Specific research interests:
My research and teaching interests cover a wide range of medieval (and early modern) genres and themes, as well as theoretical approaches. These include:
- Medieval Knotworks (all kinds!);
- Medieval ideas of curiosity and craft in textual and material culture;
- Medieval poetics and aesthetics;
- Ecocriticism and New Materialism;
- Medievalisms (such as cinematic representations of the Middle Ages);
- Hagiography, mysticism and medieval religious cultures;
- Writings on virginity (medieval to modern)
I am currently working on a book project tentatively entitled Medieval Knotworks: Vital Ecologies, which looks at how late medieval vernacular (English) culture used knots to manifest and represent various kinds of - often seemingly inimical - relations, including life and death; matter and spirit; nature and craft. The figure of the knot offers a conceptual focus for this study, as it ranges across different media and categories, while also figuring (in various iterations) as an almost omnipresent metaphor for recent theoretical work done under the loose umbrella of 'environmental humanities'.
I am also interested in considering the ways in which vernacular poetry (ca. 1380-1600) approached the question of poetic invention, particularly through representations and discussions of cognitive process (memory, imagination, curiosity). I have a longstanding interest gender studies, particularly in relation to virginity and abstinence (both medieval and contemporary), and I also work on medievalism - that is, on post-medieval representations and popular conceptions of the 'medieval' or 'middle ages'.
Completed Research Projects:
In 2007, I published a wide-ranging study of female virginity, entitled Virgins: A Cultural History (Granta), which was translated into German and Japanese. This study explores different discourses of virginity from ca. 1200 to the start of the twenty-first century.
In 2009, Bettina Bildhauer and I co-edited and published a collection of essays on cinematic representations on the Middle Ages, Medieval Film (Manchester University Press); and in 2015 I co-edited a volume entitled Sanctity as Literature in Late Medieval Britain with Eva von Contzen. This collection considers the contributions religious literary genres, such as hagiography, make to the development of forms of 'literariness' (Manchester University Press).
I have published several journal articles on a range of topics, including on: the Albina origin myth; on lists and medieval poetics; on Bruno Latour's concept of [REL] and medieval antisemitism; on translation and form in Patience; on affective thinking in Pearl ; and on cleanness in 'Cleanness'.
I am a series editor for the Manchester Medieval Literature and Culture Series at Manchester University Press.
From August 2011 - January 2013 I was holder of a Humboldt Experienced Researcher Fellowship at the Freie Universitaet, Berlin.
From 2015-21 I was co-editor of Exemplaria: Medieval / Early Modern / Theory