Call for Papers: Lives in the Archives/Archival Lives (Sewanee Medieval Colloquium, April 5-6 2024)

I am organizing a series of panels for the Sewanee Medieval Colloquium centered on ‘Archives/Archival Lives’. Here is the call for proposals:

Archival research has always been a cornerstone of medieval studies, but recent work has  reinvigorated the field by transforming our understanding of the lives of late-medieval authors  and people alike. The discovery of new evidence in the case of Cecily Chaumpaigne and  Geoffrey Chaucer, contentious debates around identifying “Chaucer’s Scribe” Adam Pinkhurst  and recovery of figures such as Eleanor Rykener and the rebels of 1381 all demonstrate how  archival research enriches our understanding of the medieval past. This thread invites  contributions that foster new understandings of lives in the archives and bring a theoretical eye to  the practice of archival research itself. Proposals might address new microhistories of medieval  figures; the need for what Saidiya Hartman names “critical fabulation” to address archival  silences and erasures; the colonial and imperialist history of institutions such as the National Archives; the archival lives of poets such as Thomas Hoccleve and John Lydgate; medieval  manuscripts as technologies of the archive; the limits of empirical history as an analytic for  literary history; and theorizations of archival “discovery” as a colonial epistemology.

This thread will consist of a series of panels. You can choose to submit a paper or a pre-organized panel. Each panel will have a faculty respondent. 


Proposals for papers can touch upon any aspect of the general theme, and we encourage proposals from medievalists of any discipline and any geographic area. Scholars can apply to the general call, or to specific sub-themes. We accept proposals from anyone with a Ph.D. or who is in the process of gaining a doctorate. Abstracts should be submitted by November 1, 2023.


We also invite participants to submit whole panels of papers, that is, a pre-organized panel. Professional organizations often submit panels from among their membership, but individual are also invited to do the same. To submit a full panel, you need to send a description of the panel, a CV and abstract for the papers you would like to include, and suggestions for possible respondents. Panel proposals are due November 1, 2023.

More information here:

Graduate Pedagogy

In Fall 2022 I taught my first graduate seminar at UH on medieval poetics. I’m grateful to Kimberley Philley for writing up a short piece about the class and our end of semester colloquium for Forward, our department’s newsletter.

I was apprehensive about teaching my first graduate class, especially knowing that most of the students wouldn’t be medievalists (or have much interest in medieval literature at all) but it was an incredible experience. During the semester, I sought to combine deep scholarly engagement with demystifying the profession.

All too often we’re expected to simply know how things work in academia. Often we talk about ‘professional development’ to address this imbalance, but demystification is a more useful way of thinking about how we move beyond the hidden curriculum to enable students to find their way through the academy. 

Through the seminar, students put together syllabi for class sessions, wrote book reviews (and some got published!) and produced new critical and creative work. 

The culmination of the class was our colloquium, where students presented new poetry, prose, and critical work. I was blown away by the level of the work they presented, and I am so excited to see how it develops.

Read more here.

Review of Violaine Schwartz’s Papers

For Full Stop I reviewed Violaine Schwartz’s fascinating portrait of the French asylum system Papers (trans. Christine Gutman):

Displacement is a global phenomenon that demands to be understood in an expansive framework: Transnational crises do not have national solutions. The translation of Papers contributes to this project by shedding light on the human experience of the French asylum system. But perhaps thinking in such macro terms simply reproduces the logics of bureaucracy that Papers reveals. What the book offers instead is testimony to the importance of fostering hospitality, cultivating welcome, and creating spaces of refuge. Yet this, too, is insufficient. “It’s a drop in the ocean,” the speaker hosting Issa in their spare room says. “And there’s something unfair and arbitrary about it too.”

You can read more here.

Review of Dorthe Nors’ ‘A Line in the World’

For The Millions, I reviewed Danish writer Dorthe Nors’ fascinating ‘A Line the World’:

What begins with Nors’s desire to escape the city becomes a meditative portrait of identity—personal, regional, national—in its making. Growing up the child of a carpenter and hairdresser in the post-industrial town of Herning, Nors followed the path of ambitious Danes from the provinces by heading east, first to study Swedish literature at the University of Aarhus before continuing on to join the Copenhagen literati. But, as A Line in the World describes, Nors felt confined by city living and longed for the region that shaped her. Lying on her apartment floor one day, Nors realizes she must change her life: “I want a storm surge, I thought. I want a north-west wind, fierce and hard. I want trees so battered and beaten they’re crawling over the ground.” But most of all, a “horizon is what I want, and I want solitude.” And so she returns West.

Read more here.

Review of Terrell, Scripting the Nation

I wrote a review of Katherine H. Terrell’s Scripting the Nation (Ohio State University Press, 2021), now published in Studies in the Age of Chaucer:

The value of this book for Chaucerians and scholars of late medieval literature lies in the way it conjoins the two major traditions of Scottish literature: monumental Latin histories and vernacular court poetry. In so doing, the book models a synthetic form of literary history that combines historiography and poetry, alive to the literary techniques, rhetoric, and style of both kinds of writing. While Terrell’s book rests on the specific connections between Scottish historic and poetic writing, it exemplifies a methodology that would benefit any scholar interested in questions of nation, literary tradition, and how late medieval writers sought to inter­ vene in the political crises of their day. While Scotland is a notable absence within Chaucer’s geographic imagination (mentioned only once by name, in The Man of Law’s Tale), it was a key site for contesting conceptions of national identity, crafting visions of national historiography, and promot­ ing the role of vernacular poetry in the life of the polity that resonate across the late Middle Ages and into the Early Modern period.

You can access it here.