Professor Wendy Scase BA MPhil DPhil FEA

Photograph of Professor Wendy Scase

Department of English Literature
Emeritus Geoffrey Shepherd Professor of Medieval English Literature

Contact details

I am a specialist in medieval English language and literature with strong manuscripts, archival, and interdisciplinary experience. My work addresses questions that trouble the conventional boundaries between literary and other discourses, and is informed by the belief that medieval textual research can contribute to cultural history and enrich theory and practice in English studies. I became Emeritus Professor in 2019.


  • BA in English and American Literature (Kent)
  • MPhil in English Medieval Studies 1100 - 1500 (Oxon)
  • DPhil (Oxon)


I did graduate work in medieval English studies at the University of Oxford, where I completed a doctorate and held a British Academy Post-doctoral Fellowship. I moved to the University of Hull to a Lectureship in English, and there founded the Hull Centre for Medieval Studies. I took up the Geoffrey Shepherd chair in Medieval English Literature at Birmingham in 1999.


I continue to supervise PhD students on medieval subjects and enjoy giving guest lectures and masterclasses and teaching summer schools in my specialist areas. I give talks and lectures to non-specialist audiences on medieval manuscripts and related topics.


I have research interests and extensive publications in medieval manuscript production and use; textual cultures of the medieval period; histories and pedagogies of literacy; early printed broadsides and pamphlets; radical, polemical, and satirical writing, c.1100 - c.1550; relations between medieval literature and law, politics, and religion; Langland; Lollardy. I have also contributed to the advancement of scholarly and public understanding of medieval manuscripts. I benefited from a Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellowship for the project Crafting English Letters: A Theory of Medieval Scribal Practice.

Research groups

I contribute to the Medieval and Early Modern research themes in the Department of English Literature, and the Centre for the Study of the Middle Ages. Beyond the University of Birmingham, I am a member of the Medieval Manuscripts Research Consortium (an inter-university network that supports those with funded research projects and sponsors the PhD training programme Quadrivium), a partner in the Manuscripts Online project, and an Affiliate of the Angus McIntosh Centre for Historical Linguistics at the University of Edinburgh. I am also a key collaborator in the Early Modern Graphic Literacies (EModGraL) Project, led by Matti Peikola, funded by the University of Turku and the Academy of Finland, 2021-25; and a participant in the Medieval News and News Cultures in the Middle Ages project led by Helen Birkett, University of Exeter, funded by a Leverhulme Trust Small Research Grant, 2019-21.

Research funding

I acknowledge the generous support of the following research funders: Arts and Humanities Research Council (Resource Enhancement Scheme (two awards); Research Leave Scheme; and Collaborative National-Scale PhD Training Programme); British Academy (Postdoctoral Fellowships); European Science Foundation (Exploratory Workshops Programme); JISC (e-Content Capital Programme); and the Leverhulme Trust (Research Fellowships and Major Research Fellowships Schemes).

Other activities


Conferences that I have organised include `Manuscripts of the West Midlands' held at University of Birmingham, 2003, the 3rd International Piers Plowman conference, held at Birmingham, 2003, and a European Science Foundation Exploratory Workshop on ‘Applying Semantic Web Technologies to Medieval Manuscript Research’ held at Birmingham in 2009. I have served on the programme committee for the New Chaucer Society Congress.

Editorial work

I am founding co-editor of New Medieval Literatures, an annual of work on medieval textual cultures, with Dr Laura Ashe (University of Oxford), Dr Philip Knox (University of Cambridge), Professor David Lawton (Washington University St Louis), and Professor Kellie Robertson (University of Maryland).

Knowledge exchange

I enjoy sharing the beauties and puzzles of medieval manuscripts with members of the public. I was a partner in Black Country Talk Yam Yam, contributing to a documentary film and a computer game about dialect in the West Midlands made by apprentices at the Learn Play Foundation. Some of my talks are on YouTube and Hay Player.



  • Visible English: Graphic Culture, Scribal Practice, and Identity, c. 700-c. 1550, Utrecht Studies in Medieval Literacy 54 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2022), xx + 408pp.
  • Ed. The Making of the Vernon Manuscript: The Production and Contexts of Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Eng. poet.a.1,  Early Book Society series Texts and Transitions: Studies in the History of Manuscripts and Early Printed Books 6 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2013).
  • Literature and Complaint in England, 1272 - 1553. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007, xii + 215pp.
  • Ed. Essays in Manuscript Geography: Vernacular Manuscripts of the English West Midlands from the Conquest to the Sixteenth Century. Turnhout: Brepols, 2007, xii + 294pp.
  • Piers Plowman and the New Anticlericalism. Cambridge Studies in Medieval Literature 4. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1989 (repr. in paperback 2007; now available in electronic edition), xv + 249pp.
  • Reginald Pecock. Authors of the Middle Ages, no. 8. Aldershot: Variorum, 1996, vi + 72pp.

