Professor Charles Burnett
Research Summary and Profile
- Research interests:
- Ancient History, Cultural memory, History of the book, International Relations, Manuscript studies, Medieval History, Music, Palaeography, Philosophy, Regional history
- Africa, Asia, Europe, Middle East, United Kingdom
- Summary of research interests and expertise:
Arabic and Islamic influences in Europe. The transmission of philosophy, science, medicine and magic from the Islamic world to Medieval and Renaissance Europe principally via translations from Arabic into Latin made in Spain, Sicily, and the Crusader States, The parallel transmission of Greek works into Latin. The cultural milieu of the translators. The importance of Arabic authorities in the curricula of the medieval universities. The printing of translations from Arabic in the Renaissance. The beginnings of Arabic studies in Europe. The European reception of the Qur'an. Attitudes towards Islam.
The theory of music in the Middle Ages. The music of the spheres.
The introduction of humanism into China and Japan by the Jesuits. European knowledge of, and reaction to the fortune of Christians in the Far East.
Spoken Written German Intermediate Good Italian - Good Latin - Fluent Portuguese - Intermediate French Good Good Spanish - Good Japanese Intermediate Intermediate
- Publication Details
Date Details 01-Jan-2013 2. ‘East (and South) Asian Traditions in Astrology and Divination as Viewed from the West’, in Les Astres et le destin: astrologie et divination en Asie Orientale, Extrême orient-- Extrême occident, 35, 2013, pp. 285-93. (3450 words)
01-Sep-2013 3. ‘John North’ in Biographical Memoirs of Felllows of the British Academy XI, London, 2012, pp. 493-99. (2463 words)
01-Jan-2012 Laurence Wuidar, Musique et astrologie après le Concile de Trente
Institut historique belge de Rome, Études d’histoire de l’art 10, Brepols: Brussels and Rome, 2008, 222 pp.
Annals of Science
01-Sep-2012 1. ‘The Arabo-Latin Aristotle’, in The Letter before the Spirit: The Importance of Text Editions for the Study of the Reception of Aristotle, ed. A.M. I. van Oppenraay, Leiden and Boston, 2012, p. 95-107. (2964 words)
01-Jan-2012 Greek Into Latin from Antiquity until the Nineteenth Century
Warburg Institute and Nigno Aragno
01-Jan-2012 Medieval Arabic Thought: Essays in Honour of Fritz Zimmermann.
01-Jan-2012 Plato Amongst the Arabic-Latin Translators of the Twelfth Century
Il Timeo, Esegesi greche, arabe, latine, ed. Francesco Celia and Angela Ulacco, Greco, Arabo, Latino, Le vie del sapere, Studi, Pisa. pp. 269-306
01-Jan-2012 New Testimonies for the Text of Raymond of Marseilles ’On the astrolabe’
01-Jan-2011 ‘De meliore homine. ‘Umar ibn al-Farrukh?n al-?abar? on Interrogations: A Fourth Translation by Salio of Padua?’
Adorare caelestia, gubernare terrena: Atti del colloquio internazionale in onore di Paolo Lucentini (Napoli, 6-7 Novembre 2007), eds Pasquale Arfé, Irene Caiazzo, and Antonella Sannino, pp. 295-325.
01-Jan-2011 Geomancy in the Islamic World and Western Europe
Zhouyi Studies (English Version), 7, pp. 176-80
01-Jan-2011 William of Conches and Adelard of Bath
Guillaume de Conches: Philosophie et science au XIIe siècle, ed. B. Obrist and I. Caiazzo, pp. 67-77
01-Jan-2011 Communities of Learning in Twelfth-Century Toledo
Communities of Learning: Networks and the Shaping of Intellectual Identity in Europe, 110-1500, Turnhout, 2011, pp. 9-1818.
01-Jan-2010 Numerals and Arithmetic in the Middle Ages
Interrelating articles on the different forms of numerals used in the Middle Ages, and the methods of calculation in which they were used.
01-Jan-2009 Arabic into Latin in the Middle Ages: The Translators and their Intellectual and Social Context
Substantial articles on the translators of Arabic into Latin from the late tenth century until the mid-thirteenth century, and their cultural and intellectual contexts
01-Jan-2000 Abu Ma‘sar on Historical Astrology, The Book of Religions and Dynasties (On the Great Conjunctions), ed. and transl. K. Yamamoto and C. Burnett
The major textbook of the Middle Ages on predicting events concerning nations and religions.
01-Jan-1997 The Introduction of Arabic Learning into England (The Panizzi Lectures, 1996)
An account of the introduction of Arabic science and philosophy into ENgland, via translations from Arabic into Latin, and of how these texts where used in the Royal Court and became part of the curriculum of Oxford University.
