A prolific medievalist of international renown, Le Goff is sometimes considered the principal heir and continuator of the movement known as Annales School (École des Annales), founded by his intellectual mentor Marc Bloch. Le Goff succeeded Fernand Braudel in 1972 at the head of the École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS) and was succeeded by François Furet in 1977. Along with Pierre Nora, he was one of the leading figure of New History (Nouvelle histoire) in the 1970s.
Since then, he has dedicated himself to studies on the historical anthropology of Western Europe during medieval times. He is well-known for contesting the very name of "Middle Ages" and its chronology, highlighting achievements of this period and variations inside it, in particular by attracting attention to the Renaissance of the 12th century.