Anya Adair researches medieval English literature, as well as pre-modern English law and legal culture. Her focus is the Old English period, but her research extends also to Old Norse and Anglo-Latin, medieval language interaction, book history and manuscript studies, poetry and poetics, digital humanities, and the history of the English language.

Anya holds a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws from the University of Melbourne and graduate degrees in English from Melbourne, Oxford and Yale. At Melbourne and Yale, she has taught creative writing, medieval and early modern English literature, the history of the English language, palaeography and codicology, and digital humanities.

The historical scope of Anya’s present research covers the seventh to the sixteenth centuries. It aims to unite more closely the fields of medieval law and medieval literature, and to provide insight into the intellectual, emotional and social dimensions of legal and literary production across the period. Her interest in legal and literary culture takes her work into the history of emotion, historical linguistics, religious writing, poetry, poetics and rhetoric, as well as palaeography, codicology, and the history of law. In all of these dimensions, Anya’s research is driven by a fascination with the minutiae of language, and the potential of its smallest detail to solve the puzzles of the past.


Research and Teaching Grants (selected, from 2016)

Human Rights in the Hands of the Scribes: Tracking Variation in the Forest Charter, 1290-1510. Software Development Seed Grant, Yale University, 2017.

Digital Editing and the Medieval Manuscript Fragment & Roll. Digital Humanities Lab Seed Grant, Yale University, 2017. Collaboration.

Teaching from a Broken Record: Digitally Enabled Lessons in Reading Slowly. Digital Education Innovation Grant, Rosenkranz Fund and Online Education Committee, Yale University, 2016.

Rolls and Scrolls after the Codex: A Digital Archive. Digital Humanities Lab Seed Grant, Yale University, 2016. Collaboration.

Legal Representation: Images of English Lawmaking, 1350-1550. Paul Mellon Center for British Art Summer Travelling Grant. Yale University, 2016.


Courses offered in 2019-2020

ENGL2164       The beginnings of English law and literature
LALS2001         Introduction to law & literary studies





‘Hateful Hills and Joyful Dread: Emotive “Filler Words” in the Old English Metrical Psalter,’ English Studies; 98 (2017): 15-25.

‘Swift, Satire and the Second Person Pronoun.’ Review of English Studies 67 (2016): 103-121.

‘Joy as a Metaphor for Volition: Old English Lustum, Estum and the Giving of Gifts,’ Notes and Queries 60 (2013): 343-349.

‘The Unity and Authorship of the Old English Advent Lyrics.’ English Studies 92 (2011): 823-848.



‘Labours Lost: Caxton’s “Otiose” Sorts, c.1472-1482’ in Verbal and Visual Communication in Early English Texts, edited by Matti Peikola et. al., 141-164. Turnhout: Brepols, 2017.




Last updated: 4 December 2019