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Dr Hannah Bower 

Year started




Fellow Type

Junior Research Fellows,

I am a Junior Research Fellow at Churchill specialising in late medieval literature. My research focuses on the boundaries, overlaps, and exchanges between literary writings and other practical, scientific, or magical texts.

My PhD, for example, explored linguistic and imaginative connections between medieval medical recipes and more canonical literature by writers such as Geoffrey Chaucer, John Gower, and Margery Kempe. It was completed at the University of Oxford in 2018 and funded by the Wellcome Trust; the book resulting from this research is shortly to be published by Oxford University Press as Middle English Medical Recipes and Literary Play, 1375-1500.

After my PhD, I completed a six-month secondment fellowship at the London Science Museum investigating the circulation and reception of eighteenth-century medical pamphlets. My current research at Churchill continues this interdisciplinary approach by investigating how human-engineered spectacles—such as automata, optical illusions, and demonic rituals—might function as fecund sites within medieval writings for intersections between different written and dramatic genres, literary forms, and inhabited spaces. At the same time, I am working on a second book project exploring acts of ‘tearing’ and experiences of ‘feeling torn’ in medieval writings. How do images of tearing and rupture in medieval texts mediate unity and disintegration – be that disintegration of an emotional, cognitive, physical, or social kind?

At Churchill, I teach the Part I paper English Literature and its Contexts, 1300—1550. As an undergraduate studying English at Churchill between 2011-14, I thoroughly enjoyed this course and so it is a great pleasure to supervise current students working on it. Across the eight weeks of term, we cover all kinds of texts—including medieval dream visions, story collections, chivalric romances, and drama—and all kinds of topics, including desire, queerness, travel, women’s writing, and medieval ‘fan fiction’. Part II medieval optional papers on Chaucer and the Medieval Supernatural are equally thrilling, taking you right the way through Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales to the ghosts, fairies, demons, and miracles populating medieval manuscript pages.

Faculty of English