Rachael Gillibrand

Rachael Gillibrand



After graduating from the University of Leeds in 2014 with a BA (hons) in History (First Class), I undertook a Medieval Studies MA (Merit) with the Institute for Medieval Studies between 2014 and 2015. Having developed my interest in disability and the non-conformist body during my masters, I began my doctoral research into medieval assitive technology in 2015. Both my MA and my PhD were made possible by funding from the School of History and the Institute for Medieval Studies.



PhD – University of Leeds, Institute for Medieval Studies (2015-2019)
Title: The Materiality of Physical Impairment: Assisitve Technology in the Late Medieval West, c.1400-1600
Supervisors: Dr. Iona McCleery, Dr. Eva Frojmovic

MA Medieval Studies – University of Leeds, Institute for Medieval Studies (2014-2015)
Dissertation: ‘Sans Everything’?: Representations of the Aged Female Body
Supervisor: Dr. Iona McCleery

BA History – University of Leeds, School of History (2011-2014)
Dissertation: ‘Making a Monster: The Relationship Between the Body and Behaviour of King Richard III’
Supervisor: Dr. Iona McCleery

Languages: Latin, English, German



  • 'Performing Piety: Disability, Sanctity and the Case of the Worcester Pilgrim', in Disability and Sanctity in the Middle Ages: Volume Two, ed. by Stephanie Grace-Petinos, Leah Pope Parker, Alicia Spencer-Hall (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press) – Expected 2020
  • ‘The Smithfield Decretals (c. 1340)’, in The Medieval Disability Sourcebook, ed. by Cameron Hunt-McNabb (New York: Punctum Press) – Expected 2019
  • ‘Connie Scarborough, Viewing Disability in Medieval Spanish Texts: Disgraced Or Graced (Review)’, English Historical Review – Expected 2019
  • ‘Medieval Eyecare: An Interview with Rachael Gillibrand’, in Embracing Spiritual Loss with Spiritual Insight, by Edward Kondrot – Forthcoming



  • University of Leeds 110 Anniversary Research Scholarship (2015). To cover fees and maintenance during PhD.
  • University of Leeds Postgraduate Support Package (2014). To cover fees and maintenance during MA.
  • University of Leeds Le Patourel Prize (2014). For best undergraduate dissertation.



    • HIST5875M: Lifecycles: Birth, Death and Illness in the Middle Ages (2018/19). I designed and delivered a seminar on 'Disability and Madness' for this module.
    • Dissertation Mentor (2016/17). I acted as a one-to-one mentor for three final year history undergraduates.
    • HIST2570: History in the Media (2017/18). Level 2 elective skills module. I assisted in marking second-year student debates, and attended meetings on the future development/design of the module.
    • HIST1055: Historiography and Historical Skills: Medieval Disability (2018/19). Level 1 compulsory skills module. Drawing on my research into medieval disability I designed and delivered my own strand of this module. This included developing the module structure; choosing appropriate secondary sources; writing the module documentation; setting and marking both essay questions and presentation topics; delivering two lectures; and teaching ten seminars.
    • HIST1060: Faith, Knowledge and Power, 1500-1750 (2017/18). Level 1 optional module focussing on the broad themes of religious conflict; cultures of knowledge; and order/disorder in Early Modern society. I delivered 11 seminars and marked essays and exams.
    • HIST1090: Medieval and Renaissance Europe (2015/16; 2016/17). Level 1 compulsory survey module introducing students to major topics and issues of the whole medieval period, c. 450-1500. I delivered 11 seminars and marked essays and exams.
    • HIST1300: Primary Sources for the Historian: An Introduction to Documentary Study: Richard III, The Man and The Myth (2016/17; 2017/18). Level 1 compulsory skills module. Drawing upon my research into Richard III and bodily impairment, I designed and delivered my own strand of this module. This included developing the module structure; choosing appropriate primary sources; writing the module documentation; setting and marking both essay and exam questions; and teaching eleven seminars. I received a teaching commendation from the School of History Module Review Committee for receiving excellent student feedback for this module in 2017.
    • Access to Leeds Intern (2017/18). I acted as the first point of contact for the Leeds Univesrity School of History's Access to Leeds scheme, mentoring applicants, marking submissions, and organising skills-focussed seminars. For more information on the scheme, please see here.
    • Education Outreach Fellow (2014-18). As an Education Outreach Fellow I developed a series of lectures and seminars covering different aspects of research skills (e.g. referencing & plagiarism; essay writing; giving a presentation; research ethics) before delivering them at schools and sixth-forms across the country.
    • IntoUniversity (2015-18). I developed two 'WW2 Workshops' for the IntoUniversity scheme (on the themes of rationing and air raids) designed to compliment the Key Stage 2 curriculum. I then worked with IntoUniversity to deliver these sessions four times annually between 2015 and 2018.



  • July 2017 – May 2018. Medieval Bodies Ignored: Politics, Culture, and Flesh (3rd – 6th May, 2018)
    • Interdisciplinary conference concentrated on the cultural history of the body, particularly that relating to bodies that are ignored, by either medieval society or modern scholarship. I was involved in every aspect of the process of designing and delivering the conference, including, but not limited to: budgeting, writing funding applications, securing key-note speakers, booking the venue, arranging catering and promoting the conference through social media and conventional channels. The full programme can be found here.



