Professor of Comparative Literature
Adjunct Professor of English
Director of the Medieval Studies Institute
Ballantine Hall 902
My research and teaching interests lie primarily in the study of medieval European literature in its cultural context, including history, law, religious studies, the visual arts, and music. Most of my research is on texts written in medieval Latin, English, French, but I study them in relationship to the other literatures of medieval Europe. I am particularly interested in the ways that the forms in which medieval texts circulated, such as manuscript books and oral performance, shaped meaning in these works. I am also interested in narrative and gender theory. Many of my publications have been about texts that cross boundaries of various sorts - translations, illustrated texts, lyric and dramatic performances, and scholarly texts that have been adapted for new audiences. For example, my recent book on a medieval English legal manuscript studies how the manuscript shapes its presentation of English law through illustrations and introductory texts to present information about kingship and justice to an audience of men and women in the English royal court, giving voice to political and social tensions at play in England during this time.
In my teaching, I try to give students access to the surviving evidence about medieval literatures and cultures, including manuscripts, architecture, paintings, and music. Medieval Europe has often been either demonized or romanticized by later generations, so many people have misconceptions about the sophistication and diversity of medieval literature. Students are often surprised to learn that medieval literature includes texts written by women, texts that challenge religious and political authority, and texts that illustrate the artistic benefits resulting from interactions of people of different faiths, genders, languages, and classes. For example, in my course on medieval lyric poetry, we look at images of medieval manuscript copies of the poems and, if musical notation survives, we discuss the relationship of musical structures and literary interpretation. We also discuss other kinds of performance related to lyric poetry, including competition for patronage, representation of gender and class, and expression of religious faith. The course takes a special look at the lyric poetry written on the Iberian Peninsula, where Christian, Jewish, and Muslim lyric traditions flourished in dialogue for centuries during the medieval period.
A Lancastrian Mirror for Princes: The Yale Law School New Statutes of England (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2011)
Chaucer’s Open Books: Resistance to Closure in Medieval Discourse (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1998)
The Pilgrimage of the Soul: A Critical Edition of the Middle English Dream Vision, Vol. I, Garland Medieval Texts 16 (New York: Garland, 1990)
"Comparing Spiritual and Material Goods: Poverty and Prosperity in The Pilgrimage of the Soul and Everyman" in Poverty and Prosperity in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, ed. Cynthia Kosso and Anne Scott (Turnhout: Brepols, 2012), pp. 179-96.
“A Statute Book and a Lancastrian Mirror for Princes: The Yale Law School Manuscript of the Nova statuta Angliae,” Textual Cultures: Text, Contexts, Interpretation 2 (2006): 6-59.
“It’s not all that easy to get back to the Middle Ages”: Reading the Past in A Month in the Country,” Criticism: A Quarterly Journal for Literature and the Arts 47 (2005): 353-86.
"Pageants, Scaffolds, and Judgment Scenes: The Iconographic Tradition of The Pilgrimage of the Soul and Fifteenth-Century English Drama," Yearbook of Comparative and General Literature 45/46 (1997-98): 3-35.
"Reversing Gender Roles and Defining True Manhood in Parzival," Arthurian Yearbook III, ed. Keith Busby (Garland, 1993), pp. 215-25
"Editing the Self-Conscious Medieval Translator: Some Issues and Examples," TEXT 4 (1989): 145-58
"Guyart Desmoulins, the Vernacular Master of Histories, and his Bible Historiale," Viator 14 (1983): 211-44
- The Pilgrimage of the Soul: A Critical Edition of the Middle English Dream Vision, Vol. II
- "The Judge as Reader, the Reader as Judge: Literary and Legal Judgment in Dante, Machaut, and Gower," in Barton Palmer and Burt Kimmelman, eds., Machaut's Legacy: The Judgment Poetry Tradition in Late Medieval Literature (forthcoming with the University Press of Florida)
- Planning Committee, "Performing the Middle Ages" Project, sponsored by Andrew Mellon Foundation Grant for "Humanities Without Walls" (2012-present)
- Co-recipient of Henry Remak Professorship in Recognition of Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching (2008-2011)
- Director, Medieval Studies Institute (2013-2016)
- Recipient of conference grants from the IU Institute for Advanced Study and College of Arts and Humanities Institute
- C301 Special Topics in Comparative Literature (Arthurian Literature and the Arts)
- C313 Narrative (The History and Theory of Narrative Forms)
- C321 Medieval Literature (The Major Genres of Medieval European Literature)
- C340 World Literature by Women (Literature by Women in Medieval Europe)
- C415 Medieval Lyric (The Many Voices of Medieval European Lyric Poetry)
- C417 Medieval Narrative (Arthurian Literature in the Middle Ages and Beyond)
- C513 Narrative (The History and Theory of Narrative Forms)
- C523 Medieval Literature (Performance/Identity/Community in Medieval Europe)
- C603 Topics in Comparative Literary Studies (The Mirror Image in Medieval Literature)
- C103 Critical Approaches: Topics in Humanities and the Arts (King Arthur of Britain)