My research is in medieval ecocriticism, animal studies, and readings of the natural world, including animal presence and other minds in modern anglophone theatre.
The topic of my monograph project, Unland: Animal Spaces in Medieval Literature, is the philosophical stakes of animal metaphor in animal-spatial metaphors like the island-turned-whale of the Exeter Book Physiologus. This exploration traverses Old and Middle English literature and the genres of riddles, bestiary, biblical poetry and medieval drama.
My current work has a particular emphasis on medieval animal texts, particularly the Physiologus and bestiary tradition, and the reception of these medieval genres in later periods. My most recent forthcoming chapter considers undermining and unearthing metaphors about badgers and other earth-moving creatures in the bestiary and medieval riddles. I am also current writing a chapter on the insights of ecocriticism for the medieval bestiary for an edited volume. I am additionally co-writing a journal article about submerged bodies in the landscape in medieval poetry.
As Lecturer in Old and Middle English at Keble College I teach all core medieval papers for the English Language and Literature degree, including the year one paper Prelims 2: English 650-1350; the second-year paper FHS 2: English 1350-1550; as well as the optional Course II medieval literature options and all medieval dissertations for third years. I also currently co-convene a Faculty Special option with Professor Diane Purkiss on Fairytales, Folklore and Fantasy. In addition, I lecture, teach additional seminars, and supervise Faculty of English undergraduate and masters’ dissertations on ecocriticism and animal studies.
I was delighted to return to Keble College as Lecturer in Old and Middle English in October 2022, having previously held the role of Keble Lecturer in Old and Middle English 2015-2018 and Director of Studies for the Washington University St Louis Keble College Visiting Student Programme. In the interceding years I co-founded the first spinout start-up from the Faculty of English (LitHits), for which I still serve on the board of directors, and was acting Senior Tutor for a major Keble College American associate study abroad programme, M-CMRS.
Publications, Awards and Funding
Paddock, Alexandra and Shepherd-Barr, Kirsten. (2018). Elizabeth Robins. obo in Victorian Literature.
Paddock, Alexandra, ‘Earth-eaters and Earth-movers: animal relations with earth in the Physiologus, bestiaries and Nature riddles’. In Earth, ed. Hugh Magennis, Marilina Cesario, and Elisa Ramazzina (Brill, forthcoming: 2022).
Unland: Animal Spaces in Medieval Literature
Projects nearing completion
Paddock, Alexandra, ‘Ecocriticism and Enormous Animals in the Second-Family Bestiary’.
Paddock, Alexandra and Purkiss, Diane, ‘Sinking into Place’.
Other papers include
Work on staging interspecies loving in War Horse and Equus, a comparison of medieval Jonah poem “Patience” and the MS Arundel 292 bestiary (presented at ‘Ark After Noah’, 2017), and a paper on animal collaboration in early Middle English lyrics.
Awards and Funding
Apr 2022 “Ten-Minute Book Club” from the Minderoo-Oxford Challenge Fund in AI Governance
Apr 2019 “Literature, Age and Care” from the Social Sciences and Humanities Business Engagement Seed Fund (University of Oxford)
Jan 2019 LitHits Project Funding from the Van Houten Fund
Dec 2018 LitHits Project Funding from the Oxford University Innovation Seed Fund.
Jun 2017 Nominated for an OUSU Student-Led Teaching Award
Podcasting and Outreach
Five Tips for Getting Back into Reading, co-authored with Kirsten-Shepherd Barr (Independent)
Ten-Minute Book Club (Faculty of English project)
I am Lead Curator for the LitHits project on digital reading and a Director at LitHits Ltd, the first spin-out from the Faculty of English.
In collaboration with the Institute of Population Ageing and Age UK Oxfordshire, I helped develop and coordinated the ‘Reading, Wellbeing and Ageing’ business exchange project, funded by the Humanities Division Seed Fund (April-July 2019).
I also coordinate Ten-Minute Book Club, a digital short-form outreach reading project. New introductions written by English Faculty researchers are combined with literary excerpts curated by LitHits to create kits for use in schools and other reading contexts. This project was founded in 2020, when it attracted over 20,000 visitors as well as coverage in international news (Times of India, The Independent) and national radio (BBC Oxford). From 2022, the project also includes workshops with teachers, and a permanent installation in the Weston Library’s Blackwell Hall. Ten-Minute Book Club is funded by the Minderoo-Oxford Challenge Fund in AI Governance (April 2022, PI: Alexandra Paddock, Co-I: Kirsten Shepherd-Barr).