Thesis Title: Sound and Social Change in Medieval Wales: Listening to Late Medieval Welsh Literature
Supervisor: Dr. Mark Williams
I study the impact of social change on late medieval Welsh poetry by looking at the sounds that feature therein.
This often boils down to the question of the ‘sound of bad poetry’: Why did the sound of minstrels agitate the noble poets of Wales? How did the new sounds of urbanised Wales increase social anxieties in bardic circles about the future of their profession? How did this change bring new, sometimes unwelcome sounds, such as foreign languages, to the attention of poets and their audiences? But it also concerns the effects of technological innovations such as clocks, cannons, and organs on the shared imaginary culture of Wales, as transmitted through its poetry, which is the most potent strand of medieval Welsh literature.
My research intersects history and literature, but it also features the innovative addition of historical sound studies. This growing field springs from the notion that the senses do not transcend time and place: we share the same physiology as people from centuries ago, yet our different surroundings and cultural sensibilities mean that we perceive the world differently. More specifically, before the printing revolution, before the Enlightenment’s emphasis on proof by vision, and when the world was altogether quieter compared to now, hearing played a more important role in daily life. My thesis thus uses late medieval Welsh literature to examine how tuning into this aural sensitivity can unveil much new and nuanced meaning in a particular body of medieval literature.
Research Interests: Medieval Literature; Welsh Language and Literature (medieval and modern); Irish Language and Literature (Old and Middle Irish); Celtic linguistics; Sound Studies; Multilingualism.
I assist with the teaching of Celtic languages at the Faculty, including supervising a dissertation on medieval Irish literature and teaching modules on Middle Welsh and Old Irish language and literature. Beyond the university, I teach Welsh to adults and I am the Welsh materials assistant on the University of Liverpool's "Human Remains" project (https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/archaeology-classics-and-egyptology/research...).
I have academic papers in forthcoming issues of "Studia Celtica", "Llên Cymru", and "Y Traethodydd", and I regularly contribute to the magazines "O'r Pedwar Gwynt" and "Y Drych". I have also contributed to the podcasts "Medieval Roots" and "The Lost Sounds".