Kathryn Smithies

Dr Kathryn Smithies is a medieval historian and honorary fellow in the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies at the University of Melbourne. She is an Associate Investigator (2015) with the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions (CHE). She is a fabliau scholar interested in the social and cultural aspects of medieval society, particularly the intersection of high and popular culture as a means of ensuring social order and regulation. Kathryn is a member of the International Reynard Society which promotes the scholarship of the beast epic, fables and fabliaux; she is a regular presenter at their biennial symposia.

Within her research field, Kathryn is extending her work on fabliau didacticism to examine how the fabliau may be understood as exclusionary literature, marginalising certain sections of medieval society.  Kathryn’s research as an Associate Investigator with the CHE focuses on the ways in which the leper was excluded from society.

In a teaching environment, Kathryn has tutored extensively across the medieval period (Crusades, Medieval Plague, War and Heresy, Medieval Chivalry) and delivered numerous lectures on a diverse range of topics including: The Thirteenth-Century Crusades; Knights and Chivalry; Hundred Years War; Medieval Humour; and Women in Chivalric Literature. She has recently completed the role of subject coordinator for the University of Melbourne’s first year history subject, Medieval Plague, War and Heresy.  She has also tutored for a modern history subject: The World since World War II. Kathryn has recently completed a Graduate Certificate in Tertiary Teaching and Learning at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology.  


The University of Melbourne profile


To Exclude and To Be Excluded: Emotional Responses to the Plight of the Medieval Leper


Smithies, K. L. ‘Emotional Donor Communities in the Charters: Gift Giving to the Lepers of Rouen', Medieval Round Table, The University of Melbourne, 3 October 2016.

Smithies, K. L. ‘The Leper’s Courageous Heart: Inspired by God to Endure the Bodily Suffering’, ‘The Heart’ Study Day, The University of Melbourne, 11 March 2016.


Smithies, K. Introducing the Medieval Ass. Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2020.

Smithies, K. L. ‘The Leper’s Courageous Heart in Jean Bodel’s Les Congés’. In The Feeling Heart in Medieval and Early Modern Europe: Meaning, Embodiment, and Making, edited by K. Barclay and B. Reddan, pp. 97–112. Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, 2020 (Published December 2019).

Smithies, Kathryn L. 'Contextualising the Crane in the Fabliau Cele qui fu foutue et desfoutue'. Reinardus 24 (2012): 183–200.

Smithies, Kathryn L. 'New Directions for the Old French Fabliaux: Updating Harry F. Williams’s 1981 Review'. South Atlantic Review 81.2 (2016): 128–48.


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