2020, BA English, Trinity College Dublin
Isabel (they/them) is a second-year PhD student at the University of North Carolina. Their research broadly focuses on the intersections between language, textual culture, and queer theory in medieval literature. Medieval theories of language and rhetoric inform their investigation, alongside structuralist and post-structuralist criticism. Ambiguous words, semiology, and narratives concerning sex change are of particular interest to their research.
Isabel’s reading of queerness in medieval literature is twofold: they seek to locate queer instances in both didactic religious texts, such as the trans saints in medieval hagiography, and in secular narratives like the 13th century Le Roman de Silence. In both secular and religious frameworks, Isabel is concerned with how language informs structures of sexuality and gender and how these structures are often unsettled and displaced through language. In their reading of queerness in medieval texts, Isabel desires to experiment with how we recognize and interpret ‘queerness’ not as a fixed identity, but as acts, events, and performances in dialogue with identity-formation.
They are currently working on two projects: one entitled ‘I kan nat glose’: Queering Illegible Signification in Chaucer’s The Merchant’s Tale,’ which analyzes the infamous pear tree sex scene in Chaucer’s The Merchant’s Tale as a culmination of unintelligible semiotic exchanges of letters and of sexual organs, and the other, “Needle as Queer Instrument of Authorship in Chrétien de Troyes Yvain,” which considers the implications of the textile worker as auctor.
CARA Summer Scholarship, The Medieval Academy of America, 2022