Karen Smyth
  • 2.31 Arts

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

I have supervised medieval literature and interdisciplinary PhDs with Creative Writing, History, Art History and Digital Humanities. I am keen to hear from prospective students working on the Pastons, Lydgate, Hoccleve, medievalism or medieval horology projects.

If you made any changes in Pure these will be visible here soon.

Personal profile


Karen researches  medievalism and early modernism in dialogue with heritage studies, in relation to early East Anglian literary cultures. She is currently exploring the 15th to 17th century Paston letters. 

Research impact legacies are arising, in the form of the Paston Footprints project, of which Karen is Co-Director, in collaboration with the Paston Heritage Society, Norfolk Record Office, Norfolk County Council and multiple heritage, educational, creative, wellbeing, religious and tourism partners: Heritage Walks | Paston Footprints

Karen is Associate Professor in Medieval Literature. Prior to joining UEA, she held a lectureship in Old and Middle English at the University of Nottingham, after being the Bloomfield Visiting Fellow at Harvard University. She completed her BA(hons) in Literature, PHD in medieval literature, and PGCHET at the Queen's University of Belfast.

External Activities

  • Advisory Content Panel Member for the Museums and Heritage Annual Show, London, 2018-ongoing
  • Member of the AHRC Peer Review College, 2017-20
  • Public Ambassador for the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement, 2013-15
  • Profiled in RCUK's 'Inspiration to Engage: Concordat for Public Engagement with Research', 2013
  • UEA Engagement Executive project award, for 'outstanding contribution', 2013
  • Shortlisted for the 2012 European Society of the Study of English first book prize 
  • Advisor for HEFCE’s ‘Involving Disabled People in Higher Education’ , 2010-14

Key Research Interests and Expertise

As Co-PI of the Paston Footprints project, my focus is on ways various demographics in today's society and recent centuries connect with and mediate the Paston letters, legends and heritage, which has developed from my AHRC project on archival legacies. 

In my monograph Imaginings of Time in Lydgate and Hoccleve’s Verse, in a co-edited interdisciplinary volume of essays, Medieval Lifecycles: Continuity and Change, and in numerous articles on Chaucer and fifteenth-century authors, I have examined time as a cultural construct inherently linked to issues of authorship, authority and artistic eloquence.


  • HLF Heritage Grant: '600 Paston Footprints', 2017-2021, PI with PHS.
  • ESRC Impact Accelerator Fund: Paston Footprints with Norwich Castle, 2018-19
  • HLF Heritage Grant Development Phase: 'Paston Footprints 600', 2016, PI with PHS.
  • AHRC Connected Communities: 'Preserving Place: A Cultural Mapping Exercise', 2014-15, Co-PI with A.Power (Uni of Southamptom) and R.Martin (Community Action Norfolk)
  • Uni of London 'Being Human' Co-PI with Will Rossiter, 'From Humanism to Human', 2014 
  • AHRC Research Fellow on an 'All our Stories' Connected Communities project, 2013
  • HEART/Harry Watson Bursary, 2013
  • UK Bibliographical Society grant, 2008
  • British Academy Research grant, 2007
  • English Subject Centre conference grant, 2005
  • Morton Bloomfield Visiting Fellowship, Harvard University, USA, (Barker Center), 2004
  • Medieval Academy of America travel grant to State University of New York, Binghamton, 2004

Key Responsibilities

  • LDC Library Liaison
  • Personal Advisor
  • Eastern Arc Digital Humanities UEA Lead (2015-18)
  • University Research Ethics Committee (2016-17)
  • University Research Data Management Committee, 2014-16
  • LDC Public Engagement Director, 2014-15
  • LDC Medieval & Early Modern Research Impact Lead, 2014-16
  • Medieval and Early Modern seminar series organiser, 2012-14
  • CHASE (PhD consortium) Medieval and Early Modern UEA link, 2012-14
  • Q300 (BA English Literature) Course Director, 2008-12
  • Erasmus Co-ordinator, 2012
  • LDC Deputy Plagiarism Officer, 2011
  • Q200 (Comparative Literature) Course Director, 2009
  • LDC Disability Officer, 2008-10