Dr Sarah Macmillan

Photograph of Dr Sarah Macmillan

Department of English Literature
Teaching Fellow in Medieval Literature

Contact details

University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

My research interests are in the religious literature and culture of late-medieval England and deal in particular with issues of gender and identity. I also teach widely in medieval and early modern literature.


BA, MPhil, PhD (University of Birmingham)


After completing my PhD on asceticism in medieval devotional literature at the University of Birmingham (2010), I worked at the University of Nottingham and Liverpool Hope University. I returned to Birmingham in September 2015.


I currently teach and lecture on the following modules: Poetry; Plays and Performance; Popular Fiction before the Novel; and The Canterbury Tales. 


My research interests are in late-medieval devotional culture. I am particularly interested in imitatio Christi, religion and gender, and the relationship between lay and clerical piety.

I am currently writing a monograph entitled Imitation, Identity and the Performance of Devotion in Late Medieval England.

In addition, I am working with two other scholars on two monographs about the history of lay devotional practices in England (contracted to Routledge).

Other activities

I am a member of the Society for Medieval Feminist Scholarship and the Early English Text Society. I am also a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

In September 2015 I co-organised Transforming Male Devotional Practices: from the Medieval to the Early Modern at the University of Huddersfield and I have spoken at numerous conferences in the UK, USA and Canada.



  • Imitation, Identity and the Performance of Devotion in Late Medieval England (in preparation for Brepols).  
  • Male Piety from the Medieval to the Early Modern, 1049-1660, with Rebecca Rist and Sarah Bastow (in preparation for Routledge).  

Articles and chapters

  • ‘‘‘Well saved in suffering’: Male Piety in Late-Medieval Tribulation Texts’, Reading Medieval Studies, 43 (2017). (forthcoming)
  • ‘The Form and Function of Friendship in The Treytse of Loue’, Review of English Studies (forthcoming).
  • ‘Imitation, Interpretation and Ascetic Impulse in Medieval English Devotional Culture’, Medium Ævum, 86.1 (2017): 38-59. 
  • ‘Phenomenal Pain: Embodying the Passion in the Life of Elizabeth of Spalbeek’, postmedieval: a journal of medieval cultural studies, 8.1 (2017), 102-19.
  • ‘Silent Spectacle: The Invisible Injuries of Christina Mirabilis’, Medieval Feminist Forum: A Journal of Gender and Sexuality, 52.2 (2017), 44-69.
  • ‘‘Þynke ai of criste’: Compassionate Thought in The Prickynge of Love’, in Devotional Culture in Late Medieval England and EuropeDiverse Imaginations of Christ’s Life, ed. Stephen Kelly and Ryan Perry (Brepols, 2015), 315-33.
  • ‘Mortifying the Mind: Asceticism, Mysticism and Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Douce 114’, in The Medieval Mystical Tradition in England: Exeter Symposium VIII, ed. E. A. Jones (Boydell & Brewer, 2013), 109-23. 
  • ‘‘The nyghtes watchys’: Sleep Deprivation in Medieval Devotional Culture’, Journal of Medieval Religious Cultures, 39.1 (2013): 23-42.

Reviews and short pieces

  • 'Austerity’s enduring appeal has ancient roots in asceticism'The Conversation (21 Sept 2017). 
  • ‘Ben Morgan, On Becoming God: Late Medieval Mysticism and the Modern Western Self’, Modern Language Review, 110.1 (2015). 
  • ‘Jennifer N. Brown, Three Women of Liège: A Critical Edition of and Commentary on the Middle English Lives of Elizabeth of Spalbeek, Christina Mirabilis, and Marie d’Oignies’, Mystics Quarterly, 35:3-4 (2009).