Prof Vincent Gillespie






J R R Tolkien Professor of English Literature and Language; Professorial Fellow

Where I can usually be found:

4 Fyfield Road, 1st floor, room 1

Contact number:

01865 284066

I have been J.R.R. Tolkien Professor of English Literature and Language since October 2004. Between 1980 and 2004 I was a Fellow of St Anne’s College Oxford, where I am now an Honorary Fellow. I began teaching at the University of Reading, where I was a lecturer from 1977-1980.

Research interests:

My research considers the broad range of post-conquest writing in England, with particular interests in literary theory, religious writing, mystical language, and concepts of poetic identity in medieval and early modern writers. I also publish on modern British drama (especially Harold Pinter).


Selected publications:


  1. The English Medieval Book: Essays in Memory of Jeremy Griffiths, ed. A.S.G. Edwards, Vincent Gillespie and Ralph Hanna, The British Library Studies in the History of the Book (London, 2000). xii + 264 pp.
  2. Syon Abbey, Corpus of British Medieval Library Catalogues 9 (London, 2001). lxxiii + 819 pp. [published with The Libraries of the Carthusians, ed. A. I. Doyle.]
  3. The Cambridge Companion to Medieval English Mysticism, ed. Vincent Gillespie and Samuel Fanous (Cambridge, 2011). xxviii + 309pp.
  4. After Arundel: Religious Writing in Fifteenth-Century England, ed. Vincent Gillespie and Kantik Ghosh (Turnhout, 2011). xx + 657pp.
  5. Looking in Holy Books: Essays on Late Medieval Religious Writing in England (Turnhout, 2012).  xviii + 348pp.
  6. Probable Truth: Editing Medieval Texts from Britain in the Twenty-First Century, ed. Vincent Gillespie and Anne Hudson (Turnhout, 2013). xiv + 549pp.
  7. A Companion to the Early Printed Book in Britain, ed. Vincent Gillespie and Susan Powell (Cambridge, 2014). xviii + 385pp.

