Dr Luisa Ostacchini

My research broadly considers ideas of the world in medieval literature. In particular, I am interested in how writers and scholars from early medieval England (650-1100) were thinking about places outside of England, and how they saw their relationship to the global world around them. To this end, my interests largely move between the interrelated areas of translation between Latin and the vernacular; pre-modern national and international identity; and medieval travel. I am also interested in questions of interconnectivity, inclusivity and intratextuality in medieval works, especially in collections of saints’ lives.

My first book, Translating Europe in Ælfric’s ‘Lives of Saints’ (forthcoming September 2024, Oxford University Press) focused on the relationship between England and Europe in the tenth century. Interest in England’s relationship with its European neighbours is by no means a modern phenomenon, and across his prodigious corpus Ælfric of Eynsham (c. 950–1010), the most prolific and stylistically accomplished prose writer in all Old English literature, writes repeatedly about the relationship between England and Europe. My book examines the representation of European places, people and community (and England's relationship with and ability to be part of that community) in his Lives of Saints, an extensive collection of stories about saints, most of whom are European. In doing so, I consider the ways in which Europe constituted a vital part of Ælfric’s didactic praxis concerning unity and the global church at a time of national crisis. I have also published on Ælfric's representation of India and Rome, on his use of sources in the Lives of Saints, and on his homiletic practice when translating material from Latin into the vernacular. 

My current work looks beyond Europe to the global world. To this end, I am working with one of the most extensive examples of vernacular encyclopedic writing in the entirety of the European Middle Ages, the ninth century text known as the Old English Martyrology. What interests me most about the OEM is the interrelation between its whole and its parts. I am interested not only in how medieval English writers were describing African and Asian places, but also in how they made sense of the globe as an entity; and in how that relationship between individual places and global whole is made manifest in the text's synthesis of diverse sources, ideas, languages, genres and saints into a single coherent work. This project, then, not only sheds new light on Medieval English engagement with the non-European world, but further illuminates translation practice, rationale and literary art behind one of the most important and most chronically understudied works of European medieval encyclopedic writing. 


I teach broadly across the Medieval period (with a particular interest in pre-conquest literature), and also teach both contemporary literary theory and history of the language (with particular interests in queer theory and translation studies). In 2023-24 I am teaching at both St John's College and at the English Faculty.

Undergraduate teaching:

Prelims Paper 1A (Introduction to English Language)

Prelims Paper 1B (Introduction to English Literature)

Prelims Paper 2 (Early Medieval Literature, c. 650-1350)

FHS Paper 2 (English Literature 1350-1550)

Course II FHS Paper 1 (Literature in English 600-1100)


Postgraduate teaching:

Medieval Latin for Beginners (MSt / DPhil)

Research Methods (MSt in Medieval Studies)



I am a mentor for MSt/ MPhil/ DPhil students in the English Faculty and MSt students on the Humanities interdisciplinary Medieval MSt, and am the Communications Officer for Oxford Medieval Studies


Translating Saints: Europe in Ælfric's ‘Lives of Saints’ (Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2024).


Articles / Book Chapters

"Ælfric of Eynsham and the Treatise De ebrietate cauenda of Boulogne-sur-Mer, Bibliothèque Municipale, MS 63" Journal of Medieval Latin (forthcoming 2024)

"Rome Away from Rome: India, Rome and England in Ælfric’s Life of Saint Thomas", in Ideas of the World in Early Medieval English Literature, edited by Kazutomo Karasawa, Francis Leneghan, and Mark Atherton. Turnhout: Brepols, 2022.

"BHL 2178: A New Source for Ælfric's Life of Dionysius", Notes and Queries 69.3 (2022): 187.

"Fair or Fowl?: Golding's Translation of Ovidian Bird Lore into Moral Exempla", Reinvention, BCUR 2014 Special Issue (2014)