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Beth Clancy

Research Postgraduate

Research Postgraduate in the Department of English Studies


I’m PhD Student in the Department of English Studies. My research is funded by Durham University through a DDS studentship.

My dissertation investigates a trend for material or ‘object-oriented allegories’ in the 14th and early 15th centuries. I explore the disruptions, harmonies and frictions generated by enfolding objects with real world meanings into textual allegory. My work also covers the shared scholastic and literary culture of France and England, and the literary interchanges and patterns of thought that move between French and English language texts within this period. Working with texts written in the shadow of Jean de Meun and Guillaume de Lorris’ Le Roman de la Rose, I connect a flourishing of material allegories in French and English to the reception of the Rose, and follow an allegorical language of objects that emerges after its composition, investigating the ways objects are passed between allegorical writers as literary hand-me-downs that transport ethics and ideas from one text to another, whilst also pressuring a text from within by signalling back to a material world with its own domestic, social and economic concerns.

My wider research interests include the interchanges between material and literary culture in the Middle Ages, and allegory in the Middle Ages and beyond. I am interested in literary topographies and spaces, magic, textualized objects and theories of desire (religious and material). I also have an abiding interest in English Lapidaries and jewelry, particularly in the 14th and 15th centuries.

I read English at Christ’s College, Cambridge and graduated in 2018. After spending time as a teacher abroad, I returned to Christ’s in 2020 to study for an MPhil in Medieval and Renaissance English (Medieval Strand). My dissertation was supervised by Phillip Knox and explored interactions between Pearl’s lithic visions of Heavenly Jerusalem and the cultural and literary associations of the stones and jewels evoked there. I started my PhD at Durham in 2021.