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Alastair Bennett


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Personal profile

Personal profile

I graduated from the University of Cambridge with a BA in English Literature in 2003, and an MPhil in Medieval and Renaissance Literature in 2005. I stayed in Cambridge to write a PhD on reformist narratives in medieval literature, supervised by Nicolette Zeeman, which I completed in 2009. Both my MPhil and my PhD were funded by the AHRC. From 2010-2012, I was lecturer in English at Canterbury Christ Church University. I joined the English department at Royal Holloway as Lecturer in Medieval Literature in 2012.

Research interests

My research focuses on the literature of late medieval England, primarily Middle English texts from the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries, with a special interest in the intersections between literary and devotional culture. I have published articles on William Langland’s allegorical dream-vision poem Piers Plowman, Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, the alliterative miracle story St Erkenwald, Middle English sermons, and Middle English writings on proverbs and prayer. My monograph, Preaching and Narrative in Piers Plowman, was published by Oxford University Press in 2023, as part of the Oxford Studies in Medieval Literature and Culture series. This book explored Langland’s engagement with contemporary sermons, and with the narratives they offered to make sense of lived experience, in the allegorical action of Piers Plowman.

I am currently at work on an edition of the A-text of Piers Plowman from London, Lincoln’s Inn, MS 150, for the Piers Plowman Electronic Archive, and an edition of ‘Pardoner’s Prologue and Tale’ for the forthcoming Cambridge Complete Works of Chaucer, under the general editorship of Julia Boffey and A. S. G. Edwards. I am also developing a new project on medieval understandings of attention and distraction, provisionally entitled Interrupted Reading: Attention, Distraction, and the Material Book in Late Medieval England.


I convene and teach on a wide range of medieval courses at Royal Holloway. My recent undergraduate teaching includes lectures and seminars for ‘Encountering Medieval Literature: From Beowulf to Chaucer’, ‘Middle English Poetry,’ ‘Literature After the Conquest, 1066-1340’, and a third-year special-topic course on Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales; my recent postgraduate teaching includes ‘Literature of Medieval London’, ‘Medieval Narratives’, ‘Methods and Materials of Research’ and the MA Medieval Studies ‘Research Development Course’. I am looking forward to teaching a new course, ‘Medieval Drama,’ which will run for the first time in the 2024-25 academic year.

I was awarded a College Excellence Teaching Prize for ‘Middle English Poetry’, and a College Performance Award for Outstanding Contributions to Teaching and Leadership. I was also part of the team that won a College Team Teaching Commendation for ‘Encountering Medieval Literature’. I became a fellow of the Higher Education Academy in 2015.


I co-convene the London Old and Middle English Seminar (LOMERS) with Catherine Nall (Royal Holloway) and Rebecca Menmuir (Queen Mary, University of London). I was on the programme committee and the organising committee for the Biennial London Chaucer conference in 2017 and 2019, and I co-chaired the local organising committee for the Eighth International Piers Plowman Society conference in London in 2023. I edit the Yearbook of Langland Studies with Katharine Breen (Northwestern University) and Eric Weiskott (Boston College).

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, University of Cambridge


Medieval and Renaissance Literature (Medieval Elements), MPhil, University of Cambridge


English, BA, University of Cambridge