Current and Recent Research Students
Dr James Mckinstry
Dr Jamie McKinstry holds a First Class B.A. (Hons) in English Literature, an M.A. in Medieval and Renaissance Literary Studies with Distinction, and a Ph.D. from Durham University.Whilst at Durham Dr Mckinstry was awarded The Norton Prize for English (St. Cuthbert's Society, Durham University) (2006), a Durham University Faculty of Arts and Humanities M.A. Scholarship Award (2008-9), The Raman Selden Prize (for highest mark in the Department of English Studies' Taught M.A.) (2009), and an Arts and Humanities Research Council Doctoral Award (2009-12). He was also recognised with three Faculty of Arts and Humanities Scholars’ Awards in 2009, 2010 and 2011. Dr McKinstry is a member of the Institute of Medieval and Renaissance Studies, a member of the Centre for Medical Humanities, and a member of St. Cuthbert's Society, Durham University.
Dr McKinstry’s Ph.D. was entitled “Challenging the Authority of Identity: The Spaces of Memory in Medieval English Romance” and was supervised by Professor Corinne Saunders. The thesis examined the creative uses of memory in a selection of Middle English romances through the lens of classical and medieval theories and philosophies of memory along with modern psychological research into the workings of the faculty. It was argued that memory plays an integral role in maintaining the thematic and moral unity of a romance which is performed at the level of character, audience, and poet/author. In addition to direct recall in the manner of mnemonics, past events in romance are creatively adapted to illuminate a present moment of confusion or distraction which is often depicted as disordered and atemporal – concepts associated with poor memories. The romances also play with the concept of memory and time, recognising that time is essential to structuring memory but that this force can also threaten to undermine through temporal distance and intervening events which can lead to forgetfulness or even a crisis in identity. Through analysing the different memories and memorial techniques that are encouraged and performed in courtly romances, the Gawain-poet, Chaucer, and Malory, the thesis demonstrates that memory can affect the present and future in a variety of romance literary styles all of which depend on recognising how, why, and importantly, when, we are to remember the past.
Dr McKinstry’s current postdoctoral work concentrates on the area of Mind, Body and Affect in the medieval period, taking as its focus the corporeal treatment, appreciation and experience of extreme sadness. Today we are familiar with the term “depression” and its ability to affect the mind and body as demonstrated by the term’s etymological associations of physical pressure and the bodily symptoms that are associated with the disease. Dr McKinstry is examining the similar understanding in the pre-Cartesian Middle Ages which also recognised this relationship as reflected in the treatment of the condition (frequently termed “heavyness”) and its depiction in medieval literature such as Chaucer, Dunbar, Henryson, Hoccleve, Julian of Norwich and medieval romances. The body is used both literally (to convey actual symptoms) and metaphorically as an expression of mental suffering and this has also led to research relating to bodily wounding in the Middle Ages and modern trauma studies, and medicine and metaphor in the teaching of medical sciences and communication with the lay public.
From 2009-10 Dr McKinstry was a co-chair of the Medieval and Renaissance Postgraduate Discussion Group in the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies and from 2010-11 he was Chairman of the Medieval and Renaissance Postgraduates in the Institute of Medieval and Renaissance Studies (IMRS). He has organised three conferences: "Consuming the Past: Library Resources for Postgraduate Researchers in the Arts and Humanities - An Interdisciplinary Conference and Training Day for Researchers" (in June 2010, a joint project with Newcastle University and Northumbria University), "Remembrance of Things Past: Time and Memory in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance" (in July 2010 at Durham), and “Recognising Beauty in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance” (in June 2011 at Durham). For these events Dr McKinstry has been successful in being awarded funding from Vitae, the Durham Graduate School, the Durham Institute of Medieval and Renaissance Studies and Durham History Department.
Dr McKinstry has delivered papers on a wide range of medieval and Renaissance literary topics both at congresses, conferences and seminars. He has also chaired around twenty papers, conference sessions and lectures both at Durham and by invitation at other institutions. His own recent and forthcoming papers include:
“Sickness and Sadness in the Middle Ages: Feeling the Physicality of a ‘Depression’.” Association of Medical Humanities Conference 2013, University of Abderdeen, July 2013.
