The Centre for Medieval Studies is a thriving research community. We foster an interdisciplinary space for the discussion of the medieval world.

With over 35 medievalist staff members and 160 research students and research associates, we are the largest community of academic medievalists outside Oxford. CMS is run by two Co-Directors (currently Marianne Ailes and Ad Putter), an executive committee, and an international advisory board.

Executive Committee

Centre Co-Director: Professor Ad Putter (English)

Centre Co-Director: Professor Marianne Ailes (French)

MA Medieval Studies Programme Director: Dr Leonardo Costantini (Classics)

Research Events Organiser: Eileen Gardiner (Honorary Fellow)

Publicity Officer: Dr Steve Bull (English)

Publications Series General Editor: Ronald Musto (Honorary Fellow)

Publications Series Co-Editor: Dr Benjamin Pohl (History)

International Development Officer: Professor Kathleen Kennedy (Global Professor, PW2) and

Professor Helen Fulton (English)

PGR Rep: Ali Al-Khafaji

MA Rep: Ben Cattle

CMS Intern: Shauna Roach

Centre Members

Ad Putter

Professor of Medieval English Literature, Department of English

My interests are in medieval literatures and languages, particularly medieval English, French, Latin and Dutch. I began my research career with a study of the influence of French Arthurian romance on Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. My PhD dissertation of the topic was published by Oxford University Press as Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and French Arthurian Romance. The Gawain Poet has remained an interest of mine ever since: my latest contribution to this area is an edition of all four poems for Penguin, The Works of the Gawain Poet (2014), co-edited with my colleague Myra Stokes. I am also interested in other stories about King Arthur, and wrote the chapter on the twelfth century in The Cambridge Companion to the Arthurian Legend, which I co-edited with Elizabeth Archibald. Editing the Gawain poet led to an interest in the metre of alliterative poetry, and with Judith Jefferson I have explored the metres of Middle English alliterative poems and romances in articles and books. I am currently working on a Leverhume-funded research project on Anglo-Dutch relations in the medieval and early modern period. In 2019 I was elected Fellow of the British Academy. 

Adrian Ailes

Honorary Research Associate, Department of English

Anke Holdenried

Senior Lecturer in Medieval History, Department of History

My work explores medieval Europe’s rich and diverse cultural and intellectual history, especially in relation to two broad areas: (1) the study – within cultural frameworks – of approaches to the future and (2) study of the migration and transmission of ideas across different cultures. 

The following are particular research interests of mine:

Manuscript studies; ideas about time, apocalypticism, and prophecy; intellectual, literary, religious cultures to c.1300; history of scholarship (medieval to early modern)

I focused on apocalypticism and medieval ideas about the End of the World in my book, The Sibyl and Her Scribes: Manuscripts and Interpretation of the Latin Sibylla Tiburtina c.1050-1500 (formerly Ashgate 2006 – Routledge 2017 [Hardback and e-book]). There I examined the relationship between apocalyptic prophecy and medieval political propaganda through the detailed examination of more than 100 surviving manuscripts of a specific text – a Last Emperor prophecy known as the Sibylla Tiburtina, which enjoyed great popularity in medieval Europe. This was just one of the many anonymous prophetic texts which had widespread influence in medieval culture. I continue to research in this field, analysing how such prophetic texts function in their historical context.

Anna Havinga

Senior Lecturer in Sociolinguistics, Department of German

My research is centred on historical sociolinguistics. I’m generally interested in language variation and change, more particularly in language policy, language standardisation, and language attitudes. My research specialisms are linguistic developments in 18th- and 19th-century German on the one hand, and the vernacularisation of late medieval documentary legal texts on the other.

With regard to the former, I published a monograph on the invisibilisation of Upper German variants in 18th-century Austria in 2018 and, with Bettina Lindner-Bornemann, a co-edited volume on German language use in the 18th century in 2022. Furthermore, I have been exploring intra-individual variation in private texts from the 19th century.

My research on vernacularisation, i.e. the replacement of Latin by vernacular languages, has so far mainly focussed on the Aberdeen Council Registers (1398-1511) and the Lübecker Niederstadtbuch (1430-1451). Research on further Germanic sources is planned.

In addition, I am co-leading the German part of the Linguistics in MFL project, which aims to introduce linguistics in school-based language teaching. We have recently published arguments for the inclusion of linguistics in an article in Modern Languages Open (2021).

