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Jesse Harrington

Jesse Harrington

NUI/AHRC-funded PhD student

Corpus Christi College,
Trumpington Street

Cambridge CB2 1RH


I am a third-year PhD Student at the Faculty of History, University of Cambridge, funded primarily by the National University of Ireland Travelling Studentship Scheme and the AHRC.

My thesis is on "Vengeance and saintly cursing in the saints' Lives of England and Ireland, c. 1066-1215", supervised by Dr. Carl Watkins (Faculty of History) and Prof. Máire Ní Mhaonaigh (Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic, Faculty of English).

My aim is to examine the intersections of theological outlooks and narrative literature in the representation of episodes of saintly malediction and vengeance in the central Middle Ages. My methods include discerning the editorial processes at work in the central medieval revision and reworking of earlier hagiographical texts, and explaining those processes with reference in each case to the relevant authors, provenances, audiences, patrons, agendas and outlooks discernible from those same clusters of texts. My sources include the hagiographical and historical writings of English Benedictines (especially Goscelin of Saint-Bertin, Eadmer of Canterbury, and William of Malmesbury), of the English Cistercians (Aelred and Walter Daniel of Rievaulx, John of Ford, and Jocelin of Furness), and the anonymous Latin and vernacular Lives of a number of Irish saints. One of the anticipated fruits of my research is the opportunity to compare texts from two cultural zones with reference to continental examples, examining the precise extent to which the hagiographical and religious culture of either zone may be considered as distinct (or 'sui generis') as has often been traditionally assumed.

Departments and Institutes

Corpus Christi College:

Research Interests

In addition to central medieval hagiology of both England and Ireland, I also maintain active research interests in twelfth-century English chronicles (in particular William of Malmesbury and William of Newburgh), providential history, identity and ethnography, and religious culture, as well as in the theological and literary frameworks of early medieval Hiberno-Latin and Irish vernacular hagiographical and historical texts ranging from the seventh to the eleventh centuries.

Key Publications

"Vain spells or vain songs? The meaning of the 'uanissima carmina et friuoleas incantationes' in the hagiography of Saint Dunstan of Canterbury, 997–1130", Quaestio Insularis: selected proceedings of the Cambridge Colloquium in Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic 17 (2016), 101–126.