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Geography, Archaeology & Irish Studies
Dr Karen Dempsey
By setting ordinary medieval households within their appropriate historical context, utilising comparative work from across Europe and incorporating contemporary historical and literary sources, this project examines how different people in the past organised their houses and what shaped their decisions. For example, were houses structured differently depending on cultural identity i.e. Anglo-Norman or Gaelic-Irish? Were there particular gendered tasks for medieval men and women within the home? Addressing these questions will deliver a more socially diverse picture of medieval households that encompasses family life and gender roles. The results will be shared through an academic book, public talks and a short documentary. This focuses on interviews with experts about medieval and modern households, and also, the elderly living in community-care who carry generational knowledge of 'home'. Therefore, diverse audiences will benefit from the new knowledge that this project creates. I am particularly interested in medieval social spaces throughout the hierarchical medieval world as can be seen through my doctoral research funded by the Irish Research Council, at University College Dublin, in which I explored the role of architecture in the construction of social identity.
My recent Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship https://medievalcastlesandwomen.wordpress.com/ at University of Reading (2017-2019) was a new venture: it focused on feminist practice in archaeology as well as creating new gendered understandings of medieval castles with an emphasis on medieval women. Methodologically, this incorporated studies of people, places and things together with medieval castles to create more dynamic accounts of the medieval past. Essentially this means telling the story of medieval people, especially women, through the things that they used and cared about, within the spaces they inhabited, through the lens of what we know of the medieval past. This approach navigates away from traditional scholarship that often comprises accounts of seemingly static landscapes or buildings. HeRSTORY challenged current male-orientated views of the medieval world, so typical of castle-studies, which have largely excluded the everyday experiences and lives of women.
I also aim to reach a wider audience by using different media to share my research - everybody should be able to access the joys of the medieval world. Collaboratively, with Caroline Teng I am in the process of creating an adult graphic novella about medieval womens daily life. In Home is Where the Heart(h) is, I will venture into the world of documentary making.
|Project||Start Date||End Date|
|'Feeling Home': telling a digital sensorial story of Irish medieval houses||03-MAR-20||27-NOV-20|
|Sowing Seeds of Interdisciplinary Work: Relict Plants at Medieval Castles||03-FEB-20||01-NOV-20|
|Home is Where the Heart(h) is': investigating medieval houses in Ireland 1100-1600 AD||01-OCT-19||30-SEP-21|
|Small Things of Greater Importance: Exploring the Sensory Relationship of Medieval People and Objects||01-APR-19||01-NOV-20|
Peer Reviewed Journals
|(2020)|| 'Special Issue: Small Things of Greater Importance: Exploring the Sensory Relationship of Medieval People and Objects'
Karen Dempsey and Jitske Jasperse (eds) (2020) 'Special Issue: Small Things of Greater Importance: Exploring the Sensory Relationship of Medieval People and Objects'. Das Mittelalter, 25 (2) [Details]
|(2020)|| 'Home is Where the Heart(h) is': investigating medieval houses in Ireland 1100-1600 AD'
Karen Dempsey (2020) 'Home is Where the Heart(h) is': investigating medieval houses in Ireland 1100-1600 AD'. Archaeology Ireland, 34 (1):49-51 [Details]
|(2020)|| 'Planting new ideas: a feminist gaze on medieval castles'
Karen Dempsey (2020) 'Planting new ideas: a feminist gaze on medieval castles'. Château Gaillard, Caen, 29 [Details]
|(2019)|| 'Gender and medieval archaeology: storming the castle'
Dempsey, K (2019) 'Gender and medieval archaeology: storming the castle'. Antiquity, 93 :772-788 [DOI] [ARAN Link] [Details]
|(2019)|| 'Beyond the martial facade: gender, heritage and medieval castles'
Dempsey, K;Gilchrist, R;Ashbee, J;Sagrott, S;Stones, S (2019) 'Beyond the martial facade: gender, heritage and medieval castles'. International Journal of Heritage Studies, [DOI] [ARAN Link] [Details]
|(2018)|| 'Lea Castle: looking outwards'
Karen Dempsey (2018) 'Lea Castle: looking outwards'. Château Gaillard, Caen, 28 :113-119 [ARAN Link] [Details]
|(2017)|| 'Understanding 'Hall-Houses': Debating Seigneurial Buildings in Ireland in the 13th Century'
Dempsey, K (2017) 'Understanding 'Hall-Houses': Debating Seigneurial Buildings in Ireland in the 13th Century'. Medieval Archaeology, 61 :372-399 [DOI] [ARAN Link] [Details]
|(2016)|| 'Free-standing rectangular halls and chamber-towers in thirteenth century Ireland'
Karen Dempsey (2016) 'Free-standing rectangular halls and chamber-towers in thirteenth century Ireland'. Château Gaillard, Caen, 27 :113-119 [ARAN Link] [Details]
|(2016)|| 'Lea Castle: the story so far'
Karen Dempsey (2016) 'Lea Castle: the story so far'. The Castle Studies Group Journal, :77-89 [ARAN Link] [Details]
|(2015)|| 'Lea Castle: an architectural description'
Karen Dempsey (2015) 'Lea Castle: an architectural description' In: Lea Castle. Portarlington: Frenchpress. [Details]
|(2019)|| Book Review. The Invention of Race in the European Middle Ages. By Geraldine Heng.
Karen Dempsey (2019) Book Review. The Invention of Race in the European Middle Ages. By Geraldine Heng. Book Review [DOI] [ARAN Link] [Details]
|(2018)|| Book review: The lived experience in the Later Middle Ages: studies of Bodiam and other elite landscapes in south-eastern England. Wiley.
Karen Dempsey (2018) Book review: The lived experience in the Later Middle Ages: studies of Bodiam and other elite landscapes in south-eastern England. Wiley. Book Review [DOI] [ARAN Link] [Details]
Editorship of Journals
|(2012)|| Trowel XIII.
Karen Dempsey & Susan Curran (2012) Trowel XIII. Editorship of Journals [Details]
Honours and Awards
|2020||Royal Irish Academy Charlemont Grant||Royal Irish Academy|
|2015||Heritage Bursary||Roscommon County Council|