I teach in the Department of English at Loyola University Chicago as Edward Surtz, S.J., Associate Professor. Much of my work concerns poetics and literary language. I am also interested in the long histories of thinking about these topics.
I am currently engaged in two large projects: a digital documentary edition of the text of Piers Plowman in New Haven, Beinecke Library, Takamiya MS 23, and an on-line repository of medieval manuscript materials held in smaller institutional collections in the American Midwest. The digital edition is a collaboration with James Eric Ensley and Paul A. Broyles and intended for the Piers Plowman Electronic Archive. The on-line repository is a collaboration with Sarah Noonan, Elizabeth Hebbard, and Michelle Dalmau, funded by a three-year grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources.
At Loyola I regularly teach an introduction to literary reading and a first-year interdisciplinary humanities survey (antiquity and Middle Ages), plus upper-division courses in medieval English and European literature. My graduate teaching has included seminars on Piers Plowman, an introduction to Old English language and literature, and a ten-week seminar at the Newberry Library on Boethius’s Consolation of Philosophy and its afterlife.
My first book, Reconstructing Alliterative Verse: The Pursuit of a Medieval Meter (Cambridge, 2017), was about the past and future of the verse form employed in William Langland’s Piers Plowman. This book argued that the irregular rhythms of alliterative poetry come into sharper focus when viewed in diachronic perspective. The meter was always in transition; to understand it, we must reconstruct the stages of its development and recognize where it was headed at the moment it died out. Subsequent work in this area includes an article on the text and form of the Lay Folks’ Catechism, and a review article on a new edition of Piers Plowman B. A short essay on ‘Versification’ appeared in Approaches to Teaching Langland’s ‘Piers Plowman’ (2018). Articles on related topics are at various stages of development.
A second, smaller cluster of projects concerns Boethius’s Consolatio philosophiae and its reception. I have written on this topic for the medieval volume of the Oxford History of Classical Reception in English Literature (2016), and I have completed an essay on the sources of George Colvile’s 1556 translation of Boethius’s text. Studies of the text and sources of John Walton’s 1410 verse translation of the Consolatio will follow, but not soon.
A third research area centers on medieval literary education, or the disciplines of grammar and rhetoric. I surveyed the history of these disciplines for Wiley-Blackwell’s Encyclopedia of Medieval Literature in Britain (2017). An essay on ‘ecologies of Latin poetics’ is in preparation for a global history of post-classical Latin literature.
Details on published work, with some abstracts and links to texts, can be found on zotero and elsewhere.
Links to most items are also in my current cv