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Featured research projects

EUTERPE: European Literatures and Gender from a Transnational Perspective

The aim of EUTERPE is to offer an innovative approach to rethinking European cultural production in light of the complex social and political negotiations that are shaping European spaces and identities at present. EUTERPE intends to do that by bringing together gender and transnational perspectives within an interdisciplinary approach to literary and cultural studies. 

The EUTERPE international consortium, funded by a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action (European Commission and UKRI) involving seven European universities and a number of additional non-academic partners, will provide advanced training for 11 Doctoral Candidates who will develop original research projects (to eventually turn into monographs) in the broader area of European Literatures and Gender in Transnational Perspective. The research scope of EUTERPE will cover four main areas that form the core of our eight research and training Work Packages (WPs):

  • Transnational women’s literature and its travels: points of entry and pathways (WP 1: Central European University, Austria; WP2: University of Oviedo, Spain);
  • Translational genres: crossing borders in gender, form, space, and identity (WP 3 & WP4: University of Bologna, Italy; WP 10: University of York, UK);
  • Transnational women intellectuals, multilingualism and decolonising European pedagogies (WP 5: Utrecht University, Netherlands; WP6: University of Oviedo, Spain; WP 11: Coventry University, UK);
  • Transnational literature and cultural production: intermediality as a form of translation (WP7: University of Granada, Spain; WP8: University of Łódź, Poland).

York’s work package is led by Dr Boriana Alexandrova (Centre for Women’s Studies) and Dr Nicoletta Asciuto (Department of English and Related Literature). Together with the University of Bologna, the University of York team will explore how transnational and migrant writers re/imagine European identity through a variety of genres, literary forms, and methods. At York, we will specifically explore the diverse and creative ways in which multilingual writers forge new forms of literary border crossing through practices of gendered, linguistic, cultural, and formal translation. We intend for this research strand to make a timely and necessary contribution to emerging debates in trans/feminist studies of migrant literatures, multilingualism, and gender, deepening understandings of how multilingual and migrant writing shapes and is shaped by nuanced intersections of gender, language, culture, race, class, sexuality, and disability. The translational and the transnational will be theorized as new critical terms and methodological approaches to suit the changing notion of European culture and identity. York’s expertise, networks, and facilities for the study and practice of translation and creative research methods will form the ideal environment for this interdisciplinary and methodologically innovative project.

The Doctoral Candidate hired on our work package is Alice Flinta, with a project entitled “Over Borders and Languages: Rethinking Transnationality in Europe Through Mediterranean Women’s Writings”. As part of her PhD, Alice will spend her mobility phase at the University of Bologna, and conduct a two-month internship at Comma Press (Manchester). At York, we will also welcome Bologna’s PhD student, Evangeline Scarpulla, for six months during her mobility phase.

The major impact outputs of the project will be 11 PhD theses, a co-produced open-source Dictionary of Transnational Women’s Literature in Europe with key concepts and bio-bibliographic entries on leading representatives of the field, and a Digital Catalogue and Podcast Library, which will make accessible all relevant material collected during the creation of the Dictionary.

For more information on the project, please contact and 

German Post-Terrorist Autobiography

Clare Bielby (Centre for Women’s Studies) has been awarded a Leverhulme Research Fellowship (2023-2024) for her monograph project on the post-terrorist  autobiographies of German left-wing militants who were active in the Red Army Faction and Movement 2. June and have, since the 1970s, been publishing accounts of their lives. With a particular focus on issues of gender, as it intersects with race and class, Clare conducts a feminist literary-critical analysis of these texts, mobilising autobiographical theoretical and area studies approaches, as well as sociological and narrative criminological perspectives on violence, identity and meaning-making. Questions the project asks include: What did it mean to be a left-wing militant and to function as part of a terrorist organisation in 1970s West Germany?; What are the attractions of joining a militant organisation and ‘doing’ terrorism in this particular time and place?; What gendered cultural modules/narrative resources do these authors mobilise to render intelligible their use of violence and political and historical agency?; How, if at all, do they distance themselves from constructions of ‘the terrorist’ and the (Nazi) perpetrator?; How do we account for the apparent will to write leftist post-terrorist autobiography and what does the writing of these texts ‘do’ for the post-terrorist author?; Finally, what are the generic features of German post-terrorist autobiography and what, if at all, are its gendered particularities?