  • '‘Tis but a Scratch!': Late Medieval Battlefield Injury and the Knightly Use of Prosthetic Limbs', International Medieval Congress, University of Leeds (2019)
  • ‘'I pretended that it did not matter’: Limb loss, Prostheses and Remasculation in the Memoirs of Götz von Berlichingen', Permeable Bodies, University of Central London (2018)
  • 'Man’s Best Friend: Assistance Animals in the Late Medieval Art', International Medieval Congress, University of Leeds (2018)
  • 'Sight and Sanctity: Curing Blindness In Medieval Healing Miracles', Medieval Bodies Ignored, University of Leeds (2018)
  • 'Companions, Servants or Signifiers? The Role of Assistance Dogs in the Late Middle Ages', Going to the Dogs, University of Leeds (2018) - available to watch online here.
  • ''The Dwarf, the Cripple, and the Mother of Madness': Representing Bodily Impairment in Medieval Television Dramas', International Medieval Congress, University of Leeds (2017)
  • 'Extension or Lack?: The Relationship Between Prosthetic Technologies and the Body in the Late Middle Ages', The Medieval Brain, University of York (2017)
  • 'Crutches, Sticks and Staffs: Using Images to Access the Materiality of Impairment in the Late Middle Ages', Medieval Materialities, University of St. Andrews (2017)
  • ‘'Sumo michi baculum’: Problematizing the Purpose of ‘Walking’ Sticks in the Late Middle Ages', Disease, Disability & Medicine in Medieval Europe: 10th Anniversary Annual Meeting, Swansea University (2017)
  • 'Overcoming Impairment: The Representation and Construction of Medieval Wheelbarrows', International Medieval Congress, University of Leeds (2016)
  • 'What about Wheelchairs?: Disability-scaping and the Late Medieval Urban Environment', Health, Medicine & Society Colloquium, University of Leeds (2016)



  • Bodies Ignored/Bodies Obsessed Events Series
    • As a member of the Bodies Ignored Organising Committee, I was lead organiser of a series of public events, in collaboration with local heritage organisations, devoted to examining the place of the body in the museum.
      • October 2017. ‘Leeds Witch Seminar’, delivered by Lauren Ryall-Waite (Curator at the Thackray Medical Museum)
      • October 2017. ‘Skeletons’, Tour of an Exhibition curated by the Museum of London and the Wellcome Collection set up at the Leeds City Museum
      • November 2017. ‘Animal Bodies’, Tour of Leeds Discovery Centre
      • November 2017. ‘York Excursion’, Tour of JORVIK and the Yorkshire Archaeological Trust Collections
      • April 2018. ‘The Knight as Shining Armour’, Tour and programme of events at Royal Armouries
      • May 2018. ‘Killed the Boar, Shaved His Head: The Death of Richard III’, Public Lecture at Leeds Central Library, delivered by Robert Woosnam-Savage
  • Institute for Medieval Studies Outreach Events
    • March 2016. ‘Medieval Spectacles’ Stall Holder & Designer, Be Curious Festival, University of Leeds
    • October 2016. 'Scent and Health’ Stall Holder & Designer, Light Night Festival, Leeds City
    • July 2014. ‘You Are What You Ate’ Stall Assistant, Pontefract Liquorice Festival
  • Other
    • December 2017. Radio Interview on Dr. Edward Kondrot’s show ‘Healing the Eye'. Broadcast 28th Dec. 2017 on KFNX. In the first month of being put online, the podcast was downloaded 404 times. The live show had the following numbers of listeners: US: 288; Canada: 27; UK: 20; Australia: 14; Korea: 5; India: 4; Phillipines: 4; Ireland: 4; South Africa: 4; Others: 34. You can listen to the interview here.
    • September 2016. ‘Sagging Breasts and Stinking Breath: A Lady’s Guide to Ageing Disgracefully in the Middle Ages’, PubhD Public Lecture, Leeds
    • September-December 2014. Worked with Alaric Hall to record an open access ‘Beginners' MP3 Course in Modern Icelandic’. You can access the course here.



  • March 2018. Collections Management Placement, Leeds City Council Museums
  • February 2018. Collections Handling Guide, JORVIK Viking Centre (2018)
  • September 2016 - June 2017. Representative for Postgraduate Tutors, Leeds University Staff Student Forum
  • September 2015 - June 2016. Leeds University Union Medieval Society Secretary
  • June-July 2015. Online Editor, Leeds History First, School of History, University of Leeds
  • May 2013 - May 2014. Editor of the History Student Times, School of History, University of Leeds
  • June - Septeber 2012. Tour Guide and Archivist, Lytham Hall Country Estate


Research interests

My research interests focus around the embodied experience of health and/or sickness in the late Middle Ages, focussing on, but not limited to: disability (both mental and physical); social responses to bodily impairment; the gendered experience of impairment; the use of technology in the treatment of illness/impairment; lay and learned understandings of the body (in both health and sickness); surgery; aging and attitudes towards the aging process (particularly the gendered experience of aging in the Middle Ages); miracle cures; blindness (specifically its association with spirituality); visual depictions of impairment. My PhD thesis, focussing on mobility aids in the Middle Ages, is consequently a product of my fascination with health, the body and technology in the late medieval and early modern periods.