My research often focuses on gender, the body, and sexuality in early medieval literature, particularly that of northwestern Europe, but I am also interested in Modernism, World War I poetry, medievalisms, the body in literature, and women's history and writing more generally.
Dissertation: Movement and Meaning in Anglo-Saxon Literature
My dissertation focuses on physical movement in Anglo-Saxon literature. Scholarship on bodily movement in literature does exist in some areas of medieval studies, but by no means all. While there has been some attention to this topic in later medieval studies, there has been comparatively little of it in early medieval studies, including the study of Anglo-Saxon texts. This lack of scholarship on bodily movement in this corpus may be tied to a seeming lack of content to study--at first glance, there does not seem to be a large amount of bodily movement happening in Anglo-Saxon texts. In my dissertation, I seek to remedy this situation by working with a broader definition of “movement” than that which has been used in prior studies of gesture in early medieval literature and by analyzing the possible communicative, symbolic, literary, social, or cultural meanings of those movements.
"The Dancing Girls in The Life of Saints Chrysanthus and Daria. In Anglo-Saxon Women: A Florilegium, edited by Emily Butler, Irina Dumitrescu, and Hilary E. Fox (forthcoming). (Under review)
The “dancing girls” of Ælfric’s Passio Chrisanti et Darie sponse eius within his Lives of Saints have a minimal role: they attempt to seduce Chrysanthus from Christ with their wodlican plegan, “foolish sport,” but they fail to do so. This episode has usually been read as a typical temptation scene, and analyses of this Life usually focus on Chrysanthus and Daria’s marriage as a model of chaste marriage for lay couples, with an emphasis on virginity as the fundamental feature of Old English saints’ faith and sanctity. When the maidens are centered in a reading of this Life, however, what becomes evident is their movement--wodlican plegan—in contrast to the stillness of, and the weaponization of stillness by, Chrysanthus and Daria. Reading the Life with attention to the interplay of movement and stillness ultimately offers an additional saintly characteristic to be admired and emulated by the lay audience of the Lives: physical control and restraint, not only through rejection of sexual activity, but also through mastery of bodily movement.
"'Glorious and Execrable': The Dead and Their Bodies in World War I Poetry." The Hilltop Review 9, no. 2 (2017): 14-31. (pdf)
While many scholars of World War I poetry have identified aspects of soldier poets’ work that embody the change from enthusiastic support of the war to disillusioned criticism of it, in this paper I argue for an additional, and highly meaningful marker of this significant change: the use of the dead and their bodies in this poetry. The commonly held critical view of World War I poetry is that there is a clear divide between poetry of the early and late years of the war, usually located after the Battle of the Somme in 1916, where poetry moves from odes to courageous sacrifice and protection of the homeland to bitter or grief-stricken verses on the horror and pointless suffering of the war. This change is particularly noticeable in the poetry of “soldier poets." Through analysis of poems by a variety of World War I poets, including Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, Isaac Rosenberg, and others, I track this shift and examine how it is mapped onto the bodies of soldiers in their poetry. I argue that poetry of the early years of the war depicts bodies as stable, insulated objects on which poets can project messages of admiration for the sacrifice and nobility of soldiers, support for the war, or concepts of nationalism and empire; in contrast, in the later poetry of the war, bodies are unstable, exposed, and corrupted, no longer able to support old messages of courage and noble sacrifice but reflecting the futility, senselessness, and destruction of the war.
"Children of the Waste Land." Polyglossia 12, no. 1 (2009): 5-13. (pdf)
T.S. Eliot offers a modern interpretation of an ancient legend in his epic poem entitled The Waste Land, largely influenced by contemporary anthropological studies From Ritual to Romance by Jessie L. Weston and The Golden Bough by Sir James Frazer. The story of the Wasteland and the Fisher King has its foundations in ancient vegetation rituals and echoes through time to find a place in both medieval romances and modern day narratives. Who is the modern Fisher King according to Eliot, and what are the implications of that answer for today's Waste Land?
“Movement and Meaning in Early Medieval Literature,” 52nd International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, MI, May 2017.
“Movement in Medieval Literature,” 50th International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, MI, May 2015.
"Gendered Movement in Anglo-Saxon Literature," 22nd International Medieval Congress, Leeds, UK, July 2017.
"Translated Bodies and Traveling Souls: Movement in Anglo-Saxon Hagiography," 52nd International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, MI, May 2017.
"Public Peace and Personal Purity: Gender, Communities, and Relationships in Law and Literature of Anglo-Saxon England," 51st International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, MI, May 2016.
"'Far From Drunk With Ale': Women, Sobriety, and Power in Old Norse Literature," 21st International Medieval Congress, Leeds, UK, July 2015.
"'Nor Hell a Fury': Female Vengeance in the Nibelungenlied and Völsungasaga," 2nd Annual Symposium on Medieval and Renaissance Studies, St. Louis, MO, June 2014.
"'O Mighty Mud-Dweller': Non-Sexual Insults in the Saga of Bjorn, Champion of the Hitaardal People," 49th International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, MI, May 2014.
"Celestial or Human Childbirth?: Medical and Scientific Terminology in Anglo-Saxon Marian Texts," 26th Annual Indiana University Medieval Studies Symposium, Bloomington, IN, March 2014.
"Mary's Womb as Dwelling: The Virginal, Fertile, and Maternal Body of Mary in Anglo-Saxon Literature," Medieval Association of the Midwest 29th Annual Conference, Terre Haute, IN, September 2013.
"Women's Blood: Ritual Purity in Anglo-Saxon Religious Texts," 1st Annual Symposium on Medieval and Renaissance Studies, St. Louis, MO, June 2013.
"Female Reproductive Bodies in Anglo-Saxon Religious Literature," Norwich-York-King's College London Graduate Student Conference, London, UK, June 2011.
Campus or Departmental Talks
"Teaching Research Writing," WMU New 1050 Instructor Training, Western Michigan University, August 2016.
"Applying to PhD Programs," 2016 AGES Graduate Student Professional Development Seminar, April 2016.
"Teaching the Unfamiliar Genre Project in ENGL 1050: Thought and Writing," WMU New 1050 Instructor Training, Western Michigan University, August 2015.
"Submission and Resubmission: Navigating the Academic Journal Publishing Process," 2015 National Association of Graduate Professional Students Midwest Regional Conference, Western Michigan University, March 2015.