Joe Stadolnik

Joe Stadolnik
Postdoctoral Researcher and Instructor for the Stevanovich Institute on the Formation of Knowledge
5737 South University Avenue
Ph.D., Yale University, 2017
Teaching at UChicago since 2018


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 the fifteenth-century Atlantic merchant networks and medievalism in the Americas. 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.

Work with Students

At Chicago, I have taught in the Reading Cultures sequence of the Humanities core, and will offer seminars on medieval travel literature and manuscript studies.

Select 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.” Forthcoming in Early British Drama in Manuscript, ed. Tamara Atkin and Laura Estill. Turnhout: Brepols Publishers, 2018.
  • “An Expatriate London Scribe? John Vale in Portugal.” Forthcoming in Journal of the Early Book Society 21 (2018): 239-50.


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

Subject Area: Medieval