Professor Liz Herbert McAvoy

Professor Liz Herbert McAvoy
Personal Chair
English Literature & Creative Writing
Telephone: (01792) 602462

Liz Herbert McAvoy is a specialist in medieval women’s literature and is particularly interested in how representations of gender are played out within medieval texts by, for or about women. She has recently completed a book on intersections of gender and space within texts written by, for and about medieval anchorites and her options at levels 2, 3 and at MA level all reflect this and associated interests.

Liz has published widely in the area of gender and medieval women’s literature and is the author of Authority and the Female Body in the Writings of Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2004). She has also produced an abridged translation of The Book of Margery Kempe (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2003) and has co-edited two volumes of essays on gender in medieval literature: Consuming Narratives: Gender and Monstrous Appetite in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2002) and Anchorites Wombs and Tombs Intersections of Gender and Enclosure in the Middle Ages (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2005). She has also edited several other volumes of essays, including Rhetoric of the Anchorhold: Space, Place and Body within the Discourses of Enclosure (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2008); A Companion to Julian of Norwich (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2008); and Anchoritic Traditions of Medieval Europe (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2010). She has recently published two further books: a monograph on the cultural meanings attached to the anchoritic life: Medieval Anchoritisms: Gender, Space and the Solitary Life (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2011 ); and, edited with Diane Watt, The History of British Women's Writing. Vol. 1 700-1500 (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012); In addition to her publications, she continues to be active in conference and conference-session organisation.

Publications

  1. & (Eds.). Medieval Anchorites in their Communities. Cambridge: D. S. Brewer.
  2. A Revelation of Purgatory: An Edition and Facing-Page Translation. D. S. Brewer.
  3. & 'Family, Feud and Fertility at Manorbier Castle, Pembs. 1200-1400'. Transactions of the Honourable Society of the Cymmrodorion 22, 8-25.
  4. & Women’s Literary Culture and the Late Medieval English Canon: Introduction. The Chaucer Review 51(1)
  5. ‘Bathing in Blood: The Medicinal Cures of Anchoritic Devotion’, for Medicine, Religion and Gender in Medieval Culture, eds. Naoe Kukita Yoshikawa. In Medicine, Religion and Gender in Medieval Culture.

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Teaching

  • EN-112 Approaches to Gender in English Literature

    The development of the feminist theory has brought about increased awareness for literary scholars of the importance of gender in shaping the perceptions, expectations and subjectives of both cultures and individuals - and the texts which they produce. This module therefore aims to introduce students to some of the primary issues connected with the workings and analysis of gender in English literature and the gendered contexts in which that literature is produced. It will, therefore, incorporate an introduction to some of the basic tenets of gender theory and its application as a means of reading literary texts from a range of periods. It will focus on a small variety of poetic, dramatic and fictional texts, examining the ways in which gender relationships are portrayed within them and the extent to which they reflect, perpetuate and/or challenge the cultural values of the period and the social contexts within which they are produced.

  • EN-114 Voices of Poetry

    'Voices of Poetry' is an engaging and exciting module which aims to introduce students to poetry and the various voices it articulates. Taught by well-known poets as well as scholars of poetry, this course will introduce students to a wide range of poetic forms and literary periods, ranging from the medieval lyric to postmodern poetry, from Shakespeare to Sylvia Plath. Particular attention will be paid to the interrelationship between meaning and form, and how rhetorical figures, metre, rhythm, tone, register and the speaker's voice create meaning. 'Voices of Poetry' will also foster an appreciation of how poetic forms are re-written in the socio-historical context in which they were produced.

  • EN-M82 Was Eve Framed? Theorising the Medieval Walled Garden

    According to Julia Kristeva, the gendering of many of the cultural positions with which we are familiar today can be traced back to medieval concepts of Eve¿s transgression within the Garden of Eden, as recounted in the biblical book of Genesis. Antifeminist sentiments based on this `grand narrative¿ account of the Creation within the walled garden of the earthly paradise were taken up with great enthusiasm by medieval commentators and theologians alike and frequently used against women to keep them subjected and under control. Is this the end of the story, though? Whilst a handful of modern commentators have concertedly re-assembled the evidence to suggest that Eve was, indeed `framed¿ (by the walled garden, the narratives concerning her, and those cultural attitudes towards women they generated), what has not been widely examined is the way in which many medieval discussions and representations of Eve also disrupt the stereotypes attached to her and, instead, present her as ideal wife and mother whose flourishing is fundamental to human development ¿ and in all these revisionary treatments, the walled garden plays a central role. This module will examine both medieval and contemporary re-readings of Eden as the original medieval walled garden, reading it through medieval and modern theories of gender, time and space. Taking as its base text the Book of Genesis, it will also incorporate canonical as well as lesser known medieval texts, some written by religious women, others written anonymously, but all of which seek to interrogate the role of Eve, and thus all women, as much impugned cultural scapegoat.

Supervision

  • Untitled (current)

    Student name:
    MA
    Other supervisor: Dr Roberta Magnani
  • Sir Gawain, St Winefride and the Virgin Mary: cult and chivalry in the late Middle Ages. (current)

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Prof Deborah Youngs
  • Christa, Christus: Gendering Christ's wounds and Blood in Late-Medieval Europe. (current)

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Dr Roberta Magnani
  • Rhiannon of the Mabinogi and her People: a critical study (current)

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Prof Christine James
  • Floral Utopias and Otherworlds: Representations of the Enclosed Garden in Chaucer and his Contemporaries (current)

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Dr Roberta Magnani