Victoria Yuskaitis

Victoria Yuskaitis

IMS PG Researcher

Summary: Thesis: Anchorites in Shropshire: An Archaeological, Historical, and Literary Analysis of the Anchoritic Vocation

I study English anchorites, the cells they lived in, and their varied experiences through an interdisciplinary project combining historical, literary, and archaeological approaches and diverse source materials, both archaeological and textual. My thesis is titled, 'Anchorites in Shropshire: An Archaeological, Historical, and Literary Analysis of the Anchoritic Vocation', and my supervisors are Emilia Jamroziak (Prof. of Medieval Religious History at Leeds and Director of the IMS) and Catherine Batt (Senior Lecturer in Medieval Literature at Leeds). My central research questions are:

  • What can archaeological remains of anchorholds, particularly in Shropshire, indicate about anchoritic experience?
  • How do the archaeological record and the documentary and literary record inform each other?
  • What does this comprehensive analysis offer in terms of new ways to consider the anchoritic vocation and the lived experience of anchorites?

I earned my BA in May 2014 from Lycoming College in Williamsport, PA (USA), where I majored in Archaeology and Medieval Studies and minored in Creative Writing. After this I completed my MA in Medieval Archaeology in September 2015 at the University of Sheffield, where I was supervised byHugh Willmott (Senior Lecturer in European Historical Archaeology at Sheffield). I started here at the University of Leeds in October 2016, and I am being funded through an Arts Cross Disciplinary Research Scholarship, supported jointly by the School of History and the School of English. 

I have worked on various archaeological sites, including a survey project as well as excavation projects, every summer since my first excavation at Tel Gezer, Israel, in 2013. Notable recent medieval  sites organised by the University of Sheffield include the Thornton Abbey Excavation Project and the Little Carlton Excavation Project. 

Work Experience:

  • IMS Website Intern (2017-18): Responsibilities include keeping the website up-to-date with recent events as well as updating content.
  • IMS Promotions and Communications Intern (2016-17): Maintained the IMS email list, publicised medieval events at Leeds as well as other universities, and wrote regular newsletters.

Teaching/Outreach Experience: 

  • Education Outreach Fellow (2017-18): Involves going to schools throughout England and teaching Year 12 students about various aspects of research, from the definition and avoidance of plagiarism to strategies for taking notes, to skills workshops such as interview skills and time management. 

Conference Experience: 

  • IMC (International Medieval Congress) 2018 (2-5 July): Co-organising a session titled 'Memory and Methodology: Anchoritic Legacies and Historical Reconstruction' with Alicia Smith (The Queen's College, University of Oxford). 
  • IMC (International Medieval Congress) 2017 (3-6 July): Attendee, and also worked as an Excursions Assistant and Interviewer for delegate video interviews. 
  • Re-evaluating the Religious: Recent Approaches to Monastic Archaeology (19-20 May, 2017): Held at and sponsored by the University of Sheffield. Presented 'Anchorites and the Medieval Church: An Archaeological Perspective', and involved in organising and promoting the conference.