1. Academic experts
  2. Research students
  3. Students
  4. Alumni
  5. Senior people at City
  6. Non-academic staff
  7. Honorary graduates

portrait of Dr Hetta Howes

Dr Hetta Howes

Lecturer in Medieval and Early Modern Literature

School of Arts and Social Sciences, Department of English

Contact Information


Visit Hetta Howes

ALG03, College Building

Postal Address

City, University of London
Northampton Square
United Kingdom



After studying for my BA and MPhil at the University of Cambridge, I joined Queen Mary in 2012 to begin my doctoral thesis. The project was supervised by Professor Julia Boffey and Dr Alfred Hiatt and examines the role of water as a literary metaphor in late-medieval devotional prose, with a special emphasis on writings for and by women. I am currently turning this thesis into a book project: 'Transforming Waters in Medieval Devotional Literature.' After a year's lectureship at Queen Mary I moved to City, University of London in September 2017.

I have published on tropes of crying and cleansing in Aelred of Rievaulx’s spiritual treatise 'A Rule of Life for a Recluse', on blood and shame in medieval lyrics, and on the role of sight in fourteenth-century alliterative verse.

I am committed to public engagement and am one of the BBC/AHRC New Generation Thinkers for 2017/18. I am a regular guest and presenter on BBC Radio 3, and a writer for the 'Times Literary Supplement' and 'BBC History Extra.'

I welcome applications from prospective postgraduate students interested in late-medieval devotional literature, particularly writing by and for women; the history of the emotions; fluidity and transformation.


  1. Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, Queen Mary, University of London, Jul 2017
  2. PhD, Queen Mary, University of London, United Kingdom, Sep 2012 – Jun 2016
  3. MPHil, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom, Sep 2011 – Jun 2012
  4. BA, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, Sep 2008 – Jun 2011

Administrative role

  1. Recruitment Officer for Department of English, City, University of London


  1. Lecturer in Early Modern Literature, City, University of London, Sep 2017 – present
  2. Lecturer in medieval and early modern literature, Queen Mary, University of London, Sep 2016 – Aug 2017



  1. Howes, Transforming Waters in Medieval Devotional Literature.


  1. Howes, Adreynt in shennesse’: Blood, Shame and Contrition in ‘Quis est iste qui uenit de Edom?’ In Boffey, J. and Whitehead, C. (Eds.), The Middle English Lyric: New Approaches to Short Poems Boydell and Brewer.

Journal articles (2)

  1. Howes, H.E. (2014). Fulling Linen, Haunting Clear Waters, and Crying Bitter Tears: Two Middle English Versions of Aelred of Rievaulx’s De institutione inclusarum. Florilegium, 31, pp. 139–164. doi:10.3138/flor.31.06.
  2. Howes, (2011). 'Sowrede’ Eyes and Obscured Meaning: ‘Wynnere and Wastoure’ as Spiritual Challenge. Marginalia, 16.

Other Activities

Events/conferences (3)

  1. Women's Voices, Medieval and Early Modern. Queen Mary University of London (2017). Organising Committee.
  2. Research into the Medieval and Early Modern: Navigating Issues of Engagement. (Workshop) (2017). Organising Committee.
  3. Tears and Smiles Medieval to Early Modern. (Conference) Senate House, University of London (2015). Organising Committee.

Online articles (7)

  1. Watery Offerings: Women and Water in the Middle Ages. (2014). The History of the Emotions Blog (QMUL)
  2. Swamps and Bogs in Eighties Film and Literature. (2014). The Artifice
  3. A Brief History of Medieval Magic. (2015). BBC History Extra
  4. Heavenly Dew: Crying in the Middle Ages. (2015). BBC History Extra
  5. Beasts of Wonder: Reading Animals in the Middle Ages. (2016). BBC History Extra
  6. Piers Plowman in the twenty-first century. (2017). The Times Literary Supplement
  7. Review of 'A Medieval Woman's Companion', by Susan Signe Morrison. (2017). The Times Literary Supplement

Radio programmes (3)

  1. Ecstasy, Carpe Diem: Free Thinking. BBC Radio 3 Why we need to seize the moment and lose control more often is discussed by philosophers Jules Evans and Roman Krznaric and Canon Angela Tilby. And presenter Rana Mitter is joined by 2017 New Generation Thinker Hetta Howes, whose research looks at medieval attitudes to ecstasy.
  2. Free Thinking Festival: New Generation Thinkers. BBC Radio 3 An introduction to the academics whose ideas will be making radio waves across 2017. The New Generation Thinkers is an annual competition run by BBC Radio 3 and the Arts and Humanities Research Council to select 10 researchers at the start of their careers who can turn their fascinating research into stimulating programmes.
  3. Water. Footnotes, King's College London Radio