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Durham University

St Cuthbert's Society

Principal's Research

Professor Elizabeth Archibald studied for a BA in Classics and then Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic at Newnham College, Cambridge.  She went to Yale to study for a PhD in Medieval Studies which she completed in 1984 and then returned to Cambridge in 1985 as a Fellow and Assistant Lecturer in English at King's College.  She has undertaken several academic positions including an Associate Professor at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada and Professor in English at the University of Bristol. 

Her research is focused on medieval literature, especially the Arthurian Legend, medieval romance, the classical tradition in the Middle Age and the interface between literature and social history.  Her first book, Apollonius of Tyre: Medieval and Renaissance Themes and Variations (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1991), is a study of the hugely popular and evergreen story which eventually became Shakespeare's Pericles Prince of Tyre, and is widely cited in recent discussions both of the Apollonius tradition and of Pericles and its medieval sources. Professor Archibald is currently co-editing a collection of essays on Shakespeare and the Middle Ages based on a workshop held at Bristol in 2010.  Apollonius, originally composed in late antiquity, also interests scholars of the classical tradition in the Middle Ages, another field in which Professor Archibald works. In 2006 she co-organized an international conference in Bristol on 'Troy and the European Imagination'; a volume of proceedings is in progress.

Professor Archibald is well known for her work on the Arthurian legend. In 1996 she co-edited (with Professor A. S. G. Edwards) A Companion to Malory (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer), which has become a standard text for Malory studies.  She was invited to edit (with her colleague Professor Ad Putter) The Cambridge Companion to the Arthurian Legend (2009), which includes both a survey of the evolution of the legend from the fifth century to the present day and a series of thematic studies by an international team of distinguished Arthurians. Professor Archibald is the co-editor of the A-rated journal Arthurian Literature, and a Trustee of the Vinaver Trust (a charity dedicated to supporting Arthurian studies). She is co-organizing the 23rd Triennial Congress of the International Arthurian Society to be held in Bristol in July 2011.

Professor Archibald is interested in social history both in terms of sources for literary texts, and the ways in which literature does or does not reflect social trends and concerns.  Her 2001 monograph Incest and the Medieval Imagination (Oxford: Clarendon Press) considered the notable fashion for incest stories in the Middle Ages in relation to contemporary laws and historical marriage practices, as well as classical and biblical literary, historical and legal traditions.

Selected Publications: Books

  • Apollonius of Tyre: Medieval and Renaissance Themes and Variations (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 1991)
  • A Companion to Malory, ed. E. Archibald and A.S.G. Edwards (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 1996)
  • Incest and the Medieval Imagination (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2001)
  • The Cambridge Companion to the Arthurian Legend, ed. Elizabeth Archibald and Ad Putter (Cambridge: CUP, 2009)

Selected Publications: Articles and Chapters

  • 'Women and Romance', in A Companion to Middle English Romance, ed. by H. Aertsen and A. MacDonald (Amsterdam: VU Press, 1990), 153-69
  • 'Declarations of "Entente" in Troilus and Criseyde', Chaucer Review, 25 (1991), 190-213
  • 'Malory's Ideal of Fellowship', Review of English Studies, n.s. 43 (1992), 311-28
  • 'Tradition and Innovation in the Macaronic Poetry of Dunbar and Skelton', Modern Language Quarterly, 53 (1992), 126-49
  • 'Contextualizing Chaucer's Constance: Romance Modes and Family Values', in TheEndless Knot: Essays on Old and Middle English Literaturein Honor of Marie Borroff, ed. by M. T. Tavormina and R. F. Yeager (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 1996)
  • 'Gold in the Dungheap: Incest Stories and Family Values', Journal of Family History, 22 (1997), 133-49
  • 'The Breton Lay in Middle English: Genre, Transmission and the Franklin's Tale', in Medieval Insular Romance: Translation and Innovation, ed. by Judith Weiss et al. (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2000), 55-70
  • 'The Case of the Female Foundling: Gender and Genre in Lai le Freine, in The Spirit of Medieval English Popular Romance, ed. by Ad Putter and Jane Gilbert (Harlow: Longman, 2000), 39-55
  • 'Sex and Power in Thebes and Babylon: Oedipus and Semiramis in Classical and Medieval Texts', Journal of Medieval Latin, 11 (2001), 27 - 49
  • 'Worse than Bogery: Incest Stories in Middle English Literature', in Incest and the Literary Imagination, ed. by Elizabeth Barnes (Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 2002), 17 - 38
  • 'Comedy and Tragedy in Some Arthurian Recognition Scenes', Arthurian Literature XIX (2003), 1 - 16
  • 'Ancient Romance', in A Companion to Romance, ed. Corinne Saunders (Oxford: Blackwells, 2004), 10-25
  • 'Lancelot as Lover in the Middle English Tradition Before Malory', in Arthurian Studies in Honour of P.J.C. Field, ed Bonnie Wheeler (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2004), 199-216
  • 'Lancelot of the Laik: Sources, Genre, Reception', in The Scots and the Medieval Arthurian Legend , ed. Rhiannon Purdie and Nicola Royan (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2005), 71-82
  • 'Did Knights Have Baths? The Absence of Bathing in Middle English Romance', in Cultural Encounters in the Romance of Medieval England, ed. Corinne Saunders (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2005) 101-115
  • 'Chaucer's Lovers in Metaphorical Heaven', in Envisioning Heaven in the Middle Ages, ed. Carolyn Muessig and Ad Putter (London: Routledge, 2006), pp. 222-36
  • 'Non-Recognition in Sir Tryamour: The Reversal of Romance Expectations', in Recognition in Narrative, Film, and Music: Interdisciplinary Studies on Anagnorisis, ed. Marilyn Lawrence and Philip Kennedy (New York: Peter Lang, 2008), pp. 62-80
  • 'Malory's Lancelot and Guinevere', in A Companion to Arthurian Literature, ed. Helen Fulton (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009), pp. 312-25
  • 'Questioning Arthurian Ideals', in The Cambridge Companion to the Arthurian Legend, ed. E. Archibald and A. Putter (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), pp. 139-53
  • 'Macaronic Poetry', in A Companion to Medieval Poetry, ed. Corinne Saunders (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010), pp. 277-88
  • 'Sisters under the Skin: Christine de Pizan and Margery Kempe', in Romance and Rhetoric: In Honor of Dhira B. Mahoney , ed. Georgiana Donavin and Anita Obermeier, Disputatio Series (Turnhout: Brepols, 2010), pp. 91-107
  • 'Arthurian Latin Romance', in The Arthur of Medieval Latin Literature, ed. Siân Echard (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2011), pp. 132-45