Miss Helen Kavanagh

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Educational background

Bachelor of Arts in History, Royal Holloway, University of London (2009-2012)

Master of Arts in Medieval Studies, Royal Holloway, University of London (2012-2013)

Research interests

I am currently researching the patterns of illicit sexual activity in medieval English provincial towns roughly from The Black Death of 1348 to the Reformation in 1533. I am interested in both the topography of sex and the perpetrators, be they prostitutes, students, nuns or abbots! This work has followed on from my MA thesis, which looked at the topography of prostution in Oxfordshire in the fifteenth century and attempted to draw conclusions from the location of specific street names (such as Gropecunte Lane) about the clientele of the women involved. Sexualised street names were prevalent across medieval English towns, as has been demonstrated by Baker and Holt, and I hope to expand on their sexual topographical work. My research further expands on the extensive work already undertaken on prostituion by Ruth Karras' work, Common Women: Prostitution and Sexuality in Medieval England, though I intend to look not only at prostitution but also at all types of illicit sexual practice. Alongside prostitution, this also includes sexual relations in monastic houses, between unwed lovers and adultery.


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