Candidates ISSEME elections 2022

The following members, in alphabetic order, are running for the vacant board positions:

Please find the bios and statements of all candidates below:

Julian Calcagno

My name is Julian Calcagno and I am a PhD Candidate at Flinders University, Australia. My research focuses on Christianisation and honour in Anglo-Saxon society. In particular, I am interested in religious acculturation in the legal evidence. I would love the opportunity to run for a position on the advisory board as I have a strong passion for promoting studies in Anglo-Saxon history. As I am currently on the other side of the world, I believe I could represent the geographical diversity of ISSEME as a global association. 

In addition to this, I am currently a committee member for the Journal of the Australian Early Medieval Association. In my role as newsletter editor, I have been involved in committee meetings and served the association by distributing a quarterly newsletter. This includes an update on our members concerning the latest research projects, new career opportunities, upcoming medieval conferences, recent graduates, the latest publications from our members, and updates regarding our own journal. With this experience, I hope to contribute to the advisory board and promote ISSEME in a similar fashion.  

Thank you for your consideration!

Conan Doyle

Dear Members

My name is Conan Doyle and I am running for one of the vacancies on the Advisory Board of ISSEME.

I completed my PhD in 2018 and joined the society as an independent scholar in 2020. My main research interests are in the history of medicine and the transfer of knowledge between the Eastern Roman Empire and the Latin West. My PhD thesis was ‘Anglo-Saxon Medicine and Disease: A Semantic Approach’ and I am nearing completion of my first monograph: The Latin Sources of Old English Medical Texts, which will highlight the number of ultimately Late Antique Greek sources were influential in the tenth and eleventh century Latin medical tradition as well as the vernacular tradition.

Although I have only been a member of the society for a short time, I feel committed to the values of the society in encouraging international cooperation, collaboration, and the support of new scholars. I felt most welcome at the 2021 conference despite being a newcomer to the society and an independent scholar. I hope that in my capacity as a board member, I can help foster such a welcoming environment for others.

I have recently accepted a position as a Lecturer in Medieval English in the Department of Languages and Literatures, Faculty of Humanities, Prague Charles University, to begin on the 1st of February this year. In this capacity I hope to help increase the profile of the society in a predominantly Czech speaking university.

James Estes

I am a scholar and librarian who engages with research and teaching in medieval studies, alongside my career  in Discovery and Preservation Services at the Library of Congress. I am interested in serving on ISSEME’s Advisory Board so that I can more actively contribute to supporting and advancing the study of early medieval England, particularly as someone who is not currently formally affiliated with an institution of higher education.
            My PhD (2017) is in theology and religious studies, focusing on the history of early and medieval Christian spirituality. While I began doctoral work primarily interested in the Middle English mystics, I fell in love with Old English literature. (To be fair, it was a romance brewing for a while.) I turned my attention to religion and theology in early medieval England, with a primary interest in Old English literature as early English vernacular theology.
Prior to joining the Library of Congress, I was the library director and senior theology librarian at Wesley Theological Seminary. In this capacity, I was concerned with library leadership, academic administration, and theological bibliography. Upon receiving my PhD, I expanded my role at Wesley by developing and teaching courses on early and medieval Christian spirituality and church history. After I joined the Library of Congress in 2020, I continued to teach as adjunct faculty, although I am on hiatus from teaching this year to focus on research, writing, course development, and other projects.
            As a librarian, I have a history of leadership and active engagement in professional associations. Notably, I am actively involved with Atla, the professional association for librarians and related professionals in theology and religious studies. I served on the professional development committee (2015-2017) and I am now completing my term on Atla’s Open Access editorial board. Working with Atla in these and other capacities has been valuable in providing experience and insight on organizational work that supports and nurtures research, teaching, and learning — work that is often invisible, but vital to scholarly success.
            I have been a member of ISSEME since 2011, and have long given thought to my role in the organization and, broadly, my place in early medieval English scholarship. Serving on the Advisory Committee affords me an opportunity to contribute meaningfully to ISSEME and to the field at large.The majority of my professional life has been in higher education, although as an administrator rather than teaching or research faculty and this professional history has led me to appreciate the work of organizations and systems that foster scholarship and promote academic work. My experiences now lead me to consider how I might support my own scholarly field, not simply as a teacher or researcher, but as an advocate and organizer.
            For more information about my work, please visit

