Martin Foys


7183 Helen C. White Hall

Old English language and literature, early medieval materialism and media, digital medievalism, digital humanities
Complete CV and Updated Research

Martin Foys


  • Ph.D., English, Loyola University Chicago
  • B.A., English, Drew University

Personal Statement

The core of my research concerns pre- and post-Conquest England, with special attention to the intersection of literature and other visual, material and media modes of cultural expression – e.g. maps, tapestries and sculpture, and, most recently, more ephemeral and abstracted aspects of early medieval expressive production – auditory culture, technological alteration of bodies, transliteracies and ecologies of media forms, and the process of temporal decay or obsolescence. Recent work includes essays on widows, witchcraft and medieval real estate deals (2018), medieval media, human bodies and digital technology (2017)  media archaeology and manuscript studies (2015), a sensual philology for Anglo-Saxon England (2014),  “Media” for the Wiley-Blackwell Handbook of Anglo-Saxon Studies (2012), as well as co-editing a volume of articles on “Becoming Media” for the journal postmedieval (2012), for which submissions were also vetted through an experimental online crowd review. I am currently at work on a book on the nature of early medieval media, as well as editing a set of early medieval maps for the Virtual Mappa project, based at the British Library.

Major publications include the Bayeux Tapestry Digital Edition (2003 & 2013),  Virtually Anglo-Saxon: Old Media, New Media, and Early Medieval Studies in the Late Age of Print (2007), and Bayeux Tapestry: New Interpretations (2009). I also co-direct the DM Project, a digital resource for the open annotation of digital images and texts, which has been funded by a multi-year grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, with earlier support from Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and by a generous UW2020 grant from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Selected Publications

How a Widow Becomes a Witch: Land, Loss and Law in Anglo-Saxon Charter S. 1377” For: a special issue of English Studies, on “Women’s Bodies in Anglo-Saxon England,” eds. Robin Norris, Rebecca Stephenson & Renée Trilling (submitted, 8,000 words)

Recalling the Medieval: Stained Glass, Longboards, and Rain” – Closing Remarks of the Executive Director for the 2017 ISAS Meeting, University of Hawai’i, Manoa August 4, 2017 (2,500 words).

The Undoing of Exeter Book Riddle 47: ‘Bookmoth’,” in Transitional States: Cultural Change, Tradition and Memory in Medieval England. Ed. Graham Caie and Michael D.C. Drout. Tempe: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (ACMRS), (forthcoming 2018, 12,500 words).

The Anonymous, Executed Widow of Ailsworth,” for Anglo-Saxon Women: A Florilegium, ed. Emily Butler, Irina Dumitrescu, and Hilary E. Fox (forthcoming, 1200 words: 2018).

The Remanence of Medieval Media,” for Digital Medieval Literature and Culture (Routledge Handbook series), ed. Jen Boyle and Helen J Burgess (Routledge: 2017), 9-30.

“Redacting Harold Godwinson in William of Malmesbury’s Gesta Regum and the Vita Haroldi,” in Textiles, Text, Intertext: Essays in Honour of Gale R. Owen-Crocker, eds. Jill Fredrick and Maren Clegg-Hyer (Boydell and Brewer Press: 2016), 239-53.

Hwæt sprycst þu?: Performing Ælfric’s Colloquy.” Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Teaching 22.2 (Fall 2015) (special issue: Practical Strategies for Teaching and Learning Old English), ed. H. Momma and H. Estes, 66-71.

“Medieval Manuscripts: Media Archaeology and the Digital Incunable,” for The Medieval Manuscript Book: Cultural Approacheseds. M. Van Dussen and M. Johnston (Cambridge University Press: 2015), 119-139.

“A Sensual Philology for Anglo-Saxon England.” Postmedieval, 5.4 (volume on Philologies and the Futures of Humanism) (2014): 456-472.

“The Piers Plowman Electronic Archive and the Process of Durable Mutation” (review essay). Yearbook of Langland Studies 26 (2012 [2013]): 277-286.

