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Stephen Gordon

Dr Stephen Gordon



School of English, Communication and Philosophy

+44 29208 75615
John Percival Building, Room Room 2.39, Colum Drive, Cardiff, CF10 3EU


I am a lecturer in medieval literature at Cardiff University. I am particularly interested in the literary articulations of the belief in the supernatural in the medieval world, with a specific focus on ghosts, demonology and the walking dead. My most recent monograph, Supernatural Encounters: Demons and the Restless Dead in Medieval England, c.1050-1450, was published in 2020.

I recently co-edited a special issue of the Journal of Medieval History with Prof. Scott Bruce (Fordham University), titled Vigor Mortis: The Vitality of the Dead in Medieval Cultures











Adrannau llyfrau




  • Ghost and Revenant Belief
  • Medical Humanities
  • Irony and Satire
  • Chaucer
  • Historiography and Hagiography
  • Magic and Witchcraft
  • Interdisciplinarity

My main reseach focus concerns medieval and early modern conceptions of the supernatural. My first monograph Supernatural Encounters: Demons and the Restless Dead in Medeival England, c.1050-1450 (Routledge, 2020), explored the ways in which conflicting ideas about the intention and agency of walking corpses ('revenants') were understood and articulated in different social and literary contexts.

This work feeds into my ongoing interests in the relationship between medical and supernatural belief in the medeival world, specifically literary articulations of the nightmare experience (sleep paralysis) and the aetiology of contagion.

I am also interested in interdisciplinary theory and the relationship between written and material 'texts', specifically how the literary evidence for supernatural belief can be used to inform our understanding of ambiguous archaeological data. 



Supernatural Encounters: Demons and the Restless Dead in Medieval England c.1050-1450 (London: Routledge, 2020). ISBN: 9781138361744

Edited Volumes, Edited Journals, and Exhibition Catalogues

Vigor Mortis: The Vitality of the Dead in Medieval Culture, a special issue of Journal of Medieval History ed. by Scott Bruce and Stephen Gordon (2022)

Magic, Witches and Devils in the Early Modern World, ed. by Jenny Spinks, Sasha Handley and Stephen Gordon (Manchester: John Rylands Library, 2016). ISBN: 9780863730931

Medicine, Healing and Performance, ed. by Stephen Gordon et al (Oxford: Oxbow, 2014). ISBN: 9781782971580

Journal Articles

“‘This carpenter wende he were in despeir’: Misinterpretation and the Nightmare in Chaucer’s Miller’s Tale”, Journal of English and Germanic Philology 122 (2023), 482-506

‘“Ayenst trauelynge fendys by nyghte”: Simple Medicines, Practical Innovation, and the Premodern Conceptualisation of the Nightmare’, Preternature:  Critical and Historical Studies on the Preternatural 11 (2022), 225–257. DOI: 10.5325/preternature.11.2.0225 

‘“Agite, agite et uenite!”: Corrupted Breath, Corrupted Speech, and Encounters with the Restless Dead in Geoffrey of Burton’s Vita sancte Moduenne virginis, Journal of Medieval History 48 (2022), 183–198. DOI: 10.1080/03044181.2022.2060485

‘The Vitality of the Dead in Medieval Cultures’, Journal of Medieval History 48 (2022), 155–165. DOI: 10.1080/03044181.2022.2049516

‘Sensory Satires and the Virtues of Herbs in Sir Thopas’s Fair Forest’, Studies in Philology 119 (2022), 191–208. DOI: 10.1353/sip.2022/0007

‘Necromancy for the Masses? A Printed Version of the Compendiun Magiae Innaturalis Nigrae’, Magic, Ritual and Witchcraft 13 (2019 for 2018), 340–380. DOI: 10.1353/mrw.2018.0045

‘The Three Living and the Three Dead in the Horae of Galiot de Genouillac (Rylands Latin MS 38)’, Source: Notes in the History of Art 37 (2018), 97–107. DOI: 10.1086/697230

‘Emotional Practice and Bodily Performance in Early Modern Vampire Literature’, Preternature: Critical and Historical Studies on the Preternatural 6 (2017), 93–124. DOI: 10.5325/preternature.6.1.0093

‘Parody, Sarcasm and Invective in the Nugae of Walter Map’, The Journal of English and Germanic Philology 116 (2017), 82–107. DOI: 10.5406/jenglgermphil.116.1.0082

