Department of English
Office: Walker 407
My work is situated historically in late-medieval literature and culture, and conceptually in the intersections of psychoanalysis, feminism, and queer theory with ethics, theory of action, and philosophical psychology. My book Philosophical Chaucer: Love, Sex, and Agency in the Canterbury Tales (Cambridge University Press, 2004) investigates the ways Chaucer's philosophical interests can help us read his representations of gender and sexuality; one of its main concerns is to understand the often tortured logics of erotic desire and romantic love. In my current book project, I'm trying to understand the psychology and ideology of sin in the late middle ages: the structures of guilt, shame, and pollution that attend it; its erotics; its relation to the ambitions of moral perfection and utopian sociality; the centrality to it of the spectacle of Christ's crucifixion. The texts I'm focusing on include Langland's Piers Plowman, Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, the works of the Gawain poet, and hagiographical and mystical writing. My teaching within medieval studies includes courses on medieval gender and sexuality, the theory, practice, and phenomenology of bodiliness and ensoulment, perfectionism and utopianism in fourteenth-century England, and Chaucer. I also teach more conceptually focussed courses on theories of sexuality and (with Jay Schleusener and Candace Vogler of the Philosophy Department) on literature's forms of philosophical work.
Graduate: Body and Soul; Chaucer's Canterbury Tales; Perfection and Utopia in Late Medieval England; Sex, Gender, and Sexuality in the Middle Ages; Philosophical Literature; Chaucer: Troilus and Criseyde and Early Poetry; Foundations of Interpretive Theory; Reading Freud; Lacan and the Subject of Ethics; Medieval Longing: Affect, Aisthesis, Desire; Langland and Gower: Ethics, Politics, and Aesthetics.
Undergraduate: Reading Cultures; Problems in the Study of Sexuality; Middle English Literature; Sex, Gender, and Sexuality in the Middle Ages; Reading Freud; Freud and Lacan; Marxism and Psychoanalysis: Foundations of Ideology Critique.
Works in Progress
Handling Sin: Conditions of the Ethical in Fourteenth-Century English Literature
- "The Ends of Excitement in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: Teleology, Ethics, and the Death Drive," in Studies in the Age of Chaucer 32 (2010): 215-56.
- Philosophical Chaucer: Love, Sex, and Agency in the Canterbury Tales (Cambridge University Press, 2004)
- "Subjectivity and Ideology in the Canterbury Tales," in A Companion to Medieval English Literature, c. 1350-1500, ed. Peter Brown (Blackwell, 2007)
- "Naturalism and its Discontents in the Miller's Tale," ELH 67 (Spring 2000), 1-44
- "Displaced Souls, Idle Talk, Spectacular Scenes: Handlyng Synne and the Perspective of Agency," Speculum 71 (July 1996), 606-32
Ph.D., University of Chicago, 1993. Teaching at Chicago since 1997.