Kayla Kemhadjian

Kayla Kemhadjian


I am primarily interested in the rhetoric involved in the history of emotions and mental health in early medieval England. I completed my masters dissertation at the University of Nottingham on Fiend Theory: Reading the Monstrous in the Nowell Codex, which focused on the cognitive and linguistic framework for the Old English concept of the ‘monster’. Drawing on that literary and linguistic methodology, I am interested in the ways in which Old English words and phrases highlight specific temporal, geographic, and cultural constructions and understandings of other abstract concepts, such as states of mind. I am also curious about how perceptions of illness (both physical and mental) inform and originate in early medieval England. 

I am leading first-year seminars in Foundations in English in the English department.


I am a member of SSME (Society for the Study of Medieval Emotions), MEARCSTAPA (Monsters: The Experimental Association For The Research Of Cryptozoology Through Scholarly Theory And Practical Application), NSG (Network for the Study of Glossing), and am affiliated with SMFS (Society for Medieval Feminist Scholarship). 

Sample Conference Activities

“Such Great Heights: Discord in the Written Record of Self-Killings in Late 10th Century England” for the Cambridge Colloquium of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic (Feb 8th 2020). 

Organised a session panel entitled Monsters and Mental Health for the 2019 Leeds IMC (July 1st 2019).

“Deformity and the Body of the Sinner: Conceptualizing Deformity as Sin in Early Medieval Metaphor and Thought” for The Ugliness of Beauty and the Beauty of Ugliness, II: Materializing Ugliness and Deformity in the Middle Ages at the 2019 Leeds IMC (July 2nd 2019).

(Post) Colonial Health Conference Administration Assistant for the (Post) Colonial Health: Global Perspectives on the Medical Health Humanities conference at Weetwood Hall (June 20th -21st 2019).

‘Seventeen Self-Deaths: Interpreting Anglo-Saxon Perceptions of Suicide through Lexical Analysis’ for the Health Humanities Researcher Group at the University of Nottingham (March 20th 20219).

Organizer for Marginalization and the Law interdisciplinary workshop at the University of Leeds (Feb 21st 2019).

Fionda Niosian: Deconstructing the Old English Fiend” for Words, Origins, and Traditions in Earlier Medieval English Texts at the 2018 Leeds IMC (July 2-5th 2018).

“Rethinking modsefa: Comitatus-Related PTSD in Old English Heroic Narratives” for Getting Down with Anglo-Saxons: Depression and Related Conditions before the Conquest at the 2018 IMC Kalamazoo (May 10th -13th 2018).


USA Masters Scholarship for the University of Nottingham

College of Liberal Arts Excellent Student Achievement Award (CSULB)

President’s List: Semester Honors (CSULB)                

Research interests

My PhD thesis originally set out to investigate perceptions of ‘Mental Health’ in Old English. After a year researching perceptions of suicide in the Old English corpus, it became apparent that ‘Mental Health’ is a research interest and not a singular research project. My thesis now investigates the rhetoric of ‘self-killing’ in Old English to reconstruct and understand the nuanced perceptions held about the act and its perpetrators. 


  • MA in Viking and Anglo-Saxon Studies at the University of Nottingham
  • BA in English, Creative Writing with a minor in Film at California State University Long Beach