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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
2.45, 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 served as President of the Viking Society for Northern  Research from 2018 to 2020.

My publications include the following books: 

  • An Introduction to the Sagas of Icelanders (2020)
  • Tolkien and Wales: Language, Literature and Identity (2011), winner of the Mythopoeic Scholarship Award in Inklings Studies in 2012
  • Holy Vikings: Saints’ Lives in the Old Icelandic Kings’ Sagas (2007)
  • Old Norse Made New: Essays on the Post-Medieval Reception of Old Norse Literature and Culture (2007), co-ed. with David Clark
  • ed., A History of Norway and the Passion and Miracles of the Blessed Óláfr trans. Devra Kunin (2001). 

My article-length studies of Old Norse-Icelandic sagas, Old English literature, Chaucer, and modern medievalist writers have appeared in edited books 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 (for full details click the 'Publications' tab above).

I am co-editor of the publications of the Viking Society for Northern Research and one of the editors of its journal Saga-Book. In 2020 I also became one of the editors of the Viking Collection book series, published by the University Press of Southern Denmark.


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

2018-2020: 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:

  • Early English Text Society
  • Hagiography Society
  • Norse Hagiography Network
  • Teachers of Old English in Britain and Ireland
  • Viking Society for Northern Research.

Committees and reviewing

2020-present: One of four editors of the Viking Collection book series, published by the University Press of Southern Denmark.

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 and 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.

I am on research leave in the autumn semester 2021-22. In spring 2022 I will be the module leader for the BA Year 1 module Transgressive Bodies in Medieval Literature.

My research is focused mainly in two areas:

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

Some of my recent work has explored ecocritical approaches to medieval literature and I am developing new projects relating Old Norse literature to World Literature studies and the global turn in medieval studies. I also have a long-standing interest in medieval hagiography. 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, David Rudkin, and Victorian saga translations.

My main current projects include writing a book about the early medieval kingdom of Mercia in the modern imagination and co-editing (with Tim Bourns) a collection of essays on ecocriticism and Old Norse-Icelandic literature.

I am a member of the Cardiff Environmental Cultures group: Cardiff Environmental Cultures – Cardiff ScienceHumanities


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

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

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’