Dr Emily Wingfield BA (Oxon), MSt (Oxon), DPhil (Oxon)

Photograph of Dr Emily Wingfield

Department of English Literature
Senior Lecturer

Contact details

Room 114, Arts Building
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

I’m a Lecturer in English Literature. I teach pre-1800 literature, with a particular focus on the Medieval and Renaissance periods. As a researcher, I work on medieval Scottish literature. I am particularly interested in romance, manuscript study, and book history.


BA (Oxon), MSt (Oxon), DPhil (Oxon)


My undergraduate and graduate career was pursued at Lincoln College, Oxford. I received a First Class BA Hons degree in English Language and Literature (2003), followed by a Distinction for the MSt. in English Literature 650-1500 (2007). My D.Phil. (2007-10), which was fully funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, examined the manuscript and print contexts of Older Scots romance. I joined the Department of English here at Birmingham in January 2013 after holding a Junior Research Fellowship at Churchill College, Cambridge.


I teach pre-1800 literature, with a particular focus on the Medieval and Renaissance periods.

At UG level, I convene the second year module The Canterbury Tales and third year module Magic, Monsters and Marvels in the Medieval World. I also teach on the second year Tragedy module and third year Mapping the Middle Ages.

At PG level, I teach on the MRes in Medieval Literature, MA Literature & Culture, and MA Medieval Studies (Literature Pathway).

Postgraduate supervision

I would welcome postgraduates wishing to work on medieval English and Scottish literature, particular in the fields of romance and the history of the book.

PhD students

  • Claire Harrill: 'Politics and Sainthood: Literary Representations of St Margaret of Scotland from the C11th to the C15th in England and Scotland.'
  • Ruth Caddick: An Edition and Study of the Older Scots Romance Clariodus
  • Jim McAtear: Andrew of Wyntoun’s Original Chronicle

Find out more - our PhD English Literature  page has information about doctoral research at the University of Birmingham.


My research specialism is Older Scots literature, particularly Older Scots romance and the history of the book.

The label Older Scots literature refers to the surviving body of literature written in Lowland Scots between c. 1375 and 1700. Its margins therefore span what we would think of as the Middle English, Early Modern, and even Restoration periods of English literature, and as a result, the body of literature which survives is unsurprisingly both rich and diverse. It ranges from The Bruce andThe Wallace, epic tales of the Anglo-Scots Wars of Independence by John Barbour and Blind Harry, to the varied work of the chameleonic poet William Dunbar, who wrote poems both praising and criticising the aureate court of James IV and his wife, Margaret Tudor. 

Historical chronicles chart the development of the Scottish nation, romance literature scrutinises the kingship and knighthood of the great courts of King Arthur and Alexander the Great, dream visions and allegories reflect on the nature of love, and religious lyric extols the Virgin and Trinity in language which aspires to be worthy of its objects of praise. Two related themes in particular stand out: Sovereignty - both of the nation and individual- and Good Governance - how best to rule the public realm and the private body of the self. 

My D.Phil. thesis offers the first book-length study of the entire corpus of Older Scots romance. Building on recent developments in Middle English romance scholarship and Older Scots book history, it contextualises the surviving corpus of Older Scots romances in light of their unique material witnesses and contemporary cultural milieu.

My monograph, The Trojan Legend in Medieval Scottish Literature begins in the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries. During the Anglo-Scots Wars of Independence and subsequent Anglo-Scottish diplomatic exchange, Scottish writers developed an already nascent origin myth to counter that of the English who - following Geoffrey of Monmouth - traced their ancestry via King Arthur to Brutus and the Trojans. The English-Trojan origin myth was seized upon by Edward I and II to bolster their claims to lordship and ownership of Scotland. To counteract this, and instead prove Scotland’s independence and sovereignty, Scottish historians traced their nation’s origins to a Greek prince, Gaythelos, and his Egyptian wife, Scota. This appeal to an originally Irish origin legend enabled the Scots to derive their origins from a parent race at least as old as, if not older than, the Trojan remnant. That parent race was, moreover, most crucially victorious against the ancestors of the English in the Trojan War. My monograph sets out to discover how Older Scots writers represented and responded to the Trojan legend and their own Greek origin myth in the wake of this ‘war of historiography’.

It provides comprehensive and detailed analysis of a range of Older Scots texts that engage, either as a whole or in part, with the Matter of Troy. It seeks to determine whether there is a specifically Scottish response to the Trojan legend, and, if so, what form that response takes. It considers the way in which Scottish texts interact with English counterparts, and examines the extent to which the Scottish response to the Trojan legend develops over time. I began my project suspecting that Scottish writers might well adopt a hostile attitude towards the Trojan legend, but this assumption soon proved false. I have instead discovered that the Trojan legend was actively and successfully re-appropriated by Scottish writers and used increasingly not only as an origin myth and metaphor for Anglo-Scots political relations, but also as a locus through which poets might explore broader issues of good self and public governance and also questions of literary tradition, authority, and the nature of poetic truth.

