Constructions of barbarism in Latin Europe, c. 1050-1300.
My doctoral research investigates 'barbarians' in medieval Latin texts. It understands them not as warped description of real people and societies, but as a set of discourses that were deployed by medieval writers for highly specific purposes, through the precise interplay of calls for reform, local contexts, and deep textual traditions. For example, the author of a hagiography might use 'barbarians' to help construct the sanctity of a missionary, whereas a chronicle might include them to contribute to a sense of disorder and violence in the narrative. I have worked in detail on sources that label the inhabitants of Pomerania, Ireland and Wales as 'barbarians'.
I am interested in how the 'barbarian' related to other intersecting hierarchies, including gender as well as political hierarchies, and in how they were used to call for ecclesiastical and social reform. Moreover, barbarians were often compared to 'beasts' and deprived of textual agency in comparable ways and I am currently trying to think through how this might contribute to an environmental history of the middle ages.
I have also recently helped put together a discussion group for Environmental History within the History Faculty - please get in touch with this address if you would like to be added to the mailing list or have any questions.
I would be more than happy to answer questions from anyone considering applying for the DPhil course - I found it really helpful to chat to current students when applying.