Dr James Simpson
- Reader in French (French)
I have worked or am working on various areas in medieval literary studies, engaging with a variety of genres mostly from the 12th and 13th centuries. Publications have explored French Arthurian romance, comic and satirical narratives, animal epic (Le Roman de Renart), epic poetry, not to mention the translation and transmission of classical works (notably Ovid). Along with my historian colleague Andrew Roach, I have also recently edited a collection of essays (Heresy and the Making of European Culture) exploring dissent and (un)orthodoxy in the Middle Ages and beyond. In terms of approach, I am very much interested in the sociology and anthropology of court societies: my work on Chrétien de Troyes (Troubling Arthurian Histories) in part presents him as a subversively proto-Machiavellian observer of court cultures. Since early on in my career, I have been (perhaps incorrigibly) fascinated by the possibilities offered by psychoanalytically-based approaches – especially those associated with Jacques Lacan and Slavoj Žižek – to medieval texts and cultures. Other projects have engaged with areas and methods such as gendering, sexuality, the history and sociology of the emotions, subaltern studies, violence and terrorism, tactility, popular religion, humour, transgression, literary reflections of feudalism, not to mention what the sociology of dogging can tell us about Béroul’s version of the story of Tristan and Iseut. However, it’s not all weird science: past and current projects also engage with questions of manuscript context, transmission and presentation.
Among other activities, I am currently editor of French Studies Bulletin. The Bulletin publishes short pieces of scholarly interest (interpretation/ commentary, editions of short items) as well as comment pieces of interest to colleagues in the field. It also carries news and information relating to postgraduate activities, conferences and information from the Society for French Studies.
Areas of supervision:
I am interested in directing research on a wide range of aspects of medieval literary cultures and questions of theory. Previous doctoral topics include the Anglo-Norman Amis and Amilun, masculinity in grail fiction from the Middle Ages to the present, touch and gendering in medieval French epic as well as on concepts of place in literary works. In addition, I have advised on methodological and theoretical issues for various projects. I have also supervised on a wide range of topics in the context of the M.Litt. in Medieval and Renaissance Studies.
- French Level 1: literature and culture;
- French Culture 2 (lecturing and convening)
- Honours options: ‘Court and Conflict in Medieval French Literature’, ‘Satire and Subversion in Medieval French Literature’; ‘Directions in French Cultural Studies’; ‘Vampires and Vampirism’
- Postgraduate (PGT) teaching: ‘European Studies: Cultures, Societies and Languages in Europe and Beyond; ‘Medieval and Renaissance Studies’
- Comparative Literature (various)