Kayla Kemhadjian

Kayla Kemhadjian


After graduating Magna Cum Laude in English at California State University Long Beach (2017), I went on to complete my Masters at the University of Nottingham (2018) with funding from the USA Masters Scholarship. There, I completed a dissertation on the Old English concept of the ‘monster’ (fiend). 

I subsequently began my PhD at the University of Leeds and have spent the first year researching the concept of Suicide in Old English. I was an IMS intern during the first year of my PhD, and the School of English and History’s FAHC representative for the INTERCONNECTIONS group. I am excited to continue working on negative mental states and concepts for this thesis. 

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

My conference activities include but are not limited to: 

Organising 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 mdsefa: 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).

“Perceiving the ‘Monstrous’ in The Nowell Codex” for the Cambridge Colloquium in 2018 (February 10th 2018). 

Research interests

I am primarily interested in the history of emotions and mental health in early medieval England. Intersections between negative mental states or conditions and the supernatural are another point of interest, given that medicine and health sat at a nexus between magic, religion, and science. 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 methodlogy, 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. 


  • 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