Architecture as Authoritative Reader: Splitting Stones in Andreas and Christ III
My main area of research is Old English poetry, though I have also published on early Middle English literature and comparative literature. My favourite Old English poems are Andreas, Beowulf, and The Dream of the Rood.
My doctoral work included a study of Old English poets’ use of the synonyms tacen and beacen (‘sign’), and I have also worked as a research assistant on a project on Old English poetic compounds. My main area of interest currently is the use of conceptual clusters in Old English, Old Saxon, and Early Middle English poetry.
I also have an interest in the symbolic and intertextual functions of architectural imagery and lexis in Anglo-Saxon texts, and I have recently co-edited a special issue of Leeds Studies in English on the theme ‘Architectural Representation in Early Medieval England’. My contribution to the volume is an article on the use and development of the patristic trope of architecture-as-reader in the poems Andreas and Christ III.
Other patristic tropes I that interest me include heirarchies of perception and Augustine’s trinity of the soul (I have published on Cynewulf's use of this trope). Recognizing how Old English poets respond to pratristic tropes for framing and conceptualizing processes of human understanding can clarify the poems’ structural, psychological, and figural logic.
I have recently ventured into comparative literature with a piece on the use of typology in Beowulf and the novels of William Faulkner. Beowulf and Go Down, Moses! use similar narrative techniques, including subjectivity and non-linear structures, to explore common themes of inheritance, gender, succession, memory, and the monstrous.
Early Middle English
I have also worked on Early Middle English narratives about Anglo-Saxon England, and have published on Laʒamon’s Brut.
I teach English language and medieval literature, including the following undergraduate papers:
Prelims Paper 1a: English Language
Prelims Paper 2: Early Medieval English 650–1350
FHS Course II Paper 1: Literature in English, 650–1100
FHS Paper 2: Literature in English, 1350–1550
I am a founding member, with Daniel Thomas and Karl Kinsella, of an interdisciplinary research network on Medieval Architectural Representation. This network began its existence as a Balliol Interdisciplinary Institute project. Activities of the network have so far included:
- A series of ‘work in progress’ seminars
- A one-day workshop at TORCH
- Themed sessions at the International Medieval Congress
- A two-day international conference at University College, Oxford
- A special issue of Leeds Studies in English on ‘Architectural Representation in Early Medieval England’ (forthcoming)
- A series of public lectures at the University Church (scheduled for Trinity 2017)
I have also contributed a piece on the ‘Beasts of Battle’ to the Trusted Source knowledge exchange project, and written about what the Venerable Bede might have made of proposals to fix the date of Easter for The Conversation.