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. In my work I write toward a historical understanding of literary forms. Specifically, I have proposed in various contexts that the history of literary forms generates the forms of literary history. These interests all converge on William Langland’s Piers Plowman, an enigmatic long alliterative poem of the fourteenth century.
My current project, tentatively titled Unheard Melodies: Apophatic Poetics in English Literature, concerns the paradoxical power of literature to represent what literature cannot represent: novels no one can read, lyrics no one can hear, syllables no one can pronounce, spaces no one can inhabit, experiences no one can have, and more. I call these “apophatic effects,” by analogy to apophatic (a.k.a. negative) theology. Premodern readers understood apophatic effects through metaphors of concealment embedded in the Latin nouns obscuritas and occultatio. My title alludes to John Keats’s “On a Grecian Urn,” which both performs and reflects on apophatic poetics.
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.
Meter and Modernity in English Verse, 1350-1650. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2020.
English Alliterative Verse: Poetic Tradition and Literary History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016. Paperback 2019. [Cambridge Core]
with Irina Dumitrescu, The Shapes of Early English Poetry: Style, Form, History. Kalamazoo, MI: Medieval Institute, 2019. In honor of Roberta Frank.
“Futures Past: Prophecy, Periodization, and Reinhart Koselleck.” New Literary History (forthcoming).
“A Checklist of Short and Fragmentary Unrhymed English Alliterative Poems, 1300-1600.” Notes & Queries (online).
“The End of the Line? Alliterative Meter, Macaronic Style, and Piers Plowman.” Studies in Philology 117 (2020): 225-39. [academia.edu]
“English Political Prophecy and the Problem of Modernity.” postmedieval 10 (2019): 8-21. [academia.edu]
“Political Prophecy and the Form of Piers Plowman.” Viator 50 (2019): 207-47.
“Manley Hopkins’ Copy of Piers Plowman: Medievalism and Historicism.” Hopkins Quarterly 45 (2018): 101-18. [academia.edu]
“Alliterative Meter and English Literary History, 1700-2000.” ELH 84 (2017): 259-85. [academia.edu]
“Before Prosody: Early English Poetics in Practice and Theory.” Modern Language Quarterly 77 (2016): 473-98. [academia.edu] [Stanford ARCADE]
“Grass-Bed: A Poetic Compound in the Alliterative Tradition.” Anglia 134 (2016): 587-603. [academia.edu]
“Piers Plowman and the Durable Alliterative Tradition.” Yearbook of Langland Studies 30 (2016): 123-73. [academia.edu]
“Prophetic Piers Plowman: New Sixteenth-Century Excerpts.” Review of English Studies 67 (2016): 21-41. [academia.edu]
“Systematicity, a Missing Term in Historical Metrics.” Language and Literature 25 (2016): 328-42. [academia.edu]
“Alliterative Metre and the Textual Criticism of the Gawain Group.” Yearbook of Langland Studies 29 (2015): 151-75. [academia.edu]
“Chaucer the Forester: The Friar’s Tale, Forest History, and Officialdom.” Chaucer Review 47 (2013): 323-36. [academia.edu]
“Phantom Syllables in the English Alliterative Tradition.” Modern Philology 110 (2013): 441-58. [academia.edu]
“Making Beowulf Scream: Exclamation and the Punctuation of Old English Poetry.” Journal of English and Germanic Philology 111 (2012): 25-41. [academia.edu]
“Rhythm.” In The Cambridge Companion to the Poem, ed. Sean Pryor (Cambridge University Press, under contract). In preparation.
with the assistance of Celia Smithmier, “The Death of Blanche the Duchess.” In The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, ed. Julia Boffey and A. S. G. Edwards (Cambridge University Press, under contract).
“English Prophecy Books: Genre, Compilation, Periodization.” In Poetics before Modernity: Literary Theory in the West from Antiquity to 1700, ed. Vladimir Brljak and Micha Lazarus (Oxford University Press, under contract).
“Verse Forms and Prosody.” In The Oxford History of Poetry in English, Volume 3: 1400–1500, ed. Julia Boffey and A. S. G. Edwards (Oxford University Press, under contract).
“Charles d’Orléans’ English Metrical Phonology.” In Charles d’Orléans’ English Aesthetic: The Form, Poetics, and Style of “Fortunes Stabilnes”, ed. R. D. Perry and Mary-Jo Arn (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2020), pp. 120-40.
“The Idea of Bede in English Political Prophecy.” In Remembering the Medieval Present: Generative Uses of England’s Pre-Conquest Past, 10th to 15th Centuries, ed. Jay Paul Gates and Brian O’Camb (Leiden: Brill, 2019), pp. 270-88. [academia.edu]
with Irina Dumitrescu, “Introduction.” In The Shapes of Early English Poetry: Style, Form, History, ed. Dumitrescu and Eric Weiskott (Kalamazoo, MI: Medieval Institute, 2019), pp. 1-12.
“The Paris Psalter and English Literary History.” In The Shapes of Early English Poetry: Style, Form, History, ed. Irina Dumitrescu and Eric Weiskott (Kalamazoo, MI: Medieval Institute, 2019), pp. 107-34. [academia.edu]
“Multispectral Imaging and Medieval Manuscripts.” In The Routledge Research Companion to Digital Medieval Literature, ed. Jennifer E. Boyle and Helen J. Burgess (London: Routledge, 2018), pp. 186-96. [academia.edu]
“William Langland’s Piers Plowman.” In Major Authors and Movements in British Literature, ed. Kirilka Stavreva, for the electronic resource Gale Researcher (2017) (commissioned). [academia.edu]
“Alliterative Meter after 1450: The Vision of William Banastre.” In Early English Poetic Culture and Meter: The Influence of G. R. Russom, ed. Lindy Brady and M. J. Toswell (Kalamazoo, MI: Medieval Institute, 2016), pp. 149-79. [academia.edu] [companion website]
“Lawman, the Last Old English Poet and the First Middle English Poet.” In Laʒamon’s “Brut” and Other Medieval Chronicles: 14 essays, ed. Marie-Françoise Alamichel (Paris: L’Harmattan, 2013), pp. 11-57. [academia.edu]
“Further Emendation of Piers Plowman C.3.142.” Notes & Queries (forthcoming).
“The Syntax of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight 77.” Notes & Queries (forthcoming).
“‘Galoches’ in Wynnere and Wastoure and Piers Plowman.” Notes & Queries (online).
“Nicolay Yakovlev’s Theory of Old English Meter: A Reply.” ANQ (online).
“On Emending Beowulf 2088a.” ANQ (online).
“A New Conjecture for Book of the Duchess 1315.” Notes & Queries 67 (2020): 12-13.
“A Metrical Duck-Rabbit in the Old English Charm Against a Wen.” Notes & Queries 66 (2019): 347-49.
“Seinte Loy: A Metrical Non-Problem in Chaucer’s General Prologue.” Notes & Queries 66 (2019): 361-63.
“A Sixteenth-Century Political Prophecy Inspired by Piers Plowman.” Notes & Queries 66 (2019): 217-19.
“William Langland’s First First Word.” Notes & Queries 66 (2019): 509-10.
older notes, and book reviews