Kathryn M. Rudy

Kathryn Margaret Rudy FBA FRSE (born 25 February 1969) is a manuscript historian at the University of St Andrews, Scotland. She is best known for her forensic approach to medieval books, and has pioneered the use of the densitometer to measure the grime that original readers deposited in their books.[1] Her research focuses on the medieval reception of manuscripts, how they were manipulated and handled, and how book-making skills were lost with the advent of the printing industry.

Rudy is a Professor in the School of Art History at the University of St Andrews and holds a Leverhulme Major Research Grant (2019-2022). She is a Fellow of the British Academy, Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh[2] and the recipient of its prestigious Sir Walter Scott medal.[3] She has published five books and regularly contributes to scholarly journals.[4][5] She performs lectures in the UK and internationally.[6][7] In 2013 she delivered a TED talk about the secret lives of manuscripts.[8] She is an advocate for digital-born humanities scholarship and open access publishing. Kathryn Rudy’s family hails from Erie, Pennsylvania.


In 2001 Rudy earned her Ph.D in Art History from Columbia University, where she studied with David Freedberg, Simon Schama, and James H. Marrow (at Princeton). She also holds a Licentiate in Mediaeval Studies from the University of Toronto, and a B.A. in English and History of Art from Cornell University (1992).


Before coming to St. Andrews in 2010, Rudy was Curator of Illuminated Manuscripts at the National Library of The Netherlands (The Hague).[9] She has held research, teaching and curatorial positions in the US, UK, Canada, The Netherlands and Belgium. She was promoted to a professorship in the School of Art History at the University of St Andrews in August 2017.


Fellowships, awards and grantsEdit

Rudy has held fellowships from the British Academy, the Bodleian Library,[10] Oxford; the Getty Research Institute,[11] and the Internationales Kolleg für Kulturtechnikforschung und Medienphilosophie (IKKM) at the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar,[12] the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art (2017–18),[13] the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in Amsterdam (2018–19).[14] In 2019-22 held a Leverhulme Major Research Grant, exploring what the pollen and stains found in medieval manuscripts can tell us about their readers and how they were used.[15] In 2019 she was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. In January 2020 she was awarded the Royal Society of Edinburgh's Sir Walter Scott medal for her outstanding contribution to art history.[3] In July 2022 she was elected Fellow of the British Academy.


  1. ^ "Dirty Books: Quantifying Patterns of Use in Medieval Manuscripts Using a Densitometer - Journal of Historians of Netherlandish Art". Journal of Historians of Netherlandish Art. Retrieved 2018-08-02.
  2. ^ "RSE Announces Addition of 62 New Fellows". The Royal Society of Edinburgh. 2019-03-01. Retrieved 2019-07-08.
  3. ^ a b "Prestigious Medals for Pioneering Scientists and Researchers in Scotland". Royal Society of Edinburgh. 15 January 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. ^ "Kathryn M. Rudy - Research publications - University of St Andrews". risweb.st-andrews.ac.uk. Retrieved 2018-08-02.
  5. ^ "Sewing the Body of Christ: Eucharist Wafer Souvenirs Stitched into Fifteenth-Century Manuscripts, primarily in the Netherlands - Journal of Historians of Netherlandish Art". Journal of Historians of Netherlandish Art. Retrieved 2018-08-02.
  6. ^ "The Medieval Academy of America". www.medievalacademy.org. Retrieved 2018-08-02.
  7. ^ "Cores Dilemmas: Between cherishing the damage and cleaning up the mess: 2nd International Symposium - University of St Andrews". risweb.st-andrews.ac.uk. Retrieved 2018-08-02.
  8. ^ TEDx Talks (2013-12-04), The secret lives of medieval manuscripts: Kathryn Rudy at TEDxUniversityofStAndrews 2013, retrieved 2018-08-02
  9. ^ "Medieval Illuminated Manuscripts". manuscripts.kb.nl. Retrieved 2018-08-02.
  10. ^ "Centre for the Study of the Book | 2015-16 Visiting Fellows". www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk. Retrieved 2018-08-02.
  11. ^ "Scholar Year 2015/2016 (Getty Research Institute)". www.getty.edu. Retrieved 2018-08-02.
  12. ^ "Kathryn Rudy — IKKM Weimar". ikkm-weimar.de. Retrieved 2018-08-02.
  13. ^ Centre, Paul Mellon. "Spring 2017 Fellowships Awarded". www.paul-mellon-centre.ac.uk. Retrieved 2018-08-02.
  14. ^ "Current fellows | NIAS". NIAS. Retrieved 2018-08-02.
  15. ^ "Measuring medieval users' responses to manuscripts: new technological approaches | The Leverhulme Trust". www.leverhulme.ac.uk. Retrieved 2018-08-02.