Dr Steve Bull

BA (Hons), MA, PhD

  • BS8 1TB

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Research interests

Steve's research centres on Arthurian romance literature spanning both the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period. The main focus of this research is the otherworlds and faerie characters that frequently appear in romance (as well as in certain related genres) and the conventions, themes, and motifs that are commonly used to identify their presence. In 2020, Steve successfully defended his PhD on 'The Use and Development of the Faerie Sign in Romance from the Middle Ages to the Early Modern Period', supervised by Dr Cathy Hume and Dr Laurence Publicover.

Fairies as we understand them today are very different to the faerie characters who populated medieval Arthurian tales. Like today, however, the faeries of these older stories shared certain recognisable features, characteristics, and localities which allow us to identify their presence: conventions such as their frequent proximity to streams or woodland, their isolation from society, their extreme beauty or ugliness, their association with wealth and luxury, and their penchant for gift giving or moral testing. Most importantly, though, these creatures could be ambiguous: many authors liked to play with faerie conventions, hinting at signs that audiences would easily recognise as being associated with faeries whilst never actually identifying them as such. My research has aimed to demonstrate just how pervasive and well-known the conventions, themes, and motifs associated with faeries in medieval and Early Modern literature were, firstly by drawing attention to examples within medieval and Early Modern romance where identifying their presence has caused a certain amount of critical debate in the past (the works of Chrétien de Troyes, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene), but also through examining examples outside of the genre of Arthurian romance where such conventions are less likely to appear, but where their presence can be indentified nonetheless (the Middle English Pearl poem, Shakespeare's Merry Wives of Windsor, and Ben Jonson's The Alchemist).

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More recently, Steve's research has increasingly focused on ecocritical approaches to literature, with a particular interest in the representation of mountains, hills, and high places in late medieval and Early Modern texts.

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