Dr Alexandra Paddock

I am interested in English literature and reading the natural world, with a particular emphasis on medieval animal texts, particularly the Physiologus and bestiary tradition, and medieval riddles. I work in ecocriticism and animal studies, and often use cross-period methodology. I am also interested in animal presence in anglophone modern theatre. 

I work on the ways in which animals constitute and even behave as the natural spaces in literary depictions, such as the island-turned-whale of the Exeter Book Physiologus. This is the topic of my current monograph, Unland: Space and the Matter of Animals in English Literature. I am currently writing about undermining and unearthing metaphors about badgers and other earth-moving creatures in the bestiary and medieval riddles.

In addition to my teaching and research since 2017 I have been Lead Curator on the LitHits project on digital reading at the Faculty of English, University of Oxford, and a Director at LitHits Ltd, the first spin-out from the Faculty of English, led by Prof. Kirsten Shepherd-Barr, since 2020. This project has been funded by Oxford University Innovation in two successive rounds of the University Challenge Seed Fund in March 2018 and December 2018; and also by the Van Houten Fund (March 2019). In addition, in collaboration with the Institute of Population Ageing and Age UK Oxfordshire, I was one of two postdoctoral researchers (0.3 FTE) for the Reading, Wellbeing and Ageing Project, co-led by Prof. Kirsten Shepherd-Barr and Dr George Leeson (April-July 2019). This project was funded by the Higher Education Innovation Fund through Business Engagement Partnership seed funding.

In August-October 2020 I was project coordinator for the Ten-Minute Book Club.

Medieval literature; Old English; Middle English; Fairytales (Paper 6: Fairytales, Folklore and Fantasy, 2019); Children's Literature; Ecocriticism and nature writing; animal studies; nineteenth-century and modern drama.


I am also Assistant Senior Tutor and Lecturer in English for Middlebury-CMRS Humanities Programme, part of the Middlebury College Schools Abroad, based in Oxford and associated with Keble College. This is a career development post, which I have held since August 2019.