Dr Rebecca F McNamara
BA (Baylor), MSt, DPhil (Oxford)
Postdoctoral Research Associate, ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions
+61 2 9036 9961
Room S364, John Woolley Building (A20)
My research focuses on two related areas: the literature and language of Medieval England, and the cultural history of medieval Europe.
My current project, ‘Emotions and the Suicidal Impulse in the Medieval World’, builds on my interest in medieval legal and government texts by identifying and theorizing emotions related to suicide in medieval Europe. I examine cases of self-murder (including suicide attempts) and emotions surrounding those cases in medieval European legal records and chronicles, tracing a trajectory of the emotions related to the suicidal impulse c. 1100-1550.
I am also interested in the effects of language on literary form and meaning, and, more broadly, the impact of historical change upon language. These core ideas shaped my doctorate, ‘Code-Switching in Medieval England: Register Variety in the Literature of Geoffrey Chaucer, Thomas Usk, and Thomas Hoccleve’ (2010, University of Oxford). Here I studied the ways in which Chaucer, Usk, and Hoccleve’s professional textual environments in law, London guilds, factional politics, and bureaucracy influenced their literary writing. I reconsidered the identifications of what kinds of language these men considered appropriate for literature, and I maintained that the variety of linguistic register in their works challenges our retrospectively created boundaries of England’s late medieval vernacular language.
I have taught undergraduate courses on Old English literature, Middle English literature, the literature of J. R. R. Tolkien, and linguistics. As part of my wider commitment to education, I have also taught English literature, public speaking, and English as a second language to students aged 7-18.
- Suicide in the Middle Ages
- History of Emotions
- Medieval Literature and Culture
- Idea of the vernacular in Medieval England
Emotions and the Suicidal Impulse in the Medieval World (ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions, Postdoctoral Research Associateship, 2011-2013)
- McNamara, R. forthcoming 2012, ‘Diversity in setting of words makes diversity in understanding’: Bureaucratic and Political Language in Thomas Usk’s Testament of Love, New Medieval Literatures 14
- McNamara, R. Review of Elisabeth Salter and Helen Wicker, eds., Vernacularity in England and Wales, c. 1300-1550 (Turnhout, 2011); in Parergon, forthcoming
- Fields, R. Review of Nicole Lassahn, ‘Langland’s Rats Revisited: Conservatism, Commune, and Political Unanimity’ Viator 39 (2008), 127-155; in Annotated Bibliography of English Studies (ABES), published 06 Feb 2009
- Fields, R. Review of J. J. Anderson, Language and Imagination in the Gawain-Poems (Manchester, 2005); in ABES, published 07 November 2008
- Fields, R. Review of Alan T. Gaylord, The Art of Chaucer’s Verse (New York and London, 2001); in ABES, published 31 Oct 2008
- Fields, R. Review of Peter Whiteford, ‘Rereading Gawain’s Five Wits’ Medium Aevum 73 (2004), 225-234; in ABES, published 19 Sept 2008
Fields, R. Review of Andrew Lynch, ‘“Manly Cowardyse”: Thomas Hoccleve’s Peace Strategy’ Medium Aevum 73 (2004), 306-323; in ABES, published 19 Sept 2008
‘The Sorrow of Soreness: Infirmity and Suicide in the Middle Ages’, ARC Centre for the History of Emotions (University of Sydney) Study Day, Sydney, Australia
‘Fever, Madness, Anguish: Suicide and Emotions in Thirteenth-Century English Legal Records’, Society for the Social History of Medicine & Queen Mary, University of London Centre for the History of Emotions, London, UK
‘Afterlives of the Self-Murdered: Imagining Suicide and Emotions in England’s Medieval Legal Records’, South African Society for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Stellenbosch, South Africa
‘Appropriated Emotions? Medieval Suicide in Art and Life’, Perth Medieval & Early Modern Group, UWA Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies Conference, Perth, Australia
‘Infirmity and Compassion: Emotions of Suicide Case Petitions to the English Crown, 1200-1400’, Australian Historical Association Annual Conference, Adelaide, Australia
‘Literary Devices and Late 14th-Century Governmental Texts’, International Medieval Congress, University of Leeds, UK
‘Code-Switching in the Linguistic Hierarchy: Three Bureaucrats and their Texts’, New Chaucer Society International Congress, Siena, Italy
‘Negotiating Linguistic Domains: Register-Switching in Chaucer and Usk’, New Chaucer Society International Congress, Swansea, Wales
‘Bureaucrat and Poet: Semantic Boundaries in Chaucer’s Anelida and Arcite’, Oxford English Graduate Conference, University of Oxford, UK