Dr Claire Trenery

Teaching Fellow in Medieval Studies

Summary: Religion, medicine, and culture in the Middle Ages

Location: 3.23 Michael Sadler Building


After reading BA History (2011) and studying for an MA in Medieval Studies (2012), I was awarded my PhD from Royal Holloway, University of London (RHUL) in February 2017 for my thesis entitled ‘Miracles for the Mad: Representations of Madness in English Miracle Collections from the Long Twelfth Century’. I joined the School of History at Leeds as a Teaching Fellow in 2017, having previously taught in research-led history departments at King’s College London and Royal Holloway, University of London.

I am Section Editor for Medieval History at h-madness (https://historypsychiatry.com/), which is a forum for researchers to exchange ideas and information about the historical study of mental health and mental illness. I am also an Affiliated Research Scholar at the Centre for the History of Emotions at Queen Mary, University of London.


I specialise in the history of medieval madness and medicine. My doctoral research focused on the wider influence of medical developments on monastic representations of mad pilgrims in high medieval miracle collections, compiled as witness to the wonders of the saints. I am particularly interested in the perceived influence of madness on the bodies, minds, and souls of sufferers within the cultural and intellectual climate that accompanied the development of Scholastic learning in Western Europe.

Alongside editing my PhD thesis for publication as a monograph, I am undertaking preliminary research into the significance of body, gesture, and behaviour in medieval miracle records, which I hope to develop into a postdoctoral research project. This project will examine how the represented behaviour of cure-seekers indicated that a miraculous healing had taken place, and how the experiences of cure-seekers and their companions were revealed in bodily expressions of their attitudes to the saint/shrine/clergy?



Miracles for the Mad in Twelfth-Century England (London: Routledge, forthcoming)

Journal Articles

Miracula Sancti Thomae Cantuariensis’, Journal of Family and Community History, 18 (2015), 139-55 [peer-reviewed]

Articles in Edited Volumes

The Routledge History of Madness and Mental Health, ed. by Greg Eghigian (London: Routledge, 2017) [commissioned]

Demons and Illness: Theory and Practice from Antiquity to the Early Modern Period, ed. by Catherine Rider and Siam Bhayro (Leiden: Brill, 2017) [peer-reviewed]


Mental (Dis)Order in Later Medieval Europe (Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2014); x + 285 pp.: 9789004264144, 115€ (hbk), in History of Psychiatry (March 2016), 101-02

Care and Custody of the Mentally Ill, Incompetent, and Disabled in Medieval England (Turnhout: Brepols, 2013); xii + 336 pp.: 978-2-503-54039-9, 85€ (hbk), in History of Psychiatry

Postgraduate Supervision

I would be happy to supervise MA dissertations on the themes of religion, medicine, and culture in the Middle Ages, particularly medieval madness, healing practices, religious beliefs, and the Cult of Saints.

Undergraduate Teaching

HIST1090 Medieval and Renaissance Europe
HIST2112 Jewish Communities in Medieval Europe
MEDV1080 Religion and Culture in the Medieval West
MEDV3310 Magic and the Supernatural in the Middle Ages

These undergraduate modules are closely related to my research into medieval religion and medicine in a theological, social, and cultural context. They allow me to explore with students how varying beliefs about the bodies, minds, and souls of mortals, and the discernment between divine and demonic spirits influenced medieval conceptions of individual and group identities.

Postgraduate Teaching

HIST5875M Lifecycles: Birth, Death and Illness in the Middle Ages

With MA students on this module, I investigate the relationship between individual experiences and their wider political and cultural contexts, with particular reference to my most-recent research on medieval interpretations of the human body and behaviour.