Join Professor Carolyne Larrington on an exploration of the strange folkloric world of animal transformations. From selkies – seal creatures caught between the pull of the human and maritime worlds – to the shape-shifting werewolves of the Middle Ages. Or the rather less threatening witch-hares, a common transformation beloved of witches – often undertaken, it is said, merely in order to steal milk from a neighbour’s cow… These complex stories speak to us of issues of power and control, and of how we look at the female body and issues of gender, enabling us to think about and question contemporary ideas.
Professor Carolyne Larrington teaches medieval English literature at St John’s College, Oxford. She studied medieval English language and literature at St Catherine’s College, Oxford and has a DPhil on Old Norse and Old English wisdom poetry. Her research interests range widely. She primarily works in Old Norse-Icelandic and Arthurian literature, but Arthurian literature in particular is a European phenomenon and so she writes about romances composed in Old French, Middle High German, Italian, and Old Icelandic-Norwegian. She has a number of recent publications on the subject.
Carolyne also writes on medievalism and folklore, in 2015 publishing The Land of the Green Man. A BBC Radio 4 series based on this was broadcast in 2015 and can be heard here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06b8vxv. With Dr Fay Hield of the University of Sheffield, she is Co-Investigator on an AHRC-funded research project ‘Modern Fairies and Loathly Ladies’. This involves working with creative artists – musicians, poets, painters, photographers – to produce new mediations of tales from British folk traditions about fairies. Also in 2015, Carolyne wrote Winter is Coming: the Medieval World of Game of Thrones, exploring the historical inspiration behind the fantasy phenomenon. You can hear a talk she gave at the Ashmolean Museum on the book at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jjlxMT3Pt1o.
Edward Parnell lives in Norfolk and has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. He is the recipient of an Escalator Award from the National Centre for Writing and a Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship. Ghostland (William Collins, 2019), a work of narrative non-fiction, is a moving exploration of what has haunted our writers and artists – as well as the author’s own haunted past; it was shortlisted for the PEN Ackerley 2020 prize, an award given to a literary autobiography of excellence. Edward’s first novel The Listeners (2014), won the Rethink New Novels Prize. For further info see: https://edwardparnell.com