Dr Rebecca McNamara

BA Baylor, MSt, DPhil Oxford
Associate Lecturer


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Biographical details

Dr Rebecca McNamara’s research focuses on the literature and language of Medieval England, and she is also interested in the cultural history of medieval Europe. Her current project identifies and theorises emotions related to suicide in the Middle Ages. She examines suicide attempts and acts in medieval English legal records, chronicles, and literature from 1200-1500. She has written a number of articles related to suicide in the Middle Ages and the use of the History of Emotions as a methodology for medieval literature, and she is currently working on a book project on emotions related to suicide in medieval English literature. This project began with a Postdoctoral Fellowship from August 2011-August 2014 with the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions.

Dr McNamara is 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 her doctorate, 'Code-Switching in Medieval England: Register Variety in the Literature of Geoffrey Chaucer, Thomas Usk, and Thomas Hoccleve' (2010, University of Oxford). Here she 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. She reconsidered the identifications of what kinds of language these writers considered appropriate for literature, and she maintained that the variety of linguistic register in their works challenges our retrospectively created boundaries of England?s late medieval vernacular language.

She has taught undergraduate courses on Old English literature, Middle English literature, Sex and Sin in the Middle Ages, the literature of J. R. R. Tolkien, and linguistics. Dr McNamara has also taught English literature, public speaking, and English as a second language to students aged 7-18.

Research interests

  • Middle English Literature
  • Vernacular Language in Medieval England
  • Suicide in the Middle Ages
  • History of Emotions

Current projects

  • Emotions the Suicidal Impulse in Medieval English Literature
  • Diverse Vernacular: English Literature, Law, and Politics, c. 1350-1450

Recent Conference Presentations

2014

  • McNamara, R. (2014). Governing and Emotions in Late Medieval Law. New Chaucer Society International Congress.
  • McNamara, R. (2014). Weapons of Self-Destruction: Materiality and Suicide in the Middle Ages. International Congress on Medieval Studies.
  • McNamara, R. (2014). Feel the Pain: Medieval Trauma. MLA Convention.

2013

  • McNamara, R. (2013). A Lesser Evil? The Violence of War and Suicide in the Middle Ages. Representing War and Violence in the Pre-Modern World Conference.
  • McNamara, R. (2013). The Law on Feeling: Finding Emotions in Medieval Legal Texts. Sourcing Emotions in the Medieval and Early Modern World Conference.
  • McNamara, R. (2013). Dying on the Edge: The Suicides of Criminals in Medieval England. Medieval Academy of America Annual General Meeting.
  • McNamara, R. (2013). Pro timore: Criminal Suicide in the Middle Ages. ANZAMEMS Biennial Conference.
  • McNamara, R. (2013). Academic Border Crossing: A Roundtable on International Career Opportunities. ANZAMEMS Biennial Conference.

2012

  • McNamara, R. (2012). The Sorrow of Soreness: Infirmity and Suicide in the Middle Ages. ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions Sydney Node Study Day.
  • McNamara, R. (2012). Fever, Madness, Anguish: Suicide and Emotions in Thirteenth-Century English Legal Records. Society for the Social History of Medicine and Queen Mary, University of London Centre for the History of Emotions Conference.
  • McNamara, R. (2012). Afterlives of the Self-Murdered: Imagining Suicide and Emotions in England?s Medieval Legal Records. South African Society for Medieval and Renaissance Studies Conference.
  • McNamara, R. (2012). Appropriated Emotions? Medieval Suicide in Art and Life. UWA Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies Conference.
  • McNamara, R. (2012). Infirmity and Compassion: Emotions of Suicide Case Petitions to the English Crown, 1200-1400. Australian Historical Association Annual Conference.

2011

  • McNamara, R. (2011). Literary Devices and Late 14th-Century Governmental Texts. International Medieval Congress 2011.

2010

  • McNamara, R. (2010). Code-Switching in the Linguistic Hierarchy: Three Bureaucrats and their Texts. New Chaucer Society International Congress 2010.

