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Jasmin Higgs

Languages and Literature, University of Nottingham

Thesis title:

Writing Runes: Determining Functional Variation in Early Runic Inscriptions

My research focuses on the pre-Old English runic corpus(c.400-650CE), focusing on determining the functions of the pre-Old English runic inscriptions. My methodology uses approaches from runology, historical pragmatics (especially pragmaphilology), and archaeology and material culture studies to best determine a framework for analysing the runic inscriptions. I hope to explore the methodological problems of applying approaches from historical pragmatics to different types of runic data, especially fragmentary and non-lexical data. 

Research Area

  • Languages and Literature


Higgs, Jasmin. (2021). 'Review: Anglo-Saxon Micro-texts (2019), eds. Lenker and Kornexl', TOEBI newsletter XXVIII, 40-43.

Higgs, Jasmin (2017). 'Examine the value of place names as evidence for the history, landscape and,especially, language(s) of your chosen area: North Essex'. Innervate: Leading Undergraduate Work in English Studies 10, 79-90. 


  • 14th-19th June 2022, 'Determining Functional Variation in the Early Runic Inscriptions' (poster), Ninth International Symposium on Runes and Runic Inscriptions, Akademie Sankelmark, Germany.
  • 25th November 2021, 'Adapting Pragmaphilology for Runic Data', University of Nottingham Postgraduate Medieval Seminars.
  • 16th February 2020, 'The Functions of the pre-Old English Runic Inscriptions, University of Leicester Medieval Seminars.
  • 27th June 2019, 'The Function of the Early Runic Inscriptions in East Anglia, c.400-800AD', York Centre for Medieval Studies Postgraduate Conference: New Voices in Medieval Studies.

Public Engagement & Impact

  • Activities leader, Viking for Schools/Anglo-Saxons for Schools Outreach Programme, University of Nottingham. November 2021- ongoing | Creating and leading education sessions about runes and runic inscriptions for primary school children.
  • Curator, School of English, University of Nottingham, September 2018-February 2019 |Curator for exhibit 'Vikings in the East Midlands: forming relationships, forging identities', including researching and writing the display panels for the exhibit as well as installing the exhibit.
  • Object handler and public outreach volunteer, University of Nottingham Museum of Archaeology, November 2017- March 2018 | Weekly volunteering with the museum exhibit 'Vikings: Rediscover the Legend', which focused on engaging the public in everyday Viking life through objects. Training in basic object handling, storage and care.

Other Research Interests

  • historical linguistics, especially historical pragmatics
  • the history of orthography and writing systems
  • onomastics and place-names studies 
  • the use and appropriation of runes or rune-like symbols in folk horror films
  • Arthurian legend adaptions


Work and previous experience.

  • 'Embedding Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in a Doctoral Training Programme' (postgraduate placement), The Researcher Academy, University of Nottingham, February 2022-March 2022 |This placement resulted in a report with recommended EDI training framework for the BBSRC DTP, and a plan for a seminar series of the theme 'Inclusive Science'. I gained skills in designing and delivering surveys and focus groups, developed my knowledge and understanding of EDI in practice, as well as report writing.
  • Research Affiliate, Institute for Name-Studies, University of Nottingham, November 2021- October 2022 | 
  • EFL teacher, September 2018- January 2020 |English language teacher for the Chinese and Taiwanese company 'TutorABC'. I designed and led English language lessons for both children and adults, with success in teaching English grammar.
  • Conference Assistant, Institute for Name-Studies, University of Nottingham, April 2019 | Assistant for the 28th SNSBI Spring Conference, University of Nottingham, including assisting with the 'welcome stall'.
  • Admin Assistant, January 2019-June 2019 | Institute for Name-Studies, University of Nottingham. Assistant on the Staffordshire Place-Names Project', collating volunteers' data in Excel.

Training and further education.

  • 2021 German language course (up to B1) at The Language Hub, Nottingham.
  • 2021 Royal Literary Fund workshop, 'Writing for First Years'
  • 2021 Online courses 'Historical Linguistics' and 'Writing Systems', University of Leiden Summer School in Languages and Linguistics.
  • 2020 German language course (up to A2), at The Language Hub, Nottingham.
  • 2018 TQUK Level 5 Certificate in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (RQF), The TEFL Academy


2020-2024 School of English, University of Nottingham. PhD (full time, fully funded with Midland4Cities/Arts and Humanities Research Council).

Research titled 'Writing Runes: Determining Functional Variation in Early Runic Inscriptions', supervised by Professor Judith Jesch (UoN), Dr Martin Findell (UoN), and Dr Philip Shaw (University of Durham, previously Leicester).


2018-2019 School of English, University of Nottingham. MA Viking & Anglo-Saxon Studies (full time, partly funded with the Christine Fell Award). Graduated with Distinction.

Modules included 'Reading Old English', 'Reading Old Norse', 'Reading Runes', 'Contextualising Old English', and 'Place-names in Context'. Topics researched included late elder futhark runic inscriptions in the Lake District, British place-names in the South-West of England, and the de-gendering of the saintly body in female Old English hagiography. MA dissertation was 'The Function of the Early Anglo-Saxon Runic Inscriptions (c.400-650AD)', which researched the application of Speech Act Theory to early runic data.


2015-2018 School of English, University of Nottingham. BA (Hons) English. Graduated with First Class Honors.

Range of medieval studies modules undertaken, with second- and third-year topics including historical linguistics and the history of English, place-names studies, Old English language and literature, and Older Scots language and literature. BA dissertation explored Old English lexicography and lexical semantics. In my final year, I achieved the highest module marks in both the Old English and place-names, and received the Alfred Oscroft Essay Prize 2018 for my work on Essex place-names.