Articles and Chapters in Collaborative Books

  1. ‘Doctrina and Predicacio: The Design and Function of some Pastoral Manuals’, Leeds Studies in English, New Ser., 11 (1980 for 1979), 36-50.
  2. ‘Justification by Good Works: Skelton's The Garland of Laurel’, Reading Medieval Studies, 7 (1981), 19-31.
  3. ‘Mystic's Foot: Rolle and Affectivity’, in The Medieval Mystical Tradition in England, II, ed. M. Glasscoe (Exeter, 1982), pp. 199-230.
  4. ‘A Syon Manuscript Reconsidered’, Notes and Queries, New Ser., 30 (1983), 203-5.
  5. (with Michael Sargent), ‘Was Mechtild of Hackeborn's Booke of Gostlye Grace translated from Middle Dutch? Some Observations’, Ons Geestelijk Erf, 54 (1983), 343-54.
  6. ‘The Cibus Anime Book 3: A Guide for Contemplatives?’, Analecta Cartusiana, 35 (1983), 90-119.
  7. ‘Lukynge in haly bukes: Lectio in some Late Medieval Spiritual Miscellanies’, Analecta Cartusiana, 106 (1984), 1-27.
  8. ‘Strange Images of Death: The Passion in Later Medieval English Devotional and Mystical Writing’, Analecta Cartusiana, 117 (1987), 110-159.
  9. ‘Cura Pastoralis in Deserto’, in De Cella in Seculum: Religious and Secular Life and Devotion in Late Medieval England, ed. M. Sargent (Cambridge, 1987), pp.161-181.
  10. ‘The Evolution of the Speculum Christiani’, in Latin and Vernacular: Studies in Late-Medieval Texts and Manuscripts, ed. A.J.Minnis (Cambridge, 1989), pp. 39-62.
  11. ‘Vernacular Books of Religion’, in Book Production and Publishing in Britain 1375-1475, ed. J. Griffiths and D. Pearsall, Cambridge Studies in Publishing and Printing History (Cambridge, 1989), pp.317-344.
  12. ‘Idols and Images: Pastoral Adaptations of The Scale of Perfection’, in  Langland, the Mystics and the Medieval English Religious Tradition: Essays in Honour of S.S.Hussey, ed. H. Phillips (Cambridge, 1990), pp.97-123.
  13. (with Maggie Ross) ‘The Apophatic Image: The Poetics of Effacement in Julian of Norwich’, in The Medieval Mystical Tradition in England, V, ed.  M. Glasscoe (Cambridge, 1992), pp. 53-77.
  14. ‘Thy Will Be Done: Piers Plowman and the Pater Noster’, in Middle English Religious Texts and Their Transmission: Essays in Honour of Ian Doyle, ed. A.J.Minnis (Cambridge,1994), pp.95-119.
  15. ‘Postcards from the Edge: Interpreting the Ineffable in the Middle English Mystics’, in Interpretation Medieval and Modern: The J.A.W.Bennett Memorial Lectures: Perugia 1992, ed P. Boitani and A.Torti (Cambridge, 1993), pp.137-165.
  16. ‘Never Look a Gift Horace in the Mouth: Affective Poetics in the Middle Ages’, Litteraria Pragensia, 10 (1995), 59-82.
  17. ‘Medieval Hypertext: Image and Text from York Minster’, in Of the Making of Books: Medieval Manuscripts, their Scribes and Readers: Essays presented to M. B. Parkes, ed. P. R. Robinson and R. Zim (Aldershot, 1997), pp. 206-229.
  18. ‘Justification by Faith: Skelton's Replycacion’, in The Long Fifteenth Century: Essays for Douglas Gray, ed. H. Cooper and S. Mapstone (Oxford, 1997), pp. 273-311.
  19. ‘Malcolm Parkes: an Appreciation’, in The Record: Keble College Oxford (1997).
  20. (with Rick Rylance and Judy Simons) The English Curriculum: Diversity and Standards, Council for College and University English (1997).
  21. ‘The Book and the Brotherhood: Reflections on the Lost Library of Syon Abbey’, in The English Medieval Book: Essays in Memory of Jeremy Griffiths (London, 2000), pp. 185-208.
  22. ‘Jeremy Griffiths’, in The English Medieval Book: Essays in Memory of Jeremy Griffiths (London, 2000), pp. 1-7.
  23. ‘Dial M for Mystic: Mystical Texts in the Library of Syon Abbey and the Spirituality of the Syon Brethren’, in The Medieval Mystical Tradition in England, VI, ed. M. Glasscoe (Cambridge, 1999), pp.241-68.
  24. Revision and expansion of ‘The Twentieth Century. Introduction: Drama’, in The Norton Anthology of English Literature, seventh edition, ed. M. H. Abrams, S. Greenblatt et al. (New York and London, 2000), 2. 1910-1913.
  25. ‘Harold Pinter’, in Literature in Context, ed. J. Simons & R. Rylance (London, 2001), pp. 187-207.
  26. ‘Syon and the New Learning’, in The Religious Orders in Pre-Reformation England, ed. James G. Clark, Studies in the History of Medieval Religion 18 (Woodbridge, 2002), pp. 75-95.
  27. ‘Walter Hilton at Syon Abbey’, in Stand up to Godwards: Essays in Mystical and Monastic Theology in Honour of the Reverend John Clark on his Sixty-Fifth Birthday, ed James Hogg, Analecta Cartusiana 204 (Salzburg, 2002), pp. 9-61.
  28. ‘Preface’, in Tarjei Park, Selfhood and Gostly Menyng in Some Middle English Mystics: Semiotic Approaches to Contemplative Theology, Toronto Studies in Theology 84 (Lewiston, NY, 2002), pp. ix-xiii.
  29. ‘We shall be changed’, in The Way, May 2003, 90-101.
  30. ‘Hid Diuinite: The Spirituality of the English Syon Brethren’, in The Medieval Mystical Tradition in England, 7, ed. E. Jones (Cambridge, 2004), pp. 189-206.
  31. ‘The Study of Classical and Secular Authors from the Twelfth Century to c.1450’, in The Cambridge History of Literary Criticism, II: The Medieval Period, ed. A.J. Minnis and Ian Johnson (Cambridge, 2005), pp. 145-235.