Anne Baden-Daintree

Lecturer in English, Department of English

Benjamin Pohl

Associate Professor in Medieval History, Department of History

Benjamin’s main research interests are medieval European history and historiography, with a special focus on manuscript studies, palaeography and codicology, book history, historical writing, and cultural memory. He has published widely on the history of medieval Normandy, England, and other parts of Europe (incl. Southern Italy and Germany). He is the creator and curator of the online exhibition History and Community: 20 Exhibits from Downside Abbey, which runs from 2020–25.

His publications include the authored books Dudo of Saint-Quentin’s Historia NormannorumTradition, Innovation and Memory (Boydell/YMP, 2015), The Bristol Merlin: Revealing the Secrets of a Medieval Fragment (ARC/AUP, 2021, w/ Leah Tether and Laura Chuhan Campbell), Abbatial Authority and the Writing of History in the Middle Ages (OUP, 2023), and Publishing in a Medieval Monastery: The View from Twelfth-Century Engelberg (CUP, 2023); the edited volumes Record, Relate, Remember: Narrative Constructions of Memory and Generation in Antiquity and the Middle Ages (UBP, 2012, w/ Hartwin Brandt et al.), A Companion to the Abbey of Le Bec in the Central Middle Ages (11th–13th Centuries) (Brill, 2017, w/ Laura Gathagan), History & Community = special issue of The Downside Review (Sage, 2021), and The Cambridge Companion to the Age of William the Conqueror (CUP, 2022); plus over 40 journal articles and book chapters.

He is currently writing two new books, one on the thirteenth-century cartulary of Aynho Hospital (w/ Richard Allen), and the other on the Carolingian church of St Michael (Michaelskirche) in Fulda (w/ Notger Baumann et al.)

Beth Williamson

Professor of Medieval Culture and Chair in the History of Art, Department of History

Beth Williamson’s current research interests include medieval religious and devotional practice, especially in relation to visual and aural culture. She concentrates particularly on the forms and functions of religious imagery, the relationships between liturgy, devotion, and visual culture, materials and materiality, and on sensory and bodily experience. The primary geographical areas on which she has focussed are Italy, Northern France and the Netherlands, and England. Particular research at the moment involves aspects of religious devotion in medieval England in the late medieval period, including the ways in which devotional practice intersects with the concepts of time and space, sight and sound, and distance and difficulty. From September 2020 Prof. Williamson will be engaged in a three-year Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship focussing on this material, working towards a book entitled Describing Devotion.

Brendan Smith

Professor of Medieval History, Department of History

I specialise in the history of the British Isles from the twelfth to the fifteenth century, with a particular interest in Ireland. I have a strong commitment to making the sources for late medieval history more easily available to academic scholars and students, and consider it a particular honour to be asked to address local history societies in Ireland and the U.K.

Carol Meale

Senior Research Fellow in English, Department of English

Carolyn Muessig

Honorary Senior Research Fellow, Department of Religion and Theology

Cathy Hume

Senior Lecturer in English Literature, Department of English

My main current research project is on biblical poetry in Middle English.  Middle English Biblical Poetry: Romance, Audience and Tradition was published in 2021 by Boydell and Brewer: it’s a study of 6 poems, including the Gawain­­-poet’s Patience and Cleanness.  I have also published a few articles on this subject, including one in New Medieval Literatures 18 on the fifteenth-century Life of Job.   I am now starting work on a new edition of some biblical poems for TEAMS Middle English Texts, and also thinking about public engagement events.

My PhD investigated Chaucer’s presentation of love and marriage relationships in relation to their social historical context, approached through letter collections and advice literature. It was published as Chaucer and the Cultures of Love and Marriage, Bristol Studies in Medieval Culture (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2012).  I continue to be broadly interested in the literature of medieval Britain and its social and cultural contexts.

I am also interested in the cognitive aspects of how readers make sense of narratives, in relation to medieval romance.  I gave a presentation to Malory 550 conference in August 2019 on how this might be a fruitful approach to Malory’s Morte, now pubilshed in Arthurian Literature.  I would be delighted to make contact with other researchers in literature and psychology who have an interest in this area.

