Dr Kim Phillips

BA(Hons) (Melbourne), DPhil (York)

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Associate Professor


Kim Phillips is Associate Professor in History at the University of Auckland, where she previously held the positions of Lecturer (1997-2001) and Senior Lecturer (2001-2013). Kim is originally from Melbourne, Australia, where she completed her BA and BA (Hons) at the University of Melbourne (1991) before receiving a Commonwealth Scholarship to study at the Centre for Medieval Studies, University of York, UK, where she completed her DPhil (1998).

Research | Current

  • Medieval Europe, c. 1100-1550
  • Medieval travel and ethnographic writing
  • Cross-cultural encounters
  • Women's and gender history
  • Youth and lifecycle history
  • History of sexuality and the body

Kim maintains two main areas of research interest. One is the history of medieval women, gender and sexuality in European societies c. 1100 c. 1550, including histories of life cycle and the body. The second is representations of foreign lands and peoples in medieval travel and ethnographic writing. Her recent publications include  A Cultural History of Women in the Middle Ages  (as editor) (London: Bloomsbury, 2016), Before Orientalism: Asian Peoples and Cultures in European Travel Writing, 1245-1510 (as author) (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014), and articles on facial expressions of Otherness, travel writing in medieval Britain and Europe, and gender and sexuality in the medieval Christian tradition. She has articles forthcoming on  European representations of Chinese cities, the cultural history of hair, and women's bodies in vernacular medical texts. Her new research focuses on beauty and women's bodies in medieval and early modern England.

Teaching | Current

ARTHIST 225 Imaging the Renaissance

ARTHIST 325 Imaging the Renaissance

HISTORY 102 Sexual Histories: Western Sexualities from Medieval to Modern Times

HISTORY 219 Medieval Mentalities, Western Europe c.1100-1500

HISTORY 319 Medieval Mentalities, Western Europe c.1100-1500

HISTORY 243 Body and Blood: Religious Cultures and Conflicts, c.50-1650

HISTORY 356 Body and Blood: Religious Cultures and Conflicts, c.50-1650

HISTORY 736 Medieval Women, c.1100-1500

Postgraduate supervision




John P. Collins, ‘Attitudes of surgeons, experiences of patients and the perception of the public to surgery in the nineteenth century’ (2016-ongoing, second supervisor)

Emma Sadera, ‘A wench was condemn’d: Sexual Transgression and Infanticide in Late Seventeenth-Century England’ (2015-ongoing, main supervisor)

Alexandra Donnison, ‘Women, the Body, and Society in Late Renaissance Italy: Medicine and the Female Patient’ (2013-ongoing, main supervisor).


Lisa Hawes, "Kissing Christ: The Masculine Performance of Religious Ecstasy" (2007- 2012, main supervisor).

Michelle Smith, "Assessing Gender in the Formation of Medieval Scottish Identities, c. 1286-c. 1586" (2005-2009, main supervisor).

Kerryn Olsen, "Questions of Identity: Rewriting Anglo-Saxon Female Saints in Post-Conquest England, c. 1066-c. 1500" (2005-2009, co-supervisor).

Lindsay Diggelmann, "Marriage, Inheritance and the Balance of Power in Twelfth-Century England and France" (2001-2004, main supervisor).  



Hannah Pym, ‘Royal Daughters: Princesses in England c. 1300-1550 (Thesis, 2017, sole supervisor)

Jessica Thomas, ‘Healing in the Old English Herbarium’ (Thesis, 2017, sole supervisor)


Harriet Rogers, ‘Space and Identity in Medieval Europe’ (Thesis, 2013, sole supervisor)

Sean Hamilton, ‘European Experiences of Northern Africa during the Late Medieval Period’ (Thesis, 2010-12, sole supervisor)

Janet Oakley, ‘Family Relationships in the Sixteenth-Century Lisle Letters’ (Thesis, 2007-9, co-supervisor)

Lisa Hawes, ‘Clerical Masculinity and the Gregorian Reform’ (Thesis, 2006, sole supervisor)

Vincent Lipanovich, ‘Masculinity of the Crusader Military Orders’ (Dissertation, 2006, sole supervisor)

