Provost (Office of)
B.A., Stanford University; M.A., Ph.D., University of Virginia
Katharine Lee Bates and Sophie Chantal Hart Professor of English; Dean of Faculty Affairs
Teacher and scholar of Chaucer, medieval dream vision, food in Chaucer's poetry, medieval period boundaries
Most of my publications relate either to the genre of the medieval dream vision or to the poetry of Geoffrey Chaucer. I am especially intrigued by the philosophical backgrounds to the dream vision. More recently I have been researching the links between the field broadly known as "food studies" (especially as it reflects anthropological concerns) and "The Canterbury Tales." In addition to my literary critical writings, I am also an editor. In 2007 I published the Norton Critical edition of Chaucer's early poetry, a volume that includes Chaucer's four dream visions and his minor poems.
I regularly teach Wellesley's Chaucer's course(s), both on the introductory and advanced levels. As the English Department's medievalist, I also teach Anglo-Saxon literature and the continental backgrounds to the English medieval romance tradition. Beyond the Canterbury Tales, Beowulf is one of my favorite poems in the classroom. I am also interested in the legacy of the Middle Ages in later periods, especially the Renaissance, and recently team-taught a course on Chaucer and Shakespeare (for first-year students) with a colleague in the English Department. On the advanced level, I have taught many interdisciplinary medieval courses, whose topics range from food in medieval and Renaissance literature to the story of Troilus and Criseyde as it has been retold throughout the medieval period and beyond.
In addition to research and teaching, I have also been somewhat involved in college administration in recent years. In July 2010, I completed six years (not consecutive) as English Department chair. In addition I am involved in professional organizations outside the college, including the Medieval Academy of America and the New Chaucer Society, whose biannual conference I regularly attend. In 2008 I was one of the national judges for an undergraduate writing contest: The Norton Scholar's Prize.
Most important are my three children, the youngest of whom has studied Music and Computer Science at Oberlin College. My older two children are respectively a lawyer in New York City and a writer in Seattle. My children are my hobby and my joy (I don't really have much time for other activities!)