I am passionate about my subject and about teaching students. I am a medieval and early modern historian whose PhD was on medieval animals and fantastic beasts and I have been teaching at CCCU since 2012 (during that time I have also worked in the School of History at the University of Kent). I teach predominantly medieval and early modern history and historiographical theory and skills. I have designed, validated, and convened the following modules: Level 5: Religion and Society 1300-1600 and ‘2000 years of Canterbury History’ for British Studies, and taught and lectured on the following recent modules: Level 6: ‘Medieval Women: Love Sex and Marriage’, Level 5: ‘Sex, Deviance and Death’, and Level 4: ‘Kings, Queens and Conquerors’ and ‘Renaissance, Reformation and Revolution’, and British Studies: Sights and Sites. I have also supervised many third-year dissertations on medieval and early modern topics ranging from the political (Margaret Beaufort, Mary, Queen of Scots) to gender politics (Madame de Pompadour, Mothers’ Laments, and Henry VIII’s Buggery Act) to social history (The Tudor town of Hadleigh, Elizabethan Medical Practitioners).
I am particularly interested in medieval bestiaries and critical animal theory. I have just been appointed series editor with University of Wales Press for ‘Medieval Animals’ and our first book will be on the Medieval Dragon in 2019. I am also interested in medieval monastic culture and gender issues and my co-edited book, Gender: Places, Spaces, and Thresholds will be published by the Institute of Historical Research in September 2018 and my international conference at CCCU from which the book derived has just won a FAH Knowledge Exchange prize. However, I do work on other areas, for example, as a Research Fellow in the Centre for Kent History and Heritage, I also focus on regional studies and I have a chapter in Early Medieval Kent part of the acclaimed series on Kent History, edited by Dr Sheila Sweetinburgh.
Research and knowledge exchange
Currently I am working with Professor Louise Wilkinson and Dr Sheila Sweetinburgh on a Heritage Hub Exhibition about Medieval Faversham. The town's charters, custumal, chronicle, maps and other historical documents from the civic archives will be used as well as artefacts from Faversham Archaeology Group, and will inform children's activities as well as the core Hub displays. We are planning several student-led activities as part of this Knowledge Exchange project.
I am currently beginning several projects related to my research into medieval bestiaries, gender, and regional studies. In addition to my work on medieval gender and my work as University of Wales Press Series Editor for Medieval Animals, my monograph on The Bestiary in Medieval Monastic Culture is also forthcoming. This will form the basis of several projects with student engagement that will bring Medieval Animals into schools via workshops and via important public engagement projects such as the 2020 Anniversary of St Thomas Becket’s Translation (celebrating 1220 when the saint’s relics were moved from the crypt to the glorious Trinity Chapel); I am a committee member on the Cathedral’s 2020 Community Engagement Board. I shall also be working on a project focusing on a new scholarly translation of sermons from the twelfth-century Speculum Ecclesiae by Honorius Augustodunensis with Dr Patricia Stewart (Oxford, Continuing Education Lecturer, and Senior Editor, Oxford English Dictionary).
I am happy to supervise research projects into medieval and early modern cultural history both in British and European contexts. If you have a project in this area, or something in which you think I would be interested and able to help, please contact me.
- 6 - 8th April 2018, Medieval Canterbury Weekend co-organiser
- 9th October 2017, Garden History Study Day – organiser. This public history conference teamed CCCU humanities with the CCCU Bio-diversity team, internationally-renowned speakers and Canterbury Cathedral Library and Gardens.
- 31st March - 2nd April 2017, Canterbury History Weekend: Tudors and Stuarts, co-organiser
- 1 - 3rd April 2016: Medieval Canterbury Weekend co-organiser
With Lead Organiser Dr Sheila Sweetinburgh, I organise and run the CKHH Canterbury history weekends which are huge and very successful public history festivals that attract over five hundred people who buy between 1,200 and 1,600 tickets for individual lectures and guided tours. The money raised supports bursaries for postgraduate regional history students at Christ Church University and substantial donations to several iconic medieval buildings in Canterbury which participants visit during the festivals.
Teaching and subject expertise
I have a PGCE and am currently working on my FHEA. I have extensive experience of teaching medieval political British and European history specifically from undergraduate to MA level, but have also taught medieval and early modern cultural history more generally and have received two CCCU SU Golden Apple certificates. I have also taught on a range of skills and methodologies modules.