  32. ‘Anonymous Devotional Writings’, in A Companion to Middle English Prose, ed. A. S. G. Edwards (Cambridge, 2004), pp. 127-149.
  33. ‘The Mole in the Vineyard: Wyclif at Syon in the Fifteenth Century’, in Text and Controversy from Wyclif to Bale: Essays in Honour of Anne Hudson, ed.  H. Barr and A. M. Hutchison, Medieval Church Studies 4 (Turnhout, 2005), pp. 131-162.
  34. (with Maggie Ross) ‘With Mekeness Aske Perseverantly...: On Reading Julian of Norwich’, in Mystics Quarterly, 30 (2004), 125-140.
  35. ‘Syon and the English Market for Continental Printed Books: The Incunable Phase’, Religion and Literature (University of Notre Dame), 37.2 (2005), 1-23.
  36. ‘Moral and Penitential Lyrics’, in A Companion to the Middle English Lyric, ed. Thomas G. Duncan (Cambridge, 2005), pp. 68-95.
  37. (a) ‘The Haunted Text: Reflections in The Mirrour to Deuote Peple’, in The Text in the Community: Essays on Medieval Works, Manuscripts, Authors and Readers, ed. J. Mann and M. Nolan  (Notre Dame, 2006), pp. 129-172.   (b) ‘The Haunted Text: Reflections in The Mirrour to Deuote Peple', in Medieval Texts and Contexts, ed. Denis Renevey and Graham D. Caie, Context and Genre in English Literature (London, 2008), pp. 136-66. A revised and slightly expanded version of 37(a).
  38. ‘Vernacular Theology’, in Middle English: Oxford Twenty-First Century Approaches to Literature, ed. Paul Strohm (Oxford, 2007), pp. 401-20.
  39. ‘Religious Writing’, in The Oxford History of Literary Translation in English, vol. 1: 700-1550, ed. Roger Ellis (Oxford, 2008), pp. 234-83.
  40. ‘Chapter and Worse: An Episode in the Regional Transmission of the Speculum Christiani’, in English Manuscript Studies 1100-1700  14 (The British Library, 2008), pp. 86-111.
  41. ‘[S]he Do the Police in Different Voices’: Pastiche, Ventriloquism and Parody in Julian of Norwich’, in A Companion to Julian of Norwich, ed. Liz Herbert McAvoy (Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer, 2008), pp. 192-207.
  42. ‘On Allegory, Allegoresis and the Erotics of Reading’, in On Allegory: Some Medieval Aspects and Approaches, with an Introduction by Eric Stanley and an Afterword by Vincent Gillespie, ed. Mary Carr, K.P. Clarke & Marco Nievergelt (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2008), pp. 231-56.
  43. ‘Lunatics, Lovers and Poets: Some Compact Imaginations in Chaucer and Medieval Literary Theory’, in Shakespeare Modernism Translation: From translator’s Art to Academic Discourse. A Tribute to Martin Hilsky MBE, ed. Martin Procházka and Jan Čermák, Litteraria Pragensia (Prague, 2008), pp. 11-39.
  44. ‘Lady Margaret Beaufort’, in The Brown Book: A Commemorative Edition for the 500th Anniversary of the Death of Lady Margaret Beaufort (Oxford, 2009), pp. 29-35.
  45. ‘Meat, Metaphor and Mysticism: Cooking the Books in The Doctrine of the Heart’, in A Companion to the Doctrine of the Heart: The Middle English Translation and its Latin and European Contexts, ed. Denis Renevey and Christiania Whitehead, Exeter Medieval Texts and Studies (Exeter, 2010), pp. 131-58.
  46. ‘Monasticism’, in Cultural Reformations: Medieval and Renaissance in Literary History, ed. Brian Cummings and James Simpson, Oxford Twenty First Century Approaches (Oxford, 2010), pp. 480-501.
  47. ‘Syon and the English Market for Continental Printed Books: The Incunable Phase’, in Syon Abbey and its Books, ed. E.A. Jones and Alexandra Walsham (Woodbridge, 2010), pp. 104-28. A revised, updated, and expanded version of publication 35.
  48. ‘Preface’ (pp. ix-xiv); ‘Chronology’ (pp. xv-xxvii); ‘1412-1534: Culture and History’ (pp. 163-93); ‘Glossary of Theological Terms’ (pp. 291-7), in The Cambridge Companion to Medieval English Mysticism, ed. Vincent Gillespie and Samuel Fanous (Cambridge, 2011).
  49. ‘Dead Still/Still Dead’, The Mediaeval Journal, 1 (2011), 53-78.
  50. ‘Chichele’s Church: Vernacular Theology after Thomas Arundel’, in After Arundel: Religious Writing in Fifteenth-Century England, ed. Vincent Gillespie and Kantik Ghosh (Turnhout, 2011), pp. 3-42.
  51. ‘Preface’, in The Middle English version of De viribus herbarum, ed. Javier Calle-Martin and Antonio Miranda-Garcia (Berlin, 2012), pp. 13-20.
  52. ‘“Venus in Sackcloth”: the Digby Mary Magdalene and Wisdom fragment’, in The Oxford Handbook to Tudor Drama, ed. Tom Betteridge and Greg Walker (Oxford, 2012), pp. 72-92.
  53. ‘The Colours of Contemplation: Less Light on Julian of Norwich’, in The Medieval Mystical Tradition in England, VIII, ed. E. Jones (Cambridge, 2013), pp. 7-28.
  54. ‘Authorship’, in A Handbook of Middle English Studies, ed. Marion Turner (Oxford, 2013), pp. 137-54.
  55. ‘Sacerdotis predicacio operibus confirmanda est: The Martiloge of the Syon Brethren’, in Preaching the Word in Manuscript and Print in Late Medieval England, ed. Martha W. Driver and Veronica O’Mara (Turnhout, 2013), pp. 133-60.
  56. ‘Fatherless Books: Authorship, Attribution and Orthodoxy in Later Medieval England,’ in The Pseudo-Bonaventuran Lives of Christ: Exploring the Middle English Tradition, ed. Ian Johnson and Allan Westphall (Turnhout, 2013), pp. 151-96.