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Dr Christiania Whitehead

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Associate Professor (Reader)

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


Following undergraduate studies at Oxford, Christiania Whitehead gained a DPhil in medieval English literature at Magdalen College, Oxford, working under Vincent Gillespie, for a study of medieval architectural allegory in religious and courtly writing. She was then appointed Lecturer at the University of Warwick, where she is now an Associate Professor (Reader). She specialises in religious literature of the medieval period, including allegorical narratives, the medieval mystics, Middle English translations of Latin scholastic and devotional writing and their 15th-century audiences, the religious lyrics, and Latin and English hagiography. She also has a subsidiary interest in medieval Arthurian literature and its revival in the 19th and 20th centuries.

She is currently working on a booklength study of texts generated by the cult of St Cuthbert, from the 8th-15th century, with particular reference to the ascetic element of the tradition, and to the Meditationes of the Monk of Farne.

Research interests

Christiania Whitehead’s first book, Castles of the Mind: a Study of Medieval Architectural Allegory (2003), examined the symbolic use of buildings to represent and order doctrines, ideologies, social communities, and the psychological faculties, in religious and secular texts from antiquity until the end of the Middle Ages. She then undertook a large scale editorial project, with researchers from the Universities of Lausanne and Oxford, on the 13th-century devotional treatise De Doctrina cordis (possibly by Gerard of Liège) addressed to enclosed religious, and its 15th-century Middle English translation, The Doctrine of the Hert, adapted for a specifically female audience. Circulating throughout Europe through the Middle Ages, the Doctrina was translated into six vernaculars. The Doctrine of the Hert: A Critical Edition with Introduction and Commentary (2010) makes the Middle English translation available to a wide audience for the first time, while A Companion to the Doctrine of the Hert (2010), is an accompanying collection of essays, examining the text in relation to its Latin original and other vernacular translations.

Alongside these major projects, Christiania Whitehead has also written substantial essays on the Middle English religious lyric, on the Middle English mystics, on Julian of Norwich in modern spirituality, and on the Meditationes of the 14th-century Monk of Farne. This last subject has fed into her ongoing research project: a booklength study of the textual tradition of the cult of St Cuthbert (north eastern England) from the 8th -15th centuries, with particular reference to the ascetic elements in this tradition, especially the Vita of St Bartholomew of Farne, and the Meditationes of the Monk of Farne.

Alongside research, Christiania Whitehead has also been active in conference organisation. She co-organised the international Medieval Translator conference in Lausanne in 2007, and co-edited the conference proceedings. She co-organises an ongoing series of annual doctoral research workshops (RDMES) bringing together medieval researchers from the Universities of Padua, Pazmany Peter, Budapest, Lausanne and Warwick; the next one day workshop will be held at Warwick in Spring 2015. She is also currently co-organising a major conference on North Of England Saints 600-1500, to be held at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, 21-22 March 2015.

Teaching and supervision

Christiania currently teaches the first-year introductory module Medieval to Renaissance Literature and has also taught The Epic Tradition. She also teaches three Honours level modules: Arthurian Literature and its Legacy, Chaucer: the complete works, and Further Explorations in Medieval Literature.

Every year she supervises 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.

She has supervised a number of MA, MA by research and PhD theses, and would be happy to supervise PhD theses in any area of Middle English religious writing.

Selected publications

  • Writing Religious Women. Female Spiritual and Textual Practices in Late Medieval England, co-ed. with D. Renevey (Univ. of Wales Press, Cardiff and Univ. of Toronto Press, Toronto, 2000).
  • Castles of the Mind: A Study of Medieval Architectural Allegory (Univ. of Wales Press, Cardiff, 2003).
  • The Doctrine of the Hert: A Critical Edition with Introduction and Commentary, co-ed. with D. Renevey & A. Mouron, Exeter Medieval Texts and Studies (Univ. of Exeter Press/ Univ. of Chicago Press, May 2010).
  • The Medieval Translator. Traduire au Moyen Age, volume 12, co-ed. with D. Renevey (Brepols, Turnhout, January 2010).
  • A Companion to The Doctrine of the Hert: The Middle English Translation and its Latin and European Contexts, co-ed. with D. Renevey (Univ. of Exeter Press, July 2010).
  • 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

Monday: 12-1pm
Wednesday: 12-1pm


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