Michael J Kelly

Ph.D. Candidate, Late Antique & Early Medieval History

Summary: Thesis: Late Antique and Early Medieval Spain; Philosophy of History

My research

Writing History, Narrating Fulfillment: the ‘Isidore-Moment’ and the Struggle for the ‘Before Now’ in Late Antique and Early Medieval Hispania, c. 589-654.

For my postgraduate research, I set out with the task of solving the centuries-old historiographical problem of the purpose and function of the grand Visigothic legal compendium of the mid-7th century, the Liber Iudiciorum (or, Lex Visigothorum), promulgated by King Recceswinth.  After researching the problem through the manuscripts and the framework of legal history, and its related social scientific approaches, it became clear that a radically different approach was needed and new questions asked about the text, if we are to make sense of how it communicated in its original setting.  My thesis is that any power emergent from the Liber Iudiciorum was tied directly to its construction during, what I call, the 'Isidore-moment'.  This moment was a repeated flash of particular finitude communicated via a veneer of Christian universalism, and fuelled by a competitive dialectics between schools of thought and networks of communities. Thinking rhizomatically, I argue that the Liber Iudiciorum was born into a radically shifting situation in the early 640s, a Spania dominated by personal, urban and regional rivalries, by two fundamentally opposed 'schools' of writing and thinking: 'Isidore-Seville' and 'Agali-Toledo'.  Thus, to understand the Liber Iudiciorum in its original manifestation, we need to critically interrogate the development of the situation in which it was created.  The Liber Iudiciorum is a work of historiography, and to create a thesis about how it spoke we must first and foremost constitute/nominate the worlds that existed, the most important of which was the historiographical one inaugurated by Isidore of Seville.  My thesis will thus explore the writings of Isidore in order to highlight his versions of history, elicit and re-evaluate related historical lacunae and their relation to the wider discourse of text-writing in Spania, and from that add a methodologically new hypothesis to the centuries-old debates about the Liber Iudiciorum, which should be seen as a regional text deeply involved in local disputes and competing historiographies about Spania and its people. 

Funded partially by the School of History, University of Leeds

Supervisor: Ian N. Wood

About Me

I'm from Boston, MA, in New England, where I developed a firm foundation in the Classics for six years at Boston Latin School.  I went on to play university baseball earning scholarships enough to stay and gaining my B.A. in English from Suffolk University.  After several years in public office in Boston, I went on to taught and research MAs in Critical Theory and History at Northeastern University in Boston and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  From there, I spent one year formally as a visiting research student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where I wrote about the ontologies of Martin Heidegger & Alain Badiou, conflict, images and, surprisingly perhaps, the significance of all that to Medieval Spain. I then came to Leeds to write my Ph.D. with Ian Wood. 

Teaching Experience 

Visiting Professor, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem 

Visiting Lecturer, Leeds Trinity University   

PGR Tutor, School of History, University of Leeds

Graduate Teaching Assistant, University of Wisconsin-Madison 

Academic-related Activities

General Director, Philosophies of History (www.philosophiesofhistory.blogspot.co.uk

General Editor & Director, Networks and Neighbours (www.networksandneighbours.org

General Editor, Badiou Studies (www.badioustudies.org

Designer and co-Convenor, Masterclass on Late Antique and Early Medieval History-Writing 

co-Convenor, Quilting Point: Lacan Across the Disciplines (www.quiltingpoints.blogspot.co.uk)

Department Activities  

Website Editor - Institute of Medieval Studies, University of Leeds

School of History Ambassador

PGR Representative, School of History Research Committee, University of Leeds

PGR Member, Steering Committee, Institute for Medieval Studies, University of Leeds

PGR Member, Faculty Hiring Committee, UW Madison

PRG Member, Diversity Committee, UW Madison