Professor Aengus Ward MA (University College Dublin, National University of Ireland), PhD (Birmingham)

Department of Modern Languages
Professor in Medieval Iberian Studies
Head of the Department of Modern Languages

Contact details

Address
Ashley Building
University of Birmingham
Edgbaston
Birmingham
B15 2TT
UK

I have been a lecturer in the Department of Modern Languages (Hispanic Studies) since 1994. I teach medieval Spanish literature and Spanish language and linguistics. My research interests lie in the fields of medieval Spanish history and historiography, textual editing, diachronic phonology and syntax.

My research project the Estoria de Espanna Digital (estoria.bham.ac.uk) is the first major digital edition of a sustained text in medieval Spanish prose. To coincide with the launch of the edition we collaborated with the Biblioteca Nacional de España and other archives in a series of physical and digital exhibitions. 

Biography

I completed my first degree and Masters at University College Dublin. I won a National University of Ireland Travelling Scholarship, and took advantage of this to move to the University of Birmingham, which was, and is, one of the most important centres of scholarship on medieval Spain. I completed my Phd at the University of Birmingham in 1995. I have worked in the University of Birmingham as Lecturer, Senior Lecturer and Reader since 1994.

I led the AHRC-funded Estoria de Espanna Digital research project at the University of Birmingham between 2013 and 2017. I have been a member of, or contributed to, research projects at the École Normale Supérieure (Lyon), the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, the Universidad de Sevilla and the Universidad de Buenos Aires. I have given invited talks or plenary lectures at the Universidad de Salamanca, the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, the Universidad de Sevilla, the Sorbonne, the University of Oxford, Queen Mary London, the Universidad de Buenos Aires, the ENS Lyon, Georgetown University, the University of Minnesota, University College Dublin and University College Galway, to name the most significant. I have also organized research events of varying kinds which have brought scholars from these institutions  and others to the University of Birmingham. The University of Birmingham has a lengthy tradition of excellence in medieval studies generally and ibero-medievalism more specifically; thanks to my research the University of Birmingham has, amongst Russell Group institutions, unique name recognition in many parts of this academic community. As a result of this, I have supervised here in Birmingham a series of doctoral and post-doctoral visitors from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, the Universidad de Santiago de Compostela and the Universidad de Sevilla.

Teaching

I have taught on a wide range of modules covering aspects of medieval and early-modern culture and history, and also linguistics.

My final year module The Digital Past is an innovative module which trains students to use digital tools to engage with medieval manuscripts. We have designed an on-line course to prepare students, and anyone interested, in how to encode text. Students also reflect on their own learning and can do this in a variety of ways – here is an example of one student reflecting on learning through a blog.

I also teach on second year courses covering themes of tolerance and intolerance in the context of the Spanish Inquisition and I contribute to Core modules in the first year on similar themes of inclusion and exclusion.

Postgraduate supervision

I welcome applications for postgraduate study on an aspect of medieval Iberia, on history and historiography in particular and also on textual editing. I particularly welcome suggestions for digital editing of medieval Iberian texts. I am especially interested in collaborating with Distance Learning projects.

I currently supervise three PhD projects: Holly Kashin Brown’s digital edition and study of three texts written by women authors in the late Middle Ages (with Dr. Cat Smith); Elena Caetano Álvarez’s study of the imperial ambitions of Alfonso el Sabio as realised in the Estoria de Espanna (with Dr. Simon Yarrow); and James Kawalek’s study of the Historia Compostelana (with Dr. William Purkis).

In the past I have supervised, or co-supervised, to a successful conclusion doctoral and Masters theses on Alfonso el Sabio, (digital) editing and medieval historiography by Christian Kusi Obodum, Polly Duxfield, Carol Ann van der Walt, Manolo Hijano Villegas, Patrick Quinn and Lauren Brinsdon.

I have also co-supervised postgraduate research on aspects of linguistics, including language policy in Gibraltar (Eddie Picardo), Galicia (Stewart Bayliss) Aragon (Rosa Bercero) and the Basque Country (Rosie Critchlow), and on aspects of discourse analysis (Nuria Guerra Bernal and Ángel Garralda).


