Hello! I’m Dr Laura Varnam and I’m the Lecturer in Old and Middle English Literature at University College, Oxford (known as ‘Univ’). You can find me on twitter @lauravarnam, on the English Faculty website here, and on the Univ website here.
At Univ I teach alongside Prof Nicholas Halmi, Dr Joseph Moshenska, and Dr Oliver Clarkson. Together we are Team English! I teach the medieval literature papers- Old English and Middle English- and I also teach linguistics and run study skills sessions (see my page on Study Skills for undergraduate students here). I’m a member of the Univ Schools Liason Panel and I’m passionate about our schools liason and access work. Check out our online resource Staircase 12 for students wanting to develop their interests beyond the curriculum. You can find me in the Reading Bank here talking about Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, reading around the subject, and admission to Oxford.
My two great loves are medieval literature and the life and works of Daphne du Maurier (my students would probably say I should include dragons in this list as at the current count, I have more than thirty-five dragons in my office!) My first book, The Church as Sacred Space in Middle English Literature and Culture was published by Manchester University Press in January 2018. My next medieval book project will focus on Margery Kempe and, with Dr Laura Kalas Williams (Swansea), I organised the Margery Kempe Studies in the 21st Century Conference at Univ in April 2018. Laura Kalas Williams and I are the co-founders of the Margery Kempe Society, do visit the website and become a member!
I am a member of the Architectural Representation in Early Medieval England research network based at Balliol College, Oxford, and I have written an article on the representation of the church in Robert Mannyng’s Handlyng Synne for a special issue of the journal Leeds Studies in English (forthcoming in 2018). In April 2017 I helped to run the Architectural Representation in the Middle Ages conference at Univ.
I am also writing a book on Daphne du Maurier called Kingdoms of Her Own: The Life and Works of Daphne du Maurier and in May each year you will find me in Fowey, Cornwall, at the Fowey Festival of Words and Music giving talks and running reading groups about du Maurier. You can find my book reviews of four of du Maurier’s novels on the newly relaunched Daphne du Maurier website (my reviews of The Scapegoat, Castle Dor, The Flight of the Falcon, and The House on the Strand are available here). With Ann Willmore (of Bookends of Fowey), I run the Du Maurier twitter account and I am currently working on a series of articles for the website about Du Maurier film and television adaptations. I was interviewed as one of the experts on the 2017 Arte documentary Daphne du Maurier: Sur les traces de Rebecca (dir. Elisabeth Aubert Schlumberger; prod. Patricia Houtart and Francois Duplat) and I attended the premiere of the film in Paris (you can read about the event here). In October 2017 I was involved in the UK launch of Tatiana de Rosnay’s new biography of Daphne du Maurier, Manderley Forever (you can read about the events here, including my interview with Tatiana de Rosnay and Lady Tessa Montgomery, Daphne du Maurier’s daughter). I published an article on the recent My Cousin Rachel film in The Conversation in 2017 (here) and on Du Maurier’s Rebecca at 80 this year (here; this article was republished in The Independent).