“Old Bodies and Agile Minds: A Medieval Perspective of Ageing by William Dunbar.” What is Old Age Conference, University of Warwick, February 2013.
“Where does it hurt, exactly?: Medicine, Metaphor, and Speaking to Doctors in the Middle Ages.” Inventions of the Text, Durham University, November 2012.
“’tis but a scratch: Bodies, Wounds and Identity in Medieval Romance,” Durham University, April 2012.
“‘That never happened, I was there!’: Treachery, Trickery, and Middle English Romance,” Inaugural Conference of the North-East Medieval and Early Modern Symposium, Newcastle University, January 2012.
“Who are you again?: Disguise and Dressing-Up in Medieval Romance,” Durham Late Summer Lectures in English, Bede’s World, Jarrow, October 2011.
“Who are you again?: Disguise and Dressing-Up in Medieval Romance,” Durham Late Summer Lectures in English, Durham, October 2011.
“Earning Memorial Golde in Sir Isumbras,” 18th International Medieval Congress, University of Leeds, July 2011.
“The Dangers in a 'Chamber of Love': Recollecting and Forgetting in the Middle English Sir Degrevant,” Institute of Medieval and Renaissance Studies, October 2010.
“‘Highly Wrought Memories’: Redaction or Re-collection of Narratives in Middle English Romance,” Consuming the Past: Library Resources for Postgraduate Researchers in the Arts and Humanities, An Interdisciplinary Conference and Training Day for Researchers, Northumbria University, June 2010.
“‘doughty Artours dawes’: Re-collecting “Lost” Territory through Middle English Romance,” My Territory: Postgraduate Conference, School of English, University of Leicester, April 2010.
“‘doughty Artours dawes’: Working Through Romance Fictions in Late Medieval England,” Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Durham University, February 2010.
“The Bawdy Body in William Dunbar,” Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Durham University, July 2009.
Dr McKinstry has published on medieval and Renaissance literary topics, memory studies, philosophy, medicine and the medical humanities. In addition to preparing a monograph, based on his thesis, for publication, he is currently working on articles relating to feasting and memory in the romance of Sir Degrevant, episodic memory and place, and medicine and metaphor.
Dr McKinstry regularly peer reviews articles for academic journals, including Durham’s Kaleidoscope and is a member of the reviewing panel for the International Review of Scottish Studies, University of Guelph, Canada, and a member of the Early English Text Society and Society for the Study of Medieval Languages and Literatures. In 2011-12 he also served as editor of the Postgraduate Journal of Medieval Studies. In 2012 Dr McKinstry was the Research Assistant to Professor Pamela Clemit (Durham) for the “Letters of William Godwin” project (OUP). Dr McKinstry is a tutor in the Department of English Studies.
McKinstry, Jamie. “Perpetual Bodily Trauma: Wounding and Memory in Medieval Romance.” Medical Humanities (Autumn 2012).
McKinstry, Jamie. Challenging the Authority of Identity: The Spaces of Memory in Medieval English Romance. Diss. University of Durham. September 2012 <http://etheses.dur.ac.uk/4941/>.
McKinstry, Jamie and Niall Hodson. “Pen and Scalpel: Literature and the Medical Humanities.” Research in English at Durham. July 2012. <http://readdurhamenglish.wordpress.com/>.
McKinstry, Jamie. “Recognizing Beauty in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, Durham 2011” PJMS 1 (2012).
McKinstry, Jamie. “‘Thow haste foryete what thou was’: Earning through Moving Memorial Gold in the Middle English Romance of Sir Isumbras.” PJMS 1 (2012).
McKinstry, Jamie. "Dirty Politics and the Physical Poetry of William Dunbar." Peer English 6 (2011): 18-32.
McKinstry, Jamie, "Challenging Expectations Across Medieval Romance: Expectations of Romance: The Reception of a Genre in Medieval England by Melissa Furrow," Pennsylvania Literary Journal 2.1 (Summer 2010): 34-40.
McKinstry, Jamie, "'Be still, my tuchan and my calfe': Female Bodies of Desire in the Poetry of William Dunbar (c.1456-c.1513)," Bodies of Work , Women and the Arts 2 (2010).< http://www.bodiesofwork.info/Tuchan.html>.
McKinstry, Jamie, "Studying AS Law," A-Level Law Review 1 (2005): 14-15.