Francesca Brooks joined the department in 2020 as a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow. She received her B.A. in English Literature from Murray Edwards College, Cambridge, and completed her MA in Medieval Literature and PhD at King’s College London. Francesca’a doctoral thesis on the influence of early medieval culture and history on the late modernist poet and artist David Jones was funded by the AHRC through the London Arts and Humanities Partnership (LAHP). Her research brings together early medieval and modernist literary and visual culture. She has previously published on sensory perceptions of the early medieval liturgy in England, the influence of liturgical innovation on vernacular Passion poetry (both medieval and modernist), and the crafting of sound in the riddles of the Old English Exeter Book.
Before Francesca joined the University of York she was Teaching Fellow in Old and Middle English Literature at University College London (UCL). In 2019-20 she was Academic Lead for the UCL Creative Fellowship Programme, 'New Old English: Performance, Poetry, Practice', which saw Rowan Evans and Maisie Newman (known collectively as Fen) develop their performance based on the Old English poem Wulf and Eadwacer in dialogue with staff and students at the university. She is also a 2020 University of Glasgow Library Visiting Research Fellow.
Francesca’s research sits at the intersection of early medieval and modernist literary culture, exploring the ways in which the early medieval past and its cultural productions have been reimagined and recreated in post-medieval poetry and the arts. Her Leverhulme funded postdoctoral research at the University of York will look at community-building and shared Christian identity in early medieval monastic networks, while also asking how this culture inspired innovation in word and image in twentieth-century networks of poets and artists. ‘Insular’ defines a period of close cultural interaction between Britain and Ireland from 550-900AD, which led to the production of poetry, hagiography, manuscripts and sculpture. Although no study has recognised this phenomenon, Insular culture’s abstraction inspired the formal experiments of many modernists who were invested in the continued relevance of the divine to local and national culture. Combining original archival research with her training as a medievalist, Divine Abstraction will illuminate Insular culture’s role in unearthing radical, cross-cultural histories of British and Irish identity across time.
Francesca is also currently working on her first monograph based on her doctoral research: a study of the Anglo-Welsh poet and artist David Jones’s 1952 poem The Anathemata, which draws on original archival research from libraries across the UK and North America. Developing a new methodology for reading with David Jones, Poet of the Medieval Modern: Reading the Anglo-Saxon Library with David Jones seeks to trouble the distinction we make between poetry and scholarship and argues that Jones creates a revisionary encounter with the medieval that decentres the Anglo-centrism of British culture. Poet of the Medieval Modern will be published with Oxford University Press's Textual Perspectives Series in 2021.