Joanne Edge (Royal Holloway) Scouloudi Fellow

'Nomen omen': the 'Sphere of Life and Death' in late medieval England

Jo Edge studied for her BA in History at Oxford University's Department for Continuing Education and Goldsmiths College before completing her MA in Medieval Studies at UCL. She is currently a PhD student at Royal Holloway, University of London, supervised by Professor Peregrine Horden. Her thesis examines an onomantic divinatory device, primarily used to predict life or death in a sick person - the ‘Sphere of Life and Death’ - in manuscripts of late medieval English provenance, looking at the manuscript contexts in which this device appears to establish ownership and/or usership. The accompanying text of the ‘Sphere’ in the later Middle Ages can also tell us much about how this device was used, and she is therefore also including transcriptions and, where appropriate, editions of these texts. Her final chapter will look beyond the end of the Middle Ages and examine the fate of the ‘Sphere’ in England from 1500-1700, with a particular emphasis on the impact of the Reformation and print culture on the fortune of this device

Jo's research interests centre on medicine, natural philosophy and the occult - divination, magic and astrology - in late medieval Europe. 


‘Licit Medicine or Pythagorean Necromancy?: The ‘Sphere of Life and Death’ in late medieval England’, Historical Research [forthcoming]

‘Serious Prognostic or Student Entertainment? The ‘Sphere of Life and Death in England’, 1100-1500’, Science and the Occult - from the Middle Ages through the Early Modern Period ed. Angela C. Ghionea (Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing) [forthcoming]