Brent Habgood, ‘It’s Reigning Men’: A Gendered Analysis of Richard I and Richard II’ (Thesis, 2005, sole supervisor)

Sally Bolitho, ‘Purgatory and the Role of Suffering in English Religious Cultures, 1234-1543’ (Thesis, 2003-4, sole supervisor)

Arina Bosch, ‘The Social and Cultural Construction of Englishwomen’s Bodies, 1550–1700’ (Thesis, 2003-4, co-supervisor)

Irena Larking, ‘English Religious Dissenters, 15th-17th Centuries’ (Research portfolio, 2002–3, co-supervisor)

Yeu-Shin Chen, ‘Sex, Gender and Love in Pre-Modern Europe’ (Research portfolio, 2002, co-supervisor)

William Barnes, ‘A Cultural History of the Black Death in England and Italy’ (Thesis, 2002, sole supervisor)

Amy Bendall, ‘The Seven Daughters of the Devil: The Constructions of Gender in Late Medieval Religious Texts for the Laity’ (Thesis, 2000-1, sole supervisor)

Adrian Price, ‘Britain’s Arthur: British National Identity and the Arthurian Legend’ (Thesis, 2001, sole supervisor)

Alyson Atchison, ‘Medieval Women of Scotland’ (Special study, 2001, sole supervisor)

Suzanne Keir, ‘The Experience of Childbirth and Childbearing Through the Ages’ (Research portfolio, 2001, co-supervisor)

Lesley Phillips, ‘Devotion and the English Gentry in the Late Middle Ages’ (Dissertation, 1999, sole supervisor)

Glenn Hardingham, ‘The Governance of the Male Body in Late Medieval England: The Fifteenth-Century Middle English Versions of the Secretum secretorum’ (Thesis, 1999, sole supervisor).

Lesley Phillips, ‘The Paston Letters’ (Special study, 1998, sole supervisor)


BA (Hons) Dissertations


Kristina Mannes, ‘Christina of Norway, Infanta of Spain’ (2017, sole supervisor)


Tessa Morgan, ‘Ageing and Dying in the Autobiographical Work of Mary Penington’ (2016, sole supervisor)

Justine Brown, ‘Struggle for Political Dominance between King John I of England and Pope Innocent III’ (2016, sole supervisor)

Jessica Thomas, ‘The Boundaries of Belief: Popular Magic in Late Anglo-Saxon England’ (2016, sole supervisor)

Hannah Pym, ‘Isabella of France: The Black Legend and Historical Reality’ (2016, sole supervisor)

Mia Sostaric, ‘Cosmetics in Medieval Europe’ (2016, sole supervisor)

Callum Scott, 'The Mongol General, Subutai (c. 1175–1248): Military Achievements in Political and Social Perspective during the Reigns of the Great Khans Genghis and Ogedai' (2016, sole supervisor)


Cory Johnson, 'For God at Your Pleasure: Medieval Europeans and Humiliation at Eastern Courts' (2015, sole supervisor)

Maria Wheeler, 'Constructing the Witch in Medieval Europe' (2015, sole supervisor)

Tessa Myers-Oxnam, 'The Role of Poetry in the Construction of Friendships between Jewish Men in al-Andalus c.950-1150' (2014, sole supervisor)

Emma Buchanan, ‘Christine de Pizan: Recreating the Knight and Redefining Chivalry to Reconstruct Medieval Masculinity’ (2013, sole supervisor).

Harriet Rogers, ‘The Garden and the Gaze in Medieval Romance Literature’ (2012, sole supervisor).

Helen Brown, ‘Burials of Medieval Kings and Queens’ (2012, sole supervisor).

