- Old and Middle English saints’ lives
- Old English prose
- Latin hagiography
- Concepts and discourses of holiness and how these changed and were adapted over time, especially in connection with ideas of morality and exemplarity, and across the Old/Middle English divide
- Emotional narrative/discourse and somatic expressions of emotions
I work on medieval literature, focusing on the most popular texts from the period, vernacular and Latin hagiographic narratives (saints’ lives). I’m interested in the changing presentations of holiness in lives produced in pre- and early post-Conquest England, and particularly enjoy examining how vernacular texts were adapted from their Latin sources. I’m especially interested in how narrative changes in saints’ lives inform our understanding of how holiness was understood, how it was useful to audiences, and what these texts can yield regarding changing discourses of morality, emotion, and exemplarity. I have a forthcoming article with the Review of English Studies, which reassesses our modern understanding of early medieval ideas of acceptable holy behaviour.
I am currently writing my first monograph based on my PhD research, which reassesses the exemplary nature of the saint and the purposes of hagiographic narratives to both instruct and entertain. I have published on the topic of humour in saints’ lives – in 2018 my article on Ælfric’s translation of humour in his Life of St Cecilia was published in SELM. Here, I argued that Ælfric intentionally adapted the disparaging humour found in his Latin source to ensure a
correct understanding of the saint’s martyrdom for his audience.
I am currently writing an article which explores the contrast between the humour present in Ælfric’s male and female saints’ lives. I argue that humour in female saints’ is dictated by their distinct performance of sanctity and for Ælfric, humour was another tool to negate voyeuristic interpretations.
My next project will explore discourses of morality and emotion in Old English and Anglo-Latin hagiographic narratives, drawing also on homilies, sermons, psalms, and Patristic writings.
In addition to hagiographical narratives, I am also interested in Middle English romance and how it intersections with hagiography, literary representations of gender and violence, and devotional and heroic literature.
I have extensive teaching experience – I’ve taught both Old and Middle English literature and also taught the Old English language for many years. I currently coordinate the Basismodul ‘Introduction to Medieval English Studies’ and have also taught Intermediate and Advanced modules on Middle English mystics and drama.
2014–2018: PhD, University College Cork
Thesis: “Humour in Vernacular Prose Hagiographical Narratives from the Tenth to the
Thirteenth Century, England
2010–2011: MA, Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Contexts, University College Cork
2007–2010: BA, English and History, University College Cork
Teaching and research posts
Since 2021: Lecturer in Medieval English, Heinrich Heine Universität.
2021: Adjunct Teaching Fellow in Old English, Trinity College Dublin.
2020–2021: Research Assistant on the UKRI-funded project ‘The Human Remains’, Dept. of Archaeology, Classics, and Egyptology, University of Liverpool.
2019–2020: Lecturer in Medieval Literature, Newcastle University.
2018: Tutor for the Skills Centre, University College Cork.
2014–2018: Teacher of Old, Middle, and Early Modern Literature in the School of English, University College Cork.
2014–2018: Teacher of Old English Language in the School of English, University College Cork.
2015–2017: Irish Research Council Government of Ireland Postgraduate Scholar at University College Cork.
Current research projects and interests
I am currently writing my first monograph, provisionally titled:
Humour and Holiness in Medieval Vernacular Hagiography, c.900-c.1500: constructions, continuations, and changes
I am co-editor of the annual newsletter for the organisation Teachers of Old English in Britain and Ireland (TOEBI).
I am a reviewer for the ‘Old English’ section of the annual publication Years Work in English Studies.
“Unsaintly Behaviour? The Old English Saint Eustace and Models of Holiness in Early Medieval England.” Accepted and forthcoming with the Review of English Studies
“The Importance of Being Foolish: Reconstruction of the Pagan and Saint in Ælfric’s Life of St Cecilia.” SELIM Journal, vol. 23, 2018, 1–26.
“Cecilia.” Women in Early Medieval England: A Florilegium. (Eds.) Emily Butler, Hilary E. Fox, and Irina Dumitrescu. (Accepted, forthcoming with Palgrave).
“Euphrosyne.” Women in Early Medieval England: A Florilegium. (Eds.) Emily Butler, Hilary E. Fox, and Irina Dumitrescu. (Accepted, forthcoming with Palgrave).
“Theophistis.” Women in Early Medieval England: A Florilegium. (Eds.) Emily Butler, Hilary E. Fox, and Irina Dumitrescu. (Accepted, forthcoming with Palgrave).
"The Exeter Book." The Year's Work in English Studies 101 (forthcoming 2022).
"The Exeter Book." The Year's Work in English Studies 100 (2021).
"The Exeter Book." The Year's Work in English Studies 99: 1 (2020).
Beowulf: lines 106–120, for Beowulf By All: A Community Translation and Workbook. (Eds.) Elaine Treharne and Jeannie Abbot. ARC Humanities Press. 2021.
TOEBI Newsletter 38, co-edited with Rachel A. Burns (2021): http://www.toebi.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/TOEBI-Newsletter-2021_211221-1.pdf
TOEBI Newsletter 37, co-edited with Rachel A. Burns (2020): http://www.toebi.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/TOEBI-Newsletter-2020_ii.pdf
“Holy Humour: Vernacular Saints’ Lives in England, 900–1300”, The Boolean Journal, 2015, 87–91.