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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

Recovery of Beauty Lecture - Bathing for Beauty in the Middle Ages

14th November 2011, 18:15 to 19:15, Room 201, Elvet Riverside Building, Professor Elizabeth Archibald (University of Bristol)

This is the fourth lecture in the Recovery of Beauty Lecture Series.

Was it common for people to have baths in Western Europe in the Middle Ages? How and where did they bathe? What was the main motivation: beauty, health, or pleasure? What sort of evidence is available for historical bathing practices, and does medieval literature give an accurate reflection of them? And what did the Church think about bathing? Elizabeth Archibald's lecture will offer an overview of this rich topic.

Elizabeth Archibald studied Classics and then Anglo-Saxon Norse and Celtic at Newnham College, Cambridge, and did a PhD in Medieval Studies at Yale.  She has taught at King's College Cambridge and at the University of Victoria (Canada), and is now Professor of Medieval Literature in the English Department at the University of Bristol.  Her research interests include the classical tradition in the Middle Ages, medieval romance (especially the Arthurian legend), the representation of women in medieval literature, and the interface between literature and history.  Her publications include Apollonius of Tyre: Medieval and Renaissance Themes and Variations (1991): A Companion to Malory, co-edited with Tony Edwards (1996); Incest and the Medieval Imagination (2001), and The Cambridge Companion to the Arthurian Legend (2009).  She is currently President of the British Branch of the International Arthurian Society.  This year she has a Leverhulme Research Fellowship to work on a study of baths and bathing in medieval literature and society.

Professor Elizabeth Archibald is an IAS/Trevelyan College Fellow here as part of the Recover of Beauty sub-theme.

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