2023 "Trans Animacies and Premodern Alchemies," in Medieval Mobilities: Gendered Bodies, Spaces, and Movements, eds. Jane Bonsall, Meagan Khoury, and Basil Arnould Price. The New Middle Ages Series. (Palgrave, 2023): 199-223.
Abstract: Centering a discussion on Thomas Norton's Ordinal of Alchemy (c. 1477) and George Ripley's fifteenth-century Compound of Alchemy (c. 1471), this essay explores how the theory and process of medieval alchemy genders non-human objects and agents and imbues these objects with mobile, generative possibility, challenging the seeming immutability of nature's laws. The divergent possibilities between alchemical generation and transmutation speak to a premodern schematic of sex more invested in mobile transformation than static reproduction. Drawing on Mel Y. Chen's work on gendered and racialized animacy hierarchies, this chapter reveals that alchemical "bodies"metals, plants, stones, and liquids-not only transcend their original states, but also envision queer/trans inhumanisms that challenge binary oppositions of alive/dead, male/female, mobile/immobile, offering a way to (re)conceptualize modern formations and categorizations of sex, gender, and animacy.
2022 "The Yeoman's Canon: On Toxic Mentors," in "Historicizing Consent" colloquium, ed. Carissa Harris and Fiona Somerset, Studies in the Age of Chaucer 44 (2022): 297-306.
Abstract: Academia, like alchemy, can be toxic rather than transformative under abusive mentoring conditions. In this short essay, I consider the Yeoman’s complaint of his mentor, the Canon, to think about toxic mentorships and power in the workplace. As Sara Ahmed’s recent work on complaint has suggested, when the abuse of power is challenged, communities learn about power. The Yeoman’s relationship with his mentor is marked by community isolation, lethal working conditions that dramatically alter his physical and psychic health, and silencing. When the Yeoman threatens to disclose his working conditions, the Canon, anticipating complaint, tries to silence the Yeoman so that he may “spek no wordes mo” (CYT.Prol.693). It is only, or perhaps because of, the Canon’s subsequent desertion of the community that enables the Yeoman to speak out. If the Yeoman is ever free from this relationship it is through his public complaint, which puts pressure on community transformation by giving an account of oneself. What institutions, networks, and powers dissolve when we disclose abuse? In what ways does disclosure (that which is no longer closed) work in alliance with complaint (a unified lamentation) and how do these two modalities of speaking, of truth-telling, of story-sharing require the participation of the community?
2021 "Maimed Limbs and Biosalvation: Rehabilitation Politics in Piers Plowman," in Trans Historical: Gender Plurality Before the Modern (Cornell University Press, 2021)
Abstract: What emerged in the early modern period as the "law of maims," the criminal act of maiming another or oneself, was present in the literary theology of late medieval England. This article examines the use and abuse of bodily injury in a Christian soteriology, specifically in the dream allegory Piers Plowman. Merging concerns articulated in transgender studies about the medical-industrial complex's obsession with health and wholeness with medieval ideologies of salvation (from salvare 'to heal, save') as a health-making regime, I show how the fiction of body wholeness trumps the necessity of body autonomy. When Piers Plowman presents bodies with maimed limbs, the poem weaves debility into a salvation schematic which awards some maimed bodies salvation (in the imitation of Christ) while rejecting others. The essay contributes to the complicated relationship between transgender and disability studies as it uncovers a premodern literary critique of institutionally controlled embodiment.
2021 Beowulf By All: A Community Translation and Workbook, eds. Elaine Treharne, Jean Abbott. (ARC-Humanities Press, June 2021)
Note: In this collaborative and collective translation of Beowulf, I have contributed lines 2416-2430. This workbook will provide a new pedagogical take on the work of translation, collaboration, and how to engage the past.
2020 "Medieval Studies: The Stakes of the Field" postmedieval 11.4 (2020), ed. with M. Rambaran-Olm, M. Breann Leake for the in 10th anniversary issue. (https://link.springer.com/journal/41280/volumes-and-issues/11-4)
Abstract: This is an issue of revolt. It revolts against those who find its contents, contributors, and contributions revolting. The global resurgence of fascist leaders, the violent terrorist attacks of white supremacists against communities of color, and the hateful rhetoric, with often deadly consequence, that has dominated our public and private forums of life make it all too clear that we must push back against institutionally-sanctioned cruelty with our collective might in order to protect each other and the futures that we imagine. Our calamitous times demand action, and this issue of postmedieval seizes our field’s megaphone.
