic languages. His research interests range across all the Celtic languages and medieval Latin, and include learned texts (especially early Irish glossaries, and the reception and glossing of classical texts in the medieval west), Celtic philology and linguistics, hagiography, early Welsh orthography, Middle Welsh translation texts, grammatical texts, and medieval Welsh law. He has published widely in all these fields.


Professor Russell is currently Principal Investigator on an Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded collaborative project, Vitae Sanctorum Cambriae, based in Cambridge and Aberstwyth (a three-year project started in January 2017). These Latin lives are widely recognised as a major body of medieval literature and have continuing cultural resonance in a country where saints remain a very visible part of the heritage. Yet very few of the texts have been subjected to modern scrutiny nor set into a broader British or Continental context, despite huge advances in recent decades in the study of Latin texts from medieval Britain. The main goals of the research project are as follows: to understand these texts and their contexts better; to make available for wider comparative study a corpus of material that has been very unevenly treated; to develop our appreciation of the nature and significance of native saints’ cults in medieval Wales; and to trace the transmission of these texts into wider hagiographical collections and into the post-Reformation period.


In the Spring 2019 semester, Professor Russell is a Joint Visiting Faculty Fellow at the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies and Notre Dame’s Medieval Institute. He is continuing his hagiographical research during his semester-long visit.


Professor Russell will lecture on “St. David and Ireland: Saints and Texts on the Road” on Friday, March 1, 3:30 p.m., in Room 1050 Jenkins Nanovic Halls. This lecture takes place on the feast of St. David (Gŵyl Ddewi), and so he is at the centre of the discussion. There are several lives of St. David extant—ranging in date from the late eleventh to the fifteenth century--and even later (including an entirely unstudied version by Gerald of Wales). These lives are inter-related but copies have spread far and wide, and this lecture explores how Ireland and Irish saints, some disciples of David, are variously depicted.


Read more about Professor Russell on the University of Cambridge website.