Joe Stadolnik

Joe Stadolnik
Postdoctoral Researcher and Instructor for the Stevanovich Institute on the Formation of Knowledge
  • Department of English
5737 South University Avenue

I study the literature and culture of late-medieval England (1300-1530). My current book project, Subtle Arts, explores how Middle English writers turned to the language practices of medieval medicine and alchemy as a repertoire of vernacular styles and forms across poetry, prose, and drama. This book describes a variety of genres of expert scientific language—like translators’ prologues, doctors’ bedside manner, alchemists’ public speech, and the medicine shows of physicians and quacks—in order to articulate how practical expertise could be avowed, appreciated, and challenged in the multilingual setting of medieval England. I coordinate medieval scientific practice and its literary representations not to gloss poetic reference with scientific concept, but to discover how vernacular literary culture remade these fields’ conventions of rhetoric and speech into adaptable materials for expert literary practice.

Primarily a literary historian, I am also interested in manuscript studies, the history of science, and late-medieval social history. In addition to my book project, I am pursuing research into the movement of Middle English literary culture along fifteenth-century Atlantic merchant networks, and medievalism in the Americas. A biography-in-preparation, called The Unsettled Life of Duarte Brandão, was shortlisted for the 2019 Tony Lothian Prize.

I am also co-editing Geoffrey Chaucer’s Treatise on the Astrolabe for the Cambridge Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer.

I am currently supported by a postdoctoral fellowship in the Stevanovich Institute on the Formation of Knowledge. I was a Junior Research Fellow at the UCL Institute of Advanced Studies in 2017-8.

Academic Profile


2019 Courses: “Imagining the Pagan in the Middle Ages,” co-taught with Julie Orlemanski; “Miracles, Marvels, and Mystics: Ways of Unknowing in Medieval England”

2018 Course: “Reading the Known World: Medieval Travel Narratives”; “The Archive of Early English Literature: Manuscript, Book, Canon”

Selected Publications

  • “‘Thorkelin y el Beowulf,’ by Jorge Luis Borges.” PMLA 132.2 (March 2017): 462-70.
  • “Gower’s Bedside Manner.” New Medieval Literatures 17 (2017): 150-74.
  • “Naming the Unnamed ‘Philosofre’ in Chaucer’s Prologue to the Treatise on the Astrolabe.” Medium Ævum 85.2 (2016): 314-8.
  • “The Brome Abraham and Isaac and Impersonal Compilation.” In Early British Drama in Manuscript, ed. Tamara Atkin and Laura Estill. Turnhout: Brepols Publishers, 2019. 19-32.
  • “An Expatriate London Scribe? John Vale in Portugal.” Journal of the Early Book Society 21 (2018): 239-50.
  • “Chaucer’s Traces.” Review of Chaucer: A European Life by Marion Turner (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2019). Los Angeles Review of Books, 26 June 2019.
  • “Guitar Lessons at Blackfriars: Vernacular Medicine and Preachers’ Style in Henry Daniel’s Liber uricrisiarum.” Forthcoming in Beyond Scholasticism: Essays on Literary Theory and Criticism in the Later Middle Ages, ed. Ardis Butterfield, Ian Johnson, and A. B. Kraebel. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020.
  • “John Stuart Mill’s ‘On the Universities’ in Autograph Manuscript.” Forthcoming in Notes and Queries (March 2020).
  • “Teaching Digital Editing and Manuscript Studies: A Project-Based, Short-Course Approach.” Co-authored with Anya Adair and Katherine Hindley. Forthcoming in Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Teaching.
  • Education

    Ph.D., Yale University, 2017. Teaching at Chicago since 2018.