Professor Aengus Ward

Colleges, School and Institutes

Research interests

My career trajectory has seen me build up a sustained level of research excellence, initially in (i) the field of medieval Iberian historiography and textual editing and subsequently branching out into (ii) the interdisciplinary study of discursive practices with a resolutely materialist and contextual focus. More recently, I have built on these foundations to provide (iii) cutting edge insights into the theory and practice of digital editing and digital cultures, without discarding the advantages provided by philological analysis

The centrepiece of my research outputs is the Estoria de Espanna Digital: the first major digital edition of a medieval Spanish prose text. The Estoria de Espanna is the most important medieval Iberian chronicle, originally composed around 1272 under the direction of King Alfonso X, known as el Sabio (the Learned). The edition comprises TEI-5 compliant xml transcriptions of five manuscripts of the (approximately 2,500 folios of text), presented in a variety of innovative ways and accompanied by a fully collated edited text and (where permissions allow) manuscript images.

My current research focuses on two diverse themes: (i) digital editing of medieval texts and the way in which digital forms of editing and textual organization can affect the way in which we interact with our cultural artefacts  and, (ii) the nature of manuscript culture and the manner in which reading was guided by the physical disposition of the text on the page.

Impact

In the context of the Estoria de Espanna Digital, I led a team which prepared exhibitions of manuscripts of the Estoria at the Biblioteca Nacional de España, the Universidad de Salamanca, the Biblioteca de Menédez Pelayo in Santander and the University of Minnesota. We also prepared a digital exhibition about the Estoria, which is accompanied by teaching materials freely available for any schools.

You can see an overview of the exhibition.

In September 2019 we launched a crowdsourcing trial called Transcribe Estoria, in which we invite members of the public to join with us in transcribing medieval manuscripts.

Biography

I completed my first degree and Masters at University College Dublin. I won a National University of Ireland Travelling Scholarship, and took advantage of this to move to the University of Birmingham, which was, and is, one of the most important centres of scholarship on medieval Spain. I completed my Phd at the University of Birmingham in 1995. I have worked in the University of Birmingham as Lecturer, Senior Lecturer and Reader since 1994.

I led the AHRC-funded Estoria de Espanna Digital research project at the University of Birmingham between 2013 and 2017. I have been a member of, or contributed to, research projects at the École Normale Supérieure (Lyon), the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, the Universidad de Sevilla and the Universidad de Buenos Aires. I have given invited talks or plenary lectures at the Universidad de Salamanca, the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, the Universidad de Sevilla, the Sorbonne, the University of Oxford, Queen Mary London, the Universidad de Buenos Aires, the ENS Lyon, Georgetown University, the University of Minnesota, University College Dublin and University College Galway, to name the most significant. I have also organized research events of varying kinds which have brought scholars from these institutions  and others to the University of Birmingham. The University of Birmingham has a lengthy tradition of excellence in medieval studies generally and ibero-medievalism more specifically; thanks to my research the University of Birmingham has, amongst Russell Group institutions, unique name recognition in many parts of this academic community. As a result of this, I have supervised here in Birmingham a series of doctoral and post-doctoral visitors from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, the Universidad de Santiago de Compostela and the Universidad de Sevilla.

Qualifications

  • PhD, University of Birmingham
  • MA (Spanish) University College Dublin
  • BA (Spanish and French) University College Dublin

Willingness to take PhD students

Yes

PhD projects

I welcome applications for postgraduate study on an aspect of medieval Iberia, on history and historiography in particular and also on textual editing. I particularly welcome suggestions for digital editing of medieval Iberian texts. I am especially interested in collaborating with Distance Learning projects.

I currently supervise three PhD projects: Holly Kashin Brown’s digital edition and study of three texts written by women authors in the late Middle Ages (with Dr. Cat Smith); Elena Caetano Álvarez’s study of the imperial ambitions of Alfonso el Sabio as realised in the Estoria de Espanna (with Dr. Simon Yarrow); and James Kawalek’s study of the Historia Compostelana (with Dr. William Purkis).

In the past I have supervised, or co-supervised, to a successful conclusion doctoral and Masters theses on Alfonso el Sabio, (digital) editing and medieval historiography by Christian Kusi Obodum, Polly Duxfield, Carol Ann van der Walt, Manolo Hijano Villegas, Patrick Quinn and Lauren Brinsdon.

I have also co-supervised postgraduate research on aspects of linguistics, including language policy in Gibraltar (Eddie Picardo), Galicia (Stewart Bayliss) Aragon (Rosa Bercero) and the Basque Country (Rosie Critchlow), and on aspects of discourse analysis (Nuria Guerra Bernal and Ángel Garralda).