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Grant number: FT-229287-15

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Jenny Adams
University of Massachusetts, Amherst (Amherst, MA 01003-9242)

Student Debt and University Life in Medieval Oxford

Summer research and writing on British Literature, and Intellectual and Medieval History.

In "Unlocking St. Frideswide's Chest" I examine the earliest student loan program in the light of medieval and early modern understandings higher education. As I argue, the appearance of academic loans in thirteenth-century Oxford shaped almost every facet of medieval university life, from the curriculum itself to the cultural understandings of student labor. Unlike current student loans, which collateralize future earnings, medieval student loans collateralized real property, so the production of knowledge was not connected anticipated income. Instead, this real property most often took the form of an academic book, which suggests economic pressures on the medieval curriculum that scholars have not yet accounted for. This is the first book to study the impact of student loans on the medieval student experience and to offer a historical context for our current national anxieties about student debt.

Project fields:
British Literature; Intellectual History; Medieval History

Summer Stipends

Research Programs

Total amounts:
$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2015 – 7/31/2015