Ruth Halls Professor of English
Ph.D., Princeton University, 1981
M.A., Princeton University, 1979
I am a professor of medieval literature with an interest in gender and sexuality studies. My most recent book is Heterosyncrasies: Female Sexuality When Normal Wasn’t (Univ. of Minnesota P, 2005), which argues that normativity as a technology of heterosexuality did not exist for the Middle Ages and calls for a radical revision of the categories with which we study medieval sexuality. It examines female sexuality in particular in medical, religious, and exotic travel discourse, as well as Chaucer, in an effort to suggest an alternative landscape for medieval sexuality once heteronormativity is abandoned. My current work is concerned with the project of theorizing and historicizing utopianism for the Middle Ages, in terms of a range of medieval discourses, including the philosophical tradition of cosmopolitanism, the dream-vision trajectory extending from the Dream of Scipio and Macrobius, travel literature, and medieval geographical and cartographic traditions. I co-edited a 2006 volume of the Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies devoted to a reconsideration of the ways we study utopianism in medieval and Renaissance studies. In addition, I am working on queer temporalities by way of considering a critique of and alternative to Lee Edelman’s provocative argument in No Future (2005). I teach courses in medieval studies, queer theory, and gender studies.
L612: Piers Plowman
L306: Medieval Sexuality
L399: The Utopian
L712: Chaucer and Cosmopolitanism
L389: Queer Theory
L712: Queer Theory
Selected Publications (click images for more information)
Special Editions of Journals:
Special edition of the Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies on Utopias, Medieval and Early Modern, co-edited with Patricia Ingham (2006).
“Sheer Wonder,” in The Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies, Special Issue: Utopias, Medieval and Early Modern 36.3 (Fall 2006): 493-516.
Co-authored with Carolyn Dinshaw, “Queering History,” letter in Forum, PMLA 121.3 (May 2006): 837-38.”
"Presidential Improprieties and Medieval Categories: The Absurdity of Heterosexuality," in Queering the Middle Ages, ed. Steven Kruger and Glenn Burger (University of Minnesota Press).
"Presumptive Sodomy and its Exclusions," Textual Practice 13.2 (Summer 1999): 295-310.
"Mystical Acts, Queer Tendencies," in Constructing Medieval Sexuality, ed. Lochrie, McCracken and Schultz (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997): 180-200.
"Desiring Foucault," Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 27.1 (Winter 1997): 3-16.
"Don't Ask, Don't Tell: Murderous Plots and Medieval Secrets," in Premodern Sexualities, edited by Louise Fradenburg and Carla Freccero (Routledge, 1996): 137-52. Revised and reprinted version of an essay printed in GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, special issue on Premodern Sexualities, ed. Fradenburg and Freccero 1.4 (1995): 405-17.
Selected Honors and Awards
Choice awarded Covert Operations "Outstanding Academic Book of 1999" distinction.
Residential Research Fellow, Center for Cultural Studies, UC Santa Cruz in 1997.
College of Arts and Humanities Fellowship, Spring, 2006.