Photo of Dr Jennifer Farrell

Dr Jennifer Farrell

Lecturer in Medieval History

5405

01392 725405

I joined the department of History at the University of Exeter as a lecturer in medieval history (E&S) in September 2014. My research and teaching interests span a number of areas including most especially the political, social and cultural histories of late medieval England and France. In particular, I am interested in the representation of the supernatural in medieval writings and its value for historians seeking to understand the political, social and cultural experiences of the time.

In 2012 I completed my PhD at University College Dublin with a dissertation on the classical and Christian inheritance of Geoffrey of Monmouth, and examined the representation of prophecy and the figure of the prophet himself in Geoffrey’s two earliest works: Prophetia Merlini and Historia regum Britanniae. I am currently reworking this material for publication.

I am also currently working on a separate project which explores twelfth-and-thirteenth-century representations and discussions of magic as evidence for shifting expressions of male social and gendered identities. This research aims at providing a fresh examination of the variety of ways in which masculine identity was established, reaffirmed, or challenged through engagement with the supernatural. It does this by considering the ways in which a study of magic can offer important insights into a number of social and intellectual developments that occurred during the high middle ages and which caused a reconfiguration of how masculine identity could be asserted, if not a reconfiguration of what that masculine identity was.

At Exeter, I teach modules across the undergraduate curriculum and supervise postgraduate students working on their own research projects. 

Research interests

My research and teaching interests span a number of areas including most especially the political, social and cultural histories of late medieval England and France. In particular, I am interested in the representation of the supernatural in medieval writings and its value for historians seeking to understand the political, social and cultural experiences of the time.

In 2012 I completed my PhD at University College Dublin with a dissertation on the classical and Christian inheritance of Geoffrey of Monmouth, and examined the representation of prophecy and the figure of the prophet himself in Geoffrey’s two earliest works: Prophetia Merlini and Historia regum Britanniae. I am currently reworking this material for publication.

I am also currently working on a separate project which explores twelfth-and-thirteenth-century representations and discussions of magic as evidence for shifting expressions of male social and gendered identities. This research aims at providing a fresh examination of the variety of ways in which masculine identity was established, reaffirmed, or challenged through engagement with the supernatural. It does this by considering the ways in which a study of magic can offer important insights into a number of social and intellectual developments that occurred during the high middle ages and which caused a reconfiguration of how masculine identity could be asserted, if not a reconfiguration of what that masculine identity was.

As a result of my work on Geoffrey, and on the representations of magic in the high middle ages, my research (and teaching) interests have also included a focus on Arthurian literature. I am particularly interested in the way Arthurian literature responded to contemporary ideas and experiences of political, social and cultural development, including most especially notions of gender, class and, of course, the supernatural. 

 

Research collaborations

I am currently serving as research fellow on a collaborative research project under Principle Investigator Dr Laura Cleaver (Ussher Lecturer in Medieval Art at Trinity College Dublin) on the 'History Books in the Anglo-Norman World' project, funded by the Marie Curie Programme (FP7). The project examines surviving medieval manuscripts in order to investigate the writing of history in areas controlled by the Anglo-Norman empire, concentrating on the period 1100 to 1300, and with particular refence to the use of images in the presentation of history in books and beyond. My own research on this project has focused on the interpretations of the Prophecies of Merlin (1135) by the scribes of these manuscipts, using a combination of written and visual evidence presented in the seven surviving manuscripts at TCD. 

In 2012, I served as project coordinator for an international research project, based at University College Dublin's Michaél Ó Cleirigh Institute, under the direction of Drs Edel Breathnach and John McCafferty. The project was funded by the Andrew W Melon Foundation, N.Y., and provided a qualative and quantative assessment of the manuscripts and early printed books of the Irish Franciscan Province. 

Biography

I began my studies in 2004 with a B.A. Joint Honours in History and Greek and Roman Civilisation. This was followed by a Masters in Medieval Studies, where I focused on the role of prophecy in the medieval concept of history. I then began studying for my doctorate during which point my interest and background in classics once again became a key component of my research. I completed my PhD in 2012 at University College Dublin with a dissertation on 'Prophecy as History: The Classical and Christian Inheritance of Geoffrey of Monmouth'.

In 2009 I was awarded the Government of Ireland Postgraduate Research Scholarship by the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Science for the duration of my doctorate, and since then I have held teaching and research posts at University College Dublin, the Michaél Ó Cleirigh Institute, Trinity College Dublin and the University of Exeter. 

Between 2012 and 2014, I also served as co-director of Stair Ltd., an Irish Public History Consultancy which provided high-quality historical content to public institutions across Ireland, before moving to Exeter to teach at the university.