Jack Litchfield

Jack Litchfield


I graduated from Goldsmiths College London in 2013 with a BA (hons) in History and the History of Ideas. After completing my MA in Medieval Studies at the University of Leeds with funding from the White Rose College of Arts and Humanities (https://wrocah.ac.uk/), I began my PhD at Leeds in 2016 with continued WRoCAH funding.

Research interests

I am interested in the competing and overlapping discourses (literary, medical, and religious) through which knighthood became recognisable as an innate, embodied identity in late medieval England. Literary depictions of knighthood, especially those in chivalric romance, often convey the iconic qualities of the knight through cultural tropes concerning the body and its relationship with gender identity. In particular, tropes concerning male youth, physical proportion, ability, and attractiveness all contribute to the ways in which certain bodies signified ‘knighthood’ in late medieval English culture.

My research aims to interrogate this understanding of an embodied knighthood in two main ways. Firstly, by stressing the role of medieval medical ideas on the Galenic body in providing the broader intellectual and cultural context within which the physical actions and physiological attributes of romance knighthood can be coherently interpreted. Secondly, by analysing the places and predicaments in which the bodies of knights in chivalric literature are brought into question, mainly through hazards relating to age, injury, disfigurement, and disability.

Conference Activity

'Clothing and Calories: The Matter of Malory's Sir Gareth', International Medieval Congress, University of Leeds (Session 1711, 14:15-15:45, Thursday 04 July 2019)

'Surgery and Homosociality in Malory's Morte Darthur', Contesting Medieval Masculinities, University of Leeds (Friday 17th May 2019)

‘Made of This: Wounding and Memory in Malory’s Morte Darthur’, International Medieval Congress, University of Leeds (Session 1346, 16:30-18:00, Wednesday 4 July 2018)

'Fight Like a Man: The Lost Youths of the Middle English Prose Merlin', Medieval Bodies Ignored: Politics, Culture and Flesh, University of Leeds (16:15-17:15, Friday 4 May 2018)

‘The Worth of “Olde Knyghtes Actes”: Reading for Old(er) Age in Fifteenth Century Middle English Chivalric Texts’, New Historical Perspectives on Ageing and the Life Course, University of Leeds (Panel 5, 9:00-10:30, Tuesday 20 March 2018)

‘Empty of Blood, Full of Knighthood: Beholding Bleeding in Malory’s Morte Darthur’, Conference in War & Peace Studies, University of Leeds (15-16 June 2017)

Conference Organisation

'Contesting Medieval Masculinities', Co-organiser, University of Leeds, 2019, 17th May

'Approaching Emotion', Co-organiser, University of Sheffield, 2018, 10-11th September

International Medieval Conference 2018, Co-organiser, 'Remembering Chivalry Sessions I-V', 4th July

Centre for Medieval Studies, University of York Graduate Conference 2017, Co-organiser, 'Story-Telling', 19th-20th June

Public Engagement 
'The Knight As Shining Armour': public tour of the tournament gallery at the Royal Armouries, Leeds (21 April 2018). Part of the Medieval Bodies Ignored/Obsessed event series.

Other Activities
In the summer of 2018 I carried out a research placement at the Wellcome Collection, London. My project aimed both to trace the ownership history of certain early printed books held at Wellcome, and to consider the ways in which past owners annotated, or otherwise marked, their purchases. As part of this project I contributed a number of entries to the Material Evidence in Incunabula database, which can be accessed here: https://data.cerl.org/mei/_search

A short piece on the provenace of three Wellcome incunabula was published by Wellcome in 2019. This essay, 'Medieval Doodles', can be accessed here:  https://wellcomecollection.org/articles/XLRmEBEAABp4vDEG


2018-2019: BA Module MEDV1090, ‘Introducing Medieval European Literature’, Institute for Medieval Studies, University of Leeds (Seminar Tutor; Exam and Essay Marker)

2018: MA Module MEDV5340M, ‘Medieval Bodies’, Institute for Medieval Studies, University of Leeds (Guest seminar tutor)

2017-18: BA Module HIST1090, ‘Medieval & Renaissance Europe’, School of History, University of Leeds (Seminar tutor; Exam and Essay Marker)





  • BA History & History of Ideas (First Class)
  • MA Medieval Studies (Distinction)

Research groups and institutes

  • Medieval Studies