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Cambridge AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership - Student Profiles



I am a PhD student at Trinity College, Cambridge.  I graduated first in my year at undergraduate level and have just completed my MPhil in Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic at Newnham College.  I specialise in Old Norse literature, exploring the language, literature and culture of medieval Scandinavia and Iceland. 

I have a particular interest in Old Norse poetry and mythology, which has formed the basis for both my undergraduate and masters dissertations.  I am continuing my research at PhD level with an expanded focus on the structure of kinship as revealed by Old Norse texts, an interest first sparked by my undergraduate dissertation on the relationship between Óðinn and his son Þórr in the eddic poem Harbarðsljóð.  My aim is to broaden my study to include all parent-child interactions depicted in Old Norse mythic-heroic texts and invite further comparison with the kinship structures of medieval Scandinavia.

Kinship is foundational to the structure of society, both historically and in the present. A closer understanding of the kinship relations as depicted in Old Norse mythic-heroic texts can thus not only illuminate the Nordic past but has a broader applicability to the study of society more generally.

Other academic interests

My interest in kinship has drawn me to larger questions of anthropology and sociology, specifically questions of cultural identity and memory, conceptions of self and other and how societies use literature to construct and reinforce their established identities.

Also of interest are:

  • Comparative Literature of medieval France, Germany, England and Scandinavia.
  • Theories and concepts of medieval closure.
  • Textual criticism and palaeography.
  • Memory studies.
  • Emotion theory.
  • Arthurian literature.
  • Questions of genre in medieval literature.
  • Eucharistic imagery in medieval literature.
Department: Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic
Supervisor: Dr. Judy Quinn
College: Trinity
AHRC Subject Area: English language and literature
Title of Thesis: Kinship Patterns in Old Norse – Parent-Child Relations in Mythic-Heroic Texts
 Katherine  Olley