Anna Gottschall

Department of English Literature
Doctoral researcher

Contact details

PhD title: The Pater Noster and the Laity in England 700-1560. With special focus on the clergy's use of the prayer to structure basic catechetical teaching
Supervisors: Professor Wendy Scase
PhD English Literature


My thesis examines how the Pater Noster was used as a vehicle to teach religious doctrine, especially the septenaries, in later Medieval England. It argues that the Pater Noster was used as a basis of knowledge for other religious material to be built upon. The Pater Noster was taught to children as the foundation of their religious education and this foundation was built upon in commentaries and manuals, tables and diagrams, wall paintings, prayer beads and drama, each of which form a chapter. Collectively these chapters identify and explore some of the ways in which the catechism was disseminated in visual and textual material. They argue that the material taught to the clergy, through manuals and commentaries, was diffused to the laity in simplified form. This was achieved through vernacular translation of religious texts and through visual schema. This created a repertoire of teaching aids to stimulate religious understanding in the laity. These chapters bring us to an understanding of how the teachings of the Church were employed to equip the laity for heaven and to steer them away from sin.

My current research is funded by the Hilton Shepherd Postgraduate Centre for Medieval Studies Scholarship and is due to be completed in 2010.

Prior to embarking on this project, I completed my undergraduate degree in Ancient History, Archaeology and English and an MPhil in Medieval Studies at the University of Birmingham. My MPhil thesis was on ‘The Origins and Production of the Findern Manuscript (Cambridge, University Library, MS Ff.1.6)’.

Whilst undertaking PhD study I was involved with the transcribing and proofing of the AHRC funded Vernon Manuscript Project which created a digital facsimile edition of this manuscript.

In terms of additional academic responsibilities, I am a Post-Graduate Ambassador for the College of Arts and Law, a Post-Graduate Representative on the English Staff and Student Committee and also on the Post-Graduate Programme Committee. I am a Specialist Editor on Rosetta: Papers of the Institute of Archaeology and Antiquity and an Editorial Board Member of The Birmingham Journal of Literature and Language. I am also a post-graduate teaching assistant on the second year core literature module entitled ‘Writing Society 1380-1580’ and have completed the Associate Module in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education.

On 10 June 2009, I won Deanery 1st prize at the University of Birmingham's Research Poster Conference.