Life In Brief

I am a scholar of medieval English and North European literature, Christianity, and intellectual history, with special interests in the role of the written vernacular during the five centuries before the Reformation, in visionary and mystical writing, in medieval literary theory and sociolinguistics and in historiography, including what one might call "the uses of the past." My first book, Richard Rolle and the Invention of Authority (CUP) was published in 1991, the same year as a translation, Anchoritic Spirituality: Ancrene Wisse and Associated Works (Classics of Western Spirituality, with Anne Savage).  I have published three editions of medieval Latin and English works or selections: Richard Rolle's Emendatio Vitae (Toronto, 1995), Writings of Julian of Norwich (Penn State 2006, with Jacqueline Jenkins) and the "argued anthology" The Idea of the Vernacular: An Anthology of Middle English Theory, 1280-1520 (Penn State Press, 1999, with Jocelyn Wogan-Browne, Andrew Taylor, and Ruth Evans).  I have also published some fifty articles and book chapters.  One article, "Censorship and Cultural Change" (Speculum 1995) was recently the focus of a conference in Oxford and a subsequent volume of essays, After Arundel: Religious Writing in Fifteenth-Century England, ed. Vincent Gillespie and Khantik Ghosh (Brepols, 2011).

Current projects are a multi-volume study, Balaam's Ass: Vernacular Theology Before the English Reformation, and an edition/translation (with Claire Fanger) of John of Morigny's Liber florum doctrine celestis, the first volumes of both of which are near completion.  I am also slowly writing a companion to a 2006 edition (with Jacqueline Jenkins) of the writings of Julian of Norwich and editing a volume of essays, with Fiona Somerset, entitled Truth and Tales

British and Canadian by citizenship, I have degrees from Cambridge, Oxford, and Toronto and taught at the University of Western Ontario between 1990 and 2001, before coming to Harvard, where I am Professor of English and once and future chair of Medieval Studies.  My work in Canada was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, which awarded me two postdoctoral fellowships, and by the John Charles Polanyi Prize foundation.  My recent work has been supported by the Radcliffe Institute, ACLS, and the Guggenheim Foundation, which made me a fellow for the year 2008-09.