About our staff
Dr Zubin Mistry
BA, MA, PhD
Lecturer; Early Medieval European History
- School Academic Conduct Officer
- Programme Director for MSc History
Affiliated research centres
I grew up round the corner from Wembley Stadium in north-west London. A previous version of this profile suggested that this might explain an (amateur) interest in the history of football. But I've since deleted this when I realised that what's really not much more than an unusual ability to remember all the hat-tricks scored by the former Arsenal, Middlesborough and Hull City footballer, Ray Parlour, might be mistaken for some form of historical expertise. (Two hat-tricks, incidentally).
If I do have any expertise, it's in early medieval history. I originally studied Classics as an undergraduate before doing an MA in Ancient History. For better or for worse, I'm no longer a clean-cut classicist after drifting into the earlier Middle Ages while doing my PhD, though I still prefer to work with dates in three digits. Throughout my postgraduate years I worked in a bookshop (and still miss that staff discount). While writing up my PhD I also became one of those people who goes on about how good The Wire is. It's really good.
I spent two years as a teaching fellow at University College London and in 2014 I went to Queen Mary University of London as a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow. I moved up to Edinburgh in 2015 and started as a Lecturer in 2017.
I'm the Programme Director for the MSc in History and welcome any enquiries from prospective students.
I'm a co-ordinator of the Histories of Gender and Sexuality research group, and also a co-ordinator of the History of Science, Medicine and Technology Research Group (HSMT-Ed).
Fellow of the Royal Historical Society
Summary of research interestsPlaces:
- Britain & Ireland
- Medicine, Science & Technology
I am interested in the religious, social and political history of early medieval Europe and beyond. To date, my research uses themes in the history sexuality and reproduction to explore dynamics in early medieval societies. My first book (Abortion in the Early Middle Ages) explored the varying ways in which early medieval authorities and communities construed and negotiated abortion as a social, theological and moral problem.
While I have been looking at religion and law for a while now, more recently I am also interested in political culture (especially gendered dimensions of early medieval politics), and health and medicine in early medieval societies.
Current research activities
My current research examines infertility and childlessness in early medieval societies focussing particularly on Carolingian Europe (c.750-900). This project has three main strands.
First, socio-political negotiations of childlessness (and sonlessness). Reproductive failure is deeply woven into the grand narrative of the Carolingian dynasty. My research examines the 'successes' as well as the 'failures' to probe more carefully the gendered political repercussions of childlessness. I am also beginning to explore social dimensions of childlessness (especially in connection with kinship and inheritance) more broadly across society - or at least as broadly as sources like charters can allow.
Second, the 'Christianisation' of fertility. I am looking at representations of (in)fertility in ecclesiastical texts (e.g. biblical commentaries, liturgical texts, pastoral literature, hagiography) to see how fertility was 'good to think with' and also to examine how laypeople negotiated fertility through religious institutions.
Third, early medieval reproductive technologies. I am exploring medical and non-medical reproductive technologies found in the sizeable, but still under-studied, body of medical manuscripts that begin to survive in significant numbers from the ninth century. Fertility provides one way too of thinking more broadly on the place of medical learning and practice in early medieval societies.
I am currently working on understanding the role of monasteries as sites of meaning and practices relevant to how laypeople negotiated fertility.
In addition, as a side-project I have also been researching the understanding and use of the body in early medieval penance as envisaged in penitentials (handbooks for confessors).
The Sterility of their Wives: Handling Infertility in Carolingian Europe (Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellowship, 2014-17)
- Medieval Worlds: A Journey through the Middle Ages
- Introduction to Historiography
- Early Medieval Sexualities
- The Power of Religion in the Early Middle Ages
- Sources of Medieval History
- Debating Marriage between Antiquity and the Middle Ages
- Approaches to the Long Late Antiquity
- Historical Research
- Historical Methodology
Abortion in the Early Middle Ages, c.500-900 (Woodbridge, 2015)
Articles and book chapters
'Ermentrude's consecration (866): Queen-making rites and biblical templates for Carolingian fertility', Early Medieval Europe (forthcoming)
'The womb of the Church: Uterine expulsion in the Early Middle Ages', in M. Erica Couto-Ferreira and Lorenzo Verderame (eds), Cultural Constructions of the Uterus in Pre-Modern Societies, Past and Present (Newcastle, 2018), pp. 150-69
'The sexual shame of the chaste: "Abortion miracles" in early medieval saints’ lives’, Gender & History. 25.3 (2013), pp. 607-20.
Review of Jamie Kreiner and Helmut Reimitz (ed.), Motions of Late Antiquity: Essays on Religion, Politics, and Society in Honour of Peter Brown, Classical Review 68.1 (2018), 193-5
Review of David d'Avray, Papacy, Monarchy and Marriage 860-1600, Francia-Recensio 2016/4 Mittelalter -Moyen Âge (500-1500)
Review of Wolfgang P. Müller, The Criminalization of Abortion in the West: Its Origins in Medieval Law, Mediaeval Journal 4.1 (2014)