‘Curating Magic at the John Rylands Library: the 2016 exhibition “Magic, Witches and Devils in the Early Modern World”’, co-written with Jenny Spinks and Sasha Handley, Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 92 (2016), 105–114. DOI: 10.7227/BJRL.92.1.5

Necromancy and the Magical Reputation of Michael Scot: John Rylands Library, Latin MS 105’, Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 92 (2016), 73–103. DOI: 10.7227/BJRL.92.1.4

‘Medical Condition, Demon or Undead Corpse? Sleep Paralysis and the Nightmare in Medieval Europe’, Journal of the Social History of Medicine 28 (2015), 425−444. DOI: 10.1093/shm/hkv005

‘Monstrous Words, Monstrous Bodies: Irony and the Walking Dead in Walter Map’s De Nugis Curialium’, English Studies 96 (2015), 379−402. DOI: 10.1080/0013838X.2015.1011891

‘Social Monsters and the Walking Dead in William of Newburgh’s Historia Rerum Anglicarum’, Journal of Medieval History 41 (2015), 446−465. DOI: 10.1080/03044181.2015.1078255

Book Chapters

‘Dealing with the Undead in the Later Middle Ages’, in Dealing with the Dead: Mortality and Community in the Middle Ages, ed. by Thea Tomaini (Leiden: Brill, 2018), 97–128. ISBN: 9789004315143. Chapter DOI: 10.1163/9789004358331_006

‘Domestic Magic and the Walking Dead in Medieval England: A Diachronic Approach’, in The Materiality of Magic, ed. by Ceri Houlbrook and Natalie Armitage (Oxford: Oxbow, 2015), 65–84.  ISBN: 9781785700101 

‘Disease, Sin and the Walking Dead in Medieval England, c.1100-1350: A Note on the Documentary and Archaeological Evidence’, in Medicine, Healing and Performance, ed. by Stephen Gordon et al (Oxford: Oxbow, 2014), 55–70. ISBN: 9781782971580

Book Reviews

Review: Claire Trenery, Madness, Medicine and Miracle in Twelfth-Century England (Abingdon, Oxon; New York, NY: Routledge, 2019), Pp. xi + 183. ISBN: 9780815367451, in Social History of Medicine 32 (2019), 872–873

Review: Joshua Byron Smith, Walter Map and the Matter of Britain (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017). Pp. xi + 272. ISBN: 9780812249323, in Journal of English and Germanic Philology 118 (2019), 428–430

Review: Albrecht Classen (ed.), Death in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Times: The Material and Spiritual Conditions of the Culture of Death (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2016). Pp. vi + 545. ISBN: 978-3-11-043697-6, in Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft 13 (2018), 125–127

Review: Alberto Ribas-Casasayas and Amanda L. Petersen (eds.). Espectros: Ghostly Hauntings in Contemporary Transhispanic Narratives (Lewisburg, PA: Bucknell University Press, 2016). Pp. xv + 243. ISBN: 9781611487367, in Folklore 129 (2018), 319–320

Review: Lisa Tallis (ed.), Cas Gan Gythraul: Demonology, Witchcraft and Popular Magic in Eighteenth-Century Wales, T.P (Newport: South Wales Record Society, 2015). Pp, vi + 154. ISBN: 9780955338786, in Folklore 129 (2018), 215–217.

Review: Helen Parish (ed.), Superstition and Magic in Early Modern Europe: A Reader (London: Bloomsbury, 2014). Pp, viii + 400. ISBN: 9781441100320, in Journal of Religious History 41 (2017), 559–561.

Review: Matthew M. Mesley and Louise E. Wilson, Contextualising Miracles in the Christian West, 1100−1500 (Oxford: Medium Aevum, 2014). Pp. 231. ISBN: 9780907570240, in Social History of Medicine 29 (2016), 633–634.

Review: Claude Lecouteux. The Return of the Dead: Ghosts, Ancestors, and the Transparent Veil of the Pagan Mind. Translated by Jon. E. Graham. Rochester: Inner Traditions. 2009. Pp. 288. ISBN: 978-1594773181, in Preternature 1 (2012), 160−63.


In the 2023/24 academic year I will be teaching on the following modules:

  • Medieval Arthurian Literature (convener)
  • Medieval Misfits (convener)
  • Transgressive Bodies in Medieval Literature (convener)
  • Star-Cross'd Lovers: The Politics of Desire
  • Research Methods and Communication I 


I joined Cardiff University in 2022, having previously taught at Royal Holloway and the University of Manchester.