Nicolette Zeeman teaches medieval English in the Faculty of English at the University of Cambridge, in England. She has worked on the radical spiritual and political poem Piers Plowman but is also interested in medieval psychology, pastoral thought, mysticism, and psychoanalysis. She has written on medieval literary theory, grammar, and ideas about song. One ongoing project is “Arts of Disruption,” a book about the self-subverting structures of medieval allegory. Recently she has been writing about some of the stranger responses to King’s College Chapel (Cambridge) in the 16th to 19th centuries.
At Radcliffe, she is using medieval theories about image use, idolatry, iconoclasm, and the idol in order to think about the body, along with its “parts” and accoutrements, as it appears in medieval imaginative texts, visual images, sculpture, and other cultural artifacts. She will bring the sophisticated theorizations of the image and idol that were developed in religious contexts to bear on both religious and nonreligious materials. The project will allow her to think about how corporeality and its various appurtenances allow people to think about the experience of being “in” the body and also about the identity-constituting business of being seen in their bodies, from the outside, by others.
Zeeman is the author of Piers Plowman and the Medieval Discourse of Desire (Cambridge University Press, 2006) and has most recently coedited Uncertain Knowledge: Scepticism, Relativism, and Doubt in the Middle Ages (Brepols Publishers, 2014). After her stay at Radcliffe, she will be taking up a Leverhulme Trust fellowship.