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Dr Megan Leitch - BA (Br.Col.), MPhil, PhD (Cantab)

Overview

Dr Megan Leitch Position: Lecturer Email: LeitchM@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone: +44(0)29 208 70406
Extension: 70406
Location: Room 2.18, John Percival Building, Colum Drive, Cathays, Cardiff

Research Group

English Literature

Research Interests

Middle English romance and medieval Arthurian Literature; Chaucer and the Gawain-poet; Malory’s Morte Darthur, the Wars of the Roses, and fifteenth-century English Literature; translation of Old and Middle French Literature into Middle English; periodisation and continuities between medieval and early modern English Literature; the ethics of treason and of sleep.

Selected Publications

‘Thinking Twice about Treason in Caxton’s Prose Romances: Proper Chivalric Conduct and the English Printing Press’, Medium Aevum, LXXXI.1 (July 2012), 41-69
 
‘Locating Authorial Ethics: The Idea of the ‘Male’ or Book-bag in the Canterbury Tales and Other Middle English Poems’, The Chaucer Review, 46.4 (April 2012), 403-18

‘(Dis)Figuring Transgressive Desire: Blood, Sex, and Stained Sheets in Malory’s Morte Darthur’, Arthurian Literature, XXVIII (2011), 21-38

‘Speaking (of) Treason in Malory’s Morte Darthur’, Arthurian Literature, XXVII (2010), 103-34

Publications

Book Manuscript

Wars of the Roses Literature: Romancing Treason in England, c. 1437 – c. 1497, monograph under consideration at Oxford University Press

Journal Articles

‘Thinking Twice about Treason in Caxton’s Prose Romances: Proper Chivalric Conduct and the English Printing Press’, Medium Aevum, LXXXI.1 (July 2012), 41-69
 
‘Locating Authorial Ethics: The Idea of the ‘Male’ or Book-bag in the Canterbury Tales and Other Middle English Poems’, The Chaucer Review, 46.4 (April 2012), 403-18

‘(Dis)Figuring Transgressive Desire: Blood, Sex, and Stained Sheets in Malory’s Morte Darthur’, Arthurian Literature, XXVIII (2011), 21-38

‘Speaking (of) Treason in Malory’s Morte Darthur’, Arthurian Literature, XXVII (2010), 103-34

Book Chapters

‘Treachery and Fifteenth-Century English Prose Romance’, in Insular Romance: Contexts and Traditions, ed. by Kenneth Rooney (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, forthcoming, 2013)
                                                                                                      
‘Enter the Bedroom: Managing Space for the Erotic in Middle English Romance’, in Sexual Culture in Late Medieval Britain, ed. by Cory Rushton (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, forthcoming, 2014)

‘thenne toke Reynaude þe ches borde, & smote Berthelot vpon his hede’: Ritual, Revenge and the Politics of Chess in Medieval Romance’, in Romance and Materiality, ed. by Nicholas Perkins (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, in progress, 2014)

 

Research

My book manuscript, entitled ‘Wars of the Roses Literature: Romancing Treason in England, c.1437-1497’, analyzes texts from a variety of genres alongside contemporary social and political discourses in order to demonstrate that this literary culture is broader and richer than has previously been recognized. While the mid-to-late fifteenth century often goes unaddressed by both medievalists and early modernists, seen as a blip or rupture between the highs of Chaucer (and his immediate successors) and the developments of Tudor writers, my book examines the central role of treason in Malory’s Morte Darthur (written in 1469; printed by Caxton in 1485) and in understudied contemporary texts such as the prose Siege of Thebes and Siege of Troy and the romances Caxton himself translated. Drawing upon theories of political discourse and interpellation, of the power of language to shape social identities, this study explores the ways in which, in this textual culture, treason is both a source of anxieties about community and identity, and a way of responding to those concerns. I argue that this literature offers instruction by both negative and positive reinforcement, with the former – the mode of paraenesis or admonition – attaining a distinctive primacy. Prose romances play a central role in this ethical discourse, but the concentrated yet contested ways in which treason is discussed in attainders, petitions, political poems, chronicles, and correspondence, as well as in literary texts, point us to a key word and concept of the time. By paying heed to the concerns convened by treason, my book manuscript establishes some characteristics for the space between Lancastrian and Tudor literary culture, articulating the idea of a literature of the Wars of the Roses. Parts of this study are published in Arthurian Literature and Medium Aevum, and the book is currently under consideration for publication with Oxford University Press.

In addition to Arthurian Literature and the fifteenth century, I also have a strong research interest in Chaucer: I have published on Chaucer’s poetics and tropes of gendered authorial anxiety in The Chaucer Review; I am also returning to Chaucer as part of my new book project. Entitled ‘Sleep and Its Spaces in the Premodern Imagination’, this study will address the affective, erotic, ethical, ideological, political, and visionary issues raised by sleep from the twelfth century to the early seventeenth, with a particular focus on literature of the thirteenth to fifteenth centuries. This study of sleep’s vital implications for how premodern people thought of and fashioned themselves, individually and collectively, seeks to elucidate a mode of reading and moulding bodily performance that can enhance our understanding of many works of medieval and early modern literature, and of the continuities between them. My research will also question the distinctions we can (or should) make between literature and medical tracts, conduct books, and sermons – between imagination and practice.

Biography

Biography & Teaching Interests

I joined Cardiff University as a Lecturer in English Literature in September 2012, after receiving my MPhil (2009) and PhD (2012) from the University of Cambridge.

At Cardiff this year I am teaching an undergraduate option module on ‘Medieval Literature: Love, Gender, Power’, and the year one module on ‘Geoffrey Chaucer’, as well as contributing to MA teaching on Middle English Romance.