Inaugural Lecture: The Education of a Medievalist: English Godly Literature Unbound to be given by Professor Veronica O’Mara Professor of Medieval English Literature
In this lecture Professor O’Mara will explore her on-going education as a medievalist in the light of developments in the discipline of Medieval English Studies. She will concentrate especially on the inter-related areas of preaching, the relationship between manuscript and print, and female literacy, which have been the main focus of her published research. She has chosen here to refer to ‘godly literature’, a term principally used in early modern studies, rather than ‘medieval religious literature’, a phrase that has an unfortunate tendency to be seen by the modern critic — and student — almost as a term of abuse. At the root of this lecture there will be three overlapping fields of enquiry that have informed all of Professor O’Mara’s research: a firm belief that period boundaries can be artificial and stultifying; the need for a nuanced understanding of what is meant by ‘literature’/’literacy’in a medieval context; and a conviction that we cannot be isolationist in studying English literature and history but must do so in a European context. In her interpretation of a selection of textual case studies that in different ways transcend historical boundaries she will ponder on some of the questions and issues that have most resonance for her, and, as she sees it, for the study of godly literature from England in the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries as seen against the background of European cultural, historical, and literary developments.
The lecture is followed by a reception in the Derwent Café.
Veronica O’Mara, Professor of Medieval English Literature at the University of Hull, is a graduate of University College Dublin (National University of Ireland) where she obtained a BA (First Class) in Modern English and Old and Middle English, and an MA (Honours) in Old and Middle English. Her Ph.D. from the University of Leeds focused on Middle English sermons, which at the time was a developing area of study. She began her academic career as a Teaching Assistant in Old English at University College Dublin and as a Tutor in Medieval English at the University of Leeds. Following a temporary lectureship at the University of Keele, she was appointed a lecturer at the University of Hull, where she subsequently became a senior lecturer and professor.
Professor O’Mara, a member of the University of Hull’s Andrew Marvell Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies, has written or edited eleven books either singly or in collaboration, and thirty articles or book chapters. In the course of her publications she has worked alongside scholars from the universities of Antwerp, Dublin (University College), Hull, Leeds, Missouri-Kansas City, Pace (New York), Toronto (Pontifical Institute), and University of Wales Trinity St David. She is a member of the editorial board of Sermo: Studies on Patristic, Medieval and Reformation Sermons and Preaching and a member of the international advisory committee of the Index of Middle English Prose. She edited the journal Medieval Sermon Studies for the International Medieval Sermon Studies Society for some two decades, initially with Dr Simon Forde (Medieval Institute Publications) and later with Professor Carolyn Muessig (University of Bristol). In her work on Nuns’ Literacies in Medieval Europe, together with her collaborators Professor Virginia Blanton (University of Missouri-Kansas City) and Dr Patricia Stoop (Universiteit Antwerpen), she has edited essays by some fifty scholars from continental Europe, North America, Australia, and New Zealand.
External grant income or fellowships to fund Professor O'Mara's collaborative research projects has been provided by the Arts and Humanities Research Council; Bibliographical Sociiety; British Academy; Ferens Education Trust; Folger Shakespeare Library; Fonds Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek/Research Foundation Flanders; Huntington Library; Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society; Modern Humanities Research Association; Missouri Education Board; National University of Ireland; Society for Medieval Feminist Scholarship; Society for Medieval Languages and Literature; Swedish Institute; Universiteit Antwerpen; University of Leeds; and University of Missouri-Kansas City.
Veronica O’Mara was appointed to a personal chair in February 2015.