Dr Ben Parsons

Personal details | Publications | Research | Teaching | Supervision

Associate Professor in Medieval and Early Modern LiteratureDr Ben Parsons

Department: English

Telephone: +44 (0)116 252 5073

Email: bp62@le.ac.uk

Office: Room 1414, Attenborough Tower

Address: School of Arts, University of Leicester, University Road, Leicester, LE1 7RH

Personal details


I am a lecturer in late medieval English literature, working especially on the fourteenth, fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. I joined the English department at Leicester as a Teaching Fellow in 2008, having previously taught at the University of Sheffield and at Nottingham Trent University. I was appointed lecturer in 2013.


  • BA (Hons), English, University of Leeds at the College of Ripon and York St John
  • MA, English Literature, University of Sheffield
  • PhD, English Literature, University of Sheffield
  • Fellow of the UK Higher Education Academy



Reviews for Comic Drama in the Low CountriesComic Drama in the Low Countries
‘a rich source...I am filled with admiration for the way in which they have translated these very difficult texts’ - Elsa Strietman, Speculum
‘very informative...worthy of being commended’ - Laura Iseppi De Filippis, Medieval Review
‘an extremely valuable publication’ - Charlotte Steenbrugge, Modern Language Review
‘a useful window into the Renaissance theatrical tradition’ - Andrew Fleck, Comitatus

Journal articles and book chapters

  • ‘Imps of Hell: Young People, Murder and the Early English Press’, in Murder Most Foul: Medieval and Early Modern Homicide, ed. by Larissa Tracey (Boydell and Brewer, 2018): 434-55
  • ‘Bloody Students: Youth, Corruption and Discipline in the Medieval Classroom’, in Blood Matters, ed. by Bonnie Landers Johnson and Eleanor Decamp (Penn State University Press, 2018): 123-33
  • ‘Trouble at the Mill: Milling, Madness and Merrymaking in the Canterbury Tales, Chaucer Review 53.1 (2018): 3-35
  • ‘Satire’, in Blackwell Encylopedia of British Medieval Literature, ed. by Siân Echard and Robert Rouse, 4 vols. (Wiley Blackwell, 2017): 3:1652-57
  • ‘Beaten for a Book: Domestic and Pedagogic Violence in the Wife of Bath’s Prologue, Studies in the Age of Chaucer 37 (2015): 163-94
  • ‘The Way of the Rod: the Functions of Violence in Late Medieval Pedagogy’, Modern Philology 113 (2015): 1-26
  • ‘Fantasy and Fallacy in the Old French Land of Cockaigne, Viator 46.3 (2015): 1-21
  • ‘“Verray Goddes Apes”: Troilus, Saint Idiot and Festive Culture’, Chaucer Review 45 (2011): 275-98
  • ‘No Laughing Matter: Fraud, the Fabliau and Chaucer’s Franklin’s Tale’, Neophilologus 95 (2011): 1-16
  • ‘Shearing the Shepherds: Violence and Anticlerical Satire in Langland’s Piers Plowman’, Medium Aevum 79.2 (2010): 218-35
  • '"A Riotous Spray of Words": Rethinking the Medieval Theory of Satire', Exemplaria (2009)
  • '"Better Than A Sack Full of Latin": Anticlericalism in the Early Fourteenth Century', Church History and Religious Culture (2009)
  • '"The Werste Lay That Harper Sang With Harpe": the Forms of Early Middle English Satire', Comitatus 39 (2008): 113-36
  • '"For my synne an for my yong delite": Chaucer, the Tale of Beryn, and the Problem of Adolescentia', Modern Language Review 103 (2008): 940-51
  • 'A Play Of Three Suitors: A Neglected Version of the "Entrapped Suitors" Story (ATU 1730)', Folklore 119 (2008): 62-74
  • 'A Famous and Most Miraculous Prophesy: An Annotated Edition of a Sixteenth-Century Trickster Poem', Journal of American Folklore 121 (2008): 473-84
  • 'Mary of Nemegen, Lawrence Clopper and the English Saint Play', Notes and Queries56.2 (2008): 137-9
  • ‘The Refrein and the Chambers of Rhetoric in the Early Modern Low Countries’, European Medieval Drama 12 (2008): 185-210
  • ‘The Sonnets of Het Bosken by Jan van der Noot’, Spenser Studies 23 (2008): 235-55.
  • 'Dutch influences on English literary culture in the early Renaissance, 1470-1650', Literature Compass 4 (2007): 1577-96
  • 'Jan van der Noot: A Mistaken Attribution in the Short Title Catalogue?', Notes and Queries 53.3 (2006), 427


I specialise in late medieval and early modern literature. My interests encompass various aspects of medieval and Renaissance culture, including drama, folklore, education, the supernatural and occult, medicine, mysticism, and connections between English and continental literature. I am particularly interested in the functions of violence in the later Middle Ages, and the forms it takes across different institutional and representational contexts. These concerns formed the basis of my AHRC-funded research project, ‘Violence in the Late Medieval Classroom’, and are explored more fully in my recent monograph, Punishment and Medieval Education. I am also the consulting editor for the online journal Peer English, published jointly between the department of English and the English Association.

My current work focuses on meditative prayer cycles in later Middle English, especially those connected with anchorism or other forms of enclosure. I have particular interest in the post-Reformation reception of these texts, and the ways in which sixteenth-century owners and readers interacted with their contents.


  • EN1010: Reading English
  • EN2010: Chaucer and the English Tradition
  • EN2020: Renaissance Literature
  • EN2040: Medieval Literatures
  • EN2060: Concepts in Criticism
  • EN2302: Early Modern Fantasies and Fears

I also supervise undergraduate dissertations and contribute to a range of further modules on our BA and MA programmes.


I have co-supervised doctoral work on Chaucer’s female readership, and would be interested in supervising PhD projects on any of the following topics:

  • Textual editing and translation
  • Chaucer’s work, reputation or reception
  • The roles of violence in medieval culture
  • Medieval popular culture and religion
  • The supernatural in medieval and early modern culture
  • Adolescence, youth and education
  • Cultural links between England and Northern Europe
  • Medieval and early modern comic forms

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