Vanessa  Wright

Vanessa Wright

IMS PhD Candidate

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

Research
My PhD project examines the function of the cross-dresser in French 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 and generic boundaries. This project will also explore the manuscript context of cross-dressing literature with particular emphasis on the visual representation of cross-dressing in manuscript illuminations. 

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-GrantDr Catherine Batt, and Dr Melanie Brunner.

I am interested in questions of gender and sexuality in Old French literature.

Biography
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 the Editor for volume 4 of Cerae: An Australasian Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies

Since, August 2016 I have worked as the Editorial Assistant for the journal Northern History.

I recently was awarded the 2018 Foremothers Fellowship from the Society for Medieval Feminist Scholarship. 

Publications

Wright, Vanessa, ‘St Euphrosyne in Text and Image: Representations of the Cross-Dresser in La Vie de Sainte Euphrosyne‘ in Trans and Genderqueer Subjects in Medieval Hagiography ed. by Alicia Spencer-Hall and Blake Gutt (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2019). In preparation.

Wright, Vanessa, ‘Review: Male-to-Female Crossdressing in Early Modern English Literature’, Early Modern Literary Studies (in press)

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

Papers

  • 'Illuminating the Cross-Dresser in the manuscripts of the Roman de Cassidorus', Gender, Identity, and Iconography Conference, University of Oxford, 8th January 2018.
  • ‘Gender Identity and Cross-Dressed Body in the Lives of St Pelagia and St Margaret-Pelagia’, International Medieval Congress, Leeds 6th July 2017
  • 'The Shifting Identities of the Cross-Dresser in Le Roman du Comte d'Artois', Work in Progress Seminar, Institute for Medieval Studies, Leeds, 24th May 2017
  • ‘The Trickster Wife: Transgressing Boundaries and Challenging Binaries in Old French Fabliaux’, International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, 11th May 2017
  • ‘Sexual Dysfunction and the Cross-Dresser in Tristan de Nanteuil and Ysaïe le Triste‘. Gender and Transgression in the Middle Ages conference, St Andrews, 3rd May 2017
  • ‘The Competing Representations of the Cross-Dresser in Le Roman du Comte d’Artois’. Hybrids, Hybridity and Liminality conference, Reading, 20th April 2017

Teaching

  • 2016/17; 2017/18: Introduction to Medieval European Literature.
  • 2017/18: Led two workshops for students (level 1-3) on medieval book culture, using items from the University of Leeds' Special Collections.

Other Responsibilities

2017/18

  • Member of the Medieval Group seminar series steering committee (2015-18, Univ. of Leeds).
  • Postgraduate Representative on the International Medieval Congress Standing Committee. This committee is comprised of academic from the University of Leeds and has oversight of all matters relating to the IMC with a focus on strategy.
  • Organiser and moderator for the ‘Memories of Empire’ session (sponsored by Cerae) at International Medieval Congress, July 2018.
  • Invited participant for the COST Action IS 1301 Final Meeting “New Communities of Interpretation” held in Rome (21st-23rd September 2018).
  • Member of the Organising Committee for the conference ‘Medieval Bodies Ignored’ (May 2018, Univ. of Leeds) and associated events and trips.

2016/17

  • Student representative for the Institute for Medieval Studies 
  • Member of the Organising Committee for the two-day conference ‘Who Cares? The Past and Present of Caring’ (27-28th March 2017, Univ. of Leeds).
  • Organiser and moderator for the ‘Women and Francophone Literary Culture’ session at International Medieval Congress, 5th July 2017.
  • Member of the Organising Committee for the Postgraduate Colloquium (11th May 2017, School of History, Univ. of Leeds).
  • Participant at the COST Action IS 1301 Training School on ‘Late Medieval and Early Modern Book Culture’.
  • Postgraduate Representative for the Women, Gender, and Sexuality research cluster (School of History, University of Leeds).
  • Postgraduate Mentor for Students as Scholars programme (Univ. of Leeds)