Dr Katharine Sykes

Dr Katharine Sykes

Department of History
Lecturer in Anglo-Saxon History

I am a historian of the early and central middle ages, with particular interests in gender and sexuality, religious communities, and families.

Feedback and office hours

  • Tuesdays 10:00 - 11:00
  • Thursdays 11:00 - 12:00


  • DPhil, Medieval History, University of Oxford
  • MA Late Medieval Studies, University of York
  • BA (Hons) Modern History, University of Oxford


I did my undergraduate degree in History at Oxford, moved to the University of York for a MA in Medieval Studies, then returned to Oxford for a DPhil in Medieval History. I then held a series of teaching and research posts in Oxford before coming to Birmingham in September 2016.


  • Discovering the Middle Ages
  • Treasure in Anglo-Saxon England
  • Reproduction and the self: gender and sexuality in the early middle ages.
  • Ancient and Medieval History in Theory and Practice.
  • West Midlands MA

Postgraduate supervision

I am interested in supervising research on early medieval gender and sexuality, religious communities and institutional development.

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


My research focuses on the creation and regulation of communities and institutions in the early and central middle ages. In particular, my work focusses on double monasteries – religious communities which housed both men and women – and the extent to which monasticism was gendered in both theory and practice. I draw on a variety of methodological approaches, from anthropology and sociology to psychoanalytic theory, and my work makes use of both textual and material sources. I am currently working on my second book, which explores the relationship between monasteries and families in Anglo-Saxon England.

Other activities

Co-convenor (with Professor Naomi Standen) of the MA and MRes in Medieval History.



  • Inventing Sempringham: Gilbert of Sempringham and the origins of the role of the Master, Vita Regularis: Abhandlungen 46 (Münster, 2011). iv +265 pp. ISBN 9783643901224.


  • ‘Creating a model of religious leadership: the vita of Gilbert of Sempringham’, in Episcopacy, authority and gender. Aspects of Religious Leadership in Europe, 1100-2000, ed. Peter Raedts, Jan-Wim Buisman, Marjet Dirks (Leiden: Brill; 2015). ISBN 9789004303126.
  • ‘Sanctity as a form of capital’, in Sainthood and Sanctity, ed. Peter D. Clarke and Tony Claydon, Studies in Church History 47 (Woodbridge, 2011), pp. 112–24. ISBN 9780954680985.
  • Canonici albi et moniales: perceptions of the twelfth-century double house’, Journal of Ecclesiastical History 60 (2009), pp. 233–245. ISSN 0022-0469
  • ‘Cistercian influences on Gilbertine legislation’, Cîteaux: commentarii cistercienses 59 (2008), pp. 1–27. ISSN 0009-7497.

View all publications in research portal