Photo of Dr Jennifer Farrell

Dr Jennifer Farrell

Lecturer in Medieval History

3819

01392 723819

Medievalist and member of the Exeter Centre for Medieval Studies.

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Office Hours (Term 1) 2019/20: Monday 2-3pm (or email for appointment)

Office: Amory 235

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Research keywords: medieval magic and prophecy, medieval gender and sexuality, medieval otherworlds (and the supernatural), medieval historical writing, courtly and romance literature. 

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My research interests are primarily concerned with medieval representations of the supernatural (prophecy, magic and the 'otherworld') and with medieval representations and discussions of gender and sexuality. To this end, I am currently working on two projects addressing each of these areas of interest, both of which our outlined in the 'Research' section of this profile.  

My teaching interests lie more broadly within the field of European medieval studies, including most especially the social, cultural and political histories of England and France c. 1100-1500. I convene modules at all levels including: Gender and Sexuality in the Middle Ages, Medieval Paris, and Magic in the Middle Ages. For a full list of modules taught or convened by me, please see the 'Teaching' section of this profile. 

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You can find me on Twitter @dr_j_farrell where I tweet in a personal capacity about all things medieval, especially magic, gender, prophecy,and romance literature. 

I also manage the Twitter account for the Centre for Medieval Studies @ExeterMedieval, where you can stay up to date on all the latest medieval news and events from Exeter and elsewhere. You will also find details there of our Centre seminar series, which is a forum for medievalists to give papers on their latest research, and which is open for all staff and students (undergraduate and postgraduate) to attend. We usually meet four or five wednesdays per term. 

For the Centre's website (managed separately) see http://humanities.exeter.ac.uk/history/research/centres/medieval/

Research interests

My main areas of interest are primarily concerned with medieval representations of the supernatural (prophecy, magic and the 'otherworld') AND with medieval representations of gender and sexuality. To this end, I am currently working on two projects outlined below.  

The first is the translation of my PhD research into a book, provisionally titled Prophecy as History: Geoffrey of Monmouth and the Writing of the British Past in the Twelfth Century, which aims to explore the classical, Celtic and Christian influences on Geoffrey's representation of the ancient British past.  It does this by placing prophecy and references to the supernatural at the very heart of the historical enterprise undertaken by Geoffrey in the middle decades of the twelfth century, paying particular attention to the figure and prophecies of Merlin, the symbolic capital of the language of prophecy (animal and astrological imagery), and the way prophecy shaped the thematic unity and didactic significance of Geoffrey's Historia for his contemporary audience. This work derives in part from my PhD which was completed in 2012 at University College Dublin (funded by the Irish Research Council).  

The second is a more recent project exploring the relationship between representations of the supernatural and medieval ideas about gender and sexuality. Here my aim is to consider the ways in which the representations of magic, otherworlds, and otherworldly beings found in both historical and romance literature during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries were used as a vehicle for expressing beliefs and anxieties about sexual and gendered identities. I am currently working on an article derived from this research, which focuses on the Lai de Lanval of Marie de France (c. 1170), and the implications Lanval's relationship with a fairy has on his sexual and gendered identity among his peers at King Arthur's court. 

Research collaborations

I was recently a 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. This research culminated in a report and blog post for the manuscripts department at Trinity and has formed part of the research for my own monograph on Geoffrey of Monmouth which I am currently writing up for publication. 

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 at University College Dublin 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.