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University of Oxford Faculty of English

Ashe, Laura

Position: Associate Professor; Tutorial Fellow, Worcester College
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).

During 2015/16 I hold a Leverhulme Research Fellowship; in April 2016 I will hold the Morton Bloomfield Visiting Fellowship in medieval literature at the English Department of Harvard University.

I am one of the editors of New Medieval Literatures: NML 16 is now at press and we're accepting submissions for NML 17.

I am currently organising a conference: Conquest: 1016, 1066,  to mark the 950th anniversary of the Norman Conquest and 1000th anniversary of Danish conquest: Ioannou Centre and TORCH, Oxford, 21-24 July 2016. The full programme and a list of participants is now up on the site.

Facebook users can see the ongoing discussion group here; anyone who wishes to join the mailing list should email me.



I have featured on BBC Radio 4's In Our Time talking about Malory's Le Morte Darthur (January 2013), 'Chivalry' (February 2014), Beowulf (March 2015), and Tristan & Iseult (December 2015). These may be downloaded from the programme podcast archive. My own radio programmes include A Cultural History of the Plague (BBC Radio 3), broadcast 30 November 2014, and The Birth of Love (BBC Radio 4), broadcast 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 one doctoral dissertation. on regional identities in post-Conquest England and Wales, and I encourage interested possible applicants to contact me directly.

Past graduate students: Recently completed DPhils include Dr Daniel Reeve, 'Romance and the literature of religious instruction, c.1170–c.1330' (2015); Dr Liliana Worth, 'Exile-and-Return in Medieval Vernacular Texts of England and Spain, 1170-1250' (2014); Dr Emily A. Winkler (History), 'Royal Responsibility in Post-Conquest Invasion Narratives' (2013); Dr Jaclyn Rajsic, 'Britain and Albion in the Mythical Histories of Medieval England' (2012), and Dr Alexander Rhodes, 'Narrative and Knowledge Transmission in Anglo-Saxon and Post-Conquest Literature' (2012).

Current and forthcoming publications:

Monographs and edited collections

♦  Richard II (London: Allen Lane, 2016)



♦  Early Fiction in England: From Geoffrey of Monmouth to Chaucer (London: Penguin, 2015)






♦  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 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016/17), forthcoming.

‘1155 and the Beginnings of Fiction’, History Today (15 January 2015), 41-6.

♦ ‘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





















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