Vanessa  Wright

Vanessa Wright

IMS PG Researcher

Summary: Thesis: The Function of the Cross-Dresser in French and English Literature from 1200 to 1500

I completed my undergraduate degree in 2012 at Royal Holloway, University of London with a BA Hons in French where my dissertation on literary representations of trial by combat was supervised by Professor Ruth Harvey. I was awarded the F. C Johnson award for the final year student showing the most promise in medieval French (RHUL 2012).
I then completed an MSt in Modern Languages at the University of Oxford in 2013, specialising in medieval French, and my dissertation on cross-dressing in thirteenth-century French literature was supervised by Dr Sophie Marnette. I began my PhD in 2015 at the University of Leeds, after two years working in Operations at an international development consultancy.
I am currently the Deputy Editor for volume 3 of Cerae: An Australasian Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies.

My PhD project examines the function of the cross-dresser in literature between 1200 and 1500. I aim to determine how and why this trope was used by authors as well as how the motif’s usage and representation changes across chronological, generic, and geographical boundaries. This project will also explore the manuscript context of cross-dressing literature with particular emphasis on text/image analysis of depictions of cross-dressing as well as analysis of extratextual features, such as annotations or defacement.
Cross-dressing literature frequently engages with debates and concerns of the contemporary society and these concerns are often either legal in focus or were subject to regulation by canon law. Consequently, this project explores the cross-dressing motif from a legal perspective in order to learn more about the association between contemporary legal and moral debate, and cross-dressing literature.
This research project is funded by the School of History and IMS Postgraduate Research Scholarship. I am supervised by Professor Rosalind Brown-Grant, Dr Catherine Batt, and Dr Melanie Brunner.
I am interested in questions of gender and sexuality more generally particularly in Old French literature.

Wright, Vanessa, ‘Review: Sexual Culture in the Literature of Medieval Britain’, Ceræ: an Australasian Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 2 (2016)