Dr Hilary Powell

Email: hilary@hubbubresearch.org

My field is Medieval Studies.

I am interested in exploring the dynamics of rest, noise and perturbation within a historical and cultural context. Appreciating how the relationship between these factors was understood in the past not only sheds light on why they remain compelling subjects of enquiry, but will help frame new research questions. My own research centres upon medieval demonic vision and possession narratives and explores theological, pedagogical and medical exhortations that one should aspire to ‘a quiet mind’ (quietis mentis). Demons were personified as destabilising forces, whose main weapon in sowing mental discord was noise. Their noise disturbed the resting mind by diverting attention and arousing perturbationes within the soul. The polarity discernible in medieval narratives between rest (quies) and restlessness (inquietudo), between quiet and disquiet, found cognates in ideas of ‘mindfulness’ and ‘mind-wandering’. I am keen to work with researchers investigating these themes from other disciplinary perspectives such as cognitive neuroscience and psychology. I am also interested in exploring the dynamic between day dreaming and creativity.