Dr Ben Parsons

Associate Professor in Late Medieval and Early Modern Literature

School/Department: Arts, School of

Telephone: +44 (0)116 252 5073



I am a lecturer in late medieval English literature working especially on the fourteenth fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. I joined the English department at Leicester as a Teaching Fellow in 2008 having previously taught at the University of Sheffield and at Nottingham Trent University. I was appointed Lecturer in 2013 and Associate Professor in 2020.


I specialise in late medieval and early modern literature. My interests encompass various aspects of medieval and Renaissance culture including drama folklore education the supernatural and occult medicine mysticism and connections between English and continental literature. I am particularly interested in the functions of violence in the later Middle Ages and the forms it takes across different institutional and representational contexts. These concerns formed the basis of my AHRC-funded research project ‘Violence in the Late Medieval Classroom’ and are explored more fully in my monograph Punishment and Medieval Education (Boydell 2018).

My current work focuses on meditative prayer cycles in later Middle English especially those connected with anchorism or other forms of enclosure. I have particular interest in the post-Reformation reception of these texts and the ways in which sixteenth-century owners and readers interacted with their contents. I am also interested in editing medieval texts for modern readers and have recently contributed to a new edition of Chaucer for Cambridge University Press.


Punishment and Medieval Education (Boydell and Brewer, 2018)

Unheimlich Manoeuvres: Freud and the Early Modern Ghost Story, in The Uncanny and the Afterlife of the Gothic, ed. Manuela D'Amore (LCIR, 2021), pp.11-26.

Watte Vocat: Hum


I have co-supervised doctoral work on Chaucer’s female readership and textiles in Old Norse literature and would be interested in supervising PhD projects on any of the following topics:

- Textual editing and translation

- Chaucer’s work reputation or reception

- The roles of violence in medieval culture

- Medieval popular culture and religion

- The supernatural in medieval and early modern culture

- Adolescence youth and education

- Cultural links between England and Northern Europe

- Medieval and early modern comic forms


I teach across our undergraduate and postgraduate curriculum. My current teaching load includes:

EN1010 Reading English

EN2010 Chaucer and Medieval Culture

EN2040 Sin and Redemption in Medieval Literature

EN2060/2360 Concepts in Criticism

EN2050 Renaissance Literature

EN2302 Early Modern Fantasies and Fears

ML2020 The Latin World

EN3010 BA Dissertation

EN7242 Old Haunts: The Ghost Story in Medieval and Early Modern Culture

EN7241 Authorship and Authority

EN7223 Editing and Textual Cultures

EN7227/7228 MA Dissertation Supervision

Press and media



‘All Boys Once: Medieval Londonders at School in William Fitzstephen's Descriptio Nobilissimi Civitatis Londoniae’: Invited paper given an London Medieval Society 2021

‘Meaning Behind the Moaning: Ghost Stories in the Seventeenth-Century Popular Press’: Invited lecture given at Université de Neuchâtel 2021

‘Funny Money: Popular Comedy and Mercantile Culture in the Later Middle Ages’: Invited lecture given at University of Birmingham 2020

‘Growing Pains: Masculinity and the Rod in Medieval Education’: Invited public lecture given at the London Medieval Society 2019

‘Your Hands Carry Me To Paradise: Corporal Punishment in Medieval Education’: Invited paper at UCL 2017


Medieval comedy and humour

Ghosts and hauntings in medieval and early modern culture

Folklore and popular belief

Female authorship in the medieval period

Animals and historical animal-naming

Chaucer and his work 


BA (Hons) English University of Leeds at the College of Ripon and York St John

MA English Literature University of Sheffield

PhD English Literature University of Sheffield

Fellow of the UK Higher Education Academy

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