Medieval Literature

David Bevington (emeritus, teaching 2016-17)

Professor BevingtonIt is my pleasure and my honor to teach drama at the University of Chicago, focusing on Shakespeare and his contemporaries (Jonson, Marlowe, Webster, Middleton, Dekker, etc.), as well as medieval drama and then the entire sweep of Western drama from Aeschylus and Sophocles down to Caryl Churchill and Tom Stoppard. In addition to courses on Shakespeare, Renaissance drama, and medieval drama, I co-teach in Theater and Performance Studies ((variously with Heidi Coleman, Director of University Theater, John Muse, English Department, and Drew Dir, resident dramaturg at Court Theatre) a two-quarter sequence called The History and Theory of Drama from the 5th century B.C. down to the present day.

Mark Miller

Mark MillerMy 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.

Michael Murrin (emeritus)

Professor MurrinMy contribution to the medieval and Tudor-Stuart periods is comparative. Since English really did not develop a free-standing tradition before the late sixteenth century, authors normally had to consider other language traditions when they composed their works. The action of Beowulf takes place in Denmark and modern Sweden; Chaucer drew his models from France and Italy; Malory translated mostly French romances; and Spenser and Milton for the long poem looked to Italy.

Christina von Nolcken (emerita, teaching 2015-16)

Christina Von NolckenI start the chronology in the Department, with courses on Old and Middle English language and literature, and the history of the English language. I am especially interested in Anglo-Scandinavian relations towards the end of the Anglo-Saxon period, and, in the later period, late fourteenth- and fifteenth-century devotional texts. My research has mainly been on the Wycliffite attempt to bring education, and especially religious education, to the people. My publications include an edition of a handbook for itinerant Wycliffite preachers, and essays on various Wycliffite texts, including a set of sermons in Latin, a movingly personal letter written from prison, and a startling reworking of that early Middle English guide for anchoresses, the Ancrene Riwle.

Julie Orlemanski

Julie OrlemanskiI teach and write about texts from the late Middle Ages, a period that organized its categories of discourse very differently than we do today. I am fascinated by how medieval literature, science, and religion sometimes overlapped and at other times assumed sharp distinctions, as separate and contrasting modes of knowledge. All of my research seeks to respond to what is distinctive in fourteenth- and fifteenth-century constellations of discourse. In practice, this also demands thinking about how we come to know the past. Hence, I have a strong interest in the theory and practice of hermeneutics, historicism, criticism, and other forms of knowledge production in the humanities.
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