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Research

The relationship between the material world, literature, and other kinds of writing is at the heart of my research. My particular interests include landscape, environment, settlements, religion, materiality, ecotheory and ecocriticism, mind, and cognitive approaches to literature and material culture.

After studying a BA in English Literature and an MA in Medieval Literature, I wrote my PhD thesis on ‘Trees and Woodland in Anglo-Saxon Culture’ (’09), supervised in the Department of English Language and Literature and at the Institute of Archaeology, UCL.

In my first edited book Trees and Timber in the Anglo-Saxon World (OUP, 2013), and my monograph Trees in the Religions of Early Medieval England (Boydell, 2015), I investigated the role of trees and woodland in the belief systems of early medieval England before and after the conversion to Christianity, and explored the way in which this aspect of the environment shaped contemporary thought and practice.

I went on to co-edit three interdisciplinary volumes that each, in their own way, consider human interactions with aspects of the material world: Representing Beasts in Early Medieval England and Scandinavia (Boydell, 2015); Sensory Perception in the Medieval West (Brepols, 2016), and Stasis in the Medieval West? Questioning Change and Continuity (Palgrave, 2017).

In collaboration with Professor Richard North I produced Andreas: an Edition (Liverpool University Press, 2016) for the Exeter Medieval Texts and Studies series. This is the first parallel text and translation of this important Old English poem, in which I discuss the environment and landscape of the city of Mermedonia, a forbidding domain inhabited by pagan anthropophagi. In collaboration with novelist and poet Sonia Overall I explored the intersections between Andreas and Russell Hoban’s post-apocalyptic novel Riddley Walker (1980) for Being Human festival. You can hear Sonia and me talking about Andreas and Riddley with Matthew Sweet on BBC Radio 3 here.

I am currently working on the HLF-funded project ‘Finding Eanswythe: the Life and Afterlife of an Anglo-Saxon Saint’ in Folkestone. ‘Finding Eanswythe’ is an 18-month community heritage and archaeology project focused on Folkestone’s patron saint, a Kentish princess connected with the foundation of the seventh century minster.

My second monograph, Settlements and Strongholds: Texts and Landscapes in Early Medieval England, addresses connections and disjunctions between representations of the constructed landscape in early medieval English texts and evidence for their form and function in the archaeological record.

I am currently co-editing a volume of conference proceedings and developing a new project on cognitive approaches to texts and material environment.