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Department of English Language and Literature


Holly Crocker

Title: Carolina Distinguished Professor
Department: English Language and Literature
College of Arts and Sciences
Phone: 803-576-5962
Office: HUO, Room 317
Resources: English Language and Literature


PhD, Vanderbilt University, 1999
MPhil, University of Wales, 1998


    Medieval and Reformation Literatures and Cultures
   • Feminist Theory
   • Affect Theory


ENGL 401    Chaucer the Poet
ENGL 402    Tudor Literature
ENGL 406    Shakespeare's Comedies and Histories
ENGL 419N  Medieval Masculinities
ENGL 437    Women Writers
SCHC 452J  Honors Seminar: Sovereigns, Tyrants, and Shrews in Early English Literature
WGST 701   Feminist Theory Now
ENGL 705    Chaucer's Men
ENGL 705    The Soul of Chaucer
ENGL 708    Envisioning the Self in Late Medieval Literature


I am author of Chaucer’s Visions of Manhood (Palgrave, 2007), co-editor of Medieval Literature: Criticism and Debates (Routledge, 2014; with D. Vance Smith), and editor of Comic Provocations: Exposing the Corpus of Old French Fabliaux (Palgrave, 2006). My articles have appeared in The Chaucer ReviewExemplariaThe Journal of Early Modern Cultural Studies, The Journal of Medieval and Early Modern StudiesMedieval Feminist ForumNew Medieval Literatures, Shakespeare QuarterlyStudies in the Age of ChaucerStudies in English Literature, 1500-1900, and numerous edited collections. I am also co-editor of a special issue of postmedieval: a journal of medieval cultural studies on “Premodern Flesh” 4.4 (2013; with Kathryn Schwarz).

From 2008-2015 I was forum editor and reviews editor of postmedieval: a journal of medieval cultural studies. I have been a member of the MLA’s Chaucer Division Executive Committee (2010-15; Chair, 2014), a member of the New Chaucer Society Program Committee (Portland, 2012), and Co-Chair of the New Chaucer Society Program Committee (Reykjavik, 2014; with Glenn Burger). My work has been supported by fellowships from the Fulbright Commission, the NEH, the Folger Shakespeare Library, IASH at Edinburgh University, and the Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften at the Goethe University of Frankfurt. I am the recipient of the departmental teaching award, as well as the Graduate English Association’s award for best performance in the classroom. I have also twice won the William Richey Faculty Mentor Award from the Graduate English Association. In 2014-2015 I held the English Department’s Morrison Professorship and was a Visiting Research Scholar at Vanderbilt University. In 2016, I won the Russell Research Award for Humanities and Social Sciences, the highest award for research at USC.

The Matter of Virtue
I’ve just published a monograph, The Matter of Virtue: Women’s Ethical Action from Chaucer to Shakespeare (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019:

This project argues that English poets--including Bokenham, Capgrave, Chaucer, Fletcher, Henryson, Lodge, Lydgate, Shakespeare, and Spenser--elaborate a positive account of women’s ethical action. They do so through a poetic reformulation of virtue as material, animate, and performative. Rather than confine women within rigid prescriptive schema, writings under consideration in this study articulate a material conception of virtue that allows women to show strength, dignity, beauty, and constancy, among other qualities. By treating feminine virtues as embodied powers that exert material influence, these poets not only create powerful female characters, they also foster an ethics based on forbearance and endurance rather than governance and domination.
Together with Glenn Burger, I’ve also recently published an edited volume, Medieval Affect, Feeling, and Emotion (Cambridge University Press, 2019:

This essay collection rethinks how feelings are represented in late Middle English literature (ca. 1375-1501). Across eight chapters and an afterword, it shows that the history of emotions and affect theory are similarly insufficient for investigating the intersection of body and mind featured in late Middle English literatures. And, while medieval studies has generated a rich scholarly literature on “affective piety,” essays in this collection chart an exciting new investigation of feelings in non-religious contexts. From Geoffrey Chaucer to Gavin Douglas, and from practices of witnessing to the adoration of objects: essays in this volume chart the coexistence of emotion and affect in late medieval representations of feeling.
Medieval Affect, Feeling, and Emotion

I’m currently finishing a new monograph, The Feminist Subject of Late Medieval Literature, which offers a positive account of feminist subjectivity in Chaucer, Langland, the Pearl-poet, Hoccleve, and Kempe. I am editing an essay cluster for Studies in the Age of Chaucer on “Reconsidering the Subject,” and co-editing (with Carissa Harris) an essay cluster on “Theorizing Gender, Patriarchy, and Liberation: Imani Perry’s Vexy Thing and Medieval Studies,” for Exemplaria. Recent and forthcoming articles appear in PMLA and Ethics in the Arthurian Legend (ed. Melissa Ridley Elmes and Evelyn Meyer). I also write on the relationship between past and present for the ARCADE project at Stanford: You can find links to my work, including my current and developing projects, at my website:

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.