James is a Lecturer in History and Digital Humanities in the Digital Humanities Institute (DHI). Before joining the DHI, he was a Government of Ireland Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Digital Humanities at University College Cork (2022-2024), and held teaching positions at the universities of Sheffield, Nottingham and Hull.

James’ research incorporates history, linguistics and digital humanities and focuses on the transformation medieval society over the longue durée, from the fourth century to the fourteenth.

His PhD project re-examined the transformation of the English personal naming system between c.800 and c.1300. It combined quantitative studies examining broad trends with micro-analytical studies of individual naming decisions. The results demonstrated how the transformation of personal naming patterns were linked to broader socio-cultural changes that took place across the period and repositioned the history of English personal naming in a broader European context. A monograph based on this research, The Medieval Transformation of English Personal Naming, is under contract with Amsterdam University Press.

James’ postdoctoral research has focused on the personal names of early medieval Britain. By identifying and mapping (chronologically and geographically) names of non-English origin across the period c.300–c.850, his work explores the movement and migration of people following the fall of the western Roman Empire, and the transformation of ethnic and linguistic identities that accompanied it. Aspects of this research will be published in a trade book, The Names We Call Ourselves, under contract with Reaktion.

Outside James’ academic pursuits, he has also spent 10 years working in the digital learning industry, designing and managing digital learning projects on a diverse range of topics, from the principles of cell line development for biotherapeutic drugs, to preventing dust explosions in sugar factories. He is interested in both applying and researching the effectiveness of digital learning methods within higher education.

Research Interests

Medieval social history: the transformation of everyday life and underlying factors that caused it.

Onomastics: personal names and place-names, and how these can be used to help shed light on linguistics and social history.

Historical linguistics: the transformation of language over time and the linguistic and sociolinguistic reasons behind it.

Quantitative methods: the use of statistical analysis, large datasets and data visualisation to help us understand historical and linguistic change

Digital prosopography: the creation and exploitation of digital databases to record and analyse the lives, relationships and activities of historical people.