Photo of Dr Jennifer Farrell

Dr Jennifer Farrell

Lecturer in Medieval History


01392 723819

Office Hours (Term 1) 2018/19: Thusday 1-2pm, Friday 12.30-1.30pm (or email for appointment)

Office: Amory 235

Research keywords: medieval magic, gender, prophecy, romance/chivalric literatures

My research and teaching interests lie broadly within the field of European medieval studies, including most especially the social, cultural and political histories of England and France c. 1100-1500.

More specifically my research focuses on the role and representation of the supernatural (esp. magic and prophecy) in medieval social, historical, and intelectual discourses. My research and teaching makes use of a broad range of source types from medieval histories to romance literatures, to art and architecture, and other forms of material culture.

I joined the department of history at Exeter in 2014, having previously taught at University College Dublin. I convene modules on The Norman Conquest (year 1), Medieval Paris (year 2), and Magic in the Middle Ages (year 3) (co-convened with Dr Catherine Rider). For a full list of modules on which I teach see 'Teaching'.

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



Research interests

My main areas of interest at the moment are based on two projects: the first is a book on the role of prophecy in Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia regum Britanniae, and more specifically the impact Welsh, classical and early Christian prophetic traditions had on the figure of Merlin. 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 new project I am working on which is focused on the relationship between magic and gender in England and France in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, and which pays particular attention to the role and perceptions of magic in affirming and/or challenging contemporary notions of masculinity.

As a result of my work on Geoffrey, and on the representations of magic in the middle ages, my research (and teaching) interests have also included a focus on Arthurian literature. I am particularly interested in the ways 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 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. 


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.