Irina Metzler studied at Reading University for all three academic qualifications, from BA via MA to a PhD thesis on disability in the Middle Ages (kindly supported by a bursary from the Department of History at Reading). After that she was honorary research fellow at the university of Bristol, first in the Department of History, then three years in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies, which were followed by an honorary research fellowship at Swansea's Centre for Medieval and Modern Research, MEMO. After she secured a Wellcome Trust Research Fellowship (2012-14) and subsequently a Wellcome Trust University Award (2014-19), Irina became a full-time research member of staff at Swansea. Her interests lie primarily in physical, sensory and intellectual disability in the Middle Ages, but also in perceptions of the natural world in medieval culture, medieval travel and exploration, with knowledge of geography and anthropology. She is also engaged with the knowledge economy in medieval and modern times, interactions between history of ideas and history of education, and concepts of heritage in the past.

Publications

  1. 'Will-nots' and 'Cannots': Tracing a Trope in Medieval Thought'. In History of Learning Disability. (pp. 45-63).
  2. Tolkien and disability: the narrative function of disabled characters in Middle-earth. In Death and Immortality in Middle-earth. Peter Roe Series XVII (Proceedings of The Tolkien Society Seminar 2016). (pp. 35-50). Edinburgh: Luna Press Publishing.
  3. Articles on medieval disability in handbook. In Premodern Dis/Ability History: A Companion. (pp. 59-61, 191-2, 221-2, 296-7, 314-15Affalterbach: Didymos Verlag.
  4. In/Dis-Ability: A Medievalist's Perspective. In The Variable Body in History, eds Chris Mounsey and Stan Booth, Oxford et al: Peter Lang. (pp. 13-32).
  5. Then and now: Canon law on disabilities. In Disability in Antiquity, ed. Christian Laes, Rewriting Antiquity series, London & NY: Routledge, 2017. (pp. 455-467).

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Teaching

  • HIH117 Medieval Europe: an introduction

    The module is a basic introduction to the history of Europe c600-c1450, a period usually described as 'Medieval'. It outlines the political and economic structures of the period, and examines the medieval 'world view' by discussing attitudes to life, death and the afterlife. Its first theme, expansion, charts the growth of Europe as a major world power and includes topics such as the crusades against the Muslims and pagans, political and economic growth, and intellectual development in the foundation of the universities. Its second theme, crisis, focuses on the devastating impact of plague, famine and warfare, and the increasing persecution of heretics, lepers, homosexuals, and Jews.

  • HIH122 Making History

    History is an imprecise art and what historians say and write about the past is not the same as what actually happened in the past. Most people's knowledge about the past doesn't come from professional historians at all but rather from 'public history'. Public history is the collective understandings of the past that exist outside academic discipline of history. It is derived from a diverse range of sources including oral traditions, legends, literature, art, films and television. This module will introduce you to the study and presentation of the past. It will consider how the content, aims and methods of academic and public history compare and contrast and you will engage in your own small research project to investigate this. The module will also teach you about the fundamentals of studying and writing history at university. You will learn about essay writing, group work and critical analysis and employ these skills to understand and assess history today, both as an academic activity and as public knowledge.

  • HIH2690 Beyond Blood and Guts: Medicine from Late Antiquity to the Early Modern Period

    This module will give students an introduction to the study of medical history. The way past societies dealt with disease, illness and disability allows a more critical analysis of present-day health concerns and challenges. Students will discover that pre-modern medicine contains more than leeches or superstitions and during seminar discussions we will consider the effects of historiography on the evaluation of medical cultures. We will explore medical history through the examination of texts, images and tangible objects. The module will be assessed by a coursework portfolio of essays with the option of a practical task.

  • HIH3300 History Dissertation

    The History dissertation is a free-standing, 40-credit module that runs across both semesters of Level Three. Candidates conduct research upon a subject of their choice, devised in consultation with a member of staff teaching for the degrees in History, and concerning a topic that falls within staff research and teaching interests.

  • HIH3368 The Medieval Natural World: Environments, Explorations and Encounters (i)

    This module introduces the relationship between humans and nature that emerged in medieval Europe, together with how exploration of and discoveries in non-Western regions informed and changed such relationships. The heritage of antiquity and the pagan conception of natural history informed many medieval concepts despite the rise of a Christian world-view, which together were enhanced by new understandings of nature. Medieval Europeans used and changed their environments, and were affected by natural forces, all of which shaped the notions of what constituted 'nature' or 'the natural'. By using primary sources of the period, students will encounter the conceptual problems medieval people faced when thinking about how to make sense of the natural and the marvellous, and the boundaries in between.

  • HIH3369 The Medieval Natural World: Environments, Explorations and Encounters (ii)

    This module introduces the relationship between humans and nature that emerged in medieval Europe, together with how exploration of and discoveries in non-Western regions informed and changed such relationships. The heritage of antiquity and the pagan conception of natural history informed many medieval concepts despite the rise of a Christian world-view, which together were enhanced by new understandings of nature. Medieval Europeans used and changed their environments, and were affected by natural forces, all of which shaped the notions of what constituted 'nature' or 'the natural'. By using primary sources of the period, students will encounter the conceptual problems medieval people faced when thinking about how to make sense of the natural and the marvellous, and the boundaries in between.

  • HIMM01 Introduction to Advanced Medieval Studies 1: Skills and Approaches

    This module introduces students to recent and current trends in medieval studies, to the research skills required for MA-level research, and to the medieval heritage of South Wales and the surrounding region. Seminars will consider the nature of medieval sources and texts, and a selection of themes that have made a significant impact upon medieval studies in recent years.