I’m an Associate Professor of Old and Middle English at Rutgers University-Camden, where I study medieval English literature and culture. My first book explores food and cooking in medieval English romance, primarily as they are used to discuss political theory. The title is Political Appetites: Food in Medieval English Romance, released October 2017 from The Ohio State University Press.
I am currently working on several new projects: I am co-editing a volume called Practical Approaches to Teaching Beowulf with Dr. Larry Swain, a collection of essays by those teaching this poem the most, rather than by faculty at research-heavy institutions. I am also working on two new monographs. The first is a comparative study on the poetics of Old English along with contemporary hip hop culture, to discover what new questions arise when we look at this vibrant tradition and its relation to composition, memory, tradition, form, voice, and authority.
My newest, second project re-considers translations of Old English poetry, arguing that nostalgia dominates their construction, obscuring the desires that motivate the field & denying most every precept of translation theory — primarily that all translations are interpretations and that all translations are somewhat a failure. Most importantly translation can never be a spotless window to the past or to other—it inevitably serves the ideologial & cultural needs of the translating culture. This work stems out of my own efforts to learn new things from this ancient archive, to explore their cracks & glitches, and consider, humbly, that we actually do not know everything about the real “Old English” (as if that were even a singular thing). In this book, I explore the ways traditional Old English scholarship actively hampers innovation in its field, excludes & marginalizes promising scholars, and denies pleasure & poetry in these texts, as well as its scholarship.
My teaching is heavily involved with the interplay between medieval and modern, demonstrating what sophisticated knowledge of the Middle Ages can reveal to our contemporary world. My classes reach a broad variety of RUC students, undergraduate and graduate, majors and otherwise, and include classes on ancient heroism, traveling in the Middle Ages, global collections of short stories, and the Icelandic sögur, as well as standard English fare as early literature surveys, Chaucer, and Old English literature. I see the medieval world as a global, multicultural phenomenon intricately wound with secular politics and religious experience, and believe this pre-capitalist, pre-fundamentalist, pre-colonialist, pre-Renaissance world contains valuable lessons about what the modern world can become.
In my spare time, I’m an avid translator of Anglo-Saxon poetry, and my work can be found on my webpage, The Old English Narrative Poetry Project (URL listed below). I have also opened up a project to translate the entirety of the extant Old English homilies in modern English, work that is much-needed.
In my non-academic time, I enjoy playing video games (mostly RPGs) & singing at karaoke and open mic nights.
461 Armitage Hall
311 North Fifth Street
Camden NJ 08102
Email (the best way to reach me):
The Old English Narrative Poetry Project
The Old English Homily Project