Mr James SarganBack to People

Department: English Language and Literature
College appointment: Lecturer I in Old English


I received my BA in English and History from Queen Mary, University of London in 2012, and my MSt in Medieval Studies from the University of Oxford in 2013. During my Masters I became interested in manuscripts and their users and makers I am now completing my DPhil in English on the subject of book us in post-conquest England.


I teach medieval literature to students on the BA in English, and have also provided lectures on the manuscripts and the material text. At Magdalen I am responsible for teaching medieval options in the Final Honours School, including ‘Literature in English 1350-1550’ and Course II, Paper 2, ‘Medieval English and Related Literatures 1066-1550’.


My work on manuscripts combines a range of theoretical approaches with traditional palaeographical and book historical methodologies in order to access the motivations and practices of medieval readers and scribes. In my thesis, ‘Creative Reading: Using Books in the Vernacular Context of Early Anglo-Norman England’, I demonstrate how readers of early Middle English participated in a creative, outward looking practice that often generated new material and resulted in a wider range of activities beyond the construal of the text. My doctoral thesis is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. Other research interests of mine include High Medieval literature, queer and trans theoretical approaches, temporality and space, and monstrosity and transformation. My MSt thesis research focussed on the changing ways in which werewolves were imagined to transform in the later medieval period, and how these acted as a testing ground for other theories of transformation and categorisation.

Selected publications:

Sargan, J. D., ‘Coloured Initials in MS Digby 86: Experimentation, Design, and Copying Practice’, Manuscript Digby 86:       Devotion, Science, and Literary Diversions for a Worcestershire Household, c.1280, ed. Susanna Fein (York: York Medieval Press, an imprint of Boydell & Brewer, forthcoming in 2019)

Sargan, J. D., ‘Psalmic Authority in the Life of a Twelfth-Century Holy Woman: Christina of Markyate and Psalm 37’, English Studies, 98:1 (2017), 73-83