Dr Natalie Goodison

Junior Anniversary Fellow

Dr. Natalie Goodison


Junior Anniversary Fellow September 2019 to June 2020

Project: ‘Salvation Narratives for the Sexually Active: Women’s Souls and Abnormal Offspring in the Middle Ages (1300-1550)’

I am a medieval literary scholar with a research specialism in embodiment. Interest in the history of ideas, reception theory, and the relationship between body and soul characterise my research. My first project examined embodiment through supernatural transformations in English romances—what happens when the corporeal body transforms due to magic or supernatural influence. This second project builds on this interest in embodiment to examine the relationship between literary medieval mothers and their (genetically) abnormal offspring. In an age where the sins of the parents might literally be visited upon the bodies of their children, what did genetically abnormal children signify? Medieval text attest to the binary relationship between mother and child, with the somatic and spiritual status of one incurring consequences for the other.  My research at IASH will examine the first half of this project: the possibilities that bearing children with genetic abnormalities might incur for the spiritual status of the mother. While many medieval texts emphasis a women’s virginity, this project will focus on sexually active women, and tellingly, what happens when things go wrong.

I hold degrees from the University of North Carolina, Edinburgh, and Durham. My research interests include medieval literature, romance, the history of ideas, and the medical humanities. My best known publication is a collaborative work with two geneticists on the medieval romance, The King of Tars. It currently ranks in the 92nd percentile. You can find it here.

Select publications:

Natalie Goodison, Deborah Mackay, and I. Karen Temple, ‘Genetics, Molar Pregnancies, and Medieval Ideas of Monstrous Births: The Lump of Flesh in The King of Tars’, Medical Humanities BMJ, Published Online First: 07 August 2018. doi: 10.1136/medhum-2017-011387

Natalie Goodison, ‘The Serpent with a Woman’s Face: Transformation in Libeaus Desconus and the Vernacular Fair Unknown Tradition’, in Romance Across European Borders, ed. by Miriam Muth-Edlich (Turnhout: Brepols, 2018), pp. 205-228.