Reference Works: Companions, Handbooks, Encyclopedias

Arc Humanities’ Reference Works bring together the best of international research in authoritative edited collections that have enduring benefit to scholars and students alike. Topics are carefully selected to last the test of time and, in the best cases, these works are consulted for decades. The programme includes historical, textual, and material source books, readers for students that collate and curate required essays for courses, and our Companion programme.

Arc’s Companions programme includes curated volumes that have a global perspective and that earn their shelf space by their authoritative and comprehensive content, up-to-date information, accessibility, and relevance. As well as providing an overview of the topics, contributing authors are encouraged to challenge the status quo, and recognise contentious issues and cutting-edge concerns. The Companions acknowledge diversity and inclusivity, and open students up to the idea that research is evolving, debatable, and contested and not always definitive.

Arc also publishes a small number of themed multi-volume collections that bring together the most significant published work in the area, edited by a renowned expert in the field who selects the essays and contributes an introduction that presents an overview of the topic. The essays are re-set and reproduced in full and indexed in elegantly bound multi-volume sets. They constitute a major resource for libraries, students, and scholars.

Editorial Contact

Danna Messer –  [email protected]

The Encyclopedia of the Global Middle Ages

The Encyclopedia of the Global Middle Ages is a new and exclusive reference work written by an international group of scholars which combines thematic overviews, primary source analyses, and core case studies. Compared with previous such publications it aims to be both inclusive and global, and to present medieval studies in a forward-looking way. Together with our partners, Bloomsbury Academic, who will be placing this resource at the heart of their new online medieval platform.

Arc is commissioning several hundred scholars to write articles, whether general introductions to topics, case-studies, articles on objects or the material culture of the period, and guides to further study and research. The encyclopedic material will be searchable interactively, linked to a wealth of visual and pedagogical resources, making it accessible to scholars, teachers, and students alike.

Reviewed in ereviews (2020) by Michael Rodriguez, Collections Strategist, University of Connecticut, Storrs:

“Exclusive to this [Bloomsbury Medieval Studies] database is the Encyclopedia of the Global Middle Ages, a new reference work written by an international group of scholars and commissioned by Arc Humanities Press. Chapters are organized in clusters rather than alphabetically, with thematic overviews (e.g., queenship or disabilities) and case studies (e.g., injuries and amputation). Coverage extends to material culture, with studies of Eastern European visual culture and iconography of the Virgin Mary.

The scope of Encyclopedia of the Global Middle Ages is global, with articles on Kosovo, Korea, Ethiopia, Oceania, Delhi, and the Maya. This inclusivity contrasts with older seminal works—Encyclopedia of the Middle Ages (Brill), Lexikon des Mittelalters (Brepols), Dictionary of the Middle Ages (American Council of Learned Societies), and The Oxford Dictionary of the Middle Ages—that provided Eurocentric and increasingly dated perspectives. Whereas the Oxford Dictionary of the Middle Ages lists not a single entry on China, Bloomsbury provides three substantive articles on China’s Tang Dynasty (618–907), Empress Wu Zetian, and trade with the Islamic Middle East. Each article runs about 2,000–6,000 words and recommends books and articles for further reading. New articles will be added twice a year (approximately 90,000 words annually). Content is diverse and eye-opening.”

Available as part of the online Bloomsbury Medieval Studies platform..


Premodern Europe and the global world, Eurasian connections – 3rd-17th centuries

Evaluation and Peer Review

This brand of single and multi-volume works is developed through personal invitation of specialists capable of bringing together a comprehensive study of a topic, particularly one that takes a more global or confrontational perspective than heretofore. The invitation is based on the press’s research into suitable scholars who are already established authorities in the field. Notwithstanding, all submitted manuscripts are subject to peer review from an independent expert chosen by the press.

Titles Published – Companions

Titles Published – Reference