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Dr. Simon Thomson: CV

Research Interests

Simon loves working with early medieval manuscripts, ideally untidy and damaged ones. He’s particularly interested in the adaptation and use of narrative texts in different medieval contexts, and in the different social functions that the telling of stories performs. His focus is on the literary cultures of early medieval – meaning roughly 600–1200 – England and northern Europe.

His research focus is currently on the different uses of the story of Saint Christopher in this period, meaning that he spends a lot of his time chasing down  and looking at different manuscript versions to see what he can find, and the rest of his time being interested in the issues the story is used to think about, from the development of Christian communities to the fear of outsiders, from monstrosity to femininity, and from kingship to military service.

Though his first love is Beowulf and the manuscript that contains it, Simon has published on other Old English texts, on The Mere Wife (a modern retelling of Beowulf), on the eleventh-century court of Cnut, on different aspects of manuscript culture, and on Christopher’s story and the Old English translation of it.

His teaching focuses on Old English prose and poetry and how to read it in different ways, taking in historical and manuscript contexts, engaging with the formal challenges of the language and poetic metre, and exploring the impact of theoretical approaches including gender studies, ecocriticism, queer theory, and post-colonialism.

“Kaffee mit” interview: https://www.philo.hhu.de/fakultaet-1/wissenschaftskommunikation/kaffee-mit-simon-thomson


2012–2015      PhD, University College London

Thesis: Towards a history of reception for the Nowell Codex, London, British Library, Cotton MS Vitellius A. xv (second part); Supervisors: Prof. Richard North & Prof. Susan Irvine

2007–2009      MA, Medieval English Literature University College London

2003–2004     PGCE (Secondary, English and Drama), University of Wolverhampton

2000–2003      BA (Hons), English Language and Literature, University of Oxford (Lincoln College)


Teaching and research posts

Since 2018       Senior Lecturer in Medieval English Language and Literature, Heinrich-Heine Universität, Düsseldorf

2015–2018      Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter (Research Assistant), Ruhr-Universität Bochum, to Prof. Dr. Luuk Houwen

2012–2015      Postgraduate teaching assistant, English Language and Literature, University College London


Other employment

2011–2016      School Improvement Specialists (Systems), Cambridge Education, Education Sector Support Programme in Nigeria

2010–2011      Volunteer Teacher Trainer / Organisational Development Management, VSO Nigeria

2008–2010      Head of Learning and Access, Imperial War Museum London, Churchill War Rooms

2007–2008      Learning and Teaching Coordinator, Shakespeare’s Globe, Globe Education

2003–2007      Teacher of English and Drama, King’s Norton Boys’ School Birmingham & Riddlesdown High School, Croydon


Current research projects and interests

Chair of Medieval Narratives in Transmission, Brepols series of edited texts and monographs: http://www.brepols.net/Pages/BrowseBySeries.aspx?TreeSeries=MNT

“Editoral Board member of The Medieval Reviewhttps://scholarworks.iu.edu/journals/index.php/tmr





Communal Creativity in the Making of the “Beowulf” Manuscript: Towards a history of Reception for the Nowell Codex, Library of the Written Word 67 – The Manuscript World 10 (Leiden: Brill, 2018) (reviewed by Francis Leneghan, Review of English Studies, 70 (2019): 550–52)


Edited volumes

Strangers at the Gate! Multidisciplinary Explorations of Communities, Borders, and Othering in Medieval Western Europe, Explorations in Medieval Culture, Explorations in Medieval Culture, 21 (Leiden: Brill, 2022)

Medieval Stories and Storytelling: Multimedia and Multi-Temporal Perspectives, Medieval Narratives in Transmission, 2 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2021)

with Michael D. J. Bintley, Sensory Perception in the Medieval West, Utrecht Series in Medieval Literacy, 34 (Utrecht: Brepols, 2016)


Peer-reviewed articles

‘From Here to Eternity in the Prayers of Saint Christopher’, Parergon, 40 (forthcoming, 2023)

‘The Composite Unity of the Entangled Self in Maria Dahvana Headley’s The Mere Wife’, Studies in Medievalism, 30 (2020): 203–27

‘Grotesque, Fascinating, Transformative: The power of a strange face in the story of Saint Christopher’, Essay in Medieval Studies, 34 (2019): 83–98

‘The Overlooked Women of the Old English Passion of Saint Christopher’, Medievalia et Humanistica: Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Culture, 44 (2018): 61–80

‘Telling the Story: Reshaping Saint Christopher for an Anglo-Saxon Lay Audience’, Open Library of Humanities, 4.2 (2018): 1–32

‘Capital Indications: How Scribe A thought readers should engage with the Nowell Codex’, The Proceedings of the International Conference ‘Language Culture and Society in Russian / English Studies, 5–6 August 2014, 5 (2018): 169–81

‘The Two Artists of the Nowell Codex Wonders of the East’, SELIM, 21 (2015-2016): 105–54

‘Manuscript Stability and Literary Corruption: our failure to understand the Beowulf manuscript’, Quaestio Insularis, 16 (2015): 54–71

‘Scribes, Sources, and Readers: Using a digital edition to develop understanding of the Nowell Codex’, Poetica, 83 (2015): 59–77


