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Claire Subject area: History and Research
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I am a Medieval Historian specialising in the history of Britain between 1300 and 1500, with a particular focus on the social and cultural impact of the Black Death, the pre-Reformation parish, popular piety and medieval guilds. I have taught Medieval History at King’s College London and Royal Holloway, University of London. In 2019 I was one of the AHRC’s Creative Economy Engagement Fellows at The National Archives (London) and between 2017 and 2020 I was the Medieval Specialist on the £1 million National Lottery Heritage funded Citizens Project. I am currently the Research Coordinator and a History lecturer at the BISC. As a medievalist I love being able to teach students in a 15th century castle and engage the wider public with the castle’s history and heritage.

I teach HIST241 ‘Decolonising the Archive’ at the BISC. This course aims to develop students’ archival research skills and to interrogate the history and construction of and access to archives in the UK. In particular, this course focuses on the issues of empire, colonialism and black representation across the archives sector. There are four archives that students will explore in detail: The National Archives, the Black Cultural Archives, the Mass Observation Archive and the Young Historians Project. Students also work on individual research projects which culminate the creation of their own small digital archive.

I am interested in the multifaceted role that parish guilds played in the lives of their members and communities. These voluntary organisations proliferated from the mid-fourteenth century until their dissolution in the mid-sixteenth century and acted as additional outlets for expressions of popular piety, forums for regulating behaviour and as means of fundraising for the parish and governing the towns in which they were situated. My research also explores the social and cultural changes experienced by ordinary people in the two centuries following the 1348 outbreak of the Black Death. In particular I am interested in how the parish, the most basic administrative and ecclesiastical unit with which ordinary people had most contact, dealt with the pandemic.

I can supervise projects on a variety of topics covering 14th and 15th century British history including:

  • Medieval towns, work and trade
  • Medieval religion and belief (including popular piety and heresy)
  • Medieval buildings
  • Everyday life in the Middle Ages (including the role of women)
  • The Black Death and its impact
  • Medieval local history
  • 21st century public perceptions of the Middle Ages

I can also supervise projects relating to the museum, archive and heritage sectors including:

  • The history and heritage of Herstmonceux Castle
  • Public engagement with museums and archives
  • The heritage sector in the 21st century
  • Digital archives and online exhibitions

I have researched at:

  • The National Archives (London)
  • The British Library (London)
  • Parliamentary Archives (London)
  • Lincolnshire Archives
  • The Keep (Sussex)
  • The Bodleian Library (Oxford)

I have contacts at:

  • The National Archives (London)
  • Parliamentary Archives (London)
  • Lincolnshire Archives
  • The Keep (Sussex)
  • The Historical Association

‘On the Threshold? The Role of Women in Lincolnshire’s Late Medieval Parish Guilds’ in Gender in Medieval Places, Spaces and Thresholds, eds. Diane Heath, Victoria Blue & Einat Klafter (Institute of Historical Research, 2019).

‘The Long Term Impact of the Black Death on Towns’, Teaching History, 180 (2020).

‘Pandemics in the Parish: A Medieval Approach to Emergency Planning’ in History Today, 71: 6 (2021).

‘The “Mistery” of Medieval Guilds: Secrecy and Subversion in the Middle Ages?’ in History Today, (forthcoming, 2021).

‘Power, Piety and Presence: The Cult of Corpus Christi and the 1389 Guild Enquiry in Lincolnshire’ in Creativity, Contradictions and Commemoration in the Reign of Richard II: Essays in Honour of Professor Nigel Saul, eds. Jessica A. Lutkin & J. S. Hamilton (Boydell, forthcoming 2022).

‘The Fetishisation of Medieval Fraternal Orders: The Portrayal and Perception of English Guilds, Fraternities and Brotherhoods c. 1220-2020’ in Bringing ‘Sexy’ Back: The Middle Ages as Other in the Public & Popular Sphere, eds. Claire Kennan & Emma J. Wells (Brepols, forthcoming 2022).

‘Rethinking “Revolting Peasants”: Medieval Research and Educational Impact in the 21st Century’ in Decoding the Medieval: Teaching the Medieval in the Modern Age, eds. Claire Kennan and Emma J. Wells (Brepols, forthcoming 2023). 

Bader College (Queen’s University, Canada) is committed to creating a safe and inclusive environment that is fair, positive, and supportive for all members of our community.
We strive to ensure all members’ views are valued and shared in a secure environment through a commitment to upholding equity*, diversity**, inclusion***, and advancing indigenous initiatives.
Bader College supports the fair treatment and opportunity for all by asserting the importance of non-discriminatory treatment either directly or indirectly on the ground of age, disability, gender identity, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy or maternity, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation.   

*Equity: Substantive fairness for everyone thereby ensuring that members of equity-seeking groups are able to achieve full participation in the university (ader College). 

**Diversity: The representation of the population with respect to designated groups. 

***Inclusion: The climate and acceptance of differences that comes with diversity i.e. different ways of living and working. 

Land acknowledgement: Queen’s University, Canada is situated on Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee Territory.

Bader College
Herstmonceux Castle
Hailsham, East Sussex
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