Harry Carter
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Harry Carter

Ph.D. Candidate in Comparative Literature, admitted Autumn 2021
2021: M.Phil. with distinction, English Studies (Medieval), St Hilda's College, Oxford (Jeremy Griffiths Memorial Studentship)
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. In an article of mine published in Manuscript and Text Cultures, I argue that Geoffrey Chaucer (1343–1400) brings his songwriting expertise to bear on his approach to writing narrative poetry. In Spring 2024, I am co-teaching a comparative and cross-temporal class on song and poetry, co-designed with Marisa Galvez. We were interviewed about the class by The Stanford Daily.
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 among 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