Corin Corley

Honorary Research Fellow, Department of French

Eileen Gardiner

Honorary Research Fellow, School of Humanities

Eileen Gardiner, a research fellow at the University of Bristol, specializes in medieval visions of the otherworld. She is the author of Visions of Heaven and Hell Before Dante and Medieval Visions of Heaven and Hell: A Sourcebook. She has also published on pilgrimage with her 2010 book on The Pilgrim’s Way to St. Patrick’s Purgatory. She has published five volumes on hell in various religious traditions, including Hinduism and Buddhism. She holds a Ph.D. in English Literature and Medieval Studies. With Ron Musto, Eileen is a co-founder and co-publisher of Italica Press, the former co-director of ACLS Humanities E-Book and of the Medieval Academy of America and co-editor of its journal, Speculum: A Journal of Medieval Studies.

Emma Hornby

Professor of Music, Department of Music

Emma Hornby’s research is focused on medieval western liturgical chant. She is currently working on Old Hispanic chant in collaboration with Professor Rebecca Maloy (University of Colorado at Boulder). Their first joint monograph is Music and Meaning in Old Hispanic Lenten chants: Psalmi, Threni and the Easter Vigil Canticles (Boydell & Brewer, 2013). They are now working on Iberian Saints, in an AHRC-funded project with colleagues from Spain, the UK and the Netherlands. Hornby leads a Leverhulme-funded Iberian processions project, and a Leverhulme/BA funded project on comparative computer-assisted analysis of Georgian and Old Hispanic chant. Emma also has research interests in the transmission of western liturgical chant (including aspects of orality), analysis of formulaic chant, and the relationship between words and music in the Middle Ages.

Evan Jones

Associate Professor in Economic History, Department of History

I specialise in late medieval – early modern economic and social history, particularly in relation to Bristol. My research interests include:

  • Bristol’s fifteenth-sixteenth century exploration voyages. I have written or collaborated in the writing of several articles as part of my Cabot Project. I am currently writing a major book on this subject along with my chief collaborator, Margaret Condon.
  • The illicit trade of early modern England. I have written a book and a number of articles on this subject.
  • The trade and shipping of the Severn Sea, which includes my edited volume on the Newport Medieval Ship.
  • Irish overseas trade and economic development in the sixteenth century. This research is connected to my former ESRC-funded project Ireland-Bristol Trade in the Sixteenth Century (2006-2008). This project has led to two books and a number of articles to date. I am currently writing an article based on this subject on the development of Anglo-Irish trade in the Tudor period, while also extending the research back in time by transcribing and publishing Bristol’s late-fifteenth-century customs accounts.

George Ferzoco

Honorary Research Fellow, Department of Religion and Theology

Gwen Seabourne

Professor of Legal History, University of Bristol Law School

Helen Fulton

Chair in Medieval Literature, Department of English

Helen Fulton trained as a medievalist in English and Celtic Studies, focusing on literary and linguistic history. She has since specialised in medieval Welsh literature and its connections with the literatures of medieval England and Ireland. Her main research areas are the history and politics of medieval literature, classical reception in the Middle Ages, Arthurian literature, medieval urban literature, and cultural exchanges between England and Wales in the Middle Ages. She has also published on Welsh and Irish literatures of the twentieth century and on the language of the media. Helen is an active member of the Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of Bristol and the leader of the CMS research cluster, ‘Borders and Borderlands’ (

Current projects include an edition of medieval Welsh political poetry, an edition of the medieval Welsh version of the Troy legend, Ystorya Dared, and a monograph on literary representations of the city in medieval British literature. In 2020-22 Helen holds a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship to work on the literary biography of Sir William Herbert (d. 1469).

Ian Wei

Senior Lecturer in Medieval European History, Department of History

I work on intellectual culture and the social history of ideas in Western Europe in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. My published work chiefly explores the role of intellectuals in medieval society, especially the authority and status of the masters of theology at the University of Paris in the late thirteenth century. I also write about the different ways of knowing developed by learned men and women in various social contexts, and the political and social views that they put forward, especially with regard to money, sex and politics.

Since 2004 I have also co-coordinated a collaborative project entitled ‘Ideas and Universities’ for the Worldwide Universities Network. The aim is both to enrich understanding and to have an impact on contemporary policy-making by looking comparatively at the ways in which ideas have found institutional expression in universities in different cultures and periods. We bring together academics from all disciplines, university managers and policy-makers. We run a programme of international video seminars and international conferences which involve the universities of Bergen, Bristol, Hong Kong, Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Leeds, Nanjing, Penn State, Sheffield, Southampton, Sydney, Toronto, Madison Wisconsin, Washington Seattle, York, and Zhejiang. Further details are to be found at Ideas and Universities.