2008

  • McNamara, R. (2008). Negotiating Linguistic Domains: Register-Switching in Chaucer and Usk. New Chaucer Society International Congress 2008.
  • McNamara, R. (2008). Bureaucrat and Poet: Semantic Boundaries in Chaucer?s Anelida and Arcite. Oxford English Graduate Conference.

Selected publications

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Journals

  • McNamara, R., Ruys, J. (2014). Unlocking the Silences of the Self-Murdered: Textual Approaches to Suicidal Emotions in the Middle Ages. Exemplaria, 26(1), 58-80. [More Information]
  • McNamara, R. (2013). [Book Review] 'Multilingualism in Medieval Britain (c. 1066-1520): Sources and Analysis' edited by Judith A. Jefferson and Ad Putter. Parergon, 30(2), 200-201. [More Information]
  • McNamara, R. (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, 165-199. [More Information]
  • McNamara, R. (2011). [Book Review] Elisabeth Salter and Helen Wicker, eds., Vernacularity in England and Wales, c. 1300-1550 (Turnhout, 2011). Parergon, 2011.
  • McNamara, R. (2009). [Review] Nicole Lassahn, 'Langland's Rats Revisited: Conservatism, Commune, and Political Unanimity' Viator 39 (2008), 127-155. Annotated Bibliography of English Studies, 39.
  • McNamara, R. (2008). [Book Review] Alan T. Gaylord, The Art of Chaucer’s Verse (New York and London, 2001). Annotated Bibliography of English Studies.
  • McNamara, R. (2008). [Book Review] J. J. Anderson, Language and Imagination in the Gawain-Poems (Manchester, 2005). Annotated Bibliography of English Studies.
  • McNamara, R. (2008). [Review] Andrew Lynch, '"Manly Cowardyse": Thomas Hoccleve's Peace Strategy' Medium Aevum 73 (2004), 306-323. Annotated Bibliography of English Studies.
  • McNamara, R. (2008). [Review] Peter Whiteford, 'Rereading Gawain's Five Wits' Medium Aevum 73 (2004), 225-234. Annotated Bibliography of English Studies.

2014

  • McNamara, R., Ruys, J. (2014). Unlocking the Silences of the Self-Murdered: Textual Approaches to Suicidal Emotions in the Middle Ages. Exemplaria, 26(1), 58-80. [More Information]

2013

  • McNamara, R. (2013). [Book Review] 'Multilingualism in Medieval Britain (c. 1066-1520): Sources and Analysis' edited by Judith A. Jefferson and Ad Putter. Parergon, 30(2), 200-201. [More Information]

2012

  • McNamara, R. (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, 165-199. [More Information]

2011

  • McNamara, R. (2011). [Book Review] Elisabeth Salter and Helen Wicker, eds., Vernacularity in England and Wales, c. 1300-1550 (Turnhout, 2011). Parergon, 2011.

2009

  • McNamara, R. (2009). [Review] Nicole Lassahn, 'Langland's Rats Revisited: Conservatism, Commune, and Political Unanimity' Viator 39 (2008), 127-155. Annotated Bibliography of English Studies, 39.

2008

  • McNamara, R. (2008). [Book Review] Alan T. Gaylord, The Art of Chaucer’s Verse (New York and London, 2001). Annotated Bibliography of English Studies.
  • McNamara, R. (2008). [Book Review] J. J. Anderson, Language and Imagination in the Gawain-Poems (Manchester, 2005). Annotated Bibliography of English Studies.
  • McNamara, R. (2008). [Review] Andrew Lynch, '"Manly Cowardyse": Thomas Hoccleve's Peace Strategy' Medium Aevum 73 (2004), 306-323. Annotated Bibliography of English Studies.
  • McNamara, R. (2008). [Review] Peter Whiteford, 'Rereading Gawain's Five Wits' Medium Aevum 73 (2004), 225-234. Annotated Bibliography of English Studies.

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