Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Dr Emma Campbell

Head shot of Dr Emma Campbell


Pronouns: she/they
Tel: +44 (0)24 765 23332
Email: emma dot campbell at warwick dot ac dot uk


After finishing a BA in English and French and an MA in Medieval Studies at the University of Leeds, I moved to King's College London to complete a PhD on Old French saints' lives under the supervision of Simon Gaunt. Following the submission of my thesis in 2003, I spent a year as a funded postdoctoral researcher and auditrice libre at the ENS in Lyon. I taught as a lecturer in the French Department at Leeds for a year before taking up my post at Warwick.

Research interests

Main research interests: medieval French literature; manuscript studies; translation studies; gender and sexuality; modern philosophy and critical theory.

I have published on a broad range of medieval French texts prior to the fourteenth century, including major traditions such as saints' lives and bestiaries. I am particularly interested in theoretically-oriented approaches to medieval literature and manuscript studies, notably in relation to feminist, queer, and transgender theory, anthropology, postcolonial theory and translation studies.

In the initial stages of my career, my research concentrated on the corpus of Old French saints’ lives. My work in this area was innovative in two ways: it demonstrated the critical interest of texts often overlooked by literary scholars and brought postmodern philosophical approaches to bear on this material in ways that challenged previous scholarship, not only by using critical theory to read religious texts but also by considering how these texts may disrupt postmodern theoretical models. My monograph – Medieval Saints' Lives: The Gift, Kinship and Community in Old French Hagiography (Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer, 2008) – critically re-evaluates influential discussions of community within medieval disciplines (e.g. Dinshaw’s community of the ‘touch’) and outside them (e.g. Agamben’s ‘coming community’). The book's assessment of hagiography’s depiction of sexuality also breaks with earlier scholarship by arguing that saints’ lives’ agendas include an attempt to rethink human sexuality in potentially queer as well as conservative ways. Similar concerns are pursued in other publications, including articles from 2003 (‘Separating the Saints From the Boys’), 2006 (‘Homo Sacer’) and 2010 ('Epistemology of the Cloister'). I continue to work on vernacular saints' lives and have written on the genre for refereed collections such as the Cambridge Companion to Medieval French Literature (2008), the Cambridge History of French Literature (2011), The Encyclopedia of British Medieval Literature (2016), and to Hagiography and the History of Latin Christendom, 500–1500 (2019).

My research on medieval translation has continued to explore how contemporary approaches can be brought into dialogue with the study of medieval culture, most particularly how medieval texts challenge influential conceptual models in translation studies today. I received an AHRC Research Fellowship in 2012 to support my work on medieval French translation; my project will feature in the AHRC Translating Cultures Glossary and online exhibition in 2019. My published research in this area includes a co-edited book, Rethinking Medieval Translation: Ethics, Politics, Theory (2012), as well as articles in refereed journals and book collections. I have recently completed a monograph related to my project, titled Reinventing Babel in Medieval French: Translation and Untranslatability (c. 1120-c. 1250). This second monograph considers how medieval translation offers an alternative vantage on contemporary debates about untranslatability as a significant element of cross-cultural, cross-linguistic encounter.

As part of my work on medieval translation, I have become increasingly interested in French and Latin bestiaries, including the reception and influence of the French tradition beyond the fourteenth century. I have a number of articles on the French bestiary tradition forthcoming and have contributed to the catalogue for the Getty Center’s 2019 exhibition on medieval bestiaries, in Los Angeles. My next major book project will be a history of gender and sexuality in the medieval bestiary tradition, covering material from the earliest French bestiary (c.1121-35) to the fourteenth century.



Edited volumes


Book chapters

  • ‘Visualizing the Trans-Animal Body: The Hyena in Medieval Bestiaries’, in Trans Historical: Gender Plurality Before the Modern, ed. by Anna Kłosowska, Masha Raskolnikov, and Greta LaFleur (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, forthcoming 2021), pp. 313-52
  • ‘The Scandals of Medieval Translation: Thinking Difference in Francophone Texts and Manuscripts’, in The French of Medieval England: Essays in Honor of Jocelyn Wogan-Browne, ed. by Thelma Fenster and Carolyn Collette (Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer; 2017), pp. 38-54
  • ‘The Ethics of Translatioin Rutebeuf’s Miracle de Théophile’, in Rethinking Medieval Translation: Ethics, Politics, Theory, ed. by Emma Campbell and Robert Mills (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2012), pp. 107-124
  • ‘Sacrificial Spectacle and Interpassive Vision in the Anglo-Norman Life of Saint Faith’, in Troubled Vision: Gender, Sexuality and Sight in Medieval Text and Image, ed. by Emma Campbell and Robert Mills (New York: Palgrave, 2004), pp. 97-115

Contributions to Catalogues and Reference Works

  • ‘Philippe de Thaon’s Bestiaire’, in Translating Cultures Online Exhibition (forthcoming 2021)
  • ‘Untranslatability’, in Translating Cultures: A Glossary, ed. by Charles Forsdick and Barbara Spadaro (forthcoming 2021)
  • ‘The Bestiary Reimagined’, in Book of Beasts: The Bestiary in the Medieval World, ed. by Elizabeth Morrison with Larisa Grollemond (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2019), pp. 151-55
  • ‘Hagiography, Gender, and the Power of Social Norms’, in Hagiography and the History of Latin Christendom, 500–1500, ed. by Samantha Kahn Herrick and Paul Hayward (Leiden: Brill, 2019), pp. 375-96
  • ‘The Politics of Medieval European Translation’, in The Routledge Handbook of Translation and Politics, ed. by Fruela Fernández and Jonathan Evans (London and New York: Routledge, 2018), pp. 410-23
  • ‘Vie de Saint Alexis’, in The Encyclopedia of Medieval Literature in Britain, ed. by Siân Echard and Robert Rouse, 4 vols. (Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell, 2017), vol. 4, pp. 1863-66
  • ‘Saints’ Lives, Violence and Community’, in The Cambridge History of French Literature, ed. by Bill Burgwinkle et al. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), pp. 38-46
  • 'Clerks and Laity', in The Cambridge Companion to Medieval French Literature, ed. by Simon Gaunt and Sarah Kay (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), pp. 210-24

Review articles

I am a regular reviewer for Medium Aevum, The Medieval Review and French Studies. I have also published reviews in Speculum, the Revue des Langues Romanes and the Bulletin of International Medieval Research.


  • ‘Our World: An Interview’, Angelaki, 8:2 (2003), 43-54. Interview with Jean-Luc Nancy, with translator’s introduction.