My research focuses on how women’s political identity and power are represented and imagined in medieval literature written in Britain. My book-in-progress, “Women’s Lines: Genealogies in the Medieval Literary Imagination”, explores the range of alternative forms medieval literary writers in twelfth- to fourteenth-century England used to depict women’s genealogies. Genealogy was of immense importance to literary, historical and political medieval European thought. But stories of blood lineage, and particularly of patrilineage from father to son, are only one way medieval literary writers depict genealogy. My book asks, How did medieval English readers and writers imagine the cross-generational transmission of women’s power and identity? How did writers represent women’s claims to time itself – that immaterial claim to the past and future that so often underpins power? Women’s Lines focuses on romance, vernacular chronicle and insular hagiography to underscore the importance of turning to literature to understand less concrete forms of female influence which evade documentary record.
Other research interests include women’s geographical mobility and cross-cultural transitions, multilingualism, the public politics of motherhood, and visual studies. My research is published or forthcoming in New Medieval Literatures, JEGP: Journal of English and German Philology and the collections, Thinking Romance (Oxford UP) and Barking Abbey and Medieval Literary Culture (York UP).
I am currently a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Bonn as part of the cross-departmental Collaborative Research Center (SFB) 1167: “Macht and Herrschaft: Premodern Configurations from a Transcultural Perspective,” in a sub-project on “Feminine Charisma: Figurations of Macht and Herrschaft in England and France (700-1500)“, led by Irina Dumitrescu.
I completed my PhD in English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University in December 2016. Prior to that I studied at the University of York (MA, 2009) and Colorado College (BA, 2006). I am a New Zealander by birth, but spent the first 20 years of my life cirumnavigating the world with my family on a sailboat. Now my spouse and I live in Bonn, Germany, with our three young children.
To get in contact please write to emmaberat84 (at) gmail (dot) com.