For the last seven years I have been Colloquium Secretary for the London Medieval Society. I am also a member of: The Society for Medieval Feminist Scholarship; Reinardus: The International Society for the Study of Medieval Animals, Fables and Fabliaux; Kent Archaeological Society; and Canterbury Historical and Archaeological Society.
Series Editor – Medieval Animals, University of Wales Press
I am co-editor of ‘Picture This’ with Dr Stuart Palmer, a CKHH, University of Kent, and Canterbury Cathedral Archive and Library joint project which brings CCCU and UoK postgraduates’ research to a wide public audience using the Cathedral’s extensive primary sources www.canterbury-cathedral.org/heritage/collections/picture-this/
In addition, I have worked on many projects with Canterbury Cathedral, including giving the Black Prince Conference tour of the Crypt, working with The Canterbury Journey on the Heslop Lecture and workshop, and I shall be giving an outreach lecture at Turner Contemporary in September on ‘The Canterbury Bestiary’.
Publications and research outputs
- The Bestiary in Medieval Monastic Culture (Cardiff: UWP) forthcoming 2019
Book Chapters and Articles
- ‘Canterbury monastic culture 597-1220’, Early Medieval Kent, ed. S. Sweetinburgh (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2016)
- ‘Burnellus Speaks: Beast Books and Beastliness in Late Twelfth-century Canterbury’, South Atlantic Review (June 2016)
- ‘Tokens of Affection’, History Today (February 2016)
- ‘Doubts and Ambiguities in the Transmission of Ideas in a Medieval Latin Bestiary: Canterbury Cathedral Archives Lit. Ms D.10’, Skepsi, 2 (2009), 15-27
- ‘Tombscape: the tomb of Lady Joan de Mohun in the crypt of Canterbury Cathedral’ in ed. D. Heath, V. Blud, and E. Klafter, Medieval Gender: Places, Spaces, and Thresholds (London: IHR, 2018)
- ‘Animal Passions: how were gendered emotions constructed in the Medieval Latin Prose Bestiary?’ in Medieval Gender and Emotion’ ed. D. Black (Woodbridge: Boydell)
- Between the Monstrous, the Marvellous and the Miraculous: Boundary Blurring in the Battle between Virtues and Vices in BL Harley 3244, fols. 27r-28v, Preternature 2018
- ‘What the Tortoise taught us’: a reconsideration of the hybrid figural initial in Ambrose, Hexaemeron CUL Kk.1.23’, Reinardus 2018/9
- ‘Lady de Mohun’s Tomb’, ‘Picture this’ November 2017 https://www.canterbury-cathedral.org/heritage/archives/picture-this/lady-mohuns-tomb/
- CKHH Blog Report on Sandy Heslop’s ‘The Formation of St Anselm’s Crypt’ October 2017 https://blogs.canterbury.ac.uk/kenthistory/sandy-heslop-the-organisation-and-formation-of-st-anselms-crypt /
- Busy Bees: ‘Charles Butler, The Feminine Monarchie: Or the Historie of Bees (London: 1623) ‘Picture this’ October 2017 https://www.canterbury-cathedral.org/heritage/archives/picture-this/busy-bees/
- ‘The Gospels of St Augustine of Canterbury’, Centre for Research in Kent History and Archaeology blog, March, 2016, https://blogs.canterbury.ac.uk/kenthistory/the-gospels-of-st-augustine-of-canterbury-a-gift-from-rome-to-canterbury/
- ‘What’s in a Name?: Adam names the animals’ CCA Lit Ms D.10 ‘Picture this’, February 2016 http://www.canterbury-cathedral.org/2016/02/08/whats-in-a-name/
- ‘A Hell of a Ride’ f.189v, in The Nuremberg Chronicle (1493), CCL W/S-18-1, October 2013 http://www.canterbury-cathedral.org/2013/10/01/a-hell-of-a-ride/
- ‘Remarkable rather than ‘mediocre’: 15th century French Book of Hours: illustration of St John the Evangelist, Canterbury Cathedral Library HH/L-3-3, ‘Picture this’ March 2013 http://www.canterbury-cathedral.org/2013/03/01/remarkable-rather-than-mediocre/
Reviewer for CILIP Rare Books and Special Collections and Archaeologia Cantiana
Two AHRC Student-Led Initiative Awards (£5,000); AHRC CHASE Material Witness Scholar (£1,000); Quadrivium KIASH grant (£2,000), CHAS Research grant £250; FAH KE Award (£500).
