Ashe, Dr Laura
♦ Medieval literature, history and culture, c. 1000-1550
♦ Post-Conquest England
♦ Medieval romance and historiography
♦ The French of England and multilingualism
♦ Chivalry in culture and literature
♦ Arthurian literature
♦ Post-colonialism and national identities in the Middle Ages
I work primarily on the literature, history and culture of England during the High Middle Ages, c.1000-1400. My research is focused on the multilingual environment which produced the flowering of fictional and historiographical writing in post-Conquest England, in Latin, French and English; and on the development of English national identity and literary history. My first book, Fiction and History in England, 1066-1200, is a study of the ideologies of national identity, the genres of romance and chronicle, and the colonial discourses of the English in medieval Ireland. In 2009 I was awarded a Philip Leverhulme Prize, which enabled me to take teaching leave 2010-12. I'm now writing volume one of the new Oxford English Literary History (1000-1350), alongside more disparate projects, including editing a volume in the Penguin Classics series of Early Fiction in England, co-editing a cross-period volume on war and conflict, and writing various papers on romances and saints' lives, multilingualism, crusading, kingship, sanctity, and chivalry.
From next year I will become one of the editors of New Medieval Literatures (beginning with NML 16, 2014).
I am on the program committee for the 20th biennial Congress of the New Chaucer Society, to be held in Reykjavik, July 2014. I'm also in the early stages of planning a conference: Conquest: 1016, 1066, to mark the 950th anniversary of the Norman Conquest and 1000th anniversary of Danish conquest: St Anne's College, Oxford, 20-23 July 2016. The Call for Session Proposals has just gone out. Facebook users can see the ongoing discussion group here; anyone who wishes to join the mailing list should email me.
In 2013-15 I will be mentoring a two-year Postdoctoral Fellow in the field 'England in Europe, c.950-c.1250', funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. I am also involved in the new initiative launching Oxford Medieval Studies as a research network in TORCH.
I have featured on BBC Radio 4's In Our Time talking about Malory's Le Morte Darthur (January 2013) and 'Chivalry' (February 2014). Both may be downloaded from the programme podcast archive. Also available is an Oxford University podcast about my research, and a public lecture on the birth of the romance delivered to accompany the Romance of the Middle Ages exhibition at the Bodleian Library in 2012. Television appearances include a Time Team special on the location of the Battle of Hastings (Channel 4, 2013), and A N Wilson's programme on C S Lewis, 'Narnia's Lost Poet' (BBC4, 2013).
In November 2013 I delivered the Dorothy Ford Wiley Crossroads Lecture in Medieval Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Undergraduate: Early Medieval Literature, 650-1350; Late Medieval Literature, 1350-1550; Shakespeare; Medieval English and Related Literatures 1066-1550; Romance; Old and Middle English Language; Practical Criticism and Commentary.
Graduate: Varying options on historiography and romance in the high middle ages for the MSt courses in Medieval Literature and Medieval Studies. I would welcome prospective doctoral students wishing to work on any aspect of the Conquest and the post-Conquest period, broadly considered, and particularly on the multiple literatures of England; on the literatures of kingship, chivalry and aristocratic culture; on Arthurian literature throughout the Middle Ages; on national and community identities, medieval imperialism and post-colonialism; on medieval romance, and questions of genre; on chroniclers and historiographies.
Current graduate students: I am currently supervising three doctoral dissertations, on the manuscript contexts of thirteenth-century insular French and English religious and secular texts; a comparative study of the figure of exile-and-return in twelfth- and thirteenth-century English and Spanish romances; and on regional identities in post-Conquest England and Wales.
Past graduate students: Recently completed DPhils include Dr Jaclyn Rajsic, 'Britain and Albion in the Mythical Histories of Medieval England' (2012), Dr Alexander Rhodes, 'Narrative and Knowledge Transmission in Anglo-Saxon and Post-Conquest Literature' (2012), and Dr Emily A. Winkler (History), 'Royal Responsibility in Post-Conquest Invasion Narratives' (2013).
