Spotlight on: Ruth Salter

I am a native of Reading, although I have very strong family ties with Devon.  As well as being one of the sessional lecturers I am also one of the Department’s PhD researchers – my work focusing on twelfth-century English hagiographies and their accounts of miraculous healing.  By now I have come to know the University of Reading very well as I also undertook both my BA in Classical and Medieval Studies and MA (Res) in Medieval Studies here.

Sarande, Albania

I rediscovered my love of history as an undergraduate, having moved towards Classics at A Level.  However, the combination of ancient and medieval history in my BA years really sparked my interests and led me to working on a dissertation which questioned the use of hagiographical as a source for social and medical history.  I did not stray far from miracles as I entered my Masters, although I turned my attention at that point onto the representation of children (a very specific social category) within these sources.  For my current work I am using a combination of statistical and literary analysis which, when used together, allows for a really fascinating insight into various aspects of social representation.  I am focusing my attention on eight specific monastic sites in England, one of which is our very own Reading Abbey, which I was able to visit this summer thanks to Reading Museum who do tours inside the abbey ruins (hardhats required!).

Remains of the dormitory, Reading Abbey

At the moment, my focus is specifically on trying to learn more about travel in twelfth-century England.  So my attention is, for now, on the travel experience of the cure-seekers who visited the shrines of saints’ in the hope for divine assistance.

Rood Screen, Moretonhampsted, Dartmoor

Within the Department I am a sessional lecturer and this year I am a seminar leader for the Landmark 1066.  I have also taught Approaches before, using the hagiography for Reading Abbey’s primary saint – that is St James (or more specifically his hand, which was given to Reading by Henry I during the 1120s-30s).

Away from medieval history I have interests in other historic areas (I continue to love Classical, Mediterranean history but also find the Aztec/Mayan cultures fascinating).  I also enjoy travelling and I would especially love to visit more of the Nordic countries in the future.

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