John Reeks

Senior Lecturer in Early Modern History, Department of History

Specialises in early modern political and religious history, particularly in relation to the history of the English parish church. His current research interests lie in three main areas:

  • The English Civil War, with a particular focus on the role played by Bristol and its governors.
  • The seventeenth-century Church of England, with a particular focus on parish and administrative histories.
  • The history of the University of Bristol and, in particular, historians working at the university in the period from the foundation of the College (1876) to the retirement of Professor Charles M. MacInnes (1957).

Jon Balserak

Senior Lecturer, Department of Religion and Theology

I study Christian history and thought in the Renaissance and Early Modern period, especially:  the Reformations in France and Geneva, John Calvin, Theodore Beza, and Calvinism, dissimulation and lying, divine accommodation, the history of prophecy, and the interpretation of the Bible.  

Currently:  I have two books currently under contract:  Godly Cunning: Calvin’s Plan to Establish the Kingdom of Christ in France (Oxford Studies in Historical Theology) (Oxford: Oxford University Press, forthcoming, 2024) and Calvinism: A Very Short Introduction 2nd edition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, forthcoming, 2025).  I will submit a Leverhulme Fellowship application in November to write a monograph on Roman Catholic and Protestant understandings of divine accommodation during the medieval and early modern eras.  I am additionally working on various book chapters and journal articles.

Judith Bryce

Emeritus Professor, Department of Italian

Kate McClune

Senior Lecturer, Department of English

I am interested in all aspects of medieval literature, but my research focuses on Middle English and Older Scots literature and book history. I am in the process of producing the first full edition of the poetry of John Stewart of Baldynneis, whose work includes the first vernacular translation of ‘Orlando Furioso’ in a single manuscript witness dedicated to King James VI’, for the Scottish Text Society. In addition to my Older Scots interests, I have published a number of articles on Arthurian literature. I am also interested in the way we can use literary, cartographical, and contemporary historical texts, as well as family papers and library records, to examine relationships between familial, regional, and national loyalties, focussing specifically on works and families associated with (real or imagined) border territories.

My recent research has focused on the ways in which information contained in non-traditional sources (i.e. medieval archival material) can aid our understanding of modern approaches to animal conservation and extinction. Along with Professor Samuel Turvey (ZSL) I have published on the relationship between folklore and mammal extinction, and am currently working on references to animal control in Older Scots material.

Kathleen Kennedy

British Academy Global Professor, Department of English

Leah Tether

Professor of Medieval Literature and Publishing, Department of English

Leah Tether is a scholar of medieval French and English literature, Arthurian romance, book history and publishing studies. She completed her PhD in Medieval Literature at Durham in 2009 and then became a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Cultures of the Digital Economy Institute at Anglia Ruskin University. She has a background in trade publishing, having worked at Penguin Books. She took up the post of MA Course Director and Senior Lecturer in Publishing at Anglia Ruskin University in 2012, and then became a Principal Lecturer in 2014.

Leah joined the University of Bristol in 2015 as Senior Lecturer. She became Reader in 2017 and Professor in 2019. She served as the Graduate Education Director for the Faculty of Arts (Deputy Dean of Arts, Graduate Studies) from 2017 to 2021, and was the Co-Director of the Centre for Medieval Studies in 2017/18. From 2021, she was University Education Director (Quality) before being appointed as Acting Head of the School of Humanities in 2022. Her current research looks at the publishing histories of vernacular medieval narratives from manuscript to digital. Her monographs include The Continuations of Chrétien’s Perceval: Content and Continuation, Extension and Ending (D.S. Brewer, 2012), Publishing the Grail in Medieval and Renaissance France (D.S. Brewer, 2017), The General Reader and the Academy: Medieval French Literature and Penguin Classics (Cambridge University Press, 2019) and The Bristol Merlin: Revealing the Hidden Secrets of a Medieval Fragment (ARC Humanities Press, forthcoming 2021). She is now working on a project exploring medieval literature that didn’t make it to print in the early-modern period, with a monograph on the subject due for publication in 2022/23 with DeGruyter entitled Unpublished: Medieval Literature and the Early-Modern Publisher

Leonardo Costantini

Leonardo is a lecturer in Classics, the Employability Officer of the School of Humanities, and, from January 2024, he is the Programme Director of the MA in Medieval Studies.

