Dr Hannah Bower
Lecturers, Professors and College Officers,
I am a Teaching 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 Julian of Norwich. It was completed at the University of Oxford in 2018 and funded by the Wellcome Trust; the book resulting from this research was published in 2022 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. In my research at Churchill, I have continued to work across disciplines, genres and period boundaries: my current project, Broken Bodies and Broken Homes, explores violent acts of fragmentation in a wide variety of literary, devotional, and practical writings connected to medieval and early modern households, tracking the way that this recurring imagery changed over time. My research suggests that, rather than simply being sensational or conventional, this violent imagery was a lively cognitive tool for thinking about the precarities and strengths of domestic relationships, as well as a means of expressing what domestic connection and disconnection felt like.
At Churchill, I teach the Part I papers English Literature and its Contexts, 1300—1550, English Literature and its Contexts, 1500-1700, and Shakespeare. As an undergraduate studying English at Churchill between 2011-14, I thoroughly enjoyed these courses and so it is a great pleasure to supervise current students working on them. 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 ‘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 miracles and marvels populating medieval manuscript pages.