01-Jan-1997 The Second Sense: Studies in Hearing and Musical Judgement from Antiquity to the Seventeenth Century, edited by C. Burnett, M. Fend and P. M Gouk
An edited volume of conference papers focusing on theories of hearing, the comparison between hearing and seeing, the iconography of hearing and how hearing contributes to the appreciation of music.
01-Jan-1996 Magic and Divination in the Middle Ages: Texts and Techniques in the Islamic and Christian Worlds
A collection of articles, both previously published and newly published, on magic and divination.
01-Jan-1995 Jesuit Plays on Japan and English Recusancy (with Masahiro Takenaka)
Editions and translations of plays written in the early seventeenth century on the them of Japanese Christian martyrs and performed in the Jesuit school of St Omer by children of English Catholics.
1985 Pseudo-Bede, De mundi celestis terrestrisque constitutione: a Treatise on the Universe and the Soul, edition, translation and commentary
London: Warburg Institute Surveys and Texts 10
1984 A Checklist of the Manuscripts Containing Writings of Peter Abelard and Heloise and Other Works Closely Associated with Abelard and his School
Revue d’histoire des textes, 14–15 (with David Luscombe and Julia Barrow)
01-Jan-1982 Hermann of Carinthia, De essentiis, critical edition, translation and commentary
An edition and translation of a work on the universe and on man, written by a highly intelligent scholar who had direct access to both Latin and Arabic sources.
- Research Projects & Supervisions
Details Astrolabes in Medieval Jewish Society
A three-year project analysing all the astrolabes from the Middle Ages for which there are indications that they passed through Jewish hands, and all the texts on constructing and using astrolabes written in Hebrew
Catalogue of Commentaries on Aristotle from British Sources
A catalogue of all the commentaries in British manuscripts on the works of Aristotle
Islam and Tibet
A four-year project on the relations between Islam and the Tibet from the 8th to the 14th century involving two full-time researchers.
The production and reading of musical sources
A project, on which I am co-investigator, addressing the relationship of notes, words and images in manuscripts and printed secular music written between 1480 and 1530.
Current PhD topics supervised:
Dates Details From: 01-Oct-2012
Arabic Manuals on Treasure Hunting
This thesis investigates the genre of treasure hunting, whose methods include astrology, magic and historical knowledge. The text derive mainly from Egypt, where there was a could chance of finding treasure.
The Relationship between commentaries and Illustrations in Medieval Commentaries on Ovid's Metamorphoses
Both illustrations and commentaries interpret a text. In this thesis the select few manuscripts that include both illustrations and commentaries to Ovid's Metamorphoses are investigated. The majority of these contain versions of the commentary of Pierre Bersuire.
Astronomy and Cosmology in Antioch in the mid Twelfth Century
An analysis (including complete editions and translations) of the first translations into Latin of Ibn al-Haytham's On the Configuration of the World and Ptolemy's Almagest, produced in Antioch in the mid-twelfth century.
Past PhD topics supervised:
Dates Details From:
Duns Scottus's Metaphysics
The metaphysical thought in the Sentences of the fourteenth-century theologian Duns Scottus
Avicenna's Psychology in the Latin West
The translation of the book on psychology ('On the soul') from Avicenna's Shifa', and its influence on medieval Western philosophers.
Medieval Concepts of the World Year
The different values given to long periods of time (called 'world years'), their origins and diffusion.
Hermes Trismegistus in the Middle Ages
The references to Hermes Trismegistus (particularly, the Asclepius) in Latin theologians of the later Middle Ages
Magic at St Augustine's, Canterbury
The practice of magic and the presence of magical texts in manuscripts at the Benedictine monastery of St Augustine's, Canterbury.
The tradition of describing the harmonic relationship of body and soul which developed into the idea of the music produced by the human voice.
About ten more PhD topics
medieval philosophy, Latin philology, history of science.
- Professional Affiliations
Name Activity COST Action Medioevo Europeo Networking, organising conferences, setting up data bases etc. SOURCEM Coordination of research projects in France
Name Type Activity Start date End date Keiji Yamamoto Writing books together Editing and translating the major Arabic and Latin astrological texts of the Middle Ages Gerrit Bos Writing books together Editing and translating the Arabic, Hebrew and Latin versions of Maimonides's medical works. Tzvi Langermann writing books together Editing and translating the Arabic, Hebrew and Latin versions of Averroes, On Theriac
- Relevant Events
Date Details Conferences on the topics of my research, and in connection with the research projects that I direct
Frequent keynote speaker, presenter of conference papers, and academic organiser, and occasional appearance on a radio programme.
- Consultancy & Media
- Available for consultancy:
- Media experience: