Beneath their delightfully and deceptively simple surfaces, medieval tales and songs of chivalry, love, foibles and virtues offer—to readers at any level—endlessly intriguing images of a past world. Examining these texts not only reveals the origins of many modern beliefs and practices, but also, more profoundly, challenges our assumptions about the modern world, about the Middle Ages, and especially about the distance between the two periods.
In addition to encouraging my students to appreciate the dynamism of medieval culture, I seek to provide a supportive, challenging and structured environment in which students can refine their critical skills and develop confidence as writers, readers and speakers. As an advisor, I enjoy helping my students explore their interests, discover and profit from resources both at UVA and abroad, and progress efficiently toward their goals.
My current research focuses on medieval French hagiography and new technologies.
French narratives about saints (called "Lives") exemplify many of
the complexities of medieval literary culture: they are literary and historical,
spiritual and secular, original and derivative of their Latin sources. They
also offer rich testimony on subjects as varied as gender norms, family relations,
lay spirituality, government, and the wide range of medieval spiritualities.
Additionally, because their efficacy depends so much on targeting very specific
audiences, the tremendous variation among manuscript copies of any Life dramatically
emphasizes the instability of medieval texts. Finally French hagiography appeals
to me because it is an under-used resource: a tremendous number of Lives remain
to be studied, translated and even edited. One of the unifying aims of my various
projects is to facilitate and encourage such work.
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