2020 “The Flyting of The Owl and the Nightingale: Animacy, Antisemitism, and Species Division,” Early Middle English 2.1 (2020): 1-31. [This article won the 2020 Catherine Innes-Parker Memorial Prize for Early Middle English]
Abstract: Despite its popularity among Early Middle English scholars and scholars of medieval debate literature, The Owl and the Nightingale is relatively inconspicuous in scholarship on medieval race and sexuality. When read alongside later medieval flytings, poetic exchanges of slander focused on the body and its proclivities, the injurious speech in The Owl and the Nightingale operates through racialized and sexualized species division. This article draws on Mel Y. Chen's work on queer and racialized animacy and premodern critical race studies to explore the symbol of the owl-as-Jew in the poem and demonstrates how sexual and racial insult against human beings is filtered through the bodies of animals.
2020 “Ycrammed ful of cloutes and of bones: Chaucer’s Queer Cavities,” in Medieval Futurity: Queering Time and Space. New Medievalisms Series (De Gruyter, 2020): 153-179.
Abstract: In The Canterbury Tales the image of the purse, a hollow orifice that hoards or expels what enters into it, becomes the template for all cached items exchanged and publicized on the pilgrimage. While many of the pilgrims carry purses to Canterbury, it is the riding companions, the Pardoner and the Summoner, who carry and broadcast their purses and opinions about the utility of such items. The Pardoner's wallet lay on his lap 'bretful of pardoun,' brimming with the material of his vocation, while the Summoner admonishes men who keep their souls in their purses. The purses, bags, sacks, and wallets that the Pardoner and Summoner bear metaphorize, perhaps obviously, their owners as morally vacuous cavities. This essay looks to the purse as a site of queer aperture, an opening that refuses socially prescribed models of production: that is, the purse as queer cavity swallows and repurposes what it placed inside of it.
2019 “Lolling and the Suspension of Salvation in Piers Plowman,” Yearbook of Langland Studies 33 (2019): 13-42.
Abstract: This essay considers the temporality of salvation in Piers Plowman through the mechanics of lolling and hanging-modes of temporal and somatic suspension that disrupt the teleological operations of redemption. Bringing Elizabeth Freeman's discussion of chrononormative time-the temporal arrangements that have dominion over life-into the soteriology of Piers Plowman, this article sees the temporal maneuver of lolling as a confrontation to a salvific system built on waiting. It is the asynchrony of waiting that produces precariousness and this temporal pause shows its effects on the body. Those who depend on-literally hang and loll on - Christ's return must wait in expectation of his coming, but have no promise, only hope, of a salvific future. This essay suggests that the temporal schematics of lolling and hanging reveal the inequities of salvific politics and expose the precariousness of temporally-bound subjects that institutional powers benefit from. As a temporal marker, lolling can stand for a variety of suspended actions: an imitation of Christ's suffering on the cross, an idle worker, a hanged felon, or a retroactive redemption, to name a few. The poem identifies the suspended pause of lolling as both necessary for and an obstruction to Christ's return. In this way, lolling makes manifest the asynchronicity that a quest for Truth requires because not all who loll and hang can access salvation. Piers Plowman takes seriously the precariousness of lolling subjects and questions how those who are suspended in time can dowel and secure a spot in a salvific future.
2019 "The Medingen Manuscripts at Harvard: Houghton Library’s MS Lat 395 and MS Lat 440" Harvard Library Bulletin Summer 2017, Vol. 28/2, published April 2019, pp. 2-26.
Abstract: This collaborative article traces the provenance of two prayer books from Medingen Abbey now held at Houghton Library, MS Lat 395 for Marian feasts (HHL1) and MS Lat 440 for Easter prayer (HHL2) to their scribes and authors, northern German Cistercian nuns in the late fifteenth century, and follows their wanderings through the centuries until their identification and purchase in the twenty-first century. More information http://medingen.seh.ox.ac.uk
1. From Medingen to Harvard: The Wanderings of Two Medieval Manuscripts, Henrike Lähnemann
2. The Resurrection Miniature in MS Latin 440, Laura Godfrey
3. The Latin and Low German Writing in HHL2, Joseph McLaurin Leake
4. The Nuns’ Interwoven Language in HHL1, Gennifer Dorgan
5. Mapping the Manuscript Journey, Micah James Goodrich