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Dr Natalie Goodison

Teaching Fellow

Teaching Fellow in the Department of English Studies
Member of the Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies
Fellow of the Institute for Medical Humanities


I am a scholar of medieval literature and history interested in embodiment. My research covers medieval literature, romance, the history of ideas, women’s health, and the medical humanities. My first project examined supernatural transformations in English romances—what happens when the corporeal body transforms due to magic or supernatural influence. The religious implications of transformation are covered in my forthcoming book, Blasphemous Romance (Medieval Institute Publications). My book Introducing the Medieval Swan (University of Wales Press) considers the medieval swan through its song, its transformative potential, and its status at court. My current research looks at medieval ideas of inheritance ('genetics') between parents and their abnormal offspring.

I have had particular success collaborating with scientists. I have worked with a geneticist to identify a rare birth in the medieval King of Tars—ranking in the top 10% of Altmetric outputs. In a second collaboration with Cambridge biologists and the Wellcome Trust, we proved that medieval women did in fact wear birthing girdles (ranked in the top 5% of Altmetric data in March 2021). This research circulated around the globe, featuring in The Guardian, The Times, Science Magazine, and beyond, and I was interviewed on national radio by John Pienaar.

I hold degrees from the University of North Carolina, Edinburgh, and Durham. I’ve held the Junior Anniversary Fellowship at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the University of Edinburgh; and an Early Career Fellowship at Durham's Institute for the Medical Humanities. Currently, I hold a three-year Teaching Fellowship in Durham's Department of English Studies.

To hear me talk about lumps of flesh, click here.

To see news coverage on our birth girdle research, click here.


Authored Book

Natalie Jayne Goodison, Introducing the Medieval Swan (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2022)

Natalie Jayne Goodison, Blasphemous Romance: Religion and Heterodoxy in Medieval English Romance (under contract, De Gruyter & Medieval Institute Publications)

Edited Book

Natalie Goodison and Alexander J. Wilson, eds., On the Fringes: Outsiders and Otherness in the Medieval and Early Modern World, Memsa Journal, 1 (Durham, 2015).

Articles and Book Chapters

Sarah Fiddyment, Natalie J. Goodison, Elma Brenner, Stefania Signorello, Matthew Collins, ‘Girding the Loins? Direct Evidence of the Use of a Medieval Birthing Girdle from Biomolecular Analysis’, Royal Society Open Science 10 March 21. Doi: 10.1098/rsos.202055 (Ranking in top 5% of Altmetric Rankings).

Natalie Goodison and Deborah J. G. Mackay, ‘A Geneticist and a Medievalist: An Unlikely Partnership’, Fiftieth Anniversary Symposium for the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, ed. Ben Fletcher-Watson (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2020), 125-38.

Natalie Goodison, ‘The Sacred and the Secular: Alchemical Transformation in The Turke and Sir Gawain’, Arthurian Literature 35 (2020): 133-51.

Natalie Goodison, Deborah Mackay, and I. Karen Temple, ‘Genetics, Molar Pregnancies, and Medieval Ideas of Monstrous Births: The Lump of Flesh in The King of Tars’, Medical Humanities BMJ, 07 August 2018. doi: 10.1136/medhum-2017-011387 here. (Ranked in top 10% of Altmetric Rankings.)

Natalie Goodison, ‘The Serpent with a Woman’s Face: Transformation in Libeaus Desconus and the Vernacular Fair Unknown Tradition’, in Romance Across European Borders, ed. by Miriam Muth-Edlich (Turnhout: Brepols, 2018), pp. 205-228.