Laura Kalas Williams

Lecturer in English Literature, Swansea University

I am a lecturer in English literature at Swansea University, where I teach modules on medieval literature and culture, gender studies, and transhistorical modules about literature, gender and the body. I am the winner of the 2015 Gender and Medieval Studies Group graduate student essay prize.

My research is primarily about the religious women of the Middle Ages, the medicalization of spirituality, the physiology of spiritual rapture, the senses, emotions, medieval medicine, and the medical humanities. My PhD, which was awarded in 2016 by the University of Exeter, was about the medieval mystic, Margery Kempe. The thesis explored Kempe's spirituality through a focus on her progress through the life cycle and employed medieval medical texts as a lens through which to analyse her painful experiences.

More broadly, I am interested in the deep intersections between the religious and medical ideologies of the Middle Ages and the parallels that can be drawn between the medieval and modern in terms of approaches to health and wellbeing. I am especially interested in medieval female visionaries and the way in which their physiology is 'written', 'read', and adapted. I am currently working on the significations of light and sight in Mechtild of Hackeborn's 'The Boke of Gostlye Grace', and am writing my first book on Margery Kempe and medicine for Boydell and Brewer (2019).

My next book-length project is about the 'holy medicine' of medieval female mystics in Europe. This research will develop my doctoral work, exploring the ways in which medieval religious women were able to modify their physiology and utilise their senses in order to achieve spiritual enlightenment and transformation.

Website: www.medievalmetmorphoses.wordpress.com

Experience

  • 2017–present
    Lecturer in English Literature, Swansea University
  • 2016–2017
    Postdoctoral researcher and tutor, University of Exeter

Education

  • 2016 
    University of Exeter, PhD English
  • 2000 
    University of Kent at Canterbury, MA Medieval and Tudor Studies

Publications

  • 2019
    Women in Christianity in the Medieval Age, 1000-1400 (Routledge multi-volume series), Science & Technology: Ways of viewing the bodies of women and the contribution of women to these areas’
  • 2019
    Monograph: Boydell and Brewer, Margery Medica: Pain, Surrogacy and Healing in 'The Book of Margery Kempe'
  • 2016
    Medieval Feminist Forum, Vol. 52, No. 1, 'Slayn for Goddys lofe': Margery Kempe's Melancholia and the Bleeding of Tears

Professional Memberships

  • Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy