BA (Oxon), MPhil (Oxon), DPhil (Oxon)
I originally come from Binfield (a village near Reading). However, for the last decade I have lived in Oxford, besides a one-year sojourn in the States to study post-classical Latin at UCLA. In Oxford, I studied my undergraduate, masters, and DPhil degrees at Exeter College, the sister college of Emmanuel. One of the great pleasures of my research so far has also been being travelling to view medieval manuscripts – Prague Castle and Lincoln Cathedral have been my favourite places so far.
Outside of work, I enjoy playing piano and percussion, looking round old churches and castles, nursing a newfound caffeine addiction in coffee shops, and socialising with friends at the pub. One of my aims in the next few years is to recultivate the creative hobbies I used to pursue (art, music, and reading for pleasure).
I work on medieval religious literature and book history, and more specifically on the intersections between advanced contemplative spirituality and more basic pastoral texts (ie used by priests in pastoral care). While I am fascinated by ‘literary’ topics and have always been based in English Literature departments, I mostly look at Latin religious and devotional writing (so not exactly ‘English’ or ‘literature’). Indeed, I particularly enjoy bringing together texts and topics which are typically treated separately (such as pastoral and contemplative literature, the Middle English canon and little-read European Latin texts, or – in a side-project – Germanic heroism and trickster narratives).
My DPhil examined the works of Richard Rolle, who is (regrettably) little known today but was the most circulated late-medieval English author by surviving copies. He was a fourteenth-century hermit and contemplative author, and my thesis sought to place him in the context of medieval practices of pastoral care (seeking to rehabilitate him from his reputation as a somewhat cantankerous, esoteric, and isolationist individual).
In my future work, I aim to examine further the spread of contemplative spirituality in pastoral environments. Histories of contemplative spirituality tend to focus on big-name authors or obscure vernacular texts, but the average medieval parish priest would not have access to either of these resources, and would instead have relied on the derivative and anonymous compilations and encyclopedias which he came upon by happenstance. Examining such texts in more detail will (I hope) give insights into what kind of material was actually available on the ground to the average parish priest and (by extension) his parishioners.
As a DPhil student, I took part in the Europaeum Scholars Programme – a doctoral training programme for students interested in connecting their research to contemporary European issues, especially in the policymaking sphere. I am interested in the ways in which departments of English Literature codify or critique an implicitly nationalistic narrative of cultural history. Part of my interest in the Middle Ages involves recognising Latin as a transnational European language which allowed the dissemination of texts and ideas across Europe, and considering how this can contribute towards a more open-ended and inclusive view of the literature of medieval England.