We begin the 2016-17 academic year with a profile from Lynn Arner, Associate Professor in the Department of English at Brock University!
I have a PhD in English and a Graduate Certificate in Women’s and Gender Studies. My first two degrees are from Canada, while my last set of degrees is from the U.S.
You’re arriving at an airport for a research trip and the border control agent asks what you do. How do you answer?
I teach medieval English literature, contemporary theory, and gender studies at Brock University. After teaching in a visiting post at the University of Pittsburgh for several years, I teach in the region where I grew up.
What projects are you currently working on?
I am currently working on two projects. The first is a study of class and gender in the professoriate in the discipline of English in Canada and the U.S., a project for which I have won a SSHRC Insight Development Grant. The second is scholarship on discourses of civility in late medieval England.
What do you think is the best part of being a medievalist?
I think that medieval literature and history are invaluable to teach because of their historical alterity. Such alterity helps denaturalize our current assumptions about gender, class, race, sexuality, and so many other important rubrics and cultural narratives. Of course, there is some historical continuity from late medieval England to now: for example, England began its long, brutal history of colonization in the late Middle Ages, by colonizing the Welsh and by attempting to colonize the Scots and the Irish. Once students learn about the Crusades, they often have a different understanding of European and American involvement in the Middle East now.
The less erudite side of me adores medieval literature because I enjoy strong narratives and because I still giggle over many words from dead languages. For example, an Anglo-Saxon would “unlock his word-hoard,” and an ancient Roman ate placenta [cake].
Why did you join the CSM? What other societies do you belong to?
I joined the CSM because of its annual convention, which is a great way to meet other medievalists across Canada.
I am a member of the Modern Language Association, the New Chaucer Society, the Society for Medieval Feminist Scholarship, the Working-Class Studies Association, and a founding member of The Gower Project.
Where can we find/read some of your work?
My first scholarly monograph was Chaucer, Gower, and the Vernacular Rising: Poetry and the Problem of the Populace After 1381(Research Triangle, PA: Penn State University Press, 2013). I also edited a special issue of Exemplaria (2007).
My most cited article is “The Ends of Enchantment: Colonialism and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight,” Texas Studies in Literature and Language 48.2 (2006); 79-101. This article was also my most frustrating essay because it took me over seven years to get it published. [My advice to PhD students: tenacity is crucial for success in the profession.]
My webpage has links to some of my work: https://brocku.ca/humanities/departments-and-centres/english-language-and-literature/faculty-and-staff-el/lynn-arner.
Any final thoughts?
I am often asked, “Don’t you hate the latest Hollywood movie on King Arthur” [or Robin Hood, etc.]? I respond, “I love such movies, T.V. programs, and video games---the more, the better.” At a time when the Humanities are under attack in Canada and the U.S., pop culture representations of the Middle Ages help provide a steady flow of students into our medieval courses.
Thanks, Lynn! Remember, all members are welcome to contribute a Medievalist of the Month profile to canmedievalistsPR@gmail.com.