Research

This page features some of my current research projects.

Disguises in Le Morte Darthur and The Faerie Queene: My dissertation project. Summarily, I argue that disguise and incognito offer ways of examining late medieval and early modern conceptions of individuality. As moments where a character undertakes another persona, disguises allow characters to potentially change the signification of their actions and revise their own circumstances. At the same time, knights who undergo disguise usually demonstrate fidelity to codes of courtly behavior, where they temporarily risk alienation from conventional social systems only to rejoin them in the end. In short, disguises allow romances to explore the tension between chivalric subjects and the systems of courtly behavior and justice that seek to regulate them.

The focal authors are Sir Thomas Malory and Edmund Spenser. By necessity, I also consult and consider other Middle English romances, especially those in circulation in the fifteenth and sixteenth century. Key critics under discussion include Stephen Greenblatt, Susan Crane, Stephen Hodges, and Dorsey Armstrong.

Board Games and Medievalism: As a player of board games, I’ve noticed that many games pursue medievalist themes. Indeed, with the boom in board game play I’ve seen an expansion in sword-and-sorcery, monks-and-cathedrals, and other pseudo-historical board games.

I’ve also noticed that many of these games recreate anachronistic assumptions about gender, violence, or religion. So this project begins by trying to understand why medievalism captivates designers and audiences of board games, and then analyzing how the mechanics and visual themes of these games express specific anachronisms that influence how people apply the idea of medieval history today.

Tools and Spaces in Writing and Communication Centers: I want to understand three related ideas.

First, how do tutors use tools and space to enhance their own tutoring during sessions? How do they sit, take notes, or engage with other materials?

Second, how do the resulting practices affect the mission or core practices of a writing center?

Third, how can these first two questions guide writing center administrators as they consider new tools to buy or new ways to arrange their spaces?

Code Meshing in the Emory Writing Center: I have conducted several workshops related to respectinglinguistic diversity in tutoring. Writing centers and composition courses have struggled in the past decade to keep up with student writers whose first languages and dialects are not the English of formal academic writing. Code meshing is a strategy advocated by critics like Vershawn Ashanti Young for connecting the rhetorical effects of various dialects with the expectations of academic writing. A student writer’s voice thus meshes with the registers of various genres of composition. While this is a great idea, it is difficult to implement in academic environments where professors and students often stick to the more easily identifiable need to fit stricter writing models and the ever-present anxiety over error correction.[1] So I think about ways to teach tutors to ask about students’ preferred registers for writing, so that they understand writing with elements from their own dialect as a choice with rhetorical risks rather than thinking of their personal voice as separate from academic and professional communication.

[1] Errors should be corrected, but we should identify errors according to whether they fit or don’t fit the rhetorical purposes of writing. Purpose, audience, and convention should all be addressed before we go about proofreading.