Laura Kalas Williams specialises in medieval women’s literature and medicine. Her research is interdisciplinary, and within the field of the medical humanities. Laura is a member of MEMO (Swansea’s Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Research) and is a Lecturer in English Literature. She teaches modules on the literature and culture of the Middles Ages, gender and medicine, and literature more broadly.
Laura is interested in the phenomena of medieval women's visionary, or ‘mystical’, experience, medieval theories of physiology, the senses, the emotions, and the medicalization of spirituality. Beyond this, she seeks to explore the convergences between the medieval and the modern, particularly in relation to questions of health and wellbeing.
Laura was the winner of the 2015 international Gender and Medieval Studies Group essay prize, the journal article of which is published in Medieval Feminist Forum: A Journal of Sexuality and Gender (2016). Her first book – Margery Medica: Pain, Surrogacy and Healing in ‘The Book of Margery Kempe’, is forthcoming with Boydell and Brewer. She is co-editing, with Roberta Magnani (Swansea), the medieval volume of a multi-volume Routledge series called A Cultural History of Women in Christianity, and has written the chapter about Women and Science in the Middle Ages. She has also contributed to The Literary Encyclopedia and has published articles in The Conversation and The Independent. Her work on the recipe at the end of The Book of Margery Kempe has been featured in The Guardian and in the BBC History Magazine.
As well as completing a journal article about the recipe and the ‘sweetness’ of spirituality in The Book of Margery Kempe, Laura is also working on the significations of sight and light in Mechtild of Hackeborn’s The Boke of Gostlye Grace.In her next book-length project, she will research the lives and writings of several European visionary women of the Middle Ages in relation to their spiritual experiences, healing practices, senses, and bodily metamorphoses.
Laura would be interested to receive enquiries from prospective postgraduate researchers who would like to study PhD topics that relate to the above.