Sophie  Harwood

Sophie Harwood

IMS PG Researcher

Summary: Thesis: “Le Dames Furent Sur Les Murs”: Women and Warfare in the Romans d’Antiquité


My doctoral research examines representations of women’s roles in warfare in the Old French Romans d’Antiquité within their literary and historical context. For example, women as politicians, as warriors, as ancillaries, or as victims. My work involves literary and codicological analysis of their manuscripts (by looking at accompanying illustrations, marginalia, and the other texts copied in their manuscripts). It considers the historical context of the society in which these texts and manuscripts were produced by looking at their patrons, commissioners, and contemporary events that may have influenced their development and reception. My research is fully funded by the University of Leeds 110 Anniversary Research Scholarship.

About Me:

I graduated from University College London in 2005 with a BA (Hons) in English before completing an MA in International Conflict Studies (Pass with Merit) at King’s College London and completing a Diploma in French Language (Advanced Proficiency) at the University of Paris-Sorbonne. I spent seven years working as an international security risk analyst in the financial and consulting industries in Hong Kong, India, Zimbabwe and France and remain active in this field as I am still on the Advisory Board of an independent travel security company. I returned to academia and the medieval world in 2013 when I undertook an MA in Medieval and Renaissance Studies (Pass with Distinction) at University College London, before coming to Leeds to start my PhD in 2014. 

Undergraduate Teaching:

MEDV1090: Introduction to Medieval European Literature
FREN1042: Evolution of the French Language 

Postgraduate Teaching:

MEDV5007M: Old and Middle French
MA Skills Module: Old French (at University of York)

Recent and Upcoming Talks and Conference Papers:

War Through Other Stuff Workshop, Leeds City Museum (forthcoming, September 2017): Medieval Manuscript Illustrations of Women and War

International Medieval Congress, University of Leeds (forthcoming, July 2017): Cut, Copy or Edit: Variations in the Representation of Warrior Women in Manuscripts of the Roman de Troie

Women's Literary Culture and the Medieval Canon Conference, University of Bergen (forthcoming, June 2017): Wives, Widows, Warriors, Watchers and What Else?: Images of Women and Warfare in the Illustrated Manuscripts of the Roman de Troie

International Medieval Congress, University of Leeds (July 2016): '"Jeo vous menrai a la rivere": Women, Water, and Warfare in the Roman de Thèbes and Early Chronicles of the First Crusade'

Medieval Culture and War Conference, University of Leeds (May 2016): 'Heraldry for Girls: Designing Arms for Female Warriors' 

Women's History Month, Leeds City Museum (March 2016): 'An Introduction to the Lives of Medieval Women' 

Gender and Medieval Studies Conference, University of Hull (January 2016): '"Tuit regretent la damoiselle": The Gendered Death of Female Warriors in the Roman de Troie and Roman d'Enéas'

Burgundy and Late Medieval France Seminar, University of Leeds (November 2015): '"Ayes chiere Panthassellee": Textual and Visual Representations of Penthesilea's Virtues from the Roman de Troie to Christine de Pizan'

International Medieval Congress, University of Leeds (July 2015): 'Fighting Talk for the Fighting Bishop: Textual Representations of Warfare in the Spalding Manuscript' 

Conference Organisation:

Co-Organised the Annual Medieval Culture and War Conference held in Leeds from 5-7 May, 2016. This conference was a three-day event encompassing 24 papers, 2 keynote speakers, and a private visit to the Royal Armouries. It was attended by 40 delegates from the UK, Belgium, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Portugal and the USA. It was funded by the University of Leeds and Medium Ævum.

Currently on the Organisational Committee for the Annual Medieval Culture and War Conference to be held in Lisbon from 22-24 June, 2017. 

Academic Awards:

University of Leeds Three Minute Thesis Competition (2016): Finalist for 'Beyond Damsels in Distress: Women and Warfare in the Middle Ages'

The Medieval Journal and St Andrews Institute of Mediaeval Studies Essay Prize (2016): Proxime Accessit Winner for 'Swans and Amazons: Penthesilea and the Case for Women's Heraldry in Medieval Culture'

White Rose Consortium Poster Award (2015): Winner for 'Warriors, Wives, and Widows: Women of the Middleton-Laval Manuscript' 

University of Leeds 110 Anniversary Research Scholarship (2014-17)

Monkton Combe School Academic Scholarship (1997-2002)

Monkton Combe School All-Round (Music, Sport, Art and Drama) Scholarship (1997-2002) 

External Funding Awards:

Royal Historical Society (2017): Funding for conference travel to the University of Bergen, Norway

Society for the Study of Medieval Languages and Literature / Medium Ævum (2016): Funding for research trip to the Vatican Library Archives, Vatican City

Other Qualifications:

CELTA (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages), University of Cambridge: Pass (Grade A), 2011 


Professor Rosalind Brown-Grant (School of Languages, Cultures and Societies) and Dr Alan V. Murray (Institute for Medieval Studies).



Twitter: @SophieVHarwood