Jan M. Ziolkowski

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Jan Ziolkowski (born 1956) is the Arthur Kingsley Porter Professor of Medieval Latin at Harvard University and Director of the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection. His scholarship has focused on the literature, especially in Latin, of the Middle Ages.

In the United States, he was elected a Member of the Medieval Academy of America in 2008, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2010, and the American Philosophical Society in 2017.[1] Abroad, he was appointed a corresponding member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in 2006 and of the Academia Europaea in 2015. In 2015 he received the Austrian Cross of Honor for Science and Art, First Class.

He held a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend in 1983, an American Council for Learned Societies Fellowship in 1986, and a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship in 1987-1988. In 2005-2006 he was a Fellow-in-Residence at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study. After becoming U.S. representative to the International Medieval Latin Committee in 1988, he served as Vice President from 1993-1999 and as President from 2000.


Born in New Haven, Connecticut, he is the son of Theodore Ziolkowski, a scholar of German and Comparative Literature. His elder sister is Margaret Ziolkowski, professor of Russian at Miami University (Ohio); his younger brother is Eric Ziolkowski, professor of Religious Studies at Lafayette College.

Jan Ziolkowski received his A.B. summa cum laude from Princeton University in 1977. From 1977 through 1980 he was a Marshall Scholar at the University of Cambridge. In 1980-1981 he was a Fellow at the American Academy in Rome. In 1982 he received his Ph.D. in medieval Latin. At Harvard, where he has taught since 1981 and been tenured as a full professor since 1987, he has chaired the Department of Comparative Literature, the Committee on Medieval Studies, and, briefly, the Department of Classics.

Since 2007, Ziolkowski has served as the seventh Director of the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, a Harvard institution for scholarship in Byzantine, Pre-Columbian, and Garden and Landscape studies, situated on a historic property in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Under his tenure Dumbarton Oaks has substantially expanded the scope and pace of its activities, welcoming to its campus both more scholars (from early to late career) and a larger general public as well as establishing new partnerships with universities and other cultural institutions in the Washington area. Its museum, beyond seeing its public hours doubled, has expanded its program of temporary exhibitions to promote its special holdings to broader audiences.[2]


Ziolkowski’s books include wide-ranging explorations of literary and intellectual history. The first, published in 1985 by the Medieval Academy of America, was Alan of Lille’s Grammar of Sex: The Meaning of Grammar to a Twelfth Century Intellectual. His later investigations include examinations of Medieval Latin literature associated with folk literature, such as Talking Animals: Medieval Latin Beast Poetry, in 1993, and Fairy Tales from Before Fairy Tales: The Medieval Latin Past of Wonderful Lies, in 2007. Both studies are notable for extensive appendixes of translations.

His second book was an edition of Nigel of Canterbury, Miracles of the Virgin Mary, in Verse. Miracula sancte Dei genitricis Marie, uersifice, which appeared as Toronto Medieval Latin Texts 17 in 1986. He later brought into print the original Latin (with English translations) of additional works by the same poet in Nigel of Canterbury, The Passion of St. Lawrence, Epigrams, and Marginal Poems, Mittellateinische Studien und Texte 14, in 1994. His other critical editions of medieval Latin texts, with translations and substantial commentaries, include Jezebel: A Norman Latin Poem of the Early Eleventh Century, in 1989; A Garland of Latin Satire, Wisdom, and History: Verse from Twelfth-Century France (Carmina Houghtoniensia), co-edited with Bridget Balint in 2007; and Solomon and Marcolf, in 2008. His best-known work in this genre was The Cambridge Songs (Carmina cantabrigiensia), in 1994 (reprinted in 1998), which has been taken as the basis for the recording Lost Songs of a Rhineland Harper by Sequentia, an ensemble for medieval music directed by Benjamin Bagby, and for Cambridge Songs Suite No. 1 and No. 2 by the composer Jim Taylor. In English-only volumes, Ziolkowski co-edited The Medieval Craft of Memory: An Anthology of Words and Pictures, with Mary Carruthers in 2002, and translated Letters of Peter Abelard, Beyond the Personal, in 2008.

