Gender and Identity, Culture and Society

Our Research

The Medieval Studies Research Group examines medieval gender, identity, culture, and society throughout the Middle Ages, notably: the legacy of Rome in Late Antiquity through to the late Middle Ages; medieval literature and culture; the history of women, children, and families; queens, aristocracies, and elites; medieval education and learning; and the history of emotions.

Late Antiquity and the Inheritance of Rome

Throughout the Middle Ages, (medieval) Latin was used as a learned language across Christian Europe, as the language of both the Church and education. Our research focuses on the legacy of Rome in Late Antiquity and beyond, from the sociocultural history of Latin, written law and legal practice, to letter-writing and late antique literary culture. We are also interested in travel and communication in the Mediterranean.

Medieval Text and Literary Culture

Our research examines the literature and culture of the high to late Middle Ages, with particular emphases on monsters, the romance genre and its cultural contexts, and relationships between English and Continental (especially French) romances. Current research explores embodiments of liminality, human-animal relations, and the connections of both the violence in Middle English romance and outlaw narratives, investigating how medieval authors use these texts to challenge or reinstate social hegemonies (or a combination of both).

The History of Women, Children, and Families

The history of women, children, and families has emerged as a growing field of scholarly enquiry over the last forty years. Our research examines the place of women as daughters, wives, mothers and widows with medieval society, and investigates the sexual politics of families, households, and communities in the central and later Middle Ages. It also investigates experiences of childhood and the existence of youth culture in Western Europe.

Queens, Aristocracies, and Elites

Our research looks at the nature of medieval queenship in Europe, at the correspondence, the records, and the personnel of queens and their households, and at the role of royal daughters as diplomatic agents. Other areas of our research, allied to this one, focus on the relationship between rulers and aristocracies, on strategies of estate and household management, and on chivalry, elite residences, pastimes, and lifestyles. Our research group includes the joint general editor of Routledge's Lives of Royal Women series.

Education and Learning

Our research looks at the history of education in the Middle Ages. It investigates the dissemination and transmission of the ideas of the Paris Schools, and the intellectual thought of Peter Lombard and Stephen Langton.

History of Emotions

The history of emotions has emerged as a growing field of scholarly enquiry over the last twenty years. Our research examines the place and use of emotions as a tool for medieval communication and diplomacy throughout the Middle Ages, with particular attention on the role of friendship in cross-cultural communication in the Iberian Peninsula and the medieval Mediterranean world. Current research includes a new project on Emotions, Communication, and Diplomacy in medieval Iberia, which combines historical and literary methodologies to examine the instrumental adoption of emotional discourses across and beyond geopolitical, religious, linguistic, and ethnic frontiers.


Image: Sir Geoffrey Luttrell, with his wife and his daughter-in-law, from the Luttrell Psalter (early fourteenth century). British Library MS 42130, f.202v. Image reproduced by kind permission of the British Library.