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Indiana University Bloomington

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Rosemarie McGerrRosemarie McGerr

Professor of Comparative Literature

Adjunct Professor of English

Director of the Medieval Studies Institute

(812) 855-7627

Ballantine Hall 902

rmcgerr at

My Work
My research and teaching interests lie primarily in the study of medieval European literature in its cultural context, including history, law, religious studies, the visual arts, and music. Most of my research is on texts written in medieval Latin, English, French, but I study them in relationship to the other literatures of medieval Europe. I am particularly interested in the ways that the forms in which medieval texts circulated, such as manuscript books and oral performance, shaped meaning in these works. I am also interested in narrative and gender theory. Many of my publications have been about texts that cross boundaries of various sorts - translations, illustrated texts, lyric and dramatic performances, and scholarly texts that have been adapted for new audiences. For example, my recent book on a medieval English legal manuscript studies how the manuscript shapes its presentation of English law through illustrations and introductory texts to present information about kingship and justice to an audience of men and women in the English royal court, giving voice to political and social tensions at play in England during this time.

In my teaching, I try to give students access to the surviving evidence about medieval literatures and cultures, including manuscripts, architecture, paintings, and music. Medieval Europe has often been either demonized or romanticized by later generations, so many people have misconceptions about the sophistication and diversity of medieval literature. Students are often surprised to learn that medieval literature includes texts written by women, texts that challenge religious and political authority, and texts that illustrate the artistic benefits resulting from interactions of people of different faiths, genders, languages, and classes. For example, in my course on medieval lyric poetry, we look at images of medieval manuscript copies of the poems and, if musical notation survives, we discuss the relationship of musical structures and literary interpretation. We also discuss other kinds of performance related to lyric poetry, including competition for patronage, representation of gender and class, and expression of religious faith. The course takes a special look at the lyric poetry written on the Iberian Peninsula, where Christian, Jewish, and Muslim lyric traditions flourished in dialogue for centuries during the medieval period.

Sample Publications

A Lancastrian Mirror for PrincesA Lancastrian Mirror for Princes: The Yale Law School New Statutes of England (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2011)

Chaucer’s Open Books: Resistance to Closure in Medieval Discourse (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1998)

The Pilgrimage of the Soul: A Critical Edition of the Middle English Dream Vision, Vol. I, Garland Medieval Texts 16 (New York: Garland, 1990)

"Gower's Confessio amantis and St. John's College MS A.7: Royal Lessons in English Law," Estudios Ingleses: Revista de Filología Inglesa, Special Issue on John Gower 33.1 (2012): 45-65

"Comparing Spiritual and Material Goods: Poverty and Prosperity in The Pilgrimage of the Soul and Everyman" in Poverty and Prosperity in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, ed. Cynthia Kosso and Anne Scott (Turnhout: Brepols, 2012), pp. 179-96.

“A Statute Book and a Lancastrian Mirror for Princes: The Yale Law School Manuscript of the Nova statuta Angliae,” Textual Cultures: Text, Contexts, Interpretation 2 (2006): 6-59.

“It’s not all that easy to get back to the Middle Ages”: Reading the Past in A Month in the Country,Criticism: A Quarterly Journal for Literature and the Arts 47 (2005): 353-86.

"Pageants, Scaffolds, and Judgment Scenes: The Iconographic Tradition of The Pilgrimage of the Soul and Fifteenth-Century English Drama," Yearbook of Comparative and General Literature 45/46 (1997-98): 3-35.

"Reversing Gender Roles and Defining True Manhood in Parzival," Arthurian Yearbook III, ed. Keith Busby (Garland, 1993), pp. 215-25

"Editing the Self-Conscious Medieval Translator: Some Issues and Examples," TEXT 4 (1989): 145-58

"Guyart Desmoulins, the Vernacular Master of Histories, and his Bible Historiale," Viator 14 (1983): 211-44

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