Floral Utopias and Otherworlds

DEPT/SUBJECT AREA - Medieval English Literature

SUPERVISOR(S) - Professor Liz McAvoy, Dr Roberta Magnani


THESIS TITLE - Floral Utopias and Otherworlds: Representations of the hortus conclusus in Chaucer and his contemporaries


My research focuses on a recurring setting for medieval texts: the enclosed garden or hortus conclusus. In Floral Utopias and Otherworlds, I examine gardenscapes as spaces which can shape the characters that inhabit them and reveal counter-narratives hidden by the linear plot. Each of the first chapters examines a key garden from The Canterbury Tales (the Knight’s Tale, the Merchant’s Tale and the Franklin’s Tale), while the final chapter focuses on three anonymous poems (The Isle of Ladies, The Assemblie of Ladies and The Flour and the Leaf), employing postmodern theories of sexuality, gender, and space.


  • ‘Courtly Knights and Amazon Brides: Space and Movement in the Knight’s Tale’ (Bristol Postgraduate Conference, 2017)
  • ‘Courtly Knights and Amazon Brides: Counter-narratives in the Knight’s Tale’ (IMC Leeds, 2017)
  • 'As olde stories tellen us': Counter-narratives in the enclosures of the Knight's Tale (Medieval Walled Gardens Study Day)
  • ‘Lagertha and Saint Theodora of Vasta: Representations of Warrior Women in myth and popular culture’ (WGSUS conference, 2018)
  • ‘Lagertha the Shieldemaiden: Representations of Warrior Women in myth and popular culture’ (IMC Leeds, 2018)



Project supported by the Leverhulme Trust funded research project: The Enclosed Garden: Pleasure, Contemplation and Cure in the Hortus Conclusus 1100-1450



Postgraduate representative for GENCAS

Ede & Ravenscroft Postgraduate Award for the contribution to research (2017)

Conferences organised: ‘Protean Desires: Queering the Body, Transforming the Text’ (April 2016), ‘Separate Spheres and Closed Doors: Recasting Gender & Space’ (April 2018)