University of Reading cookie policy

We use cookies on to improve your experience, monitor site performance and tailor content to you.

Read our cookie policy to find out how to manage your cookie settings.

photograph of armoured hand

Dr Aisling Byrne specialises in medieval literature. Her first book was entitled Otherworlds: Fantasy and History in Medieval Literature and she developed a final-year module, Medieval Otherworlds, based on her research.

"I was sixteen when I first encountered medieval literature. I had read The Lord of the Rings and my interest in Tolkien led me to the Old and Middle English writings that he studied in his academic career. I can trace my interest in all things medieval to that discovery."

Research-led teaching

Researching her book opened Aisling's eyes to a whole range of medieval stories about strange and wonderful alternative worlds. She wanted to feed this research into her teaching. On the module, Aisling and her students explore medieval accounts of fantastical places: texts where questing knights arrive in fairy kingdoms, surreal accounts of the world of dreams, and travellers' tales that fill remote corners of the world with marvels.

"I worked on medieval otherworld descriptions for seven years while writing my book, but in every class students come up with new perspectives, new material, and new ideas. There has been wonderful intellectual collaboration on the module and that's always really exciting.