Dr David Griffith BA, PhD, FSA

Dr David Griffith

Department of English Literature
Senior Lecturer in English Medieval Studies

Contact details

Arts Building
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

My interests span the period 1000-1600, mostly in Britain but with some coverage of northern France and the Low Countries. I work on medieval epigraphy, vernacularity, memorialisation, antiquarianism, and relations between textual and visual cultures, with a particular interest in the art of the parish church.

Feedback and office hours

I am Senior Welfare Tutor for the Department of English Literature and Creative Writing. Office hours (term-time) are:

Monday 3-5

Tuesday 3-5

Weds 12-2

Other times and during the vacation by appointment (email to confirm).


I studied at the University of Exeter: a BA in English Medieval Studies followed by a PhD on popular culture and medieval English romance narratives.


I teach and lecture primarily later medieval and Tudor literature but happily venture into the modern period, including, with Deborah Longworth, Remembering World War One (new for 2014-15). I convene two 2nd year literature modules (Tragedy and Songs and Sonnets: English poetry from Chaucer to Donne) and the final year option Plays, Pageants and Spectacle on English dramatic traditions before Shakespeare. I am part of the teaching team for the MA English Literature and MRes Medieval Studies programmes.

Postgraduate supervision

I am pleased to supervise MA, MPhil and PhD students on literary and cross-disciplinary subjects. Recent students have worked on:

  • ‘The political appropriation of John Lydgate’s Fall of Princes: a manuscript study of British Library, MS Harley 1766’ (PhD)
  • ‘Asceticism in late-medieval religious writing: Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Douce 114’ (PhD)
  • A revelation of purgatory to ane holy woman (1422).’ (MPhil)
  • ‘Magical rings in Middle English Romance: an interdisciplinary study’ (MPhil)
  • ‘The medieval house and curtilage: domestic spaces in the English medieval romance’ (MPhil)
  • ‘Literary representations of Cardinal Thomas Wolsey in the sixteenth century’ (MA)

I welcome enquiries from prospective graduate students looking to work in the following areas: epigraphy, medieval English textual and vernacular cultures, art and culture of the medieval English parish church, late-medieval devotional and mystical writing, religious and secular iconographic traditions, romance genre and the culture of chivalry, Tudor writing (esp. religious) the impact of the Reformation on artistic production, antiquaries and antiquarianis.


My research activity is cross-disciplinary with a strong emphasis upon exploring links between textual, artistic and material cultures in England in the medieval and early modern periods. For the last few years I have been developing related projects on the large and, for the most part, unstudied body of vernacular inscriptions produced in England between the Conquest and the Tudor reformations. These are, essentially, texts produced for display in public and domestic contexts and the corpus extends to thousands of inscriptions in a host of languages, mostly English but also various kinds of insular French, Cornish, Welsh, Dutch, and Hebrew. This research has led to related interests in antiquaries, notably John Weever (1576-1632). Much of my work is focused on the art and devotional cultures of the English parish church.

Research groups

I am active in the research networks that bring together Birmingham medievalists in the College of Arts and Law, including the Centre of Study of the Middle Ages

Other activities

I am a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and am involved in societies and organizations concerned with the preservation and understanding of medieval literary, artistic and material cultures. I am an active member of The Church Monuments Society  and of The Monumental Brass Society (The MBS archive is housed in the Cadbury Research Library at the University of Birmingham.) I'm also a member of The Suffolk Records Society, The Norfolk Churches Trust, the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History, and the Oxfordshire Architectural and Historical Society.

I'm a member of The Early English Text Society, and I sit on the advisory board of the Journal of Medieval Religious Cultures.


Forthcoming and in press

  • Chaucer to Spenser: An Anthology of Writings in English 1375-1575, 2nd edn (with Stephen Kelly) (Wiley-Blackwell)
  • The Material Word. Vernacular Inscriptions in Late Medieval England (Shaun Tyas)
  • ‘The Passion Cycle in English wall painting and manuscript art: readers and spectators in Midlands Communities in the later medieval period.' (with Rachel Canty) In "Diuerse Imaginaciouns of Cristes Life": Devotional Cultures in England and Beyond, 1300-1560', ed. Stephen Kelly and Ryan Perry (in press, Brepols)
  • 'Newly Identified domestic wall paintings from Francis Quarles's Emblems in Mickelgate, York', (with Hugh Adlington and Tara Hamling), Huntingdon Library Quarterly (2014)
  • 'Towards a corpus of English screen inscriptions' in Art and Science of Medieval Church Screens, ed. Richard Marks, Spike Bucklow, and Lucy Wrapson (Boydell)
  • 'Texts and readers in later medieval England: an epigraphical persepctive', in Languages of Medieval Britian, ed. Mary Carruthers, Harlaxon Medieval Symposium series (Shaun Tyas, 2015)


  • 'A living language of the dead? French commemorative inscriptions on fifteenth-century England', The Medieval Journal, 3:2 (2013), 69-135
  • ‘The seven works of mercy in the parish church: the development of a vernacular tradition.’ In Patrons and Professionals, ed. Paul Binski and Elizabeth New, Harlaxton Medieval Studies XXII (Shaun Tyas, 2012), pp. 292-315
  • ‘A newly identified verse item by John Lydgate at Holy Trinity church, Long Melford, Suffolk.’ Notes and Queries, 58: 3 (2011), 364-67 [http://nq.oxfordjournals.org/content/58/3/364.full.pdf+html]
  • Six English Parish Churches [with Rachel Canty]. In The English Parish Church Through the Centuries, Interactive DVD, gen. ed. Dee Dyas (York University, Centre for Christianity & Culture, 2010) http://www.york.ac.uk/projects/christianityandculture/
  • ‘Medieval literature.’ In The English Literature Companion, ed. Julian Wolfreys, Palgrave Student Companions Series (Palgrave, 2010), pp. 72-80
  • ‘English Commemorative Inscriptions: Some Literary Dimensions.’ In Memory and Commemoration in Medieval England, ed. Caroline M. Barron and Clive Burgess, Harlaxton Medieval Studies XX (Shaun Tyas, 2010), pp. 251-70
  • ‘The visual history of Guy of Warwick.’ In Guy of Warwick, Icon and Ancestor, ed. Rosalind Field and Alison Wiggins (Brewer, 2007), pp. 110-32
  • ‘Owners and copyists of John Rous’s armorial rolls.’ In Essays in Manuscript Geography: Vernacular Manuscripts of the English West Midlands from the Conquest to the Sixteenth Century, ed. Wendy Scase (Brepols, 2007), pp. 203-28
  • ‘Visual Culture.’ In Chaucer: An Oxford Guide, ed. Steve Ellis (Oxford UP, 2005), 190-207
  • ‘A portrait of the reader: donors and their books in late-medieval church art.’ In Imagining the Book, ed. Stephen Kelly and John Thompson, Texts and Cultures of Northern Europe, 7 (Brepols, 2005), pp. 323-54
  • ‘The reception of Continental women mystics in fifteenth and sixteenth England: some artistic evidence.’ In The Medieval Mystical Tradition VII, ed. Eddie Jones (Brewer, 2004), pp. 97-117