Alison Gulley

I am Professor of English with affiliate faculty status in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality studies at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC, in the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains. I received a BA from the University of Texas at Austin and MA and PhD in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I’ve held several positions—adjunct, Visiting Assistant Professor, non-tenure track professor, and finally tenure-track professor at my current job—at a variety of institutions, including a community college, small private liberal arts colleges, and mid-size state universities, such as my current institution, a Master’s level regional comprehensive serving about 21,000 students. I include these details because I think it’s important for this organization—and our medieval studies disciplines at large—to include teachers and scholars with a variety of experiences from across the educational spectrum, and I’m interested in serving ISSEME as both it and the field continue to evolve, hopefully becoming more welcoming, inclusive, and representative in the process. Additionally, I believe my experience on the board and then as secretary of the Southeastern Medieval Association will be useful.

At App State, my main teaching responsibilities are medieval literature and History of the English Language. We have a thriving English major (a miracle in these times!) with fully half of these students majoring in English Education with plans to enter the high school classroom. One of my main goals for this group is that they be prepared to dispell many of the misconceptions about the Middle Ages that are held by the general public. I also try to arm them for a fight against the use and abuse of the medieval by the alt-right.

My scholarship has focused broadly on women and gender, and my monograph, The Displacement of the Body in Ælfric’s Virgin Martyr Lives (Ashgate, 2014), explores how the context of the Benedictine Reform and Ælfric’s commitment to writing for a lay audience resulted in a set of stories emphasizing a spirituality distinct from physical intactness. My edited volume ties together my scholarly and pedagogical interests. In Teaching Rape in the Medieval Literature Classroom: Approaches to Difficult Texts (Amsterdam University Press, 2018) my contributors and I propose methods of teaching rape narratives in ways sensitive to students’ experiences in and out of the classroom. In recent years, I’ve also been engaging in the scholarship of medievalism. One of my most read articles is “‘What We Need is a Hero:’ Beowulf in a Post-9/11 World,” which addresses Zemeckis’ Beowulf in the context of Islamophobia and the War on Terror. I also have a recent book chapter— “‘I yearned for a strange land and a people that had the charm of originality’: Searching for Salvation in Medieval Appalachia”—that examines the mythology of white Appalachians as vestiges of a pure “Anglo-Saxon” race. My essay “J. K. Rowling, Chaucer’s Pardoner, and the Ethics of Reading” is forthcoming in NCS: Pedagogy and Profession, and I am currently at work on a chapter addressing the hidden violence against women in Beowulf as depicted in Susan Signe Morrison’s novel Grendel’s Mother: The Saga of the Wyrd-Wife.

Janice Hawes

I am committed to culturally relevant and inclusive scholarly discussion.   Currently, I am the Chair of English and Communications at South Carolina State University, a historically black university (HBCU) in rural South Carolina.  For the past eleven years at SC State, I have led the creation of programs that provide students and faculty opportunities to explore topics beyond the traditional canon, including the revision of our English undergraduate curriculum to one that employs intersectional studies as a foundation.  As Chair, I continue to work with colleagues to create inclusive venues.  Under my leadership, we have developed our annual Intersectional Studies Remote Conference (ISC) and will soon see our first issue of the Intersectional Studies Journal at SC State (an open-access, peer- reviewed scholarly journal).  Our free online ISC has been popular at an international level with junior and “non-traditional” scholars who often cannot afford the costs of a conference.  In August 2021, I received a Provost’s Award for my work on ISC.

