Associate Professor Department Chair

For CV click here

I specialize in late medieval and early sixteenth century literature and culture, with a focus on religious writing, London literature and culture, the history of the body, women’s literary cultures, visionary writing, and medieval and sixteenth-century drama. I also offer courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels on theory and method, with a particular focus on critical disability studies, medical/health humanities, gender and sexuality studies, and performance theory.

My first book, Learning to Die in London, 1380-1530 (UPenn 2015), argues that the structured awareness of death and mortality was a vital aspect of medieval civic culture, critical not only to the shaping of single lives and the management of families and households but also to the practices of cultural memory, the building of institutions, and the good government of the city itself. Disputing the historical stereotype that names the fifteenth century as decadent and morbid, the book demonstrates that death in the period was an instrument: an imaginative and creative tool for artistic, psychological or political analysis and expression for poets and other cultural makers, and a practical one for the urban city elite, as they used post mortem bequests from their predecessors to fund the projects that literally built the city during the course of the century. This project was supported by an External Faculty Fellowship at Stanford University Humanities Center; a Boston University Center for the Humanities Junior Fellowship; and the Leverhulme Trust (U.K).

My current project, Shining Faces: Asceticism and Human Variance in Premodern England, is a study of medieval and early sixteenth-century ascetic cultures. The character of ascetic identity and the practices associated with it varied in form and emphasis in premodern Christianity but was usually understood in embodied terms. Asceticism aimed to involve and transform not the inner self only but the whole person, reworking ‘natural’ aspects of the body through affective and mental training and physical discipline. As a modality, asceticism thus had a rich interest in limit states and nonconventional bodies, including those we would understand as disabled or impaired. Indeed, ascetic texts provide some of the most detailed explorations of the contingencies of the body and human variance to survive from premodern England. In their accounts of the vulnerabilities, sufferings and struggles that attend embodiment and shape the ways in which a person interacts with their community and with God, ascetic texts and the praxes they describe engage a number of key topics connected to the phenomenon of embodiment, including the meanings of illness, health and debility. Articles that explore these topics can be read here, here, and here. This project has been supported by an ACLS Fellowship.

Selected Publications


  • Learning to Die in London, 1380-1540. Middle Ages Series. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015.
  • Shining Faces: Asceticism and Human Variance in Premodern England (in preparation)


Honors, Grants, and Awards:

  • American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship, 2020-21
  • Leverhulme International Network Grant, 2015-2018: Women’s Literary Culture and the Medieval Canon
  • Frank and Lynn Wisneski Award for Excellence in Teaching, College of Arts and Sciences, 2016
  • Boston University Center for the Humanities Junior Fellowship, 2012-13
  • Stanford Humanities Center External Faculty Fellowship, Stanford University, 2010-11
  • Certificate of Teaching Excellence, Harvard University, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005
  • SSHRC, Doctoral Fellowship, 2001-2003
  • Visiting Graduate Student Fellowship, Harvard University, 2001-2002
  • Ontario Graduate Scholarship, 1999, 2000
  • President’s Scholarship, University of Western Ontario, 1998-2001