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University of Oxford Faculty of English

Ashe, Dr Laura

Job Title: Associate Professor and Tutorial Fellow
College: Worcester
Period/ Subject: Medieval

Email address:


♦  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 a short monograph on Richard II in the Penguin Monarchs series.

I am one of the editors of New Medieval Literatures: we're now accepting submissions for NML 16.

I am currently organising a conference: Conquest: 1016, 1066,  to mark the 950th anniversary of the Norman Conquest and 1000th anniversary of Danish conquest: Worcester College, Oxford, 20-23 July 2016. The call for session proposals recently took place, and a general Call for Papers will follow. Facebook users can see the ongoing discussion group here; anyone who wishes to join the mailing list should email me.

In 2013-15 I am 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. A one-off programme of my own, The Birth of Love, was broadcast on 13 August 2014. 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), A N Wilson's programme on C S Lewis, 'Narnia's Lost Poet' (BBC4, 2013), and 'The Greatest Knight', a documentary on William Marshal (BBC2, 2014).

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:

Monographs and edited collections

♦  Early Fiction in England (London: Penguin, 2015), forthcoming.


♦  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)




♦ War and Literature. Essays and Studies 2014, ed. Laura Ashe and Ian Patterson (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer for the English Association, 2014)


♦ 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)


Articles and chapters in books

♦ ‘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 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.


Other Information

Worcester College: English subject page

Medieval Studies at Oxford

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

The Holinshed Project 



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