Research Interests

Old English language and literature, Middle English language and literature, medieval historiography, medieval regional culture, philology, digital humanities.

Books | Essays | Editions | Reviews & Reports | Recordings | Projects


Regionalism and Identity in Medieval England (in preparation, abstract available soon)

Philology Reborn, with Michael D.C. Drout

This project, which is in its initial conceptual stages, is intended to be an introduction for graduate students to the methods and uses of philology for addressing the critical issues which occupy Old English and Middle English studies today. The initial work will take the form of a series of articles to be published in The Heroic Age.



Frið and Grið: Laȝamon and the Legal Language of Wulfstan.” Forthcoming in Reading Laȝamon’s Brut: Approaches and Explorations, edited by Rosamund Allen, Jane Roberts, and Carole Weinberg, Rodopi Press, Costerus New Series.

Continues work begun in “Frið and Fredom: Royal Forests and the English Jurisprudence of Laȝamon’s Brut and Its Readers” by examining the extent to which Laȝamon had contact with pre-Conquest legal tradition, particularly in its documentary form. Traces the recurrence of Old English legal terminology in Laȝamon’s Brut, arguing that the ‘legalistic’ features of his writing are part of the same phenomenon as his linguistic archaism. Formulates a theory of how vernacular literary materials were passed down to and adapted by Laȝamon and argues that there was a strong regional component to the transmission of legalistic language developed by Bishop Wulfstan of Worcester. Within the literary of Worcester and its environs, Wulfstan’s legalisms survived in the early Middle English period when they could function as both a rhetorical model for Laȝamon and a potential mirror for the legal concerns of his own time.

“Philological Inquiries 2: Something ‘Old’, Something ‘New’: Material Philology and the Recovery of the Past” (with Michael D.C. Drout), forthcoming in The Heroic Age 13 (2010).

This is the second of a series of columns on philology. Explores the impact of the “New Philology” with its interest in the material of the text on critical practices and the use of older philological methods. Using Christine Franzen’s work on the Tremulous Hand of Worcester, we show that if “material philology” is to be more than just looking at manuscripts, it requires the hard-won knowledge base of the “old” philology, and no ideological critique or shift in emphasis can make those methods any less essential. But, if supported by such traditional philological knowledge, it has the potential to open up new doors in our understanding of vernacular literary culture in the post-Conquest period.

Frið and Fredom: Royal Forests and English Jurisprudence in Laȝamon’s Brut.” Modern Philology 109.1 (2011): 17-45.

Traces the development of the Anglo-Saxon jurisprudential principle of frið from pre-Conquest usage to its adoption as a term for the royal forest in Laȝamon’s Brut. Argues that vernacular writers continued to use Old English legal terminology after the Norman Conquest as a means of engaging with and commenting on legal issues, even after most official legal discourse had shifted to Latin.

“Philological Inquiries 1: Method and Merovingians” (with Michael D.C. Drout), The Heroic Age 12 (2009).

This is the first of a series of columns on philology. Demonstrates the utility of the approach by discussing Tom Shippey’s examination of the word “Merovingian” in Beowulf. The philological approach is shown to illuminate culture, history and politics and shed new light on an old problem in Beowulf scholarship, the date of composition.

“Service.” In Reading The Lord of the Rings, ed. Robert Eaglestone (London: Continuum, 2006), pp. 138-148.

Argues that The Lord of the Rings reflects upon the history of service and its continued viability as a form of social cooperation. Tolkien explores the strengths and weakness of historical service cultures from Anglo-Saxon to Edwardian England in order to confront the associations between social deference and social exploitation which problematise service cultures in the twentieth century.

“Animal Imagery and Oral Discourse in Havelok’s First Fight.” Viator: Medieval and Renaissance Studies 35 (2004): 311-327.

Examines the poet’s use of Anglo-Scandinavian folk material and popular animal imagery to examine relationships between truth and meaning. The poet’s inconsistent imagery and multiple narrative perspectives evoke the textual variations produced by oral transmission. I argue that the poet consciously adopts this feature of oral discourse in order to draw attention to its fallibility as a conveyor of historical veracity and direct the readers attention to its deeper truths about the multiple ways in which humans experience bondage.

The Æðelen of Engle: Constructing Ethnic and Regional Identities in Laȝamon’s Brut.” Exemplaria: A Journal of Theory in Medieval and Renaissance Studies 16.1 (2004): 95-130.

Examines the depiction of Scandinavians in English texts of the eleventh to thirteenth centuries in order to assess Laȝamon’s perspective on the cultural diversity of post-Conquest England. Laȝamon’s portrayal of the Scandinavian role in British history reveals both a western bias against easterners claims to legal freedoms based on supposed Scandinavian ancestry and a model for the assimilation of foreign cultures based on loyalty to the king.

“The Legend of Havelok the Dane and the Historiography of East Anglia.” Studies in Philology 100:3 (2003): 245-277.

Argues that the names found in the Havelok legend provide evidence of its origins in the historiographical tradition of East Anglia, a learned and literate enterprise that attempted to establish an identity for the region. Certain elements of the tale were invented by Gaimar in his Estoire des Engleis based on elements in Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Scandinavian historical literature (some of which can be traced in Scandinavian sources). Later adapters of the tale sometimes turning back to Gaimar and sometimes to sources similar to those he had used, in order to enhance its credentials as local history or to show how the Danish presence in East Anglia participated in the development of English social and legal institutions. The popularization of the Havelok story provides a model of the way the ideas of learned historiographers reached and influenced a much broader audience.

“Iron-Clad Evidence in Early Medieval Dialectology: Old English īsern, īsen, and īren.” Neuphilologische Mitteilungen 98:4 (1997): 371-390.

Explores the three forms of the Old English word for iron using electronic corpus compiled for the Dictionary of Old English. Disproves the Oxford English Dictionary’s statement that iren was the poetic form of the word by showing that this theory is based only on the evidence of Beowulf. Evidence from the larger corpus shows that this form arose in the West Midlands in the ninth century, and the dominance of iren over the more usual poetic form isern provides powerful evidence that the poem was composed or transmitted in a West Mercian dialect.



Edmund Spenser, The Shepheardes Calender. For the Broadview Anthology of British Literature (Calgary: Broadview Press). “October” forthcoming in 2007. “January,” “April,” “November,” and “December” forthcoming in 2008.


Reviews and Reports

Review of Thomas Bredehoft, Early English Metre (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2005). Comitatus 38 (2007): 195-198.

Entries in The J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia, ed. Michael D.C. Drout (New York: Routledge, 2006).

“Sigelwara Land,” “Philology: General Works, 1924-1927,” ” King Horn,” “Saxo Grammaticus,” “Iþþlen in Sawles Warde

Entries in the International Encyclopaedia for the Middle Ages-Online. Brepols Publishers, 2004-2005.

“The Normans in Britain and Ireland” and “The Normans in Britain and Ireland: Post-1154”

Review of Christine Chism, Alliterative Revivals (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002). Envoi: A Review Journal of Medieval Literature 10.2 (2004 for Fall 2001): 108-121.

Anglo-Saxon Studies in North America. Newsletter of the Teachers of Old English in Britain and
Ireland (TOEBI)
(Summer 2004): 6-7.



A Recitation of Piers Plowman. The Chaucer Studio (Recorded the Medieval Association of the Pacific Conference, 6-7 March 2009, in Albuquerque, NM).

A Recitation of Cleanness. The Chaucer Studio (Recorded at the 38th International Congress on Medieval Studies, 9-11 May 2003 in Kalamazoo, MI).



The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle Poems Project