I teach and write about premodern English literature. My first book was English Alliterative Verse: Poetic Tradition and Literary History (Cambridge University Press, 2016), which won the 2018 English Association Beatrice White Prize. My second monograph is Meter and Modernity in English Verse, 1350–1650 (University of Pennsylvania Press, forthcoming). With Irina Dumitrescu, I edited The Shapes of Early English Poetry: Style, Form, History (Medieval Institute Publications, 2019). At Boston College, I direct the English MA program. I edit the Yearbook of Langland Studies with Alastair Bennett and Katharine Breen. My writing on literature, politics, and higher education appears in The Atlantic, Vox, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and elsewhere. In collaboration with my students, I am mapping Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and building a digital textbook for Middle English alliterative poetry.
My research focuses on meter and poetics (what makes poetry tick). I am especially interested in poetry from the medieval period, which has led to an interest in periodization itself. All of my scholarship deals in one way or another with the historicity of early English literature: its forms and cultural meanings, and how those are mediated by modern disciplinary study. My recent work examines the relationships among poetry, social power, and human experiences of time and ventures across the medieval/modern boundary. In my work I write toward a historical understanding of literary forms. These interests all converge on William Langland’s Piers Plowman, an enigmatic long alliterative poem of the fourteenth century.
I obtained my BA in English and Classical Civilization from Wesleyan University. My MA and PhD in English Language and Literature, and an MPhil in Medieval Studies, are from Yale University. For a complete bibliography of my books, articles, and essays, click here. Many of my articles, essays, notes, and book reviews may be downloaded here.