Joanna Bellis is a College Teaching Officer in English, specialising in medieval literature. She teaches Part I papers on literature from 1066-1350 and 1300-1550, Part II medieval options and Practical Criticism, as well as directing studies for Part I. Her research is interested in medieval and early modern history-writing and its literary yearnings. Her first book (The Hundred Years War in Literature, 1337-1600) traced the narration of that conflict from contemporary accounts to its sixteenth-century political afterlife (including on the Elizabethan stage). With Laura Slater (art historian) she co-edited Representing War and Violence, 1250-1600. Through those projects she discovered John Page's little-known and remarkable eyewitness poem on Henry V's capture of Normandy's capital in 1419, The Siege of Rouen, which she edited for Middle English Texts (2015). It is a complex, ambitious and foundering text, attempting (and failing) to pull together the contradictory currents of patriotism, compassion, integrity and aspiration. After that she caught the editing bug and has recently been collaborating on a new Complete Works of Chaucer for CUP (with responsibility for the Prioress's Tale and Second Nun's Tale). Her current project is about eyewitness writing in the Middle Ages: framed as the cornerstone of the Christian and classical tradition, eyewitnesses carried great ethical and imaginative freight. The evangelists all asserted their eyewitness status, and the accounts of the siege of Troy by Dares Phrygius and Dictys Cretensis were believed to have been eyewitnessed; even the word history was derived (erroneously) by medieval etymologists from a compound of 'seeing' and 'knowing'. How people laid claim to eyewitness status for themselves or others, how eyewitness writing borrowed the language and forms of fiction (whilst disavowing it), and how eyewitness reporting changed in the age of print, are some of the questions animating the book. She grew up in north Cumbria and remains fond of cold-water swimming and singing on the fells.

Photo credit: Brian Callingham