Major electronic publications

Articles and essays

  • Wendy Scase, ‘“When Ace beareth up Six”: Ever is Six the Best Chance of the Dice and the Composition and Collecting of Middle English Dice Poems’, Chaucer Review, 58.2 (2023), forthcoming.
  • Wendy Scase, ‘Vernacularity’, in The Routledge Companion to Medieval English Literature, ed. by Raluca Radulescu and Sif Ríkharðsdóttir (Routledge, 2023), pp. 27-38, forthcoming.
  • Wendy Scase, ‘Parrot Poet: Humphrey Newton and Bodleian Library, MS Lat. Misc. c. 66’, in Medieval Literary Voices: Embodiment, Materiality and Performance, Essays in Honour of David A. Lawton, ed. by Sif Ríkharðsdóttir and Louise D’Arcens (Manchester University Press, 2022), pp. 172-90.
  • Wendy Scase, ‘John Benet, Scribe and Compiler, and Dublin, Trinity College, MS 516’, in Scribal Cultures in Late Medieval England: Festschrift for Linne Mooney, ed. by Margaret Connolly, Holly James-Maddocks, and †Derek Pearsall (Boydell and Brewer, 2022), pp. 241-58.
  • Wendy Scase, ‘John Gower’s Scribes and Literatim Copying’, in John Gower in Manuscripts and Early Printed Books, ed. by R. Yeager, M. Driver and D. Pearsall (D. S. Brewer, 2020), pp. 13-31.
  • Wendy Scase, ‘Threshold-Switching: Paratextual Functions of Scribal Colophons in Old and Middle English Manuscripts’, in The Dynamics of Text and Framing Phenomena: Historical Approaches to Paratext and Metadiscourse in English, ed. by Birte Bös and Matti Peikola (John Benjamins, 2020), pp. 91-113. 
  • Wendy Scase, ‘Complaint Literature’, in The Cambridge Companion to Medieval English Law and Literature, ed. by Candace Barrington and Sebastian Sobecki (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019), pp. 95-107.
  • Wendy Scase, ‘The LALME Typology of Scribal Practice: Some Issues for Manuscript Studies’, Current Explorations in Middle English, ed. by Merja Stenroos, Martti Mäkinen, Kjetil Thengs, and Oliver M. Traxel, Studies in English Language and Literature (Peter Lang, 2019), pp. 13-33. 
  • Wendy Scase, ‘Chaucer’s Books’, for Chaucer in Context, ed. by Ian Johnson (Cambridge University Press, June 2019), pp 50-57. 
  • Wendy Scase, ‘Chaucer’s Competitors’, Chaucer in Context, ed. by Ian Johnson (Cambridge University Press, June 2019), pp. 140-146.
  • Wendy Scase, ‘'Looke this calender and then proced': Tables of Contents in Medieval English Manuscripts’, in Dynamics of the Medieval Manuscript: Text Collections from a European Perspective ed. by K. Pratt, A. Putter, M. Meyer, & B. Besamusca. Göttingen: V & R unipress, 2017, pp. 287-306. 
  • Wendy Scase, ‘Vernon Manuscript’, in Encyclopedia of Medieval Literature in Britain, ed. By Siân Echard, Robert Rouse, Helen Fulton, Jaqueline A. Fay, Geoff Rector, 4 vols (Wiley-Blackwell, 2017).
  • ‘Ayşegül Keskin Colak: In Memoriam’, Kebikeç (2016), pp. 21-24.
  • ‘John Northwood’s Miscellany Revisited’, in Insular Books: Vernacular Miscellanies in Late Medieval Britain, ed. by R. Radulescu and M. Connolly (OUP for the British Academy, 2015), pp. 101-120.
  •  ‘Afterlives of Medieval Manuscripts’, in Medieval Afterlives in Contemporary Culture, ed. Gail Ashton (Bloomsbury, 2015), pp. 310-21.
  • ‘Afterlives of Medieval Manuscripts’, in Medieval Afterlives in Contemporary Culture, ed. Gail Ashton (Bloomsbury, 2015), pp. 310-21.
  • ‘Prelates and the Provision of Books: John Carpenter’s Carnary Library’, in The Prelate in Late Medieval and Reformation England, ed. by M. Heale (Boydell and Brewer, 2014), pp. 127-41.
  • The Vernon Manuscript’, Oxford Bibliographies: Medieval Studies, ed. Paul E. Szarmach (OUP, 2014).
  • ‘Text Classification and Medieval Literary genres’, Report from Dagstuhl Seminar 14302 Digital Palaeography: New Machines and Old Texts, ed. T. Hassner, R. Sablatnig, D. Stutzmann, and S. Tarte, Dagstuhl Reports, 4 (2014), 126-7. DOI: 10.4230/DagRep.4.7.112;
  • ‘Challenges in Palaeography for which Computer Sciences might offer some Solutions’; Wendy Scase, M. Gau, R. Manmutha, and Dominique Stutzmann, ‘Context and Content’; and Wendy Scase, Eyal Olek, and Ophir Münz-Manor, ‘Relevance to Society’, in ‘Computation and Palaeography: Potentials and Limits (Dagstuhl Perspectives Workshop 12382)’, ed. T. Hessner, M. Rehbein, P. Stokes, and L. Wolf, Dagstuhl Reports, 2 (2013), 184-99 (pp. 189-90, 194, 195-6). DOI 10.4230/DagRep.2.9.184.
