Medieval, Chaucer, Gender, Sexuality, Manuscripts, Obscenity, Sexual Violence, Education


Professor Harris’s research and teaching focus on gender and sexuality in medieval England and Scotland. She earned her Ph.D. from Northwestern University and her B.A. from Washington University in St. Louis. In 2016, she won Temple’s CLA Distinguished Faculty Teaching Award. Her research has been supported by fellowships from the Ford Foundation, the Institute for Citizens and Scholars (formerly the Woodrow Wilson Foundation), and the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. Her first book, Obscene Pedagogies: Transgressive Talk and Sexual Education in Late Medieval Britain (Cornell University Press, 2018), analyzes sexual education, consent, and rape culture from Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales to the Access Hollywood tape. Obscene Pedagogies won the Society for Medieval Feminist Scholarship’s 2020 biennial prize for Best First Book of Medieval Feminist Scholarship. Her current book projects are titled The Poetics of Rage: Women’s Anger, Misogyny, and Political Power in Premodern Britain and Medieval Reproductive Justice. She is co-editor, with Sarah Baechle and Elizaveta Strakhov, of a volume of essays and medieval poems titled Rape Culture and Female Resistance in Late Medieval Literature (Penn State University Press, 2022). Her contributions to the volume include an edition of sixteen medieval pastourelles and rape songs specifically tailored for the undergraduate classroom as well as an essay about intersectionality and survival.

She is lead editor for the journal Exemplaria: Medieval, Early Modern, Theory and as well as an editorial board member for Medieval Institute Publications’ Premodern Transgressive Literatures series, Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies Press, and The Chaucer Review. In addition, she is currently a member of the MLA Chaucer Forum’s Executive Committee and a trustee of the New Chaucer Society. Her work has been published in Studies in the Age of ChaucerJournal of the Early Book SocietyNew Literary HistoryJournal of Medieval and Early Modern StudiesReview of English StudiesThe Chaucer Review, the Open Access Companion to the Canterbury Tales, and Medieval Feminist Forum: A Journal of Gender and Sexuality. She also writes public-facing essays on topics such as medieval rape culture, the history of “Teen Mom” entertainment programming, medieval drug-facilitated sexual assault, Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, medieval impotence trials, and the history of the word “wench” for outlets including AvidlySlateVoxElectric LiteratureThe Washington PostNarratively, and others.

Selected Publications

  • “Chaucer’s Wenches.” Studies in the Age of Chaucer 45 (2023): 37-72. 
  • “Holy Ribaldry: Obscene Pedagogies in Middle English Religious Texts.” In Goddesses, Mystics, Lovers, and Teachers: Medieval Visions and Their Legacies, Studies