Professor Carl Phelpstead BA (Sheffield), MPhil, DPhil (Oxon)

Professor Carl Phelpstead

BA (Sheffield), MPhil, DPhil (Oxon)


School of English, Communication and Philosophy

+44 (0)29 2087 4245
2.39, John Percival Building, Colum Drive, Cardiff, CF10 3EU
Available for postgraduate supervision

I teach and research Old Norse-Icelandic and Old English literature, related medieval literatures, and modern medievalism. I studied at the Universities of Sheffield and Oxford and have worked at Cardiff University since 1999. I was elected President of the Viking Society for Northern  Research in June 2018.

My books include Holy Vikings: Saints’ Lives in the Old Icelandic Kings’ Sagas (2007) and Tolkien and Wales: Language, Literature and Identity (2011), which won the Mythopoeic Scholarship Award in Inklings Studies in 2012. I co-edited Old Norse Made New: Essays on the Post-Medieval Reception of Old Norse Literature and Culture (2007) with David Clark (University of Leicester), and I introduced and annotated Devra Kunin's translations of two medieval Latin texts, A History of Norway and the Passion and Miracles of the Blessed Óláfr (2001).

My article-length studies of Old Norse-Icelandic sagas, Old English hagiography, Chaucer, and modern medievalist writers such as Tolkien, Auden, and George Mackay Brown have appeared in edited collections and in the following journals: Exemplaria, Leeds Studies in English, Journal of English and Germanic Philology, Northern Studies, Review of English Studies, Saga-Book, Scandinavian Studies, Tolkien Studies, and Viking and Medieval Scandinavia.

I am co-editor of the publications of the Viking Society for Northern Research and one of the editors of its journal Saga-Book.

I was educated at the Universities of Sheffield and Oxford and then appointed to Cardiff University, where I have worked since 1999.

  • 2012 Promoted to Professor
  • 2010 Promoted to Reader
  • 2007 Promoted to Senior Lecturer
  • 1999 Appointed as Lecturer in Old English and Old Norse at Cardiff University
  • 1999 DPhil, University of Oxford
  • 1995 MPhil in English Medieval Studies 1100–1500, University of Oxford
  • 1992 BA in English Language with Medieval Literature, University of Sheffield

Honours and awards

  • Mythopoeic Scholarship Award in Inklings Studies (2012)

Professional memberships

2018-present: President of the Viking Society for Northern  Research

2001-present: Council Member of the  Viking Society for Northern  Research

2007-2014: Committee Member of  Teachers of Old English in Britain and Ireland

Member of:

  • Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment (UK)
  • Early English Text Society
  • Hagiography Society
  • International Society of Anglo-Saxonists
  • Norse Hagiography Network
  • Teachers of Old English in Britain and Ireland
  • Viking Society for Northern Research.

Committees and reviewing

2007-present: Joint editor of publications for the Viking Society for Northern  Research 

2004-present: Co-Editor of the journal Saga-Book



  • Phelpstead, C. L. 2017. Time. In: Jakobsson, ?. and Jakobsson, S. eds. The Routledge Research Companion to the Medieval Icelandic Sagas.. Abingdon & New York: Routledge, pp. 187-197.















I have taught a variety of different modules at BA and MA level, mainly on Old English or Old Norse, but also including some Middle English and later literature.

In 2018-19 I am teaching the following modules:

  • BA Year 1: Transgressive Bodies in Medieval Literature (co-taught with Rob Gossedge)
  • BA Year 2: Epic and Saga
  • BA Final Year: Island Stories: Literatures of the North Atlantic
  • MA: Virgins, Kings, and Martyrs: Early English Life-Writing

My research is focused mainly in two areas:

  • medieval literature: Old Norse-Icelandic, Old English, and related medieval literatures
  • modern British medievalism (especially twentieth-century writers)

I have a particular interest in bringing theory and medieval literature into dialogue, drawing especially on Bakhtin, ecocriticism, theories of gender and sexualities, and work on time and temporalities.

In the area of medievalism I have published mainly on the work of J. R. R. Tolkien, though I have also written about W. H. Auden, George Mackay Brown, Peter Maxwell Davies, David Jones, C. S. Lewis, and Victorian saga translations.

As well as several articles, I am currently working on two book projects: An Introduction to the Sagas of Icelanders and a study of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Mercia in the modern imagination.

I am interested in supervising PhD students in the areas of:

  • Old Norse-Icelandic literature
  • Old English literature
  • Medievalism in the twentieth century
  • Ecocriticism and medieval literature

Past projects

I supervised the following completed PhDs:

  • Supervisor for Sheri Smith, ‘Answers to Prayer in Chaucer’ (AHRC-funded)
  • Supervisor for Christopher Hughes, ‘Five Middle English Alliterative Poems: Their Versification, Rhetoric and Authorship’
  • Co-supervisor with Dr Becky Munford for Nicole Thomas, ‘The Daughters of Modron: Evangeline Walton’s Feminist Re-visioning of the Mabinogi’ (for one year after the retirement of Nicole’s former co-supervisor, Prof. Stephen Knight)
  • Supervisor for Jenni Bergman, ‘The Significant Other: A Literary History of Elves’

External profiles