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Languages, Cultures and Visual Studies

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Dr Edward Mills

Postdoctoral Research Fellow


01392 724179


I am a Postdoctoral Research Fellow on the Learning Anglo-French project, investigating how the French language in medieval Britain (variously termed 'Anglo-French', 'insular French', and 'Anglo-Norman') was learned, taught and used prior to 1500. My research and teaching more broadly spans medieval and post-medieval French studies, with a particular focus on cultural and intellectual history, and develops themes first explored in my PhD (completed at Exeter in 2021), largely surrounding medieval French language and literature and the use of the French language in medieval England. A monograph based on my doctoral research (provisionally entitled Language, Learning, and the French of Medieval England) is in preparation.

Before joining LAF, I was a Lecturer in Medieval Studies (2021-23) and Lecturer in French (2023) at Exeter, as well as the Postdoctoral Research Associate on a precursor to LAF, 'Learning French in Medieval England' (in which role I helped to produce the first digital edition of Walter de Bibbesworth's 13th-century French teaching text, the Tretiz.

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My research focuses on the use of the French language in medieval Britain, and particularly on less traditionally 'literary' texts; both of these focuses inform my work as Postdoctoral Research Fellow on the Learning Anglo-French project. My PhD, 'Imagining and enacting education in the French texts of post-Conquest England', examined the relationship between language use and instruction across a range of genres, including computus texts (pieces dealing with the dating of movable feasts), translations of the Latin Disticha Catonis, and the so-called 'courtesy book' tradition. I am currently working on a monograph based on my PhD research. 

Since completing my PhD, I have developed further interests in the relationship between language and knowledge in medieval Britain, and have published an edition and study of the guide to the lunar calendar in British Library, MS Cotton Claudius D III (Medium Ævum, 91:1). An introduction to Rauf de Lenham's Kalender, a key text in the tradition of the computus in medieval French, will appear in an upcoming volume in Routledge's Cultural History of Translation series (edited by Michelle Bolduc and Marie-Alice Belle). I am also interested in codicology and book history, as well as in the phenomenon and uses of medievalism in the post-medieval world.

Much of my research engages with textual criticism and the practice of scholarly editing. As part of my most recent work in this area, I have re-edited the surviving correspondence between Hugh de Courtenay (Earl of Devon) and John Grandisson (Bishop of Exeter) during the fractious period of 1329-1340. The resulting article has appeared open-access in the journal Historical Research. Prior to this, I was Postdoctoral Research Associate on the Learning French in Medieval England project, where I worked (along with Dr. Thomas Hinton) to produce a digital critical edition of all 17 manuscripts of Walter de Bibbesworth's Tretiz.

In recent years, I have also begun work on pre-modern attitudes to neurological difference, particularly autism (motivated in part by my own late diagnosis of autism). My early work in this area will appear in the collaborative volume, Towards an Inclusive Academy: Perspectives from Disabled Medievalists, forthcoming in 2024 with Michigan University Press.

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External impact and engagement

Public engagement and outreach are an important part of my work, and I take pride in my work with schools, organisations, and the general public. I have collaborated with a number of local schools and colleges to deliver enrichment sessions across a range of medieval- and modern languages-related topics, and remain involved with the Modern Languages strand of the University's flagship Exeter Scholars Programme.

As part of the Learning French in Medieval England project, I have delivered a number of talks to non-specialists and school students, including for the 2020 'Being Human' festival (where we explored medieval maunscripts, Disney films, and the relationship between XML code and medieval texts) and the 2022 Translation! Festival (which saw us deliver a 'pub quiz'-style taster session on the history of French and English). I am currently involved in a collaborative project (with volunteers at Delapré Abbey, Northamptonshire, and colleagues at the university) to translate the thirteenth-century Delapré Chronicle (Bodleian Library, MS Dugdale 18), and (most recently) have produced several passages of eleventh-century French for the Netflix series, Vikings: Valhalla.

Contribution to discipline

I am a regular reviewer of books for the journal French Studies, and have served as a reviewer for volumes in the Modern Humanities Research Association's Critical Texts series. I am a member of the Society for French Studies, the Society for the Study of Medieval Languages and Literature, and the Anglo-Norman Text Society. I am also an Associate Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.


I have worked with several media partners to promote my research and to raise awareness of the discipline. Most recently, I contributed lines of medieval French dialogue to the popular Netflix series, Vikings: Valhalla (due to be released in early 2024).

I also appeared on BBC Radio 4's university-trotting quiz programme, The Third Degree, in July 2023, representing the Department of History and Archaeology.

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Teaching is an integral part of my work, and I've been privileged to work with students from a wide variety of backgrounds, from school students to postgraduates, since my arrival at Exeter. I'm particularly interested in innovative and authentic assessment methods, in response to the challenges and opportunities presented by generative AI and other emergent technologies. I have contributed material on seminar tools (Mural), lecture slide design, and assignment briefs to the University's EduExe toolkit. Since 2021, I have been a Fellow of AdvanceHE (formerly the Higher Education Academy), and regularly mentor and assess applicants through the University's ASPIRE programme.   I am also actively involved in the ongoing work at Exeter to support neurodivergent students, in which capacity I draw on my own experience with a late diagnosis of autism. My work on this topic has appeared on the WonkHE platform, as well as on the Doctoral College's 'R, D, and the In-Betweens' podcast.   I began teaching at Exeter during my PhD, when I contributed to teaching on language and culture modules as a Postgraduate Teaching Assistant. Shortly after completing my PhD, I was appointed to the position of Lecturer in Medieval Studies, based primarily in the Department of History and Archaeology; there, I taught at all levels, including first-year medieval survey modules and the final-year Comparative, 'Civil Wars', as well as convening the second-year 'Medieval Paris' Option module. I also offered a first-year 'Sources and Skills' module based around post-medieval perceptions of the Middle Ages.   I moved back to the Department of Languages, Cultures and Visual Studies in autumn 2023, as a Lecturer in French. In this capacity, I taught widely across modern and medieval French studies, introducing students to French philosophy and to the exciting and complex worlds of 14th-century music and court culture. At Master's level, I taught on the MA in Translation Studies (focusing on French-to-English translation).

Modules taught

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I completed my PhD in French at the University of Exeter in 2021, supervised by Dr. Thomas Hinton, Prof. Emma Cayley (now at the University of Leeds), and Dr. Susana Afonso. My PhD focused on the use of French as a language of didactism in England during the centuries following the Norman Conquest. Prior to arriving in Exeter, I worked as a lecteur d'anglais at the École Normale Supérieure de Lyon, France, where I taught advanced English language skills, British current affairs, and an introduction to medievalism.

I have worked as Postdoctoral Research Associate on the Learning French in Medieval England project, where I (alongside the project's Principal Investigator, Tom Hinton) am working to produce a digital critical edition of Walter de Bibbesworth's 13th-century French language-teaching text, the Tretiz. You can watch a short video introduction to our work on the project (filmed as part of the University's ExeTalks series) here.

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