Selected Conference Papers
- 2018: April: Medieval Canterbury Weekend: ‘The Fantastic Beasts of the Medieval Bestiary’
- September: St Anne’s, Oxford, Living in a Magical World: Inner Lives, 1300–1900: ‘In the shadow of the Phoenix: Emotional meanings of fantastic creatures in stone, book, and spoken word’
- 2017: London Medieval Society: Animals in Medieval Culture: ‘Firing the imagination – the Scarlet Phoenix and Canterbury Cathedral’
- Reinardus XXII International Symposium, University of Reading: ‘Reading the animal: Animal visual image motifs in decorated initials from twelfth-century Canterbury manuscripts’
- Canterbury Archaeological Trust/CCCU, 'From martyrdom to Magna Carta: the life, poetry and fate of Nigel Wireker, monk of Canterbury’
- 2016: Leeds IMC panel 830 organized by I. Augart, Universität Hamburg, (part of the Gradations of Life sessions), ‘Being Licked Into Shape: The Bestiary and the Medieval Margins of Creation’
- Early Medieval Kent Conference, Canterbury Christ Church University, ‘Arson, Treachery, and Pillage: Early Medieval Canterbury monasticism’
- Pilgrimage, Shrines and Healing in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe Symposium, University of Chester, ‘Tokens of Affection? Pilgrim Tokens Sewn into a 15th century French Horae
- Comedy and Critical Thought: Laughter as Resistance? University of Kent
- ‘Making an Ass of Oneself? The pointed comedy of The Mirror for Fools
- Gender and Medieval Studies Conference 2016: University of Hull, ‘Bestiaries, Beasts, and Beastliness: Understanding and the Animal in Medieval Gender and Emotion’
- 2015: Reinardus XXI International Symposium, Zurich University,‘The Scarlet Phoenix: the Fourfold Senses in a First family Bestiary and the Speculum Ecclesiae’
- 2014: Religious Men in the Middle Ages, University of Lincoln,‘Brothers under pressure: Murder, Martyrdom, Majesty and Monastic Manhood in The Mirror for Fools’
- Canterbury Cathedral; University of Kent Special Collections Annual Lecture ‘Monsters in the Library: M. R. James and bestiaries at Canterbury Cathedral’
- 2013: Reinardus XX International Symposium, University of Alicante,‘Burnellus the Ass and his Bestiary Precedents in Twelfth-century Canterbury’
- 2012: Annual EMREM Symposium, University of Birmingham, ‘The Whores and Virgins of the Medieval Latin Bestiary’ (and given with additions at MEMS Research Seminar 4th October, 2012)
- 9th Annual Symposium, Société Internationale des Médiévistes, and Laboratoire de Médiévistique Occidentale de Paris (LAMOP) de l’Université Paris I, Panthéon-Sorbonne, Paris,‘Do you listen only as ‘the dull ass to the lyre?’: Burnellus the Ass visits Paris’
- ‘Cosmopolitan Animals’ Conference at the Institute of English Studies (IES) London, ‘animalized humans/ humanized animals: medieval perceptions of onagers and onocentaurs’
- 2011: International Medieval Congress, University of Leeds, Panel 1216, sponsored by MEMS, University of Kent, ‘The Bestiary in Canterbury: Perception, Reception, and Usage’
- Education and Ignorance: The Use of Knowledge in the Medieval World c.550-1550, University of Manchester, ‘Is the Bestiary a symbol of the medieval stagnation of knowledge?
- 2010: 4th National Society for Renaissance Studies Conference, University of York ‘...of ruby velvet embroidered with golden doves’: A Sixteenth Century Monk's Possessions’
- 45th International Congress on Medieval Studies, University of West Michigan, Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA, ‘Boundary Blurring in BL Harley 3244’ MEARCSTAPA Session 1
- Explaining Supernatural Nature, AHRC Beyond Text Conference, SAIMS St Andrews, ‘Snakes and Deadly Sins: Artistic Comment in BL Harley 3244’s Bestiary’
- 2009: Virtue, Vice, & Virility: High Status Men in the Middle Ages, Newcastle University, ‘Blood & the Monstrous Other: Guibert de Nogent, Jean de Soissons and hegemonic masculinity’