Academic Interests

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    I am a Marie Skłodowska-Curie COFUND Fellow for 2017-18 at Trinity College Dublin Long Room Hub. My fellowship is in association with Trinity’s School of Histories and Humanities and the Manuscript, Book and Print Cultures research theme. I joined TCD from the University of York where I was a Postdoctoral Fellow with the Department of Electronics and Department of English (2014-17).

    At TCD I will carry out a palaeographical study of the work of ageing and elderly scribes in medieval and early modern manuscript books and documents, with a focus on Irish resources. The overarching aim of my research is to better understand the handwriting changes associated with normal physiological ageing, as well as the stylistic developments that occurred as fashions changed, and scribes were influenced by patrons and other scribes around them.

    My research develops a novel interdisciplinary methodology to investigate the links between physiological ageing processes and the forms and features of historical handwriting. It combines palaeography – scrutiny of features of the writing – with medical understanding of the physical, neurological and psychological factors affecting movement, and how these factors are accessed and monitored in modern clinical practice.

    The research project works within the fields of the digital humanities, electronics and computer science, and promises a wider and more diverse understanding of medieval scribes, widening our understanding of the tribulations faced by scribes, and building on existing studies that have hitherto focused on young and healthy scribes.


    I completed my PhD in Medieval Studies at the University of York in 2012. Before then, I took an M.St. in English at the University of Oxford and a BA in English at the University of Birmingham.

    Other Publications

    ‘A history of left-handed writing’ –

    ‘Unusual things found in medieval manuscripts’ –

    Deborah Thorpe

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