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

Professor Carl Phelpstead

BA (Sheffield), MPhil, DPhil (Oxon)

Deputy Head of School and Head of Subject

+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 British medievalism. 

In addition to articles on Old Norse-Icelandic sagas, Old English literature, hagiography, Chaucer, and modern medievalism, 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).

I am currently working on visions of Mercia in twentieth-century literature and culture. My other current research interests include the place of Old Norse literature in World Literature studies and exploring what Old Norse and Old English literature can contribute to ecocriticism and the environmental humanities.

I served as President of the Viking Society for Northern  Research from 2018 to 2020. I am co-editor of the publications of the  Viking Society 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.

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)

I have written several articles on gender and sexuality in Old Norse literature. More recently, I have been exploring ecocritical approaches to medieval literature and the place of Old Norse literature in World Literature and global medieval studies. I also have long-standing interests in medieval hagiography and the relationship between religion and literature. 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:

  • Co-supervisor with Dr Tyler Keevil for Samuel Sargeant, ‘Faith of their Fathers: Creativity and Authenticity from Medieval Icelandic Sagas to the Modern Novel’ (PhD in Creative Writing)
  • 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’

Research links