I am Director of Undergraduate Admissions in the English Faculty.
Current and forthcoming publications
♦ Fiction and History in England, 1066-1200 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007)
"a major contribution to the study of postconquest literature" - Speculum (2010)
"sophisticated and ambitious" - JEGP (2009)
♦ The Exploitations of Medieval Romance. Studies in Medieval Romance 12, ed. Laura Ashe, Ivana Djordjević and Judith Weiss (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2010); including Ashe, 'Introduction', 1-14; chapter 10: ‘Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and the limits of chivalry’, 159-72.
"a complete redirection of our critical attention" - Arthuriana (2011)
♦ War and Literature. Essays and Studies 2014, ed. Laura Ashe and Ian Patterson (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2014), forthcoming.
♦ ‘Killing the King: Romance and the Politicization of History’, in Think Romance! Reconceptualizing a Medieval Genre, ed. Katherine C. Little and Nicola McDonald (publisher tbc, 2014/15), forthcoming.
♦ ‘The Ideal of Knighthood in English and French Writing, 1100-1230: Crusade, Piety, Chivalry and Patriotism’, in Writing the Early Crusades: Text, Transmission and Memory, ed. Marcus Bull and Damien Kempf (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2014), 155-68.
♦ ‘Language’, in A Handbook of Middle English Studies. Wiley-Blackwell Critical Theory Handbooks, ed. Marion Turner (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013), 379-95.
♦ ‘The Anomalous King of Conquered England’, in Every Inch a King: Comparative Studies on Kings and Kingship in the Ancient and Medieval Worlds, ed. Charles Melville and Lynette Mitchell (Leiden: Brill, 2012), 173-93.
♦ ‘Holinshed and Mythical History’, in The Oxford Handbook of Holinshed's Chronicles, ed. Paulina Kewes, Ian W. Archer, and Paulina Kewes (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 155-71.
♦ ‘Harold Godwineson’, in Heroes and Anti-Heroes in Medieval Romance, ed. Neil Cartlidge (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2012), 59-80.
♦ ‘Mutatio dexterae Excelsi: Narratives of Transformation after the Conquest’, Journal of English and Germanic Philology 110 (2011), 141-72.
♦ ‘The Hero and his Realm in Medieval English Romance’, in Boundaries in Medieval Romance. Studies in Medieval Romance 6, ed. Neil Cartlidge (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2008), 129-47.
♦ ‘William Marshal, Lancelot, and Arthur: chivalry and kingship’, Anglo-Norman Studies 30 (2008 for 2007), 19-40
♦ ‘Reading like a clerk in the Clerk’s Tale’, Modern Language Review 101 (2006), 935-44
♦ “Exile-and-return’ and English Law: The Anglo-Saxon Inheritance of Insular Romance', Literature Compass 3 (2006), 300-17
♦ ‘The Meaning of Suffering: Symbolism and anti-symbolism in the death of Tristan’, in Writers of the reign of Henry II: Twelve Essays, ed. Ruth Kennedy and Simon Meecham-Jones (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), 221-38.
♦ ‘The Short Charter of Christ: an unpublished longer version, from Cambridge University Library, MS. Add. 6686’, Medium Aevum 72 (2003), 32-48
♦ Prize Essay: 'A Prayer and a Warcry: The creation of a secular religion in the Song of Roland', Cambridge Quarterly 28 (1999), 349-67
I was an undergraduate at Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge, 1996-99, and a Kennedy Scholar at Harvard University 1999-2000, before returning to Cambridge for the MPhil and PhD. I was elected a Research Fellow of Caius in 2003, and then in 2006 appointed to a permanent lectureship at Queen Mary, University of London, before coming to Oxford in 2008.
Worcester College: English subject page
New Chaucer Society (This link requires you to be registered to open)
The Anglo-Norman online hub: indispensable resource for insular French texts and language
The French of England: a project run by Fordham and York, including regular conferences
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