Victoria Yuskaitis

Victoria Yuskaitis

Profile

I study English anchorites, the cells they lived in, and their varied experiences through an interdisciplinary project combining historical, literary, and archaeological approaches and diverse source materials, both archaeological and textual. 

I earned my BA in May 2014 from Lycoming College in Williamsport, PA (USA), where I studied Archaeology, Medieval Studies, and Creative Writing. After this I completed my MA in Medieval Archaeology in September 2015 at the University of Sheffield, where I was supervised by Hugh Willmott (Senior Lecturer in European Historical Archaeology at Sheffield). I started here at the University of Leeds in October 2016, and I am being funded through an Arts Cross Disciplinary Research Scholarship, supported jointly by the School of History and the School of English.
 

Research interests

My research interests include antiquarianism, medieval archaeology, medieval parish church history and archaeology, and of course anything related to medieval anchorites.  

The central research questions for my project are:

  • What can archaeological remains of anchorholds, particularly in Shropshire, indicate about anchoritic experience?
  • How do the archaeological record and the documentary and literary record inform each other?
  • What does this comprehensive analysis offer in terms of new ways to consider the anchoritic vocation and the lived experience of anchorites?

Archaeological experience

I have worked on various archaeological sites, either excavating or surveying, almost every summer since my first excavation in 2013:

In addition to working on these sites, I have been focusing on my own archaeological analysis of a group of parish churches in Shropshire, and have carried out research trips in April 2017 and April 2018 for this purpose. I have also coordinated research trips to the Shropshire Archives, as well as research trips to analyse English churches with potential anchoritic archaeology in other areas of England, such as Norwich and Kent. 

Work Experience

My work experience at the University of Leeds includes: 

  • IMS External Communications Intern (2018-19): Ongoing. Updating and generating website content, working with new website platforms, and maintaining a social media presence on Twitter and Facebook. 
  • IMS Website Intern (2017-18): Updated and generated website content, including events, news stories, online resources, calls for papers, and the calendar
  • IMS Promotions and Communications Intern (2016-17): Maintained the IMS email list, publicised medieval events at Leeds as well as other universities, and wrote regular newsletters.

Outreach Experience 

  • Bedale Archaeolgy & History Society Public Talk (5 February 2019): I presented a public talk titled 'An Anchoress at All Saint's, York? Archaeological Remains of English Anchorites in Parish Churches'. The talk was well-attended, with an engaged and enthusiastic audience. 
  • Outreach Event at the Shropshire Archives (28 August 2018): I presented my archaeological findings from my case study churches in Shropshire to locals who have supported, encouraged, and facilitated my research in the area. Archival documents relevant to my research were also available to view. 
  • Be Curious (2018): I created an interactive timeline about anchorites for this campus-wide festival, celebrating various types of research at Leeds and encouraging locals and their families to visit campus and explore. Received positive feedback from parents as well as children, and also helped with interactive demonstrations from medievalists nearby. 
  • Archaeology in the City (2015): I introduced archaeology to middle-school children through an interactive display of archaeological tools, and encouraged their interest in the field. 
  • Sheffield Cathedral Placement (2015): I designed a two-week project which invovled creating a web-based resource to educate visitors about the Cathedral's archaeologically preserved medieval past. This entailed significant archaeological and historical research, requiring access to private collections and the Sheffield archives. 

Teaching Experience

  • Education Outreach Fellow (2017-18, and 2018-19): Involves going to schools throughout England and teaching Year 12 students about various aspects of research, from the definition and avoidance of plagiarism to strategies for taking notes, to skills workshops such as interview skills and time management. Focus on developing and delivering workshops to support students undertaking an Extended Project (EPQ/IB/Pre-U). 
  • MA Class Teaching (November 2018): Co-taught a two-hour, discussion-based University of Leeds MA class, MEDV 5295, titled 'Religious Communities and the Individual Experience of Religion, 1200-1500'. 

Conference experience

My graduate conference experience includes presenting, organising panels, and working in various capacities: 

  • IMC (International Medieval Congress) 2018 (2-5 July): Held at the University of Leeds. Co-organised a session titled 'Memory and Methodology: Anchoritic Legacies and Historical Reconstruction' with Alicia Smith (The Queen's College, University of Oxford). The session was held on Thursday, 5 July from 14:15-15:45, and was sponsored by the International Anchoritic Society. Presented 'Arcaheology and Anchoritism: A New Methodology' in this session.
    • Post-Congress Tour: The Wars of the Roses - Medieval Castles and Battlefields of the Midlands (6-9 July, part of IMC 2018 programming): I worked as an Excursions Assistant on this tour, which entailed organising the details of the trip and managing any issues or concerns raised by the tour guides, delegates, hotel staff, or bus driver. 
  • International Anchoritic Society Conference (28-30 June, 2018): Held at the University of East Anglia, Norwich. Presented 'The Materiality of Anchoritic Cells'.
  • Future of Medieval Studies (31 May-1 July 2018): Held at the University of Leeds. On the concluding panel.
  • Revealing Records IX (Ninth Annual Conference Series) (25 May 2018): Held at King's College London. Presented 'Archaeology and Antiquarianism: Interactions Between Medieval Material Culture and Post-Medieval Discourse'. 
  • IMC (International Medieval Congress) 2017 (3-6 July): Attendee, and also worked as an Excursions Assistant and Interviewer for delegate video interviews.
  • Re-evaluating the Religious: Recent Approaches to Monastic Archaeology (19-20 May 2017): Held at and sponsored by the University of Sheffield. Presented 'Anchorites and the Medieval Church: An Archaeological Perspective', and involved in organising and promoting the conference.

Publications

My academic publication record is as follows: 

  • Upcoming article in Studies in Medievalism, titled 'Medievalism and Julian of Norwich's Anchorite Cell'. Forthcoming Spring 2020. 

Other Academic Experience

  • International/EU Student Support Group (2019 - Ongoing): Co-ordinated support group for History PhD students as a response to the unique pressures faced by International and EU students. Focus on creating a space for peers to share knowledge and support. 
  • PhD Workshop Coordinator (February 2019): Co-coordinated this workshop, designed to bring modernist and medievalist historians into dialogue on theme of marginalisation and inclusivity. 
  • Medieval Group Steering Committee (2018-19): A member of the committee determining upcoming events and speakers for the IMS Medieval Group. Organised a talk given by Dr John Moreland, a prominent archaeologist, and also helped chair and set up events. 
  • Work-in-Progress Coordinator (2018-19): Co-ordinated the Pizza and Peer Support PhD Work-in-Progress meetings, designed to offer a supportive and student-led environment to discuss research, practice conference papers, or ask for advice. 
  • Leeds University Union (LUU) Medieval Society Secretary (2018-19): The LUU Medieval Society seeks to reach out to all members of the Leeds University community. My role involves providing input determining events and trips, and helping to facilitate and prepare for meetings. 
  • IMS Student-Staff Forum Member (2016-19): Served as a representative for International students and expressed concerns, issues, and comments on behalf of these students at regular meetings. Brainstormed with other forum members about how to address issues and concerns. 
  • Track Changes (2014-15): Trained as a peer review editor for the Postgraduate Journal of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at the University of Sheffield. Provided helpful but critical feedback and was asked to provide further feedback due to thorough remarks. 

Academic Organisations

I am a member of multiple academic organisations, including: 

 

Qualifications

  • BA in Medieval Studies, Archaeology, and Creative Writing from Lycoming College (USA)
  • MA in Medieval Archaeology from the University of Sheffield (UK)