Chapters in peer-reviewed volumes

‘Teil B. II. 2 – Mittelalterliche Entwicklungslinien in Europa: Englischsprachige Raum’, in Handbuch Versepik: Paradigmen – Poetiken – Geschichte, ed. by Stefan Elit, Kai Bremer, and Katerina Kroucheva (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2023), pp. 191–200

‘Otherwheres in the Prose Texts of the Nowell Codex’, in The Idea of the World in Early Medieval England, Studies in Old English Literature 1, ed. by Francis Leneghan, Mark Atherton, and Kazutomo Karasawa (Turnhout: Brepols, 2022), pp. 103–26

‘Struggling to Find the Point: The scratched metrical pointing of Guthlac A in the Exeter Book’, in Tradition and Innovation in Old English Metre, ed. by Rachel Burns and Rafael Pascual (Leeds: Arc Humanities Press, 2022), pp. 189–206

‘Sigmundr Fáfnisbani in the Court of Cnut’, in Anglo-Danish Empire: A Companion to the Reign of King Cnut the Great, The Northern Medieval World: On the Margins of Europe, ed. by Richard North, Erin Goeres, and Alison Finlay (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2022), pp. 235–54

‘Introduction: Fearing, Facing, and Being a Stranger’, in Strangers at the Gate! Multidisciplinary Explorations of Communities, Borders, and Othering in Medieval Western Europe, ed. by S. C. Thomson (Leiden: Brill, 2022), pp. 1–22

‘Introduction: Stories and Their Tellers’, in Medieval Stories and Storytelling (2021), pp. 13–30

‘Towards a Poetics of Storytelling, or, Why Could Early Medieval English Writers Not Stop Telling the Story of Judith?’, in Medieval Stories and Storytelling (2021), pp. 109–32

‘Playful Storytelling in Beowulf’, in “Beowulf” in Contemporary Media, ed. by David Clark (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars, 2020), pp. 153–83

‘Configuring Stasis: the appeal to tradition in the reign of Cnut the Great’, in Stasis in the Medieval World, ed. by V. Symons and M. D. J. Bintley, New Middle Ages (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), pp. 179–204

‘“Whistle While You Work”: Scribal engagement with Old English poetic texts’, in Thomson and Bintley, eds., Sensory Perception in the Medieval West (2016), pp. 99–122

‘Introduction’, in Thomson and Bintley, eds., Sensory Perception in the Medieval West (2016), pp. 1–5


Other publications

An Analysis of Ernst Kantorowicz’s ‘The King’s Two Bodies’ (London: Macat, 2015)

with others: ‘Overall findings and technical report of ESSPIN Composite Survey 1 (2012)’, Education Sector Support Programme in Nigeria (ESSPIN) / DfID Report ESSPIN 060, May 2013, online at www.esspin.org/resources/report/349



Andrew James Johnston: Beowulf global: Konstruktionen historisch-kultureller Verflechtungen im altenglishen Epos (Mediävistische Perspektiven, 11). Zürich: Chronos, 2022. Pp. 72, Archiv für das Studium der neueren Sprachen und Literaturen (2023)

Claire Breay and Joanna Story, (eds.), with Eleanor Jackson. 2021. Manuscripts in the Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms: Cultures and Connections. Dublin: Four Courts, xvii + 242 pp., numerous illustr., €58.50, Anglia, 140 (2022): 637–43

Janet Schrunk Ericksen. Reading Old English Biblical Poetry: The Book and the Poem in Junius 11. Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto Press (UTP), 2020. Pp. x, 222. The Medieval Review 2021.11.24, online at scholarworks.iu.edu/journals/index.php/tmr/article/view/33586/37133>

Susan Irvine and Winfried Rudolf (eds.). 2018. Childhood and Adolescence in Anglo-Saxon Literary Culture. Toronto Anglo-Saxon Series 28. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, x + 335 pp., $ 90.00, in Anglia, 137.4 (2019): 679–85

Elise Louviot. Direct Speech in “Beowulf” and Other Old English Narrative Poems. Anglo-Saxon Studies 30. Cambridge: Brewer, 2016, vii + 285 pp., 5 figures, £65.00, in Anglia, 136.4 (2018): 744–48

Ian Cornelius. Reconstructing Alliterative Verse: The Pursuit of a Medieval Meter. Cambridge Studies in Medieval Literature 99. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017, x + 219 pp., 6 tables, £ 75.00, in Anglia, 136.4 (2018): 753–56

A. J. Ford. Marvel and Artefact: The “Wonders of the East” in Its Manuscript Contexts. Library of the Written Word – The Manuscript World 45. Leiden/Boston, MA: Brill, 2016, xvi + 178 pp., 38 figures, 0 maps, 1 table, € 109.00/$ 141.00, in Anglia 135 (2017): 369–72

Judith Kaup. The Old English “Judith”: A Study of Poetic Style, Theological Tradition, and Anglo-Saxon Christian Concepts. With a Foreword by Hugh Magennis. Lewiston, NY/Queenston, ON/Lampeter: Mellen, 2013, ix + 412 pp., $ 159.95 (hb)/$ 49.95 (pb), in Anglia 134 (2016): 545–49.

‘Manuscript studies, palaeography, and facsimiles’, ‘The poems of the Junius manuscript’, and ‘Beowulf and the Beowulf Manuscript’ in ‘Old English’, in The Year’s Work in English Studies 94, 95, and 96, associate editor A. S. G. Edwards (Oxford: Oxford University Press for The English Association, 2015, 2016, and 2017).


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