“Media: Some Definitions Disguised as Maxims” & “Media in ‘The Husband’s Message’.” A Handbook to Anglo-Saxon Studies (Critical Theory Handbooks), ed. Jacqueline A. Stodnick and Renée R. Trilling (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell), 2012, 133-148.

Developing Digital Mappaemundi: An Agile Mode for Annotating Medieval Maps” (with Shannon Bradshaw). Digital Medievalist 7 (2011).

“Vanishing Transliteracies in Beowulf and Samuel Pepys’ Diary” (with Whitney Trettien). Essays and Studies –‘Textual Cultures: Cultural Texts,’ ed. Elaine Treharne and Orietta Da Rold (Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer), 2010, 75-120.

“New Media and the Nunburnholme Cross.” Cross and Cruciform in the Anglo-Saxon World, ed. Karen Jolly, Sarah Keefer, and Catherine Karkov, (Morgantown: West Virginia University Press), 2010, 340-368.

“Pulling the Arrow Out: The Legend of Harold’s Death and the Bayeux Tapestry.” The Bayeux Tapestry: New Interpretations (2009, see below), 158-175.

The Reality of Media in Anglo-Saxon Studies.” The Heroic Age; A Journal of Early Medieval Northwestern Europe 11 (2008).

“An Unfinished Mappamundi from Late Eleventh-Century Worcester: CCCC 265 and the Evidence for a Family of Late Anglo-Saxon Maps.” Anglo-Saxon England 35 (2006): 271-284.

The Virtual Reality of the Anglo-Saxon Mappamundi.” Literature Compass 1 (2003): ME 016, 1-14.

All’s Well that Ends: Closure, Hypertext, and the Missing End of the Bayeux Tapestry.” Exemplaria 15.2 (2003): 39-72.

Digital Mappa Resources:

Digital Mappa (DM for short) is an online environment for the collection and curation of digital images and texts. DM’s suite of tools enables users assemble digital materials (both image and text), and then highlight areas of interest specific areas of interest on these documents. These highlights are then active, and users can create commentary for them, or link between them and other highlight on the same or other documents in the same DM project. Please note: for this current beta version of DM, using Chrome as a browser is required.

Inline images 2Virtual Mappa Project (with the British Library): the original research initiative that led to the development of the DM Toolset. VMP is a case study in how medieval maps of the world and related geographic texts may be collected, annotated and networked, and includes maps from both the British Library and the Parker Library (Cambridge University). VMP is a substantial partnership with the British Library to develop this project into a truly interoperable resource that can virtually collect and display content drawn from several digital repositories. Previously funded by a multi-year ($250,000) NEH Digital Humanities Implementation grant.


Inline images 3The Old English & Anglo-Latin Belltokens Project is a showcase mini-edition of a short Old English text that also survives in a Latin version. This is a digital scholarly project unique in its design and content. At its center are two texts: a piece of Old English prose from the eleventh century, partly erased, of some forty-five lines, that itself is a direct translation of a late tenth-century Anglo-Latin version of the same content. The material concerns the allegorical significance of the ringing of church bells, derives from a redaction of a redaction of the Liber Officialis, a massive ninth-century treatise by Amalarius of Metz which allegorically treats a vast range of objects and rituals related to the celebration of Mass. The Belltokens Project offers entry into the evolution of material in Anglo-Saxon England from a number of scholarly and pedagogical perspectives of content, text, language, manuscript and paleography.


Inline images 1The Four Anglo-Carolingian Mini-Editions is an edited project of four short texts held in the British Library’s Vespasian MS D.xv, which is at present a combination of two sets of medieval English texts from two different periods – the mid-twelfth century, and the late-tenth century. The manuscript begins with a twelfth-century pontifical; the rest of the manuscript dates from the sometime after c.970-975, very likely from Worcester, and consists first of a penitential manual containing works by Isidore of Seville and St. Jerome, another handbook for penance known as the Canones Cottoniani that is an adaptation of a Paenitentiale Theodori. This edition was not planned or expected.  In the process of working on the Old English Belltokens edition noted above, cursory research led to surprising discoveries, all of which have subsequently been produced as mini-editions.

Recent Books