  • 'Latin Composition Lessons, Piers Plowman, and the Piers Plowman Tradition', in Answerable Style: The Idea of the Literary in Medieval England, ed. by Frank Grady and Andrew Galloway (Columbus: Ohio State, 2013), pp. 34-53.
  • Wendy Scase, 'Medieval manuscript heritage: digital research challenges and opportunities', The Safeguard of Cultural Heritage : A Challenge From the Past for the Europe of Tomorrow : COST strategic workshop, July 11th 13th, 2011 Florence, Italy / edited by Marco Fioravanti, Saverio Mecca. – Firenze : Firenze University Press, 2011. pp. 97-99 (Proceedings e report ; 80) ISBN 978-88-6655-058-7 (print) ISBN 978-88-6655-062-4 (online)
  • ‘Afterword: The Book in Culture’, in The Production of Books in England 1350-1500, ed. A. Gillespie and D. Wakelin (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), pp. 292-8.
  • 'Late Fourteenth-Century English Poetry (Chaucer, Gower, Langland and their Legacy)’, in The Cambridge History of English Poetry, ed. M.S.C. O’Neill. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010, pp. 43-62.   
  • ‘Reading Communities’, in The Oxford Handbook of Medieval Literature in English, ed. E. Treharne and G. Walker. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010, pp. 557-73.    
  • ‘Antifraternal Traditions in Reformation Pamphlets’, in The Friars in Medieval Britain, Proceedings of the Harlaxton Symposium 2007, ed. Nicholas Rogers. Donington: Shaun Tyas, 2010, pp. 238-64.
  • ‘Reinventing the Vernacular: Middle English Language and its Literature’, in The Cambridge Companion to Medieval English Literature, 1100 - 1500, ed. Larry Scanlon. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009, pp. 11-23.
  • Applying Semantic Web Technologies to Medieval Manuscript Research, European Science Foundation Exploratory Workshop Report. Strasbourg: European Science Foundation, 2009.
  • “Let him be kept in most strait prison”: Lollards and the Epistola Luciferi’, in Freedom of Movement in the Middle Ages, ed. Peregrine Horden. Harlaxton Medieval Studies, vol. 15. Donington: Shaun Tyas, 2007, pp. 52-72.
  • Dauy Dicars Dreame and Robert Crowley’s Prints of Piers Plowman’, Yearbook of Langland Studies 21 (2007), 171-98.
  • ‘Introduction: Essays in Manuscript Geography’, in Essays in Manuscript Geography: Vernacular Manuscripts of the English West Midlands from the Conquest to the Sixteenth Century, ed. Wendy Scase. Turnhout: Brepols, 2007, pp. 1-10.
  • `The Medievalist’s Tale’, in New Medieval Literatures, vol. 7, ed. Wendy Scase, Rita Copeland, and David Lawton. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005, pp. 1-7.
  • `Imagining Alternatives to the Book: The Transmission of Political Poetry in Late Medieval England’, in Imagining the Pre-Modern Book, ed. John Thompson and Stephen Kelly. Turnhout: Brepols, 2005, pp. 239-51.
  • `Satire on the Retinues of the Great: Unpaid Bills and the Politics of Purveyance’, in The Key of all Good Remembrance: Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Texts in honour of John Scattergood, ed. Alan Fletcher and Anne-Marie D’Arcy. Dublin, Four Courts, 2005, pp. 305-20.
  • `The Audience and Framers of the Twelve Conclusions of the Lollards’, in Text and Controversy in Late Medieval Religious Literature, ed. Helen Barr and Ann Hutchison. Turnhout: Brepols, 2005, pp. 283-301.
  • `Lollardy’, in The Cambridge Companion to Reformation Theology, ed. David Bagchi and David C. Steinmetz. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004, pp. 15-21, 257-8.
  • ‘Pecock, Reginald (b. c.1392, d. in or after 1459)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004.
  • `Literature: The English Background’, in Chaucer: An Oxford Guide, ed. S. Ellis. Oxford: Oxford University Press,  2004, pp. 272-91.
  • `”Heu! quanta desolatio Angliae praestatur”: A Wycliffite Libel and the Naming of Heretics, Oxford 1382', in Lollards and their Influence in Late Medieval England, ed. Derrick Pitard , Jill Havens, and Fiona Somerset. Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer,  2003, pp. 19-36.


English language and literature c.700 - c.1550; medieval manuscripts; medieval literature; medieval English (Old English and Middle English); reading and writing in medieval times; parliament, law, and the Church in medieval literature; Chaucer, 'Piers Plowman', John Wyclif; medieval heresy; digitising medieval manuscripts

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