I read my PhD at Manchester University and was lecturer in Medieval English and History of the Language at Brasenose College, Oxford University.
Prognostication, Magic, Science in the Middle Ages
Reception of Greek and Roman Mythology in Anglo-Saxon England
Milton and seventeeth-century Italian tragedies on the Fall
My main research interests include manuscript studies, science (mainly astronomy and weather), magic and prognostications in Latin, Old English and Middle English, and the relationship between weather, health and time. Most of this research has been disseminated in books and international peer-reviewed journals, including Anglo-Saxon England, English Studies, Germanic Philology and Studies in Philology. I also published on Anglo-Saxon manuscripts, Ovid’s influence in Anglo-Saxon England, kingship and prognostication, and the role of natural phenomena in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. I was guest editor with K. Prietzel of ‘Holy and Unholy Appetites in Anglo-Saxon England’ (special issue English Studies, August 2012) and co-edited with Hugh Magennis a collection of essays, Aspects of Knowledge: Preserving and Reinventing Traditions of Learning in the Middle Ages, published by Manchester University Press, 2018.
I am completing a monograph on "The Signs of the Weather in Anglo-Saxon England" (for which I was awarded a Leverhulme Research Fellowship in 2012), the first study that explores Anglo-Saxon knowledge of and attitudes to natural phenomena in the literature of the 10th-12th centuries, ranging from historiography to prognostications, hagiography, charms and poetry. It argues that astro-meteorological phenomena acquired an importance based on previously undeveloped scientific awareness in the minds of late Anglo-Saxon learned communities, and that such knowledge was assimilated into historical sources such as the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and other monastic products. Increasing attention to the weather, particularly winds and thunder, seems to have been occasioned by a strong interest in natural science and by the influx of computistical materials. These include Easter tables, texts and diagrams on the direction/names of winds and weather prognostics, which reached England from Fleury during the Benedictine Reform (c. 990s). This study claims that celestial phenomena also acquired a prognosticatory dimension and were considered signs, portending momentous events in the world of men. It makes the case that prognostication and scientific thinking were not in opposition to each other. On the contrary, knowledge of a meteorological phenomenon enhanced its prognosticatory force.
I strongly recognize both the value and challenges of research networking and collaboration with scholars from other disciplines and historical periods, and the importance of public engagement. My current research on weather and astronomy in the Middle Ages transcends in fact discipline boundaries, promoting collaborations between humanities and sciences.
I am currently on research leave thanks to an APEX award (£98,149.00) awarded by the UK’s national academies (The Royal Society, British Academy, Royal Academy of Engineering and the Leverhulme Trust) for cross-disciplinary excellence and innovative research. The project ‘Before and After Halley: Medieval Visions of Modern Science’, in collaboration with astrophysicist Dr Pedro Lacerda, renegotiates the meaning and importance of medieval science and demonstrates how medieval records of comets can help test the theory of the existence of the elusive Planet 9. This ground-breaking project, for the first time, looks at celestial occurrences, as they appear in English, Irish, Western European and Russian Chronicles from the 9th to the 12th centuries from a fresh perspective, by relying on up-to-date scientific tools in an attempt to demonstrate the importance of astronomy and scientific thought in early medieval Europe. It also illustrates how the Humanities can make a resounding contribution to the ongoing scientific debate on the existence of the so-called Planet Nine, currently impossible to confirm by direct observation.
In March 2018, I was the reciepient of a ‘British Academy Rising Star Public Engagement Award’ (£15,000.00). As part of the project, I organised a photo exhibition ‘Marvelling at the Skies: Comets through the Eyes of the Anglo-Saxons’ which was held at the National Museum of Northern Ireland 1 May – 4 June 2018 https://www.nmni.com/whats-on/marvelling-at-the-skies.
Furthermore, I am working on the first English translation of a 17th-century Italian drama on the fall, L’Adamo caduto by Serafino della Salandra.
I teach Old English Language and Literature, Paleaography and Historical Linguistics.
I have been the Secretary of TOEBI (Teachers of Old English in Britain and Ireland) since 2012. http://www.toebi.org.uk/
I was awarded a Leverhulme Research Fellowship to complete a monograph on the Signs of the Weather in Anglo-Saxon England.
Research output: Contribution to journal › Special issue
Additional searchable ISSN (Electronic): 1744-4217
Scopus rating (2018): CiteScore 0.18 SJR 0.112 SNIP 0.37
University of North Carolina Press
Scopus rating (2018): SJR 0.101 SNIP 0.358
Additional searchable ISSN (Electronic): 1474-0532
Cambridge University Press
Scopus rating (2018): SJR 0.134 SNIP 0.848
Activity: Talk or presentation types › Invited talk
Activity: Visiting an external institution types › Visiting an external academic institution
Activity: Examination types › UG external examination
Prize: National/international honour
Prize: Fellowship awarded competitively
Contribution to conference papers, events and activities