Thin Ice Press: York Centre for Print

In 2017, Professor Helen Smith and Dr JT Welsch founded Thin Ice Press, a letterpress printing studio at the University of York. The press provides unique opportunities for teaching and research, and published its first chapbook, Rebecca Drake's The Maritime Museum & The City in 2023. 

In 2021-22, Nick Gill, Lizzy Holling and Helen Smith took the next step, reestablishing traditional printing techniques in the heart of York. Lizzy and Helen delivered the print strand of StreetLife, a £560,000 community regeneration project funded by the UK government’s Community Renewal Fund. As well as delivering a wealth of workshops and events, we created free exhibitions exploring York's printing history and the DeLittle Wood Type Factory, and developed an innovative oral history project on York's newspapers, led by researcher Dr Kathy Davies. Our writer in residence, J. R. Carpenter, learned to print from the Thin Ice team, and composed and printed a long, fragmentary poem, Coney Street Life: A History of Right Now as a limited edition letterpress portfolio. That poem also forms part of J. R.'s chapbook City of Marvels, published by Broken Sleep Books in 2023. We were proud to publish Two Poems on Coney Street, a chapbook by Jessie Summerhayes, and to host print residencies from David Armes and Theo Miller.

How many coats?

Here is Jessie performing  'How many coats?', one of the poems from Two Poems on Coney Street.

In September 2023, Helen, Lizzy and Nick launched Thin Ice Press: York Centre for Print - a working pressroom, museum and gallery that aims to preserve an ancient craft for future generations, create volunteering and employment opportunities, and build community. Our well-equipped workspace welcomes artists, writers and printers, and we offer free, family-friendly activities, exhibitions and demos, alongside a wide range of workshops and training. 

Through cutting-edge creative and critical research, we are discovering how heritage techniques offer new opportunities for modern creatives. Our first pilot project, funded by the World Wood Day Foundation, explores 'The Culture and Craft of Wood Type', paving the ground for a global history of this distinctive printing medium. Forthcoming publications include Helen Smith's creative-critical chapbook, Common Errors of the Press, and A History of Book Marks in Bookmarks in a Box.

Coercive Control: From Literature into Law

Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1940 film version of Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca (1938)

Led by Dr Hannah Roche (Principal Investigator) and Dr Katherine Mullin (Co-Investigator, University of Leeds), Coercive Control: From Literature into Law is the first interdisciplinary project to investigate the complex relationship between British literary fiction and the law of coercive control. 

In 2015, domestic violence legislation in England and Wales was extended to include ‘threats, humiliation and intimidation’ and ‘a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent’. This project will show how a ‘new’ crime of the mind has a long and disturbing history in the imaginations of British writers, helping to shape understandings of coercive control within the academy and beyond. 

Creative storytelling has played a crucial role in raising awareness of coercive control. With a focus on novelists ranging from the Brontës to Bernardine Evaristo, Roche and Mullin’s network of researchers and external partners will investigate how narratives of sustained psychological abuse have anticipated and underscored legal change. The network will ask important questions about British literature and its psychological, social, and educational impact. How have textual strategies of surveillance and regulation driven different fictions, from Victorian marriage plots and neo-Gothic mid-century melodramas to contemporary narratives of unequal unions? How might realist authorial omniscience and postmodern textual trickery be read as metafictional meditations on coercive control? Most importantly, how do narratives of coercive control empower readers and amplify the voices of survivors?