As the only medievalist on my campus, I share the concern of my colleagues about the continued viability of medieval studies. I created the first medieval literature class at SC State, a Chaucer course where students explore the Canterbury Tales as a “remix” of various works and genres, which in turn has been remixed to suit the agendas of later societies. My own research is a reflection of my experiences as a teacher, administrator, and scholar, and I fully embrace the movement towards a re-envisioned medieval studies that encourages multiple perspectives, expands and challenges the definition(s) of the “medieval world,” and employs a variety of lenses to study early English society and its artifacts.  My article “Saracens in Middle English Romance” (Islam and Post-Colonial Discourse: Purity and Hybridity. Esra Mirza Santesso and James E. McClung, eds. Routledge, 2017.), written for a non-medievalist audience, discusses how ingrained in Western tradition are many stereotypes that modern Muslims face.   Most of my research is dedicated to my interests as a Beowulf scholar who focuses specifically on medievalism.  My article “Manly Fantasy: Medieval and Modern Masculinities in Two Juvenile Versions of Beowulf” (Beowulf in Contemporary Culture. David Clark, ed. Cambridge Scholars, 2019.)explores how modern retellings of Beowulf challenge and reflect the masculine norms of the original text.  In “Beowulf as Hero of Empire” (Teaching Medieval and Early Modern Cross-Cultural Encounters. Karina F. Attar and Lynn Shutters, eds. Palgrave, 2014.), I analyze H. E. Marshall’s 1908 Stories of Beowulf as propaganda for the British Raj.  My current book project scrutinizes C. L. Thomson’s 1899 The Adventures of Beowulf as a solid translation of the original poem with a few carefully planned changes intended to train her young audience as citizens of the British Empire.  My analysis acknowledges the challenges Thomson faced as a female scholar and outlines her complicity as a white woman participating in the imperial project.

As an advisory board member, I will work with my colleagues to uphold ISSEME’s commitment to racial justice, gender equity, and greater inclusion in our scholarly discussions.  We need to provide more support to junior and independent scholars through financial backing and by seeking out and creating free and accessible avenues of discourse, such as online seminars and conferences.   We must continue to actively engage with and recruit scholars with diverse interests and work even more closely with other organizations in our field that embrace this vision through joint conferences and shared discussion sites.  We should move beyond our scholarly circle and engage in community outreach through more open-access free public events.  Active and inclusive dialogue will ensure the viability of our field.

Sam Leggett

Hello ISSEME members! I’m Sam Leggett, an early career research fellow at the University of Edinburgh. I’m an archaeologist and medievalist, interested in studying Early Medieval England from an inter-and-trans-disciplinary perspective (which some of you might have heard about at my ISSEME conference keynote this year). I am running for the ISSEME advisory board because I’m passionate and committed to moving our association forward with the changes the board is making for the betterment of our field. I want to encourage cross-disciplinary dialogue and increase archaeological representation in our initiatives as well as represent interests of early career scholars in the field. Whilst I’m based in the UK currently, I’m originally from Australia and so bring a multi-national perspective to the study and teaching of all things Early Medieval. I’m currently a member of the British Association for Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Sub-group. By being involved in their work to address key performance indicators identified in an external EDI review, I’ve learned a lot about the essential work that needs to be done in academic societies, and universities in general, to widen participation, address, and combat issues of discrimination in all forms. I want to undertake similar work for ISSEME if elected to the advisory board to support the proposed constitutional changes and fantastic work the board already has underway. I have had substantial experience with academic outreach and web presence (Twitter, Instagram, websites etc.) through work with student groups, ​societies, and journals, which I would draw upon if elected to the board to help in ISSEME’s (re-) development moving forward. I believe this is particularly key in recruiting student members, public outreach and EDI work going forward.  

Eleni Ponirakis

My name is Dr Eleni Ponirakis. I obtained my PhD from the University of Nottingham in 2007. My thesis explored the relation of mental actions to physical actions in Old English texts and is due to be published in the Richard Rawlinson series with MIP as Thought and Action in Old English Poetry and Prose. My current research focuses on evidence of Greek patristic thought in Old English texts. I have published a paper on the presence of references to the work of Eriugena in the Old English Boethius and have a chapter forthcoming on the influence of Evagrian thought on Cynewulf’s Juliana. I am organising a conference on medieval spirituality to be hosted by the University of Nottingham in March this year.