His interests involve the literary and textual aspects of the works of Latin authors such as Apuleius, Petronius, Fronto, Cicero, Frontinus, Hyginus, Firmicus Maternus, pseudo-Quintilian (Major Declamations), Seneca (Apocolocyntosis and Quaestiones Naturales) and Vergil, Lucian of Samosata and Plutarch for Greek, as well as broader themes such as Platonism and Greco-Roman magic. His first book, Magic in Apuleius’ Apologia. Understanding the charges and the forensic strategies in Apuleius’ speech, was published in 2019 by De Gruyter. His second monograph, a commentary on Apuleius’ Metamorphoses 3 for the Brill series Groningen Commentaries on Apuleius (GCA) was published in September 2021. He also published an edited volume with Ben Cartlidge entitled Middle Platonism in its Literary Context with Oxford University Press for the BICS Themed Issues series.

Leonardo also organised various conferences and conference panels, including a recent conference entitled ‘The Politics of Archaism in the Imperial Period’ (Bristol, 01/07/2022), sponsored by the IGRCT, the University of Bristol, the Classical Association, and the Institute of Classical Studies.

Furthermore, he is leading the project Fragmenta Iguvina, which aims to the publication of the unidentified manuscript fragments at the Biblioteca Comunale Sperelliana (Gubbio) through the Fragmentarium database. More information is available here.

Lucy Donkin

Senior Lecturer in History and History of Art, Department of History of Art

I work within and between the disciplines of History and History of Art, specialising in visual and material culture. My research interests lie in medieval perceptions of place, with particular reference to Italy and its relationships with the wider Mediterranean region and transalpine Europe.

My previous research primarily focused on sacred space, especially the creation, use, and decoration of holy ground. My book Standing on Holy Ground in the Middle Ages (Cornell University Press / Combined Academic Publishers) examines themes such as the phenomenon of holy footprints, the liturgical shaping of consecrated space, and the design and function of ecclesiastical floor decoration. I have a related interest in medieval cartography and co-edited with Dr Hanna Vorholt (University of York) a volume of essays on maps of Jerusalem: Imagining Jerusalem in the Medieval West. I have also published on the representation of subterranean environments in religious art from regions specialising in mining and have been involved in collaborative research on cultural responses to seismic activity. 

My current research explores the materiality and portability of place as this was exemplified by the symbolic movement of soil. The main project explores spiritual, political, and environmental connotations of moving earth to and from the city of Rome during the Middle Ages and early modern period. I am also interested in understandings of soil and the environment within the medieval Islamic world and in modern uses of earth in contexts of commemoration and migration.

I am a member of the University of Bristol Centre for Medieval Studies, the Centre for Environmental Humanities, and Migration Mobilities Bristol.

Maeve O’Donnell

Research Associate, Department of Music

Marianne Ailes

Professor of French, Department of French

Marianne Ailes’ research interests are in Medieval French literature, including French literature of medieval England. She has a particular interest in the chansons de geste and early vernacular chronicles, focussing on crusade narratives. She is actively involved in editing and translating as well as interpretative studies. She is currently leading ‘Charlemagne: A European Icon’, a Leverhulme Trust funded international network project on the appropriation of Charlemagne material in different lingusitic cultures in the Middle Ages. This followed a collaborative project on Charlemagne in England with Phillipa Hardman (Dept of English, University

Mary Bateman

Lecturer, Department of English

I specialise in the literature and culture of late medieval and early modern England, and especially on the continuities between the medieval and the early modern. In addition to cross-period work, I also take a transnational approach: I have previously published on Bevis of Hampton narratives in European manuscript contexts, and I am currently working on a project concerning the print reception of British foundation myth across early modern Europe.

My forthcoming book, Local Places and the Arthurian Tradition in England and Wales, 1400-1700 (Boydell & Brewer, forthcoming 2024) will be the first attempt to trace the history of the important role played by local places in the development of the Arthurian tradition. Places are powerful: they have the potential to suspend disbelief or perhaps to “make belief” in even the most unbelievable subjects. This is especially true when it comes to the subject of King Arthur. This book provides the first in-depth study of Arthurian places in the late medieval and early modern periods. Beginning with on-site experiences of Arthur at locations such as Glastonbury, York, Dover, and Cirencester, I trace the impact that these places had, both directly on site visitors, and also indirectly, filtered through the medium of text. The local Arthur can be followed in and out of chronicles, stained glass windows, earthworks, display tablets, itinerant notebooks, published defences, and antiquarian works. By piecing together the material and textual evidence, a new history of Arthur begins to emerge: a local history.

