Jack Ford


It was from his bachelor's and master's projects, which explored medieval cosmological texts, that Jack framed his initial questions regarding medieval approaches to the body and mind in Christian Europe. His doctoral project funded by a Wolfson scholarship (Wolfson Foundation) and Thornley Junior Research Fellowship (IHR), explores medieval understandings of the senses and emotions. Jack’s PhD thesis maintains that the concept of ‘affectivity’, the emotional disposition of the human will towards either virtuous or sinful acts, stands at the crossroads of the thought and practices of religious orders in the Middle Ages.

His research compares the De anima (‘On the Soul’) treatises written by monks and canons of the Cistercian Order and Abbey of Saint-Victor in Paris during the twelfth century. De anima treatises were significant texts which drew together anthropology, ethics, medicine, philosophy and theology; they constitute invaluable witnesses to medieval understandings of ‘psychology’. Jack’s dissertation argues for significance of these texts as innovators of a coherent psychology that emphasised the control and ordering of three key powers of the body and soul: sense perception (Latin: sensus), affectivity (affectus) and the intellect (intellectus) – a psychological view of human nature that was essential to the daily exercises and reforming mission of these two religious communities, and of great influence to other religious groups and scholars of the later Middle Ages.


Supervisor: Dr Sophie Page (UCL) and Professor Charles Burnett (Warburg Institute)

Working title: 'Perception and Affectivity in Twelfth-Century Cistercian and Victorine De anima Treatises’

Expected completion date: 2023

Scholarships and Prizes



  • ‘Cistercian Worlds: An Introduction’, Cîteaux: Commentarii Cistercienses, 73 (2022), 5-11.
  • ‘Healthy Body, Healthy Mind: Eucrasia and Sanitas in the Medical Approaches to Affectivity of William of Saint-Thierry and Richard of Saint-Victor’, Cîteaux: Commentarii Cistercienses, 73 (2022), 47-99.
  • Jacob’s Family as a Symbol of Affectivity in Cistercian and Victorine Psychology’, Archa Verbi 18 (2021), 39-91.
  • ‘The Victorines’, The Database of Religious History (2020): https://religiondatabase.org/browse/985/
  • 'Divine Love in the Medieval Cosmos', Chicago Journal of History (2017), 17-37:  http://cjh.uchicago.edu/issues/spring17/8.5.pdf.

Book Reviews:

Editorial Contributions:

  • Co-editor of special edition of Cîteaux: Commentarii Cistercienses, vol. 73 (2022).
  • Assistant book reviews editor, Revista Española de Filosofía Medieval (REFIME). January 2021-2022.

Conference papers and presentations

As Organiser

  • 09/06/2022. ‘Senses and Affects in the Middle Ages’. 57th International Congress on Medieval Studies (ICMS), Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, USA. Co-organised with Dr Aistė Kiltinavičiūtė (Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages, University of Cambridge). No. panels: 2. No. speakers: 8. No. attendees: 60. Medium: virtual (Zoom).
  • 09/07/2021. ‘(Un)Bound Bodies’. International Medieval Congress (IMC), University of Leeds, Leeds, UK. Co-organised with Dr Lauren Rozenberg (Department of Art History, UCL). Medium: virtual (Zoom). No. panels: 2. No. speakers: 6. No. attendees: 30.
  • 1-2/07/2021. ‘Cistercian Worlds’. York Centre for Medieval Studies, York. Co-organised with Dr Emmie Price-Goodfellow (Department of History, University of York). Keynote speakers: Prof. Emilia Jamroziak and Prof. Constant J. Mews. Medium: virtual (Zoom). No. speakers: 45. No. panels: 17. No. attendees: 250.
  • 9-10/07/2020. ‘(Un)Bound Bodies’. International Medieval Congress (IMC), University of Leeds, Leeds, UK. Co-organised with Dr Lauren Rozenberg (Department of Art History, UCL). No. panels: 6. No. speakers: 18. Medium: in-person. Cancelled due to Covid-19.

As Presenter

  • 01/12/2021. ‘Emotion, Sense, Experience: The Role of Affectivity in the On the Soul Treatises of the Twelfth Century’, IHR Fellows’ Seminar, Institute of Historical Research (IHR), London.
  • 21/07/2021. ‘Monastic, Scholastic and Medical Maps of the Mind: An Elite Psychology’, Quo Vadis Conference, UCL, London.
  • 09/07/2021. “Know Thyself”: Self-Knowledge and the Boundaries of the Human in Cistercian Texts on the Soul’, International Medieval Congress (IMC), Leeds.
  • 12/11/2020. ‘Symbols of Affectivity in the De anima Texts of the Twelfth Century’, European History 1150-1500 Seminar, Institute of Historical Research (IHR), London.
  • 27/06/2019. ‘“Made in the Image and Likeness of God”: Affectivity and Cosmological Allegory in Twelfth-Century Cistercian Texts On the Soul’, New Voices in Medieval Studies, York Centre for Medieval Studies, University of York.
  • 31/05/2019. ‘Cistercian Moral Anthropology: Sense perception, affectus and the Cosmos in the Twelfth-Century De anima Texts’, Thinking with Mysticism Symposium, University of York.
  • 28/05/2018. 'Investigating Wellcome MS 55 and its Connection to Sensory Perception and Cognition', Medieval Ecologies Workshop, Wellcome Library & UCL, London.

Teaching (Postgraduate Teaching Assistant)

Widening Participation Activity 

  • Tutor for UCL History ‘Making History’ Summer School (2019-2022) 

Seminars & Academic Network