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

Professor Carl Phelpstead

BA (Sheffield), MPhil, DPhil (Oxon)

Professor (research leave)

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.

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 of the University of Leicester, and I edited Devra Kunin's translations of A History of Norway and the Passion and Miracles of the Blessed Óláfr (2001).

I have also published more than twenty article-length studies on Old Norse-Icelandic sagas, Old English hagiography, Chaucer, and modern medievalist writers such as Tolkien, Auden, and George Mackay Brown. My research has appeared in the following journals: Exemplaria, Leeds Studies in English, Journal of English and Germanic Philology, Northern Studies, Saga-Book, Scandinavian Studies, Tolkien Studies, and Viking and Medieval Scandinavia.

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

For further information about my work please see the tabs above and my page

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

2011-present: Full Member of Yr Academi Gymreig/The Welsh Academy (membership is by invitation and ‘is offered to writers as a mark of peer recognition of their contribution to the literatures of Wales’).

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
  • Teachers of Old English in Britain and Ireland
  • Viking Society for Northern Research.

Committees and reviewing

2007-present: Co-Editor of the Viking Society for Northern  Research Text Series

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

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.

I am on research leave during the academic year 2017-18.

My research is focused mainly in two areas: 

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

My particular interests in medieval literature include:

  • Icelandic sagas
  • hagiography
  • theory and medieval literature (especially Bakhtin, gender and sexualites, temporalities, ecocriticism).

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)
  • 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