I have published and taught in the following areas:

  • Arthurian literature and culture
  • National, regional, and transnational identities in the premodern period and its literatures
  • Memory studies and perceptions of the past
  • Heritage studies
  • Early modern medievalisms
  • Material culture, especially with regards to space and place
  • Manuscript and book history
  • Medieval masculinities

Myra Stokes

Research Fellow, Department of English

Peter Dent

Senior Lecturer, Department of History of Art

The core of my research is centred on the sculpture of late medieval and early Renaissance Italy. I am currently finishing work on a monograph (Sculptural Encounters in Dante’s World) that explores the expectations and experiences of late medieval beholders when interacting with sculptural objects.  I have just begun research for a study of sculptural surfaces and skin between the late medieval period and the Renaissance.  I am also engaged in an ongoing project in collaboration with Dr Ettore Napione (Museo di Castelvecchio, Verona) on the sculpture of late medieval Verona. More broadly, I am interested in the history of sculptural aesthetics. In 2008, I organised an interdisciplinary conference on the subject of ‘Sculpture and Touch’.

I am a member of several research clusters at Bristol, including Early Italian Studies, Materialities and the Sea.

Rhiannon Daniels

Associate Professor in Italian, Department of Italian

My current monograph project on ‘The Renaissance Decameron‘ will be a comprehensive study of the printed tradition of Boccaccio’s major work in the 16th century, shedding new light on the mechanisms by which the Decameron achieved its current position in the canon of world literature, and enriching our understanding of early print culture and Renaissance reading publics. 

My principal research interests are in medieval and Renaissance culture, reception studies, and the history of the book. I am particularly interested in the sociology of the text: finding ways of using the material form of manuscripts and printed books to (re)construct histories of reading and book production techniques. My first monograph, Boccaccio and the Book: Production and Reading in Italy 1340-1520, pioneered the application of the study of the physical form and presentation of books to Boccaccio studies. I am co-editor of the Cambridge Companion to Boccaccio.

I co-founder and co-director of the Centre for Material Texts.

Ronald Hutton

Professor of History, Department of History

A leading authority on history of the British Isles in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, on ancient and medieval paganism and magic, and on the global context of witchcraft beliefs. Also the leading historian of the ritual year in Britain and of modern paganism. He is a member of the ‘Medieval and Early Modern Cluster’ at Bristol.

Ronald Musto

Honorary Research Fellow, School of Humanities

Ronald G. Musto holds a Ph.D. in History from Columbia University and specializes in the Italian Trecento, with a focus on Rome and Naples. He has served as an adjunct professor at Columbia, NYU, and Duke universities. He has held Renaissance Society of America, American Academy in Rome, National Endowment for the Humanities, and Mellon Foundation fellowships and published twelve books and various articles, including The Catholic Peace Tradition (National Catholic Book Award, 1986); Apocalypse in Rome: Cola di Rienzo and the Politics of the New Age (AHA Marraro Prize, 2004); and Renaissance Society and Culture (ed., with John Monfasani).

He has worked in the book trade since 1967 and in 1985 with Dr. Eileen Gardiner he cofounded Italica Press, where he has developed numerous print and electronic projects. With Dr. Gardiner he has co-authored “The Electronic Book” in The Oxford Companion to the Book, and in The Book: A Global History. They are co-authors of The Digital Humanities: A Primer (Cambridge University Press, 2015).

Sebastiaan Verweij

Senior Lecturer in Late Medieval and Early Modern Literature, Department of English

My research interests are in late-medieval and early modern literature (esp. poetry), and what today is called ‘the history of the book’, which in more old-fashioned terms would be called ‘bibliography’. I am especially interested in the intersections between the book as material text and more literary questions. I work on the literary and book culture of Scotland; have an interest in the Digital Humanities; in editorial theory and practice; and an interest in the manuscript and print histories, and the poems and prose texts, of John Donne. 

