Current Research

Available Soon - Upcoming Talks - Dissertation - Work in Progress
A full list of completed and published projects is available in my CV.


Available Soon

"The Proleptic Fantasy of Anglo-Saxon Crusade in a Manuscript for King Henry VI," Journal of English and Germanic Philology (forthcoming)

"Eschatology for Cannibals: A System of Aberrance in the Old English Andreas," Disability, Monstrosity, and the Posthuman in the Medieval and Early Modern World, ed. Richard H. Godden and Asa Simon Mittman (Palgrave, expected release 2019)

“The Martyrdom of St. Margaret of Antioch” and Saint Augustine of Hippo, “City of God Against the Pagans: Book XXII, Chapter 19,” teaching translation, in The Medieval Disability Sourcebook, edited by Cameron Hunt McNabb (forthcoming). 


Upcoming talks

May 2019
Sexual Assault and Salvation in the Sermo Lupi ad Anglos” (panel on Archbishop Wulfstan of York) and “Disability in the Early British Literature Survey” (roundtable on “Teaching Disability in the Middle Ages”), International Congress on Medieval Studies (Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI).

July/August 2019
Project report: “New Imaging of the Exeter Book,” International Society of Anglo-Saxonists (University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM).


Dissertation

Embodied Lives and Afterlives: Disability and the Eschatological Imaginary in Early Medieval England

Status: Successfully defended 23 October 2018, minor revisions in progress, expected deposit in spring 2019.

“Embodied Lives and Afterlives” argues that early medieval English literature formulated concepts of death and the afterlife through representations of disability and other forms of bodily difference. Old English philosophical treatises, saints’ legends, and both epic and lyric poetry are populated by saintly, monstrous, heroic, and dead bodies, which collectively reveal the dependence of early English discourse upon particularly medieval notions of disability. Fueled by such bodies, the eschatological imaginary of early medieval England used impairment and healing, vulnerability and strength, disability and hyper-ability to understand lived experiences of the earthly body and to envision the resurrected body of the promised Christian afterlife.


Work in Progress

Edited volumes:

Disability and Sanctity in the Middle Ages, 2 vols, co-edited with Alicia Spencer-Hall and Stephanie Grace-Petinos. Volume 1: Theories, Texts, and Lives and volume 2: Interdisciplinary and Intersectional Approaches to Healing Miracles. Volume proposals currently under review by press.

More Fuss about the Body: New Medievalists’ Perspectives, co-edited with Stephanie Grace-Petinos. Currently soliciting submissions; volume proposal invited by press.

Essays:

“A Medieval Poetics of Neurodiversity: Hoccleve's 'Compleinte' and the Old English Rhyming Poem
(in progress)
In this essay, I model a novel approach to neurodiversity in medieval literatures, through two medieval English poems: "My Compleinte" in Thomas Hoccleve's fifteenth-century Series and the Old English Rhyming Poem in the tenth-century Exeter Book. While Hoccleve's very public experience of mental illness prior to composing the Series is relatively well-documented, the context and origins of the Rhyming Poem are mysterious, even by the standards of Old English poetry. I argue that both poems poetically construct neurodivergent thought patterns through meter, syntax, and poetic form, normalizing alternative modes of thinking and diverse experiences of interiority. I posit that attending to the poetics of neurodiversity in these two poems facilitates new ways of thinking about neurodiversity (including mental illness, cognitive impairment, and learning disability) in the study of medieval literature, both in scholarly research and in the college classroom.

Pregnancy and Proto-eugenic Anxieties in the Cotton Tiberius A.iii Life of St Margaret of Antioch
(for inclusion in Disability and Sanctity in the Middle Ages, Vol 2: Interdisciplinary and Intersectional Approaches to Healing Miracles)
In the legend of St Margaret of Antioch, as the virgin martyr approaches her death, she asks God that no person who prays in her name or has a copy of her legend in their home will give birth to a disabled child. St Margaret names blindness, deafness, mobility impairment, and demonic possession (potentially interpretable as mental illness or cognitive impairment) as conditions that will not affect the children of the saint's devotees. As a result of this promise—augmented by the saint’s legendary bursting out of the belly of a dragon—St Margaret became known as a patron saint of pregnancy and childbirth. This essay examines St Margaret’s maternity cult through one of two Old English versions of The Life of St Margaret of Antioch, that which is found in London, British Library, Cotton Tiberius A.iii. I argue that Margaret’s collection of impairments into the singular category of “that which will be healed or prevented” produces a distinctly medieval notion of “disability.” Rather than depending upon anachronistic modern definitions of disability through medical, social, or cultural models, The Life of St Margaret thus offers an internal logic of disability as a category that is integral to understanding the bodily experience and perception of disability. Moreover, this essay explores the implications of pre-natal healing miracles in medieval thought regarding disability, drawing upon contexts including pregnancy prognostics that also appear in Cotton Tiberius A.iii, and more broadly, objects such as surviving (albeit late medieval) birthing girdles that replicate parts of St Margaret’s legend. Such objects prompt us to ask: Is the prevention—rather than confirmed presence followed by elimination—of congenital disability at or before birth still a healing miracle? What does the desire for such pre-natal healing reveal about early medieval attitudes toward disability? Does the desire for the unborn to be healed before birth respond to purported cases of the abandonment and exposure of infants with disabilities? I argue that these desires reflect a proto-eugenic anxiety about the physical abilities of children, rooted not only in economic and spiritual concerns, but also in prejudice and stigma. St Margaret’s promise to prevent disabilities at birth serves as a focal point for anxieties about congenital disabilities, offering vital new insights into the treatment and care of individuals with disabilities at their most vulnerable moment: the very beginning of life.