Fionnuala Sinclair


Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Medieval French Literature and Culture.
Medieval Occitan Literature and Culture.
Connections between French, Occitan and Italian medieval literature.
Inter-relations between literature and history.
Gender in the Middle Ages.

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Personal profile


Following her Ph.D. in Medieval French literature and history at the University of Edinburgh, Dr Fionnuala (Finn) Sinclair held a temporary University lectureship at the University of Cambridge then was Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Hawaii before being appointed Research Associate on the AHRC-funded project ‘Poetic Knowledge in Late Medieval France’ (2005–2009) in Cambridge. From 2009 she was Associate Lecturer in the Department of French at the University of Cambridge and Tutor and Director of Studies at Girton College. Fionnuala was appointed to the post of Lecturer in Medieval Studies at the University of Edinburgh in January 2012.

Research Interests

Fionnuala Sinclair’s research initially focused on 12th- and 13th-century French and Occitan literature, and resulted in the publication of Milk and Blood: Gender and Genealogy in the ‘Chanson de Geste’ (2003), along with several related articles. The monograph examines the medieval perception of maternity and the significance of the mother’s role in epic narrative, and is informed by modern gender and feminist theory, drawing in particular on the work of Julia Kristeva and Luce Irigaray.

While working as Research Associate on the project 'Poetic Knowledge in Late Medieval France', Fionnuala’s research focused on the later medieval period, with a particular interest in the inter-relation of history and fiction in literature written in French during the 14th and early 15th centuries. Her research project, ‘Imagining History: Memory, Myth and Identity in Late Medieval French Texts’, studied how the interplay between poetic and historiographic writing shapes notions of authorial, genealogical and national identity in the late Middle Ages. This led to the publication of several articles and participation in the network project ‘Voices in Medieval French Narrative’, based at the University of Oxford.

Currently, Fionnuala is once more researching on 13th-century literature and culture. In 2015 she was awarded a Research Incentive Grant by the Carnegie Trust for a project titled Blood, Territory and Identity: Occitan Literature and the Albigensian Crusade. This addresses the question of Occitan identity in the 13th century during and following the years of the Albigensian Crusade (1209–1229) and how this is represented in the poetry, chansons de geste and chronicles of the time. Fionnuala is currently continuing research on this project with the assistance of a College Research Development Fellowship.

Postgraduate research proposals are welcome on medieval French, Occitan and Italian literature and culture, and the inter-relation between these. Fionnuala has a particular interest in the relationship between fiction and history, identity, gender, the medieval body in fictional texts, and modern critical theory and philosophy.


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