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In this seminar, Laura Varnam (academic, poet, and co-editor of Encountering The Book of Margery Kempe) will discuss her new creative-critical project on twentieth and twenty-first century adaptations of The Book of Margery Kempe. Laura will focus in particular on modern poets' revoicings of Margery Kempe, including the work of Pattie McCarthy ('margerykempething' in Wifthing, 2021), Sarah Law (Ink's Wish, 2017), and her own poetic engagements with Margery as a way of exploring what Louise D'Arcens terms a 'critically recruited paramodern': 'a premodern existing not before the modern but alongside it and within it as a trace, a simultaneous presence and an absence' (postmedieval 2010). Laura's project uses medievalisms to shine light on Kempe's original Book, discussing voice, genre, and style, and what it means to write about– and with– Margery in the modern day.

Laura Varnam is the Lecturer in Old and Middle English Literature at University College, Oxford. She is the author of The Church as Sacred Space in Middle English Literature and Culture (MUP, 2018) and the co-editor (with Laura Kalas) of Encountering The Book of Margery Kempe (MUP, 2021). She is the co-founder of the Margery Kempe Society and has written a number of articles on Margery Kempe and other Middle English texts. She is also a poet and is working on a collection inspired by the women of Beowulf, a selection from which was published with a creative-critical essay in the postmedieval in 2022.

All welcome- this seminar is free to attend, but booking in advance is required.