Lecturer in Early Medieval Literature, University of Manchester

My speciality is Old English language and literature, but I am also an interdisciplinary medievalist who recognises that early medieval literature interacts with the visual and material culture of the period. Some of my more recent work looks at how medieval writing can inform and transform modern literary genres, such as science fiction.

My first monograph (Nonhuman Voices in Anglo-Saxon Literature and Material Culture) draws on thing theory to argue that ‘things’ do not simply carry Old English voices across the ages but change them, sometimes reshaping or even subverting the messages intended by their original human makers. I present evidence for the talkativeness of nonhumans in five chapters interpreting both literary and material artefacts: Æschere’s head, Grendel’s mother and the giants’ sword in Beowulf; the Exeter Book riddles and Aldhelm’s Latin enigmata; the Franks Casket; the Lives of St Cuthbert and Lindisfarne Gospels; The Dream of the Rood and the Ruthwell runes. In arguing for the agency of things, this monograph rethinks the divisions between ‘animate’ human subjects and ‘inanimate’ nonhuman objects.

I have also co-edited a collection of essays on Medieval Science Fiction, addressing the recurring omissions of the Middle Ages from constructed histories of SF. Contributors consider where, how and why ‘science’ and ‘fiction’ intersect in the medieval period; explore the ways in which works of modern SF illuminate medieval counterparts; but also identify the presence and absence of the medieval past in SF history and criticism.

Experience

  • –present
    Lecturer in Early Medieval Literature, University of Manchester