Ziolkowski's first major involvement in the study of the Roman poet Virgil came in 2008, when he brought out with Michael C. J. Putnam a very large anthology of translations, The Virgilian Tradition: The First Fifteen Hundred Years, published by Yale University Press. In 2014 he brought out the three volumes of The Virgil Encyclopedia, co-edited with Richard F. Thomas, published by Wiley-Blackwell. His first major step into the classical tradition had come in 2007, when his Nota Bene: Reading Classics and Writing Songs in the Early Middle Ages was released in Publications of The Journal of Medieval Latin. This book explores the functions that musical notation served in the reception of Classical Latin literature in early medieval schools and education.

Among his contributions to the study of the Italian poet Dante, Ziolkowski edited Dante and the Greeks, published by Dumbarton Oaks Publications in 2014, and Dante and Islam, published by Fordham University Press in 2015.

In 2018 he brought out The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity, published by Open Book Publishers. These six volumes explores a single story from its first incarnation in a medieval French poem in the early thirteenth century through its later reception from the 1870s down to the present day. Alongside the multivolume scholarship, he arranged for the reprinting of two books, Barbara Cooney, The Little Juggler, Adapted from an Old French Legend and Illustrated, from 1961. and José María Souvirón, El juglarcillo de la Virgen, illustrated by Roser Bru, from 1942. Dumbarton Oaks also published a catalog booklet, written and edited by Jan M. Ziolkowski and Alona Bach, entitled Juggling the Middle Ages, and Juggling the Middle Ages: A Medieval Coloring Book. He put into English a French version of the story for two translations, Anatole France, The Juggler of Our Lady. Written out, illuminated, and historiated by Malatesta, and The Juggler of Notre Dame, illustrated by Maurice Lalau. The context was a special exhibition, Juggling the Middle Ages, from October 15, 2018 through February 28, 2019.

Ziolkowski is general editor of the Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library, a book series that he initiated,[3] which presents medieval primary texts in Byzantine Greek, Medieval Latin, and Old English along with facing-page translations. This Harvard University Press series now has more than 50 volumes in print. The first were released in 2010. He edited and co-translated the volume of Satires by Sextus Amarcius and Eupolemius, in 2011.

His interest in the history and theory of philology became apparent first in the short collection On Philology, published by Penn State Press in 1990.

Partial Bibliography[edit]

Books and monographs


Translation Anthologies

Editions and Translations of Latin Texts

  • Solomon and Marcolf. Harvard Studies in Medieval Latin 1. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2008.
  • Letters of Peter Abelard, Beyond the Personal. Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 2008.
  • Co-editor with Bridget K. Balint. A Garland of Latin Satire, Wisdom, and History: Verse from Twelfth-Century France (Carmina Houghtoniensia). Houghton Library Studies 1. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press for Houghton Library, 2007.
  • The Cambridge Songs (Carmina cantabrigiensia). Garland Library of Medieval Literature, vol. 66, series A. New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1994
  • Nigel of Canterbury, The Passion of St. Lawrence, Epigrams, and Marginal Poems. Mittellateinische Studien und Texte 14. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1994
  • Jezebel: A Norman Latin Poem of the Early Eleventh Century. Humana Civilitas 10. New York: Peter Lang, 1989. ISBN 0-8204-0932-4.
  • Nigel of Canterbury, Miracles of the Virgin Mary, in Verse. Miracula sancte Dei genitricis Marie, uersifice. Toronto Medieval Latin Texts 17. Toronto: Published for the Centre for Medieval Studies by the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1986.


  • Editor of essay collection by various authors. Dante and Islam [1] New York: Fordham University Press, 2015.
  • Editor of essay collection by various authors. Dante and the Greeks [2]. Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Humanities. Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks Publications, 2014.
  • Editor of translated volume. Dag Norberg, An Introduction to the Study of Medieval Latin Versification. Trans. Grant. C. Roti and Jacqueline Skubly. Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 2004.
  • Editor of essay collection by various authors. Obscenity: Social Control and Artistic Creation in the European Middle Ages. Cultures, Beliefs and Traditions 4. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1998.
  • Editor of essay collection by various authors. On Philology. University Park, Pennsylvania: Penn State Press, 1990.


  1. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20170915195158/https://amphilsoc.org/members/electedApril2017
  2. ^ "Inside Dumbarton Oaks". Harvard Gazette. 5 January 2011. Retrieved 12 September 2011.
  3. ^ Lenfield, Spencer (November–December 2010). "A Renaissance for Medieval Classics". Harvard Magazine. Retrieved 12 September 2011.

External links[edit]