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

Research

My career trajectory has seen me build up a sustained level of research excellence, initially in (i) the field of medieval Iberian historiography and textual editing and subsequently branching out into (ii) the interdisciplinary study of discursive practices with a resolutely materialist and contextual focus. More recently, I have built on these foundations to provide (iii) cutting edge insights into the theory and practice of digital editing and digital cultures, without discarding the advantages provided by philological analysis

The centrepiece of my research outputs is the Estoria de Espanna Digital: the first major digital edition of a medieval Spanish prose text. The Estoria de Espanna is the most important medieval Iberian chronicle, originally composed around 1272 under the direction of King Alfonso X, known as el Sabio (the Learned). The edition comprises TEI-5 compliant xml transcriptions of five manuscripts of the (approximately 2,500 folios of text), presented in a variety of innovative ways and accompanied by a fully collated edited text and (where permissions allow) manuscript images.

My current research focuses on two diverse themes: (i) digital editing of medieval texts and the way in which digital forms of editing and textual organization can affect the way in which we interact with our cultural artefacts  and, (ii) the nature of manuscript culture and the manner in which reading was guided by the physical disposition of the text on the page.

Impact

In the context of the Estoria de Espanna Digital, I led a team which prepared exhibitions of manuscripts of the Estoria at the Biblioteca Nacional de España, the Universidad de Salamanca, the Biblioteca de Menédez Pelayo in Santander and the University of Minnesota. We also prepared a digital exhibition about the Estoria, which is accompanied by teaching materials freely available for any schools.

You can see an overview of the exhibition.

In September 2019 we launched a crowdsourcing trial called Transcribe Estoria, in which we invite members of the public to join with us in transcribing medieval manuscripts.

Publications

Recent publications

Book

Ward, A 2011, History and chronicles in medieval Iberia: Representations of Wamba in late medieval narrative histories. Brill.

Article

Ward, A 2020, 'Medieval Punctuation, mise en texte and the digital world', Bulletin of Hispanic Studies, vol. 97, no. 5, pp. 537–562. https://doi.org/10.3828/bhs.2020.31

Ward, A 2018, 'The Estoria de Espanna Digital: collating Medieval prose - challenges... and more challenges', Digital Philology: A Journal of Medieval Cultures, vol. 7, no. 1, pp. 65-92. https://doi.org/10.1353/dph.2018.0004

Ward, A 2017, 'Editar la Estoria de Espanna: retos y problemas de la edición digital', Incipit, vol. 37, pp. 13-43. <http://www.iibicrit-conicet.gov.ar/ojs/index.php/incipit/article/view/487>

Ward, A 2014, 'Editing the Estoria de Espanna', Ecdotica, vol. 11, pp. 185-204. <http://www.ecdotica.org/numero-11/>

Ward, A 2013, 'El prólogo historiográfico medieval', Cahiers d'Études Hispaniques Médiévales, vol. 35, pp. 61-77.

Ward, A 2011, 'Images of Rodrigo: the construction of past and present in late medieval iberian chronicles', Revista de historia, vol. 12, pp. 99-118.

Chapter

Ward, A 2018, El buen gobierno en la Estoria de Espanna: el ejemplo de la historia romana. in Homenaje a Georges Martin. Éditions Classiques Garnier.

Ward, A 2011, Sancho el Mayor, la reina calumniada y los orígenes del reino de Castilla. in Construir la identidad en la Edad Media. Poder y memoria en la Castilla de los siglos VII a XV. Ediciones de la Universidad de Castilla - La Mancha.

Book/Film/Article review

Ward, A 2012, 'Death in Babylon. Alexander the Great & Iberian Empire in the Muslim Orient', Bulletin of Spanish Studies, vol. 89, no. 2, pp. 297-298.

Ward, A 2011, 'Book of Alexander', Bulletin of Spanish Studies, vol. 88, no. 6, pp. 896-896.

Data set/Database

Ward, A & Smith, C, estoriadigital/Transcriptions 1.0.0, 2019, Data set/Database, Zenodo. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.2593588

Other contribution

Ward, A 2017, Estoria de Espanna Digital: A digital critical edition of the Estoria de Espanna de Alfonso X el Sabio. University of Birmingham. <http://estoria.bham.ac.uk>

Software

Branford, S, Ward, A & Smith, C, estoriadigital/Estoria-Admin 1.0.0, 2019, Software, Zenodo. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.2593580

Smith, C & Ward, A, estoriadigital/Estoria-de-Espanna-Digital 1.0.0, 2019, Software, Zenodo. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.2593583

View all publications in research portal

Expertise

Medieval Spanish history; writing of history in medieval times; textual editing and electronic editing of medieval manuscripts.