My first book The Literary Culture of Early Modern Scotland: Manuscript Production and Transmission, 1560-1625 (Oxford University Press 2016) won the Saltire Society‘s ‘Scottish Research Book of the Year 2016’ award. I am still at work, with Professor Peter McCullough, on the Textual Companion volume in The Oxford Edition of the Sermons of John Donne (forthcoming c. 2024). With Noah Millstone (Principal Investigator, Birmingham) I completed (in October 2018) the AHRC-funded project ‘Manuscript Pampleteering in Early Stuart England‘. Other ongoing and forthcoming work includes articles and book chapters on Elizabeth Melville, Scottish renaissance lyric, seventeenth-century Scottish miscellanies, and the impact of Scots poetics on early-Stuart English literary culture.

I am especially busy with two current projects (2022): with Steven Reid and Sìm Innes (Glasgow), I am working on a British Academy funded, proof-of-concept database and research project, the Literatures of Older Scotland Database (LOSD), essentially a digital first-line index of Scottish poetry in Scots, Latin, and Gaelic. The other project is a new book with working title Place and Poetry in Pre-Modern Scotland: a study about the representation of place (e.g., ‘Wild Places’; ‘Sacred Places’; ‘Place and Nation’) in poetic and other texts (e.g. chorography, maps, travel accounts), shaped in part by the insights of cultural geographical and place studies. 

With Kenneth Austin (History), Catherine Hunt (History of Art), and Richard Stone (History) I convene the Early Modern Studies Research cluster at Bristol.  

Sigbjorn Sonnesyn

Lecturer in Medieval Christianity, Department of Religion and Theology

I am a historian of European high medieval religious and intellectual culture, its antecedents and wider intellectual geographies, specialising in the religious, moral, and scientific thought of European Latin culture and in cross-cultural relations between Christian, Islamicate and Jewish thought. 

My main research interests focus on the intellectual culture of Western Europe in the 12th and 13th centuries. I am particularly interested in the ways in which Christian intellectual culture in the Latin-dominated part of the Christian world absorbed influences from classical philosophy and Jewish and Islamicate learning. In my published work I have emphasised how monastic intellectual culture in the 12th century incorporated classical and pagan elements by subsuming them into a mode of practice, a comprehensive way of life, in which elements that in purely abstract terms were incompatible in practice could inform a unified notion of the good Christian life. I have also studied how Christian thinkers made sense of Aristotelian natural philosophy and metaphysics in the early period following their translation into Latin. Both of these concerns continue to be central to my current and future work.

Simon Parsons

Lecturer, Department of History

I am writing a monograph on the body of medieval texts which describe the events of the First Crusade (1096-99), and their interrelation and connection to traditions of oral epic narration. I co-edited, with Linda Paterson, Literature of the Crusades (2018, Boydell & Brewer), and I’m co-editing and translating, with Linda Paterson, Carol Sweetenham, and Lauren Mulholland, the Anglo-Norman Siège d’Antioche, a lengthy epic text about the First Crusade.

Sjoerd Levelt

Honorary Senior Research Associate, Department of English

Sophie Kelly

Lecturer, Department of History of Art

I am a Lecturer in History of Art, specialising in medieval visual and material culture. I am particularly interested in the relationship between visual culture and medieval religion, from the role of images in the performance of the liturgy to meaning of theological diagrams and the function of material culture in devotional practice. My doctoral research focused on medieval representations of the Trinity, but I have published on a range of topics, including the material legacy of Edward, the ‘Black Prince’ and illuminated manuscripts.

I received my PhD in art history from the University of Kent in 2018 and was awarded a Paul Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship in 2019. Prior to my current role, I was the Project Curator on the major, five-star exhibition Thomas Becket: Murder and the Making of a Saint at the British Museum (2021). I have also held curatorial roles at the Royal Collection Trust, where I worked on the exhibitions George IV: Art and Spectacle (2019) and Russia, Royalty and the Romanovs (2018), and Canterbury Cathedral on the exhibition Making History: Church, State and Conflict (supported by the National Lottery Fund).

Steve De Hailes

Lecturer, Department of English

Steve’s research centres on Arthurian romance literature spanning both the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period. The main focus of this research is the otherworlds and faerie characters that frequently appear in romance (as well as in certain related genres) and the conventions, themes, and motifs that are commonly used to identify their presence. In 2020, Steve successfully defended his PhD on ‘The Use and Development of the Faerie Sign in Romance from the Middle Ages to the Early Modern Period’, supervised by Dr Cathy Hume and Dr Laurence Publicover.