Mindy Al-Aaraji, ‘Feminine Grief as a Path to Salvation in Medieval Islamic and Christian Passion Plays’ (2010, sole supervisor)

Victoria Brauer, ‘Religion, Medicine and Superstition in Medieval Ideas on Conception, Pregnancy and Childbirth’ (2010, sole supervisor)

Daniel Evans, ‘Piers Plowman and the 1381 English Rising’ (2010, sole supervisor)

Keri Watts, ‘The First Crusade from a Muslim Perspective’ (2010, sole supervisor)

Zara Kinzett, ‘Matilda of Canossa: Mediator for Popes and Kings’ (2009, sole supervisor)

Catherine McHattie, ‘Margery Kempe and Affective Piety’ (2009, sole supervisor)

Briar Andrews, ‘The Body of the Other and the Crusades’ (2009, sole supervisor)

Jane Woodger, ‘Philip the Fair and the Trial of the Templars, 1307-14’ (2006, sole supervisor)

Julie Fleming, ‘Italian Conduct Books in England in the Sixteenth Century’ (2006, sole supervisor)

Sally Bolitho, ‘Reinterpreting the Macabre: Rituals and Representations of Death in England c. 1350–1450’ (2002, sole supervisor)

Adrian Price, ‘The Quest for the Ideal Knight: The Revisioning of the Arthurian Grail Quest’ (2000, sole supervisor)



2015. Nominated for the Jerry Bentley Prize in World History (American Historical Association) for Before Orientalism: Asian Peoples and Cultures in European Travel Writing (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014).

2005-9. President, Australian and New Zealand Association for Medieval and Early Modern Studies (ANZAMEMS).

2005. Faculty of Arts Teaching Excellence Award, for ‘Sustained Excellence in Teaching’

2005-7. Marsden Fast-Start Award, Royal Society of New Zealand

2001-3. Early Career Research Excellence Award, University of Auckland

1993-6. Commonwealth Scholarship to the University of York



School Director, Academic (School of Humanities) (2016-present)

Undergraduate Studies Adviser (2015-present)

Study Abroad Adviser (2015-present)

Acting Head of Discipline (January 2014)

Deputy Head of Department (2013)

Chair, Graduate Studies and Research Committee (2005-2007, 2014)

Graduate Studies Adviser (2005-2007, 2014)

Chair, Undergraduate Studies Committee (2008-2010, 2013)

Undergraduate Studies Adviser (2008-2010, 2013)

Stage II and III Co-ordinator (2002-3, 2010, 2012)

Library Liaison Officer (2002-4)

Convener, History Department Seminar Series (2003)

Areas of expertise

Medieval Europe, c. 1100-1550. Medieval travel and ethnographic writing, cross-cultural encounters, women's and gender history, youth and lifecycle history, history of sexuality and the body.

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Phillips, K. M. (2018). The Breasts of Virgins: Sexual Reputation and Young Women’s Bodies in Medieval Culture and Society. Cultural and Social History, 15 (1), 1-19. 10.1080/14780038.2018.1427341
  • Phillips, K. M. (2017). Desiring virgins: Maidens, martyrs, and femininity in late medieval England. In C. Beattie (Ed.) Women in the medieval world (pp. ). London, UK: Routledge. Related URL.
  • Phillips, K. M. (2017). The Grins of Others: Figuring Ethnic Difference in Medieval Facial Expressions. postmedieval: a journal of medieval cultural studies, 8 (1), 83-101. 10.1057/s41280-016-0039-6
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/33708
  • Phillips, K. (2017). Travel writing. In S. Echard, R. Rouse, J. Fay, H. Fulton, G. Rector (Eds.) The encyclopedia of Medieval literature in Britain (pp. 1816-1823). Hoboken, NJ, USA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 10.1002/9781118396957.wbemlb280
  • Phillips, K. M. (2016). A Cultural History of Women in the Middle Ages. Bloomsbury Academic. Pages: 344.
  • Phillips, K. M. (2016). Travel, Writing, and the Global Middle Ages. History Compass, 14 (3), 81-92. 10.1111/hic3.12301
  • Phillips, K. M. (2015). Gender and Sexuality. In R. N. Swanson (Ed.) Routledge History of Medieval Christianity, c.1050-c.1530 (pp. 309-321). London and New York: Routledge. Related URL.
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/26340
  • Phillips, K. M. (2014). Before Orientalism: Asian Peoples and Cultures in European Travel Writing, 1245-1510. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. Related URL.


Contact details

Office hours

Wednesdays 11-1

Primary office location

Level 7, Room 727
New Zealand

Web links