Past Teaching


Chaucer: Surveys of all stages of the poet’s career, including the early dream-visions, Troilus and Criseyde, and the Canterbury Tales.

Medieval Drama in Modern Memory: An exploration of the dramatic traditions of late-medieval England from many angles in order to construct a contextual reading of theatrical culture both medieval and modern.  How do medieval plays engage the idea of history, and how do modern and contemporary playwrights engage with medieval theater in order to stage their own histories?

Medieval Manuscripts to New Media: Studies in the History of the Book: An exploration of the intersection between medieval manuscript culture and contemporary digital literary culture, asking how preprint and postprint technologies reveal some of the unspoken assumptions of print culture, refining or changing our understandings of authorship, the act of reading, and even the book itself. Co-taught with Professor Jessica Pressman.

Medieval Performances in Drama and Lyric: An investigation of two anonymous, popular genres of late-medieval literature, with attention given to generic boundaries, performance history, and manuscript contexts.

Medieval Women Writers and Readers: Study of works written by, for, and about medieval women in a wide variety of social and cultural contexts. Readings include the Lais of Marie de France, Chaucer’s Legend of Good Women, the Revelations of Julian of Norwich, The Book of Margery Kempe, and the Paston letters.

Reading Medieval Manuscripts: A cultural and literary history of medieval books, based in the collections at Beinecke Library.

Medieval Dream-Vision: An examination of one of the most persistent and popular medieval genres, ranging from courtly reverie to prophetic nightmare. Readings include The Book of the Duchess, The Parliament of Fowls, The House of Fame, Piers Plowman, and Pearl, with special attention to the hermeneutic puzzles that arise from the interpretation of dreams.

Modern British Drama: A study of representative works of twentieth and twenty-first century British drama, based on current productions on the London stage, with attention to the social issues the plays address as well as theatrical conventions developed by playwrights and actors. (Yale-in-London)

Love Poetry:  A transhistorical survey of lyric poetry’s premier subject–loves erotic, divine, parental, and brotherly–with attention to the interaction of form and content.

Major English Poets: Year-long introductory study of the diversity and continuity of the English literary tradition through close reading of the work of its major poets:  Chaucer, Spenser, Shakespeare, Donne, Milton, Pope, Wordsworth, and Eliot.  Emphasis on developing skills of interpretation and critical writing.

Advanced Prose: An intensive workshop in the familiar essay, including detailed analysis of professional essays, and frequent writing and revision of participants’ own work.

Senior Essays


Chaucer: A reading of the Canterbury Tales, with attention to both medieval contexts and modern critical perspectives.

The Gawain-Poet:  A contextual study of the poems of British Library MS Cotton Nero A.x:  Pearl, Cleanness, Patience, and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Medieval Visionary Writing: A study of the wide variety of medieval writing that is concerned with images, from courtly fantasies, to spiritual revelations, to prophetic allegories.

Medieval Drama: An exploration of medieval dramatic traditions in the context of contemporary performative practices, including liturgy, song, spectacle, recitation, and meditative reading.

Teaching Practicum: An introduction to teaching, including pedagogical issues such as syllabus construction, responding to written work, leading seminar discussion, and lecturing.

Medieval Manuscripts and Literary Forms: An investigation of the relation between manuscript studies and traditional literary criticism, including an introduction to working with medieval manuscripts, and a series of case-studies in interpretation of their material forms.

Julian of Norwich: A directed reading focusing on the writings of Julian of Norwich.

Writing Carthusian Spirituality: A directed reading focusing on medieval Carthusian life and theology as expressed through Carthusian books.

Ph.D. Dissertations


Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute:

Literature and Information:  A collaborative seminar for K-12 teachers at the local and national level that questions the relation between reading literature and “reading for information.”  Specifically, we explore the relationship between fiction and nonfiction, and between “literary” writing and other kinds.  How can nonfiction writing be literary (or at least well-written)?  What kinds of “information” do we get from reading fiction?  Topics include subjectivity and objectivity, the value of the self, and the problems and opportunities introduced by personal perspective.

The Illustrated Page:  Medieval Manuscripts to New Media:  A collaborative seminar for K-12 teachers at the national level that considers how we read combinations of text and image in a range of media forms, old and new.   Objects to be studied include medieval manuscripts, engravings, oil paintings, children’s picture books, graphic novels, born-digital literature and new media of all kinds.  What are the effects of combining words with pictures in each of these examples?  How does the combination change the experience of reading?  When and how do picture-word combinations tell stories—or, conversely, when and how do they construct static emblems for meditation and reflection?