Fairies as we understand them today are very different to the faerie characters who populated medieval Arthurian tales. Like today, however, the faeries of these older stories shared certain recognisable features, characteristics, and localities which allow us to identify their presence: conventions such as their frequent proximity to streams or woodland, their isolation from society, their extreme beauty or ugliness, their association with wealth and luxury, and their penchant for gift giving or moral testing. Most importantly, though, these creatures could be ambiguous: many authors liked to play with faerie conventions, hinting at signs that audiences would easily recognise as being associated with faeries whilst never actually identifying them as such. My research has aimed to demonstrate just how pervasive and well-known the conventions, themes, and motifs associated with faeries in medieval and Early Modern literature were, firstly by drawing attention to examples within medieval and Early Modern romance where identifying their presence has caused a certain amount of critical debate in the past (the works of Chrétien de Troyes, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene), but also through examining examples outside of the genre of Arthurian romance where such conventions are less likely to appear, but where their presence can be indentified nonetheless (the Middle English Pearl poem, Shakespeare’s Merry Wives of Windsor, and Ben Jonson’s The Alchemist).

More recently, Steve’s research has increasingly focused on ecocritical approaches to literature, with a particular interest in the representation of mountains, hills, and high places in late medieval and Early Modern texts.

Stuart Prior

Reader in Archeological Practice, Department of Anthropology and Archeology

My research focuses primarily on Medieval Archaeology and Castle Studies, and more recently upon Death, Burial and the Funerary Industry, whilst my teaching focuses on Archaeological Practice and Landscape Archaeology. I also have research interests in Ancient Technology, Warfare and Experimental Archaeology, and a professional interest in Archaeological Health and Safety and Professional Practice.

I am currently conducting research on the Archaeology of the Anarchy Period for a publication examining the castles and structures surviving from one of the darkest chapters in English history, the first English Civil War, c.1139-53 AD.  Whilst, as a former gravedigger, I am acutely aware of the current burial space crisis in the funerary industry in the UK, and am leading a research project examining the oral history of gravediggers and cemetery operatives.

Tristan Kay

Senior Lecturer in Italian, Department of Italian

I specialize in the literature and culture of the Italian Middle Ages, particularly the work of Dante, and its resonance in the modern world.

My first book and several of my early articles focused on Dante’s conception of love and his sophisticated dialogue with other medieval vernacular writers. My monograph, Dante’s Lyric Redemption: Eros, Salvation, Vernacular Tradition, was published by Oxford University Press in 2016. The book provides a re-evaluation of Dante’s relationship to his vernacular lyric heritage (both Italian and Occitan) and highlights his commitment to eros as a redemptive force. In addition, I have published a number of articles that examine from different perspectives Dante’s complex and evolving notion of desire, in relation to both medieval and classical literary cultures. I am also interested in Dante and medieval political culture, and wrote the chapter on ‘Politics’ in the 2021 Oxford Handbook of Dante. I have contributed to other important recent publications and collaborations in the field, such as the Cambridge Companion to Dante’s ‘Commedia’Vertical Readings in Dante’s ‘Commedia’; and Dante’s ‘Vita Nova’: A Collaborative Reading, and am the co-editor of two books on the poet. 

While I have continued to research and publish on Dante and the Middle Ages, I have a growing interest in the poet’s modern reception and especially his status as a political icon. In 2020 I received a Leverhulme Research Fellowship to support work on a second major book project, ‘The Poet and the Nation: Dante and the Idea of Italy’. As Italy today adopts a more nationalist brand of politics, my project explores the ways in which the figure of Dante has been used and exploited to construct and articulate different forms of Italian national identity since the process of unification in the nineteenth century. Through different phases of modern Italian history, cultural and political agents have appropriated and manipulated Dante’s work to promote and legitimize their different visions of the nation. My project interrogates this longstanding ‘national’ appropriation of Dante, with a particular focus on the centenary celebrations of May 1865; the cult of Dante under fascism; and the poet’s place in contemporary political discourse. In so doing, the project offers a broader meditation upon the problems associated with viewing Dante (and medieval culture more broadly) through a national lens, and upon the potency and persistence of this image of the poet. Away from the monograph itself, which remains in progress, my recent work in the field of Dante reception includes essays on Dante and ideas of transnationalism; the public commemoration of Dante in the centenaries of 1865 and 2021; and a major article on the use of Dante as an expressive model in the Holocaust writing of Primo Levi. 

Victoria Hodgson

Honorary Research Fellow, Department of History