New research projects

Reading and Writing Scotland's Royal Women c. 1424-1587

How did Scotland's queens and princesses use the written word? What role did books and literary texts play in the lives of these women as they married into and out of the Scottish royal family? To what extent did Scotland's royal women function as patrons of literary culture and agents of cultural transmission? Was their connection to literary and artistic culture a private or public (and political) phenomenon? How do the women from this one dynasty form part of a wider European network of female cultural patronage?

I am currently exploring these questions, and more, as I research and write a new monograph on the books and texts associated with the female members of Scotland’s medieval royal family.  My work will be distinguished by its cross-border and cross-period approach - it adopts a ‘European’ approach to the study of literary history and examines a range of texts and individuals from across the traditional medieval/early modern divide. The monograph will consider the books and texts written, read, owned by and associated with a series of Scottish royal women from c. 1424-1587.  It will compare and contrast the literary interests and textual representations of the female members of the Stewart dynasty and assess how these compare too with those of their English and European royal counterparts.  It will also - and most significantly - evaluate the extent to which Scotland’s medieval queens and princesses functioned as agents of cultural transmission and change.  By offering substantial historically- and materially-informed new research this book will function both as a discrete case-study of literary activity concerning Scotland’s royal women across the fifteenth and sixteenth century and as a leading example of the kind of future book-length work that might be undertaken on the literary activities of collective groups of women - royal or otherwise - in contemporary English and European dynasties.

Six Scottish Pieces: Courtly and Chivalric Poems Including Lyndsay's Squyer Meldrum, ed. Rhiannon Purdie and Emily Wingfield , TEAMS Middle English Texts Series (Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, forthcoming 2017-18)

An edition offering detailed individual introductions, glossed texts, textual and explanatory notes for the following: Sir David Lyndsay's 'Historie of Squyer Meldrum', 'Testament of Squyer Meldrum' and 'Answer to the Kingis Flyting' (ed. Purdie) and 'The Talis of the Fyve Bestis'; 'Ane ballet of the Nine Nobles'; 'Lament for the dauphinoise Margaret' (ed. Wingfield). Inc. 80,000 words of Introductory and explanatory material, split equally between editors.

I am also writing articles on culture at the court of David II of Scotland and his wife Queen Joan; Andrew of Wyntoun as a vernacular writer; and Robert Henryson and the literature of medieval Dunfermline.

Other activities

I am a member of the Council for the Scottish Text Society and member of the Scottish Medievalists.


Books published

Articles published in journals or books

  • ‘ “Qwhen Alexander Our Kynge Was Dede: Kingship and Good Governance in Andrew of Wyntoun’s Original Chronicle’, in Premodern Scotland: Literature and Governance 1420-1587. Essays in Honour of Sally Mapstone, edited by Joanna Martin and Emily Wingfield (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017), pp. 19-30 ISBN: 9780198787525
  • ‘Barbour, John (The Brus)’, in The Encyclopedia of Medieval Literature in Britain, ed. S. Echard and R. Rouse (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2017) [1042 words] ISBN: 1118396987
  • ‘Fordun, John of’, in The Encyclopedia of Medieval Literature in Britain, ed. S. Echard and R. Rouse (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2017) [1020 words] ISBN: 1118396987
  • ‘The Ruthven Manuscript of Gavin Douglas’ Eneados and a new manuscript witness of Julius Caesar Scaliger’s Epidorpides’, Renaissance Studies 30:3 (2016), 430-42: initial online publication May 2015: doi: 10.1111/rest.12156
  • ‘The Manuscript and Print Contexts of Barbour’s Bruce’, in Barbour’s ‘Bruce’and its Cultural Contexts, ed. S. Boardman and S. Foran (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2015), pp. 33-50 ISBN: 9781843843573
  •  ‘Lancelot of the Laik and the Literary Manuscript Miscellany in 15th- and 16th-century Scotland’, in Insular Books: Vernacular Miscellanies in Late Medieval Britain, ed. Margaret Connolly and Raluca Radulescu (British Academy: Oxford University Press, 2015), pp. 209-30 ISBN: 9780197265833
  •  ‘Intertextuality in the Older Scots Clariodus and its Manuscript’, Archiv für das Studium der neueren Sprachen und Literaturen,  251 (2014), 53-69
  • ‘The Composition and Revision of Sir Gilbert Hay’s Buik of King Alexander the Conquerour’, Nottingham Medieval Studies, 57 (2013), 247-86
  • ‘Towards an Edition of the Scottish Troy Book’, in Probable Truth: Editing Medieval Texts from Britain in the Twenty-First Century, ed. Vincent Gillespie and Anne Hudson (Turnhout: Brepols, 2013), pp. 326-43 ISBN: 9782503536835
  • ‘The Thewis off Gudwomen: Female Advice in Lancelot of the Laik and TheBuik of King Alexander the Conquerour’, in Fresche Fontanis: Studies in the Culture of Medieval and Early Modern Scotland, ed. Janet Hadley-Williams and Derrick McClure (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2013) ISBN: 9781443844819
  •  ‘The Familial, Professional and Literary Contexts of Edinburgh, NAS, MS RH 13/35’, Textual Cultures, 7:1(2012), 77-96
  • ‘‘And He, That Did it Out of French Translait’’: Cleriadus in France, England and Scotland, c. 1440-1550’, Neophilologus, 94 (2011), 649-60
  • ‘‘‘Ex libris domini Duncani Campbell de Glenwrquhay/miles’’: The Buik of King Alexander the Conquerour in the household of Sir Duncan Campbell, seventh laird of Glenorchy’,in Medieval Romance, Medieval Contexts, ed. Rhiannon Purdie and Michael Cichon (Cambridge: Boydell and Brewer, 2011), pp. 161-74 ISBN: 9781843842606
  • ‘The Late Sixteenth-Century Publication and Reception of the Older Scots ‘‘Buik of Alexander’’ (‘‘Octosyllabic Alexander’’)’, Notes and Queries, n.s. 58:2 (2011), 210-16

