Rose Sawyer

Rose Sawyer

IMS PG Researcher

Summary: Medieval Discourse on Changelings; History of Medieval Childhood; Medieval Disability Studies.


After graduating from the University of Leeds in 2012 with a BA (hons) in English and History (First Class), I graduated from the Institute for Medieval Studies in 2013, gaining a Merit in the MA in Medieval Studies. I returned to academic study in 2014 to undertake my PhD. Both my MA and my PhD were made possible by funding from the School of History and the Institute for Medieval Studies.


Child Substitution - new approaches to the changeling motif in medieval European culture

My inter-disciplinary research project aims to study the child substitution motif as it manifests itself in texts and images during the medieval period. Through detailed comparative analysis of a wide variety of sources from across Europe and beyond, I will ask key questions about the appeal of the child substitution motif. I have already identified some collections of sources that appear to be deserving of particular focus these include but are not limited to high-medieval hagiography, Old Norse romance and chronicles. Previous studies of child substitution have focused upon discovering the rituals and practices of those who believed in the reality of changelings. Rather than focusing upon this aspect, I am examining discourses about changelings rather than beliefs in them. In this way, oral stories, printed versions of those, literary responses to them, and scholarly work about them, are all part of a (probably) contiguous discourse.

Supervisors: Dr Iona McCleery (School of History) and Dr Alaric Hall (School of English).

See also my page.


Conference papers

Changelings: An Examination of 'The Holy Greyhound' and other Medieval Sources in Light of Recent Developments in Medical and Childhood Studies’ at the International Medieval Congress, University of Leeds, July 2015

Sin, Madness, and Death: The Disastrous Consequences of Inviting the Wodewose into Courtly Spaces’ at the International Medieval Congress, University of Leeds, July 2013

Poster presentations

‘The Wodewose: A Heraldic and Political Support’ at the International Medieval Congress, University of Leeds, July 2013.


HIST 1090: Medieval and Renaissance Europe, Semester 1, 2015-16

MEDV1080: Religion and Culture in the Western Middle Ages, Semester 2, 2015-16

Public Engagement

In addition to my PhD studies, I am also President and founding member of the LUU Medieval Society, which formed in order to promote a thriving community of medievalists in the University and City of Leeds. The society’s unofficial motto is ‘We do the weird stuff’ and over two years of activity this has included setting up Book and Film Clubs devoted to discussing the popular presentation of the Middle Ages, organising skills workshops and many, many trips to fascinating medieval sites. In addition, the Society has a clear mandate to bring academics and the public together to illuminate the Middle Ages for a wider variety of people. The society has a particularly high profile at the International Medieval Congress and in the past two years has kept delegates entertained with Medieval Board games, poetry nights and pub quizzes. In particular, at the IMC 2015, I was instrumental in organising the first International Medieval Film Festival in association with the Hyde Park Picture House. Six films set in the Middle Ages were screened and then discussed by panels with direct experience of either the subject matter or the production of the film. The Film Festival was a great success and will be returning to the IMC next year.