Postgraduate Research Student
Michele’s first degree was in Medieval and Modern Languages from the University of Oxford in 1983. She then completed a Post Graduate Certificate for Education, again at the University of Oxford. She subsequently spent most of her working life in secondary education culminating in the roles of Secondary Headteacher, Ofsted Inspector and Education Consultant. In 1994, while working full time, she obtained a MBA Distinction from the University of Keele. In 2017 she returned to academia and completed a MRes in Modern Languages and Cultures (French Studies) at the University of Liverpool for which she obtained a Distinction. Her dissertation explored the representations of Saracen warriors from a chivalric perspective in two late-medieval French texts from the Library of Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy: the account of the battle of Nicopolis in Book IV of Froissart’s Chroniques, and the anonymous mise en prose, Saladin.
Following the successful completion of her MRes, Michele started her PhD at the University of Liverpool in April 2019.
An exploration of the reflexive and determining nature of the interrelationship between crusader and Saracen identities as represented in French texts acquired or commissioned by Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, and members of his court.
Michele’s research examines the reciprocal nature of the identities of Saracen and crusader as represented in works from the libraries of Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, and members of his court.
Late-medieval representations of Saracen warriors have at their heart a deep ambiguity. The existence of a threatening or oppressive Saracen – militarily, politically, theologically - is a pre-requisite for crusade; the nature of the medieval Christian crusader’s perception of his Saracen opponent helps determine both the shape and legitimacy of the crusader’s own identity. The very secular qualities, however, which underpin the chivalric and courtly aspirations of the crusader as applied to himself, provide an uncomfortable dislocation from a dogmatically deviant image, when applied to a cultured, and economically and militarily successful, infidel opponent.
The court of Philip the Good provides a nexus for the exploration of the reflexive and determining nature of the interrelationship between crusader and Saracen identities. The concept of crusade preoccupied Philip both practically and ideologically throughout his adult life. He sought to position himself politically as a powerful leader willing to lead Christendom into a battle against the infidels, whilst seeking to underpin his actions with an intellectual rationale. As a cultured bibliophile, he acquired and commissioned an extensive collection of manuscripts. The crusade-related texts within his library, and those of members of his court, offer a key to the interplay between contemporary perceptions of Saracen opponents and their impact on the self-perceptions of members of the Burgundian court as crusaders.
Michele’s research offers a fresh perspective to existing scholarship on late medieval French crusading literature; it also has great relevance within the current global climate of tension between Western and Islamic politics and ideologies. It seeks to provide both a realignment of focus on representations of the past (albeit themselves presented through the prism of literary interpretation) and to offer a model for comparison with contemporary post-colonial twenty-first-century ambiguities and tensions within Western and Islamic relationships.