Professor Jane Griffiths

Jane works primarily on English poetry and drama of the 15th and 16th centuries, with a particular interest in questions of voice, composition process, and literary authority. Her first book was John Skelton and Poetic Authority: Defining the Liberty to Speak (OUP, 2006); her second Diverting Authorities: Experimental Glossing Practices in Manuscript and Print (OUP, 2015). With Adam Hanna of University College Cork, she co-edited Architectural Space and the Imagination: Houses in Literature and Art from Classical to Contemporary (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020), reflecting her interests in memory arts and representations of architectural space in literature.

She has had six collections of poetry published by Bloodaxe Books, most recently Little Silver (2022); Another Country (2008) was shortlisted for the Forward Prize, and Silent in Finisterre (2017) was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. In the five years between completing her BA and returning to Oxford for her DPhil, she trained and worked as a bookbinder, and she retains an interest in binding, material text, and artists’ books.

Her current research focuses on verbal memory and creative process. She is working on a monograph, The Material Medium: Untranslatability and Poetic Process, which takes as its starting-point instances of obtrusive language found in poetry of the late-medieval period (for example inscriptions, quotations, proverbs, commonplaces, and other forms of words that draw attention to themselves rather than to what they convey), and asks what these have to tell us about poetic composition processes. To do so, it borrows the concept of untranslatability from World Literature, asking how it can be a tool to understand both medieval poetic practice and lyric language more generally. She is simultaneously writing a work of creative non-fiction, Belongings: A Life in Translation, which reflects on the creative process as a response to various forms of silencing, including those resulting from geographical and linguistic displacement and from bilingualism.

These books are two strands of a single project that brings together academic research into late-medieval lyric with Jane’s own experience of writing poetry and of bilingualism in order to investigate how these different modes of knowing affect one another.



  • Late Medieval and Early Modern (and related special options)
  • Shakespeare

   Literary Editor, Oxford Magazine