Hello everyone. My name is Andrew Hamilton, and I am a second-year History PhD student at Queen’s University Belfast. My current project, which pursues themes of vagrancy in medieval English literature from c. 1300 to c. 1500, is sensitive to the link between literature and its context. It is this link which initially attracted me to the study of the past.
My journey began in a high school English Literature classroom. Fresh from the study of The Great Gatsby, my peers and I were presented with The Canterbury Tales. First, we looked at the archaic language. Then, we looked to the calendar. To our surprise, it was not the first of April! Over time I became increasingly fascinated with the world hidden between the lines of text. What was a Pardoner? What made the Wife of Bath speak like that? Do traces of their society survive today?
These questions pursued me into my first year at university. I arrived, eagerly clutching a copy of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and hungry for more. Over my MA, I focused on depictions of peasant deviance. Today, my subject is the mobile labourer/beggar who roamed England’s towns and byways.
Throughout, I have maintained an interest in what literature can tell us of the medieval past.