My work centers on Middle English literature, with a leaning towards Early Modern English literature. I am very much engaged by the rich readings that result when the literature of the past is read through the lens of contemporary theories. For example, for the Middle Ages, 'truth' was never contingent; nevertheless the 'truth' of gender identification can be seen in medieval texts to be wickedly and comically negotiated. Perception, too, 'fixed' by Aquinas and Dante, proves to be shaped, rather, by institutional discourses, and can vary from community to community and period to period. Even meaning itself is constituted not by timeless truth but by language- itself a system of elusive and "excessive signification."
As my interests have evolved, so, too, have my courses, which now take a theme-based approach rather than a chronological one, an approach which seems to elicit the best from my students. Courses which I have developed in the last six years include “Language, Gender, and Power,” “Women, Money, and Power in Medieval and Early Modern England,” “Gender and Crime in Late Medieval and Early Modern England: Literary and Archival Sources,” “Gender and Politics in Late Medieval and Early Modern Drama,” and “Violence in Representation and Representation in Violence in Medieval and Early Modern English Literature.”
My evolving interests are reflected, likewise in my research. From my first book, The Old English Finding of the True Cross, I have crossed disciplines and have recently published a second book, Language as the Site of Revolt in Medieval and Early Modern England: Speaking as a Woman. There I show how medieval and early modern English women and women characters use certain linguistic strategies to de-'essentialize' the link between gendered practices and identity, and to invalidate knowledge systems that fail to account for women’s own subjectivities.
Religious Language: Privileging Violence towards Women is a third book, completed in first draft, in which I examine the ways in which the discourse of worship, religious treatises, homilies and liturgies (unconsciously) promotes the subjugation and abuse of women and children.