Dr Elizabeth L'Estrange

Photograph of Dr Elizabeth L'Estrange

Department of Art History, Curating and Visual Studies
Associate Professor in History of Art

Contact details

Barber Institute of Fine Arts
Room G23A
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

My teaching and research focuses on the art and culture of the late medieval and early modern period, especially illuminated manuscripts and book culture, and French and Burgundian court art. Within these areas, I work specifically on women as subjects and consumers of visual cultures, text-image relations, and the querelle des femmes. My research addresses, for instance, questions of maternity, power, gender and identity in relation to women’s patronage in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. The approaches I employ engage with contemporary gender studies and explore their application to the medieval and early modern periods. 

My latest book, Anne de Graville: Women’s Literary Networks in Early Modern France was published in April 2023 by D.S. Brewer.


  • BA (University of Leeds)
  • MA (University of Leeds)
  • PhD (University of Leeds)


I have a BA in English Language and Literature (European), an MA in Medieval Studies, and a PhD in History of Art from the University of Leeds. Before joining the Department of Art History, Curating and Visual Studies at the University of Birmingham in 2011, I was based at the University of Liège in Belgium, where I held post-doctoral fellowships from the Leverhulme Trust (2004-2006) and the Fonds national de recherche scientifique (2007-2010). In 2011, I spent three months in Rome as a recipient of a research grant from the Fondation Darchis.

I have previously received grants from the Medieval Academy of America, the Newberry Library, Chicago, the Scouloudi Foundation (IHR), and the British Academy Neil Ker Memorial Fund. From September 2017 to January 2018, I was a fellow at the Institute of Advanced Studies in Paris where I worked on a chapter of my new book on Anne de Graville.


I teach across the Art History curriculum at Birmingham, including the first-year module Writing Art’s Histories I, the second-year modules Power, Society, Politics: Religious Art in Northern Europe, c. 1400-1600, and two third-year special subject modules, Women and Artistic Culture in the Late Medieval and Early Modern Periods, and Turning the Pages: Manuscript and Print, Past and Present. I also contribute to the MA in Medieval Studies and supervise dissertations at BA, MA, and PhD level in History of Art and Medieval Studies.

I often contribute to other Art History modules including the firstyear module Debates and Methods in the History of Art and the second year Study Trip, leading visits to Paris and Rome .

Postgraduate supervision

Elizabeth L'Estrange’s research focuses mainly on the art and culture of the medieval and early modern periods (c. 1350-1600) with a particular emphasis on illuminated manuscripts and on questions of gender in visual culture. Her research has also focused on the female gaze and methodological approaches to assessing women’s agency as viewers. She is also interested in broader questions of gender and sexuality in the medieval and early modern periods, in women’s writings in fifteenth and sixteenth century, especially the querelle des femmes, and in libraries, literary networks and translation.

Dr L’Estrange welcomes enquiries from prospective doctoral researchers wishing to pursue research in areas that overlap with her research interests, including women's patronage, book history, books of hours, and courtly visual and literary culture.

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


My research focuses on the art and culture of the medieval and early modern periods (c. 1350-1600) with a particular emphasis on illuminated manuscripts, book history, and on questions of gender in visual culture. In 2008 I published Holy Motherhood: Gender, Dynasty and Visual Culture in the Late Middle Ages (MUP, 2008) which won the Society for Medieval Feminist Scholarship’s First Book Prize in 2010. This study of maternal imagery in books of hours owned by aristocratic women and its relationship to the material culture of childbearing has led to other articles on the patronage of women at the French court, including Anne of Brittany, Anne of France, and Anne de Graville. In Holy Motherhood and in other articles on deschi da parto (birth trays) and carved ivory objects, I have also drawn on contemporary gender studies to inform my methodological approaches to assessing women’s agency as viewers.

My second monograph was published in April 2023 and is the first book-length study of Anne de Graville (c. 1490-1540), a writer in the circle of the French court who amassed an impressive personal library. She also wrote the Beau roman, a rewriting of Boccaccio’s Teseida, and the Rondeaux, a reworking of  Alain Chartier’s Belle dame sans mercy, for Queen Claude of France and Louise of Savoy respectively. In the book I reconstruct Anne’s library to assess the kinds of books she was reading and commissioning and analyse how her own works engaged with those in her library as well as contributing to literary debate at the French court, notably the querelle des femmes.

This research has been funded by the British Academy Neil Ker Memorial Fund grant (2013) and a fellowship at the Institute for Advanced Study in Paris (2017-18).

In 2023 I was awarded a BA/Leverhulme Small Research Grant (2023-25) to work on preparing a critical edition and translation of the works of Anne de Graville with Joan E. McRae of Middle Tennessee State University..

I also co-edited three collections of essays: Re-Presenting Medieval Genders and Sexualities: Construction, Transformation (Ashgate, 2011) with Alison More, Le mécénat féminin en France et en Bourgogne, XIVe-XVIe (a special issue of Le Moyen Age journal, 2011) with Laure Fagnart, and Mary of Burgundy: ‘Persona’, Reign, and Legacy of a Late Medieval Duchess (Turnhout: Brepols, 2021)

In 2018 I was awarded a ‘special commendation’ by the CARMEN medieval network in their annual Project Prize for my entry on ‘Reassessing Women and the Book, c. 800-1600’. This project seeks to reassess the field of women’s book ownership in the middle ages since the publication of Susan Groag Bell’s 1982 article, ‘Medieval Women Book Owners: Arbiters of Lay Piety and Ambassadors of Culture’ (Signs, 7). The project has a twitter handle @womenandthebook and a website www.womenandthebook.wordpress.com where an online bibliography provides a first step in showcasing research in fields outside the traditional Anglo-French axis. 

