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Prof Christiania Whitehead

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Tel: ext. 24994
Email: c dot a dot whitehead at warwick dot ac dot uk

Humanities Building, University Road
University of Warwick
Coventry CV4 7AL


Christiania Whitehead gained her doctorate in Middle English Literature at Magdalen College, Oxford, under the supervision of Professor Vincent Gillespie. She subsequently joined the Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies at the University of Warwick, where she is now Professor of Middle English Literature. She is currently on secondment from 2016-19 to the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, where she is the senior researcher on a three-year team project Region and Nation: Late Medieval Devotion to Northern English Saints, funded by the Swiss National Research Foundation.

She specialises in religious literature of the medieval period, including allegorical narratives, Middle English translations of Latin scholastic and devotional writing, religious lyrics, and Latin and English insular hagiography.

Research interests

My first book, Castles of the Mind: a Study of Medieval Architectural Allegory (Cardiff: University of Wales Press/ University of Toronto Press, 2003), examined the symbolic use of buildings to represent doctrines, ideologies, social communities, and the psychological faculties, in religious and secular texts from antiquity until the end of the Middle Ages. I then undertook a collaborative editorial project focused on the thirteenth-century devotional treatise De Doctrina cordis (Low Countries) addressed to enclosed religious, and its fifteenth-century Middle English adaptation, The Doctrine of the Hert. The Doctrine of the Hert: A Critical Edition with Introduction and Commentary, co-ed. with Denis Renevey and Anne Mouron (Exeter: University of Exeter Press / University of Chicago Press, 2010) makes the Middle English adaptation available to a wide audience for the first time, while A Companion to the Doctrine of the Hert, co-ed. with Denis Renevey (Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 2010), is an accompanying collection of essays, examining the text in relation to its Latin original and other vernacular translations.

I am presently engaged in researching the northern early English saints, with particular reference to the various types of texts produced about them (vitae, miracle collections, church histories) in Latin and the vernacular, from 1100-1500. In March 2015 I co-organised the conference: North of England Saints 600-1500, at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, with Margaret Coombe and Anne Mouron, and this led to the publication of a co-edited collection of essays: Saints of North-East England, 600-1500 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2017). I have also recently completed a major monograph on the textual production of the cult of St Cuthbert between the eighth and the fifteenth centuries: Regionalism and Asceticism: Explorations in the Afterlife of St Cuthbert, which is currently under review by a publisher.

In 2016, in collaboration with Professor Denis Renevey (University of Lausanne), we were successful in gaining a major research grant from the Swiss National Research Foundation for a three-year team project: Region and Nation: Late Medieval Devotion to Northern English Saints, housed at the University of Lausanne. For further details, see the project website: This project, currently in progress, will result in a public database of northern saints, a conference: Northern Lights: Late Medieval Devotion to Saints from the North of England, to be held in March 2019, conference proceedings, a doctoral thesis, and a series of articles.

In addition to my work on insular hagiography, I also have a longstanding interest in medieval religious lyrics, sparked initially by my chapter 'Middle English Religious Lyrics' in A Companion to the Middle English Lyric, ed. Thomas G. Duncan (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, hb 2005, pb 2010), Winner of CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title Award. This has recently led to a collaboration with Professor Julia Boffey (QMUL), resulting in a co-edited volume of essays; Middle English Lyrics: New Readings of Short Poems (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, forthcoming 2018).

Teaching and supervision

When not on secondment, I teach the first-year introductory module Medieval to Renaissance Literature and have also taught The Epic Tradition. I also teach three Honours level modules: Arthurian Literature and its Legacy, Chaucer: the complete works, and Further Explorations in Medieval Literature.

Every year I supervise a number of final year UG dissertations. Recent subjects have included Beowulf and allegory, Doublings and Reflections in the Middle English Gawain romances, the Construction of King Arthur in the Historia regum Britanniae of Geoffrey of Monmouth, Images of Enclosure in Early Middle English Anchoritic Literature, and a comparative reading of the Middle English and Anglo Norman versions of Amis and Amiloun.

I am currently supervising or co-supervising PhD students working on Domestic Space in Middle English Religious Literature, Animal Sounds in Middle English and French Literature, and the cult of St Robert of Knaresborough, and am happy to supervise PhD theses in any area of medieval religious literature.

Selected publications

  • Writing Religious Women. Female Spiritual and Textual Practices in Late Medieval England, co-ed. with Denis Renevey (Cardiff: Univ. of Wales Press / Univ. of Toronto Press, Toronto, 2000).
  • Castles of the Mind: A Study of Medieval Architectural Allegory (Cardiff: Univ. of Wales Press, 2003).
  • The Doctrine of the Hert: A Critical Edition with Introduction and Commentary, co-ed. with Denis Renevey and Anne Mouron, Exeter Medieval Texts and Studies (Exeter: Univ. of Exeter Press/ Univ. of Chicago Press, 2010).
  • The Medieval Translator. Traduire au Moyen Age, volume 12, co-ed. with Denis Renevey (Turnhout: Brepols, 2010).
  • A Companion to The Doctrine of the Hert: The Middle English Translation and its Latin and European Contexts, co-ed. with Denis Renevey (Exeter: Univ. of Exeter Press, 2010).
  • Saints of North-East England 600-1500, co-ed. with Margaret Coombe and Anne Mouron (Turnhout: Brepols, 2017)
  • Middle English Lyrics: New Readings of Short Poems, co-ed. with Julia Boffey (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, forthcoming 2018)
  • The Garden of Slender Trust (Bloodaxe, 1999). Shortlisted for the Forward Prize for the Best First Collection of Poetry.


  • BA; MA; DPhil (Oxford)

Office hours

currently on leave






saints of north east england 600-1500