Coercive Control: From Literature into Law is funded by an AHRC Research Networking Award (April 2023 to April 2025). For more information, or to join the network, please contact

Dante and Medieval Latin Poetics, between Theory and Practice 

Ryan Pepin has been awarded a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship for 2023-26, to carry out a project on the development of, and interaction between, Medieval Latin and Romance verse forms. 

The project will examine, first, how Dante understood the difference between Latin and vernacular poetic form. Dante is the first writer we know of to use the term ‘poet’ to speak of writers in the Romance languages, but in his De vulgari eloquentia he uses the term hesitatingly: vernacular ‘poets’ differ greatly, he writes, ‘from the great [Latin] metrical poets’, arriving at their forms ‘by chance more than by precept’ (‘casu magis quam arte’, DVE 2.4.1-2).

The project will re-frame the key terms of Dante’s conception of a new, vernacular poetry in in the light of their Latin theoretical forerunners – the terms of art found in the Medieval Latin preceptive literature, or artes, available in thirteenth- and fourteenth-century Northern Italy. 

The project also will leverage new possibilities opened up by NLP (Natural Language Processing) to examine parallel developments in the versification of a corpus of Latin and the vernacular poetry circulating in Italy in the High Middle Ages, offering a new model for the co-evolution of European verse.

For more information on the project, please contact

Digital Index of Middle English Verse

Linne Mooney, Emerita Professor in the Department, has been awarded an Emeritus Grant by the Leverhulme Trust to pay for travel and subsistence so that she can complete entries relating to Middle English verse in manuscripts in the British Library for the Digital Index of Middle English Verse ( of which she is the principal editor. 

The DIMEV (compiled with Daniel Mosser with the help of research assistants Elizabeth Solopova and Deborah Thorpe) records the first and last lines of all English poetry written between 1250 and 1525, giving information about the manuscripts in which each work survives. Since Middle English poetry was written before the advent of print, the manuscript witnesses each differ slightly from one another. Textual scholars of Middle English literature need to know where these manuscript witnesses are now kept so that they can study all of the surviving evidence for each text. 

An original Index of Middle English Verse was published in 1940 with a Supplement in 1965, and a revised New Index of Middle English Verse was published in 2005; but the DIMEV, freely accessible at, corrects and enlarges upon all of these and is now the standard reference work in the field. 

Professor Mooney told us: ‘I’m very pleased to have been awarded this Emeritus Grant by the Leverhulme Trust. It will be a great help to my editorship of the Digital Index of Middle English Verse.’ 

With this support from the Leverhulme Trust, Professor Mooney will make monthly three-day trips to London to conduct research in the British Library Manuscripts Reading Room over the next two years to complete the entries for the DIMEV.

The Leverhulme Centre for Anthropocene Biodiversity

The Leverhulme Centre for Anthropocene Biodiversity (LCAB) brings together researchers from across disciplines to examine how the relationship between humanity and the natural world is changing. A central strand of the Centre’s research considers how cultural representations of human–animal relationships, ecological systems and ideals of wilderness shape our understanding of the Anthropocene—or the “age of the human.”

In his research as a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Centre, Dr Peter Sands investigates how authors and filmmakers from the mid-twentieth century to the present explore concepts such as environmental catastrophe, extinction, and biotechnological futures. Peter’s project aims to show that, from countercultural thinking on the relationship between technological and ecological systems in the 1960s, to projections made by contemporary ecologists about future rewilded landscapes or resurrected species, what we think of as the Anthropocene has always been formed in a shared space of exchange between art and science. 

In December 2022 with Dr Sarah Bezan, Peter organised the “Art and Science of Species Revival” symposium hosted by LCAB. Including an exhibition of work from artists Maria Lux and Ken Rinaldo, the symposium asked how the arts and humanities can aid in investigating not only the ethics of de-extinction science (the resurrection of extinct species through gene technologies), but how species revival is itself a creative pursuit concerned with imagining ecological futures and constituted by an exchange of artistic and scientific practices. 

See archive of previous projects.