Other activities

I am currently Deputy Head of the School of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music and Director of Undergraduate Studies for Art History, Curating and Visual Studies.. From 2018-2022 I was Head of Department of Art History, and have previously served as  Undergraduate Admissions Tutor.With our postgraduates, I helped to found our highly successful blog, The Golovine (thegolovine.wordpress.com).

I am a member of the advisory board of Renaissance Studies and have previously been an editorial assistant for the Cahiers de recherches médiévales et humanistes. In addition, I regularly review books for journals, including Art History, Medieval Feminist Forum, Material Religion, Oxford Art Journal, Bulletin du bibliophile, and French Studies.

At Birmingham, I am part of the steering committee for the Centre for the Study of the Middle Ages and the Centre for Reformation and Early Modern Studies . I Beyond Birmingham, I am a member of the Group for Early Modern Cultural Analysis at the University of Louvain-la-Neuve (gemca.fltr.ucl.ac.be).


Recent publications


L'Estrange, E 2023, Anne de Graville and Women's Literary Networks in Early Modern France. Gallica, vol. 49, Boydell and Brewer. <https://boydellandbrewer.com/9781843846864/anne-de-graville-and-womens-literary-networks-in-early-modern-france/>


L'Estrange, E 2016, '‘Un étrange moyen de séduction’: Anne de Graville's Chaldean Histories and her role in literary culture at the French court in the early sixteenth century', Renaissance Studies, vol. 30, no. 5, pp. 708-728. https://doi.org/10.1111/rest.12170

Chapter (peer-reviewed)

L'Estrange, E 2019, Les Histoires Chaldéennes d’Anne de Graville. in S Hindman & E Adam (eds), Au prisme du manuscrit: regards sur la littérature française du Moyen Âge (1300-1550). Brepols Publishers, Turnhout, pp. 2-3-218.

L'Estrange, E 2017, ‘« Translaté de vieil langaige et prose en nouveau et rime »: la Théséide de Boccace et Le Beau roman d’Anne de Graville’. in A Robin & P Guérin (eds), Boccaccio e la Francia-Boccace et la France. Cesati, Florence, pp. 293-306.

L'Estrange, E 2015, Re-Presenting Emilia in the Context of the querelle des femmes: Text and Image in Anne de Graville’s Beau roman. in R Brown-Grant & R Dixon (eds), Text/Image Relations in Late Medieval French and Burgundian Culture (14th c. - 16th c.). Brepols Publishers, Turnhout, pp. 187-207. <http://www.brepols.net/Pages/ShowProduct.aspx?prod_id=IS-9782503553184-1>


L'Estrange, E 2015, Beyond the 1520s: A Bellmare Workshop Manuscript in Liège'. in Reinventing Traditions: On the Transmission of Artistic Patterns in Late Medieval Manuscript Illumination. Peter Lang, Frankfurt am Main, pp. 195-216.


Depreter, M, Dumont, J, L'Estrange, E & Mareel, S (eds) 2021, Marie de Bourgogne/Mary of Burgundy: ‘Persona’, Reign, and Legacy of a Late Medieval Duchess / Figure, Principat et Postérité d’une Duchesse Tardo-Médiévale. Burgundica , vol. 31, Brepols Publishers, Turnhout, Belgium. https://doi.org/10.1484/M.BURG-EB.5.119386

Book/Film/Article review

L'Estrange, E 2023, 'Jean-Luc Deuffic, Le livre d’heures enluminé en Bretagne: Car sans heures ne puys Dieu prier. (Manuscripta Illuminata 5.) Turnhout: Brepols, 2019. Pp. 742; black-and-white and color figures. €170. ISBN: 978-2-5035-8475-1', Speculum: A Journal of Medieval Studies, vol. 98, no. 2, pp. 586-588. https://doi.org/10.1086/724296

L'Estrange, E 2019, 'Female Authorship, Patronage, and Translation in Late Medieval France: From Christine de Pizan to Louise Labé by Anneliese Pollock Renck', French Studies, vol. 73, no. 2, pp. 283–284. https://doi.org/10.1093/fs/knz037

L'Estrange, E 2019, 'Review of Female Authorship, Patronage, and Translation in Late Medieval France: From Christine de Pizan to Louise Labé', French Studies, vol. 73, pp. 283-84.

L'Estrange, E 2019, 'The Woman Question in France, 1400–1870. By Karen Offen', French Studies, vol. 73, no. 1, pp. 134–135. https://doi.org/10.1093/fs/kny253

L'Estrange, E 2018, 'Anne de France, Louise de Savoie, inventions d’un pouvoir au féminin. Par Aubrée David-Chapy.', French Studies, vol. 72, no. 1, pp. 99–100. https://doi.org/10.1093/fs/knx292

L'Estrange, E 2017, 'Postcards on Parchment: The Social Lives of Medieval Books. Kathryn M. Rudy. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2015. x + 360 pp. $85.', Renaissance Quarterly, vol. 70, no. 3, pp. 1193-1195. https://doi.org/10.1086/695250

L'Estrange, E 2016, 'From ‘Pregnant’ to ‘Melancholic’: The Many Guises of Mary Magdalene in Late Medieval Northern Art', Oxford Art Journal, vol. 39, no. 1, pp. 152–155. https://doi.org/10.1093/oxartj/kcv040

L'Estrange, E 2016, 'Textual and Visual Representations of Power and Justice in Medieval France: Manuscripts and Early Printed Books. Edited by Rosalind Brown-Grant, Anne D. Hedeman, and Bernard Ribémont', French Studies, vol. 70, no. 4, pp. 586–587. https://doi.org/10.1093/fs/knw236

View all publications in research portal