Harry Carter

Harry Carter

Ph.D. Candidate in Comparative Literature, admitted Autumn 2021
2021: M.Phil. with distinction, English Studies (Medieval), St Hilda's College, Oxford
2019: B.A. First Class & Passmore Edwards Prize, Classics and English, Corpus Christi College, Oxford

I work on songs and lyrics, mainly those of Greco-Roman antiquity, Song dynasty China (960–1279 CE), and medieval Western Europe. By examining song lyrics from different traditions in a comparative framework, I try to clarify aspects of how they work that remain blurry or invisible when they are considered in isolation. For instance, in July 2022 I gave a paper at the International Medieval Congress in Leeds, discussing the treatment of ineffability in medieval European fin’amor song lyrics and ci 詞 song lyrics from Song Dynasty China. 

I am also interested in the permeable and productive border between song lyrics and poetry. In March 2023 I gave a paper at the ACLA, arguing that fin’amor song lyrics and ci 詞 song lyrics departed radically and self-consciously from the poetic ideals of their times. I also have an article forthcoming in Manuscript and Text Cultures entitled "‘Going through all these things twice’: the repeated phrase and the refrain in Geoffrey Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde", which argues that Chaucer (1343–1400) brings his songwriting expertise to bear on his approach to writing narrative poetry.
In the academic year 2021–2022 I was Vice Chair of the Early Text Cultures research collective, which organises seminars, conferences and workshops to enable interdisciplinary dialogue between scholars of premodern literature.

I am a member of The Unheard Melodies Project, a musical collaboration with Nigel Smith and Timothy Hampton. The project tries to give new life to old lyrics, through settings, translations and reimaginings.



Research Interests

  • Comparative Studies


  • Medieval Languages, Literatures, and Cultures


  • Poetry and Poetics