Current Postgraduate Research Projects

Tahlia Birnbaum
Matthew Larnach
Manu Braithwaite-Westoby

Tahlia Birnbaum

Doctor of Philosophy (Medieval Studies)
Shame in Anglo-Saxon England

My research looks at the representation of shame in both Old English and Anglo-Latin literature, in order to determine what the emotion meant to the Anglo-Saxons, how it was experienced, and the role it played in Anglo-Saxon culture. Chapters one and two look at the Old English Psalter glosses and the translation of Gregory the Great's Pastoral Care. I argue that Christianity introduced a new kind of shame to the Anglo-Saxons, which required a new vocabulary and was associated with a process of internalising God's judgment. This sense of shame had to be learnt by the Anglo-Saxons; it was taught through preaching, and internalised through processes of confession and repentance.

The second half of my thesis uses this perspective to reinterpret literature tied more closely to historical events. These two chapters look at how shame is used as a rhetorical device to make audiences feel ashamed, modify their behaviour, and return to God in order to ensure their salvation. Chapter three is a case study of Aldhelm's De Virginitate, and chapter four will focus on contemporary interpretations of historical events of late Anglo-Saxon England, especially the Viking invasions, and show how these events were interpreted as punishment from God. The rhetoric of shame in these late texts shows that shame was an integral factor in the Anglo-Saxon understanding of repentance, redemption and salvation.

Teaching
2012. ENGL2657 Myths, Legends and Heroes

Conference Papers
July 2013. 'Naming Shame: Translating Emotion in the Royal Psalter', Psalm Culture and the Politics of Translation, Queen Mary, University of London, UK
July 2013. 'Pleasure, Shame and Chastity in Aldhelm's De Virginitate', International Medieval Congress, University of Leeds, UK
Feb 2013. 'The Meaning of Shame in the Old English Psalter Glosses', ANZAMEMS Ninth Biennial International Conference, Monash University, Melbourne
July 2012. 'Shame as a Social Sanction in Anglo-Saxon England', International Medieval Congress, University of Leeds, UK
June 2011. 'The Vocabulary of Shame in Old English', Emotions in the Medieval and Early Modern World, UWA, Perth
Feb 2011. 'Gifts that Keep on Giving: an Interpretation of Grave Goods in Beowulf', ANZAMEMS Eighth Biennial International Conference, University of Otago, New Zealand

Publications
'Naming Shame: Translating Emotion in the Old English Psalter Glosses', in Alice Jorgensen, Jonathan Wilcox and Frances McCormack, eds, Anglo-Saxon Emotions: Reading the Heart in Old English Literature, Language and Culture (Farnham: Ashgate, forthcoming).

Manu Braithwaite-Westoby

MA (Research)
Images from Old Norse Mythology and Legend on Anglo-Scandinavian and Scandinavian Stone Sculpture and some Wood Objects


Conference Papers
July 2013. 'The Relationship between Norse paganism and Christianity', Leeds International Medieval Congress
September 2013. 'The Swedish Viking Age Runestones', MEMC Postgraduate Presentation Day

Matthew Larnach

Doctor of Philosophy (Medieval Studies)
The Via Militaris: Investigating a Roman Road between East & West in the Medieval Balkans

The aim of my research is to investigate a Roman road, the via militaris, which diagonally bisected the Balkans, running from Belgrade to Constantinople, as it existed in the Middle Ages (c.600-1204 C.E.). My research aims to provide a greater understanding of how the Byzantine Empire interacted with this region by studying this important route that linked the Byzantine capital with its Balkan hinterland. Utilising modern mapping methods, such as ArcGIS, an accurate depiction of the road's route will be created, one that will provide detailed information on the terrain the road traversed, and provide a more complete picture of the geographical context in which Byzantine interaction with its Balkan neighbours occurred.