Joint articles

  • with Joanna Martin, ‘Introduction: “He Rewlis Weill that Weill him self can Gyd”’, in Premodern Scotland: Literature and Governance 1424-1587. Essays for Sally Mapstone, edited by Joanna Martin and Emily Wingfield (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017), pp. 1-18 ISBN: 9780198787525
  • with Anna Caughey, ‘Sir Gilbert Hay, Older Scots Literature and the Secreta Secretorum’, in Trajectoires européennes du Secretum secretorum du Pseudo-Aristote (XIIIe-XVIe siecle), ed. M. Bridges, C. Gaullier-Bougassas, J.-Y. Tilliette (Turnhout: Brepols, 2015), pp. 337-55 ISBN: 9782503556161
  • with Anna Caughey , ‘Conquest and Imperialism: Medieval Scottish Contexts for Alexander's ‘‘Journey to Paradise’’’, in Le voyage d’Alexandre au Paradis terrestre: Orient et Occident, regards croisés ed. M. Bridges, C. Gaullier-Bougassas, J.-Y. Tilliette, (Turnhout: Brepols, 2013) ISBN: 9782503547305

Reviews and notes

  • Blog Post: ‘ “Here follows her epitaph translated into the Scottish tongue”: Princess Margaret of Scotland (d. 1445). Part 2’
  • Blog Post: ‘ “She was busy writing rondeaux…which was not good for her”: Princess Margaret of Scotland (d. 1445). Part 1’
  • Ruth Lexton, Contested Language in Malory’s Morte Darthur: The Politics of Romance in Fifteenth-Century England (Arthurian and Courtly Cultures) (Houndsmill: Palgrave - Macmillan, 2014) and Megan Leitch, Romancing Treason. The Literature of the Wars of the Roses (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015), Archiv für das Studium der neueren Sprachen und Literaturen, 253 (2016), 216-20
  • Catherine Keene, Saint Margaret Queen of Scots: A Life in Perspective (New York: Palgrave Macmilllan, 2013), Archiv für das Studium der neueren Sprachen und Literaturen, 252 (2015), 184-88
  • William Calin, The Lily and the Thistle: The French Tradition and the Older Literature of Scotland – Essays in Criticism (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2014), Journal of the Northern Renaissance, http://northernrenaissance.org (first published June 2014).
  • Władysław Witalisz, The Trojan Mirror: Middle English Narratives of Troy as Books of Princely Advice (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2011), Archiv für das Studium der neueren Sprachen und Literaturen, 251 (2014), 179-81.
  • Short Scottish Prose Chronicles, ed. Dan Embree et al. (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2012), Archiv für das Studium der neueren Sprachen und Literaturen, 251 (2014), 177-79.
  • Gordon Kendal, ed., Gavin Douglas: The Aeneid (London: MHRA, 2011), Nottingham Medieval Studies, 57 (2013), 323-7.
  • Lesley Kordecki, Ecofeminist Subjectivities: Chaucer’s Talking Birds (Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), Archiv für das Studium der neueren Sprachen und Literaturen, 249 (2012), 424-5.
  • Anthony J. Hasler, Court Poetry in Late Medieval England and Scotland: Allegories of Authority (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), Archiv für das Studium der neueren Sprachen und Literaturen, 249 (2012), 183-185.
  • The Oxford Handbook of Medieval Literature in English, ed. Elaine Treharne and Greg Walker (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), Archiv für das Studium der neueren Sprachen und Literaturen, 249 (2012), 180-183.
  • Laura Ashe et al., ed., The Exploitations of Medieval Romance (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2010), Nottingham Medieval Studies, 55 (2011), 295-300.
  • Textual Cultures, Cultural Texts, ed. Orietta da Rold and Elaine Treharne (Woodbridge: D.S. Brewer, 2010), Archiv für das Studium der neueren Sprachen und Literaturen, 248 (2011), 423-5.
  • A Companion to Medieval Popular Romance, ed. Raluca L. Radulescu and Cory James Rushton (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2009), Nottingham Medieval Studies, 54 (2010), 238-42.

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Medieval English and Scottish literature, Royal female book owners, Mary Queen of Scots.