Helen has been studying for most of her life, mainly in the realms of words and music and in particular the realm of medieval song. A special interest has been medieval songs in the woman’s voice.

Formal Qualifications

B. A. (Hons.) (La Trobe), B. Mus. (Melbourne), M. A. (Hons.) (Music, Monash), PhD (Melbourne).

Helen’s academic life began at La Trobe University where she graduated as a Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) with a double major in English in 1981. Next came a Bachelor of Music, majoring in performance (singing) at the University of Melbourne in 1990.

In 2001 Helen graduated as a Master of Arts in music (Hons). This included coursework in medieval musicology and a minor thesis which explored a genre of thirteenth-century French women’s song: ‘ “An halte tour”: Age, Time and Gender in the Anonymous Chansons de Toile’.

Helen graduated as a Doctor of Philosophy in 2006. Her thesis investigated the effect of genre and gender on the functioning of desire in twelfth and thirteenth-century northern French secular song. It is now published as a book: Desire by Gender and Genre in Trouvere Song.

Prizes, scholarships and funding

1987 Awarded the Clarice Malyon Middleton Memorial Singing Scholarship.
1997 Joint winner of the Victorian Chapter of the Musicological Society of Australia’s 1997 Musicology Prize for a conference paper entitled: “Bakhtin’s Concept of Carnival and the Woman’s Voice in Trouvere Song”.
2001 Joint runner-up for the inaugural Postgraduate Essay Prize of the Australian and New Zealand Association for Medieval and Early Modern Studies for ANZAMEMS.
2002 Awarded University of Melbourne Postgraduate Equity Scholarship.
2003 Winner of George Yule Postgraduate Essay Prize, 2003.

Since her PhD Helen has received funding for a number of projects from the Network of Early European Research and other bodies. These include funding to respond to invitations to speak at conferences, in Australia and overseas, funding to present a program of medieval women’s songs, based on her PhD research, at the Adelaide Fringe Festival with medieval music ensemble Troveresse, and funding to organize a conference in November of 2009 entitled “The Medievalism of Nostalgia”. See conference website for details. Helen was invited and funded to give papers at two conferences in 2011: ‘Manufacturing Emotions’ at the University of Sydney in September and ‘International medievalism and popular culture at the University of Western Australia in December

Helen is now a research fellow in the School of Culture and Communication (English and Drama Studies). Her main research interests at present centre on “medievalism”, sometimes called the afterlife of the Middle Ages. Her main project is one which links the production, study and reception of medieval music with the current thirst for “medieval” fantasy fiction and film. Her practice and pleasure has always been in bringing together her research interests in medieval studies and medievalism with her work as a medieval musician.

In November 2012 Helen convened a symposium: Amor y odio: the Jews in Spain and beyond in tandem with the release of Troveresse’s CD: La vida es un pasahe: recorded by Move Records. The symposium was made possible by funding from the ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of the Emotions.

In 2013 Helen was appointed Associate Investigator with the ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of the Emotions for a project: ‘Singing Death’, which explored through academic research and musical expression, some of the attempts of humanity to give a face and a voice to death. This culminated in a symposium/performance in August co-convened with Dr. Helen Hickey:

Helen and Helen Hickey are now extending the work of ‘Singing Death’ by co-editing a book-length collection of essays.



‘Music and the Medievalism of Nostalgia: fantasies of medieval music in the English-speaking world, 1945 to 2010′. MS on the verge of completion.

Desire by Gender and Genre in Trouvere Song
Suffolk: D. S. Brewer, series: Gallica, ed. Sarah Kay, July 2008.

Singing Death. Essay collection ed. Helen Dell and Helen Hickey. London: Ashgate, forthcoming 2016.

Book chapters

‘The Battle for Reality: Harry Potter and the Christian Right’. International Medievalism and Popular Culture. Ed. Louise D’Arcens, Andrew Lynch. Amherst, New York, 2013.

‘Musical Medievalism and the Harmony of the Spheres’. Cambridge Companion to Medievalism. Ed. Louise D’Arcens. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming February, 2016.

‘Haunting Music: hearing the voices of the dead’. Music and mourning. Ed. Jane Davidson and Sandra Garrido. Forthcoming with Ashgate Press, 2016.

‘The medieval voiceSince Lacan: Papers of the Freudian School of Melbourne, 25. Ed. Linda Clifton. London: Karnac, 2016.

Journal articles


Editor’s Introduction: ‘Nostalgia and Medievalism: Conversations, contradictions, impasses’, postmedieval: journal of medieval cultural studies, 2.2 (2011).

‘ “Yearning for the Sweet Beckoning Sound”: Music and Longing in Medievalist Fantasy Fiction’, postmedieval: journal of medieval cultural studies, 2.2 (2011).

‘Music for myth and fantasy in two Arthurian films’, Screening Early Europe: Premodern Projections. 2009, special issue Screening the Past, ed. Louise D’Arcens.

‘Past, Present, Future Perfect: Paradigms of History in Medievalism Studies’, Parergon: Journal of the Australian and New Zealand Association for Medieval and Early Modern Studies, 25.2 (2008): 58-79.

‘Desire and Generic Differentiation in Trouvere Song’, Parergon,Vol. 22.1 (January 2005): 17-46.

‘Voices, “Realities” and Narrative Style in the Anonymous Chansons de Toile’
Parergon: Journal of the Australian and New Zealand Association for Medieval and Early Modern Studies. New Series Vol. 18, No 2 (January 2001).

Edited special issues

The Medievalism of Nostalgia, lead editor with Louise D’Arcens and Andrew Lynch, Postmedieval, 2.2 (Summer 2011).


Geri L. Smith, ‘The Medieval French Pastourelle Tradition’ for Speculum: A Journal of Medieval Studies, forthcoming 2010.