I am currently teaching medieval literature at University College London. Since obtaining my PhD I have taught at various institutions, primarily the University of Nottingham, but also the Universities of Manchester and Leicester. I am a committed teacher and was awarded a Lord Dearing Award by the university of Nottingham in recognition of this.

The current climate in the United Kingdom is such that precarious teaching roles are becoming the norm, particularly in humanities subjects. The future of medieval studies itself seems to be at risk, as the closure of the medieval English section at the University of Leicester testifies. In addition, the government is threatening to close courses that are seen as ‘unproductive’ in terms of graduate employment. All of this will have an impact on the uptake of courses relating to early medieval studies. I would be particularly keen to be involved in seeing how ISSEME can support teachers and researchers in precarious positions as well as promoting the importance of Early Medieval Studies. On a small scale I have created a group with scholars from the United Kingdom and Ireland, Canada and the United States in similarly precarious positions to meet and discuss the problems we face and seek out solutions. These problems range from the difficulties of being labelled an ‘independent scholar’ and accessing research materials when without university affiliations, to finding the time to do research on teaching intensive contracts.

If elected, I will use my voice to put forward the predicament of early medieval scholars in non-established posts and seek to find ways to offer support and hopefully bring about change. I avoid the term ‘early career’, as this is measured in different ways by different organisations, and with the current climate of precarity is ceasing to hold meaning. I will, of course, also support the broader aims and values of ISSEME and endeavour to contribute to an ethos of mutual respect.

Scott T. Smith

My name is Scott Thompson Smith, and I am an associate professor of English and Comparative Literature at Penn State University. My research interests lie primarily in the intersections of legal and literary discourses in early medieval English, in both Old English and Anglo-Latin texts. I am running for a position on the ISSEME advisory boards for a number of reasons, many of them inspired by the concerns and interests of the graduate students working in our programs. First, I am convinced that our field needs an ongoing commitment to equity and inclusion in order to create and maintain productive networks of scholarship and community. In part, this means cultivating a critical awareness of exclusionary practices—whether those practices are past and/or current, explicit and/or implicit, institutional and/or personal—that have been active in our field. Second, as a professional organization, ISSEME must model positive practices and expectations that promote open conversation and collaboration in a professional environment that is both welcoming and rigorous. Obviously, this is demanding work that will take time and dedication, but our organization has made already made many promising steps toward that goal. I hope to continue this work by listening to the organization’s constituency, acting on its concerns, and expanding its membership and activities. I would use a position on the advisory board to participate actively in conversations and actions that can facilitate productive, positive outcomes for our international and interdisciplinary field.  

Howard Williams

I am Professor of Archaeology at the University of Chester. With over 23 years of experience in producing innovative and original teaching and researching on early medieval themes and topics, my expertise focuses on early medieval mortuary archaeology and the interdisciplinary investigations of death, burial, memory and material culture. I have also worked considerably on the history of archaeological theory and practice as well as exploring debates and strategies for public engagement and critically evaluating the politics and popular culture of the Early Middle Ages in contemporary society. You can learn more about my publications and work via my Archaeodeath blog:

Recently, I was instrumental in setting up the interdisciplinary research network The Offa’s Dyke Collaboratory – Linked to this, I established, designed and co-edit the interdisciplinary open-access academic Offa’s Dyke Journal, which explores the archaeology, history and heritage of frontiers and borderlands, focusing on early medieval linear monuments in comparative perspectives:

I have experience of working with learned societies, including serving as the Reviews Editor and then Honorary Editor for the Royal Archaeological Institute’s Archaeological Journal (2011-2017). I’m keen to support the society in its aspirations to incorporate archaeology and a host of interdisciplinary fields including heritage studies, death studies, material culture studies and landscape studies, in its ongoing work. Given my track record of public engagement, community archaeology, developing open-access publications and working to engage new audiences via a host of digital media, I also hope I can support the society’s work in fostering inclusive and new strategies for outreach.