I work on the intellectual, cultural, and social history of Western Europe in the late Middle Ages. My research explores how natural philosophy, medicine, theology, and political thought shaped conceptions of human personhood and society. I am concerned with how ideas in these different fields of knowledge interacted with each other, and how intellectual debates informed and were stimulated by social changes and practices.
My doctoral project explored how intellectual and social attitudes towards biological descent in the period 1250-1400 changed as a result of the rediscovery of Aristotelian natural philosophy and Galenic medicine. It shows that against dualist conceptions of human personhood, late medieval society held that human beings “were” rather than “possessed” bodies. I argue that this shift of emphasis placed biological ancestry and blood at the centre of social identities. To do so, my dissertation examines late medieval theories of reproduction, embryology, and trait inheritance, debates on the body-soul relationship and the true nature of nobility, communal myths of descent, and social practices like wet nursing, adoption, and naturalisation. In July 2023, my thesis was accepted for publication at the Oxford Historical Monograph series (OUP).
Since 2020, I have also worked as research assistant at the 'Reading the Holy Land' project, a research group led by Prof. Jonathan Rubin (University of Bar-Ilan) and funded by the Israel Science Foundation. I am helping to create a database with twelfth- and thirteenth-centuries Latin accounts of the Holy Land and their manuscripts, and to study the production and reception of these accounts throughout Europe.
In 2023, I have worked as research assistant for Prof. Julia Smith (All Souls) for the ‘Crafting Documents, c. 500-900 CE’ project. This project explores how changing ways of making ink and preparing parchment affected the work of scribes who produced written documents in the key transitional period between Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages.
In September 2023, I took up a Lectureship in Medieval History at Wadham College. I will also be doing some teaching for students at Lincoln College.