Mr Michael Warren

Supervised by

  • Ruth Kennedy First/primary/lead supervisor


Personal profile

Personal Profile

I studied for my BA in English (2001-4) at Royal Holloway, University of London, graduating with a first class degree, and was subsequently awarded a scholarship by the department for my MA on the Medieval Studies programme (2004-5). I am still currently a part-time secondary school teacher of English, having studied for my PGCE at Magdalen College, Oxford. I returned to Royal Holloway to begin my part-time doctorate (2010) and was awarded a scholarship to fund my research. The thesis, Bird Kind: Avian Transformations, Species and Identities in Medieval English Poetry, was submitted in December 2016 and succesfully passed in April 2017. I am now a visiting lecturer at Holloway, teaching on the first year undergraduate course on medieval poetry whilst continuing to work as an English teacher at Cranbrook School in Kent.


Research Interests

My research focuses on birds, environments and the natural world generally, as depicted in medieval poetry (Anglo-Saxon to 15th century). I am particularly interested in exploring both medieval (and modern) conceptions of nature through the still burgeoning fields of animal studies and ecocriticism, which seek to re/examine how writers understand and respond to species concepts, environments and the human-nonhuman relationship. With specific reference to the bird's presence in medieval poetry, my work attempts to challenge and reorientate traditional approaches to the natural world in medieval texts which have seen its presence as a mere backdrop to more pressing, human concerns. Birds, in this analysis, are always figurative in some way, often religiously allegorical. More recent research, however, has encouraged scholars to consider where the real, literal and physical natural world pokes through the figurative gaps, and to consider why these appearances might be relevant. There is still much scope, that is, for considering how the real bird is an integral part of the strategies at work in some medieval poetic works. As one environmental historian has said of medieval history: 'Rather than viewing Nature as the passive recipient of human actions, we should acknowledge Nature as an active participant'. I have finished all five chapters to appear in my thesis and am currently working on editing and cohering the whole thing for examination. Chapters have examined the Old English Seafarer and Wanderer, the Exeter Book Riddles and Phoenix, the early Middle English poem The Owl and the Nightingale, Chaucer's Parliament of Fowls and the 'Tale of Tereus' in Gower's Confessio Amantis.


Conference Papers

'Illuminating the Medieval Dark Ages: How Birds Mattered in Medieval Britain', New Networks for Nature, Stamford, November 2014

'The Same Difference of Species: Birds in Chaucer's Parliament of Fowls', LOMERS, London, May 2015

''Kek Kek': Translating Birds in Chaucer's Parliament of Fowls', IMC Kalamazoo, Michigan, 2016

'Down to Earth, Down to Turd': Deconstructing the Book of Nature in The Owl and the Nightingale', International Medieval Congress, Leeds, July 2016

'Avian Pedagogies: Wondering with Birds in the Exeter Book Riddles', International Medieval Congress, Leeds (forthcoming, July 2017)

'On Being an Owl: The Legitimacies and Difficulties of Species-Being in The Owl and the Nightingale, Biennial London Conference (forthcoming, June 2017)


Papers and Articles

‘Same Difference: Debating Chaucer’s Parliament of Fowls’, Earthlines 12 (July 2015)

''Kek Kek': Translating Birds in Chaucer's Parliament of Fowls', Studies in the Age of Chaucer, 38 (2016), 109-32

'Native Foreigners: Migrating Seabirds and the Pelagic Soul in The Seafarer, English Studies (forthcoming, 2017) 

I also write about aspects of my work for a more general audience on my blog: 




Early English Text Society Prize (2003)

Hilda Green Prize (2004)

Phyllis Hodgson Prize BA (2004)

Phyllis Hodgson Prize MA (2005)

Phyllis Hodgson Prize PhD (2015)

Karrer Travel Award (51st International Congress on Medieval Studies at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo - May 2016)



ASLE(UKI) The Association for the Study of Literature and Environment (UK-Ireland branch) (

New Chaucer Society





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