Kathryn Lynch

Katharine Lee Bates and Sophie Chantal Hart Professor of English

Specialist in Chaucer, medieval dreaming, literary and cultural biography, cultural geography, gender, and food; advocate for the humanities and freedom of expression on campus.

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 for example, 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.

I teach medieval English literature in the Wellesley English Department, including Chaucer courses both on the introductory and advanced levels, Anglo-Saxon literature (especially Beowulf), and the continental backgrounds to the English medieval romance tradition. I am also interested in the complicated legacy of the Middle Ages in later periods and in the particular biographical situations of modern medievalists, both artists and scholars. 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. I also love to teach writing, both to first-year students in their introductory writing course and to upper classwomen in a capstone Calderwood writing seminar.

In addition to research and teaching, I have been deeply involved in Wellesley College administration and in larger issues of educational policy. From 2010-17, I served as the Dean of Faculty Affairs, in which role I worked with arts and humanities departments across the college, and in the summer of 2018 I became the Director of the college’s Freedom Project. Previously I was chair of the English Dept. and directed the Writing Program and the Medieval/Renaissance Studies Program.

I have three adult children and three grandchildren, and most of my time outside of the job is devoted to my family.

Personal Page
Cutting the Liberal Arts Undermines Our Cultural Traditions


  • B.A., Stanford University
  • M.A., University of Virginia
  • Ph.D., University of Virginia