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
Dean for arts and humanities departments; specialist in Chaucer, medieval dreaming, cultural geography, gender, film, and food; advocate for the humanities.
Most of my publications relate to medieval dream poems or to the remarkable father of English Poetry, Geoffrey Chaucer. I am especially intrigued by interdisciplinary connections, including the link between the anthropological field broadly known as "food studies" and Chaucer's "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 is widely used in undergraduate and graduate courses.
Before I came into the Provost's Office in 2010, I regularly taught Wellesley's Chaucer's courses, both on the introductory and advanced levels. I also taught Anglo-Saxon literature and the continental backgrounds to the English medieval romance tradition, including Arthurian texts and reaching up to JRR Tolkien. Beyond the "Canterbury Tales," "Beowulf" is one of my favorite poems in the classroom. I am also interested in the complicated legacy of the Middle Ages in later periods, especially into the Renaissance. I have taught many interdisciplinary 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 am deeply involved in Wellesley College administration and in larger issues of educational policy. For the past five years I have served as the Dean of Faculty Affairs, during which time I have come to treasure my connections with faculty across fields and time periods. Previously I was chair of the English Dept. and have directed the Writing Program and the Medieval/Renaissance Studies Program.
I have three adult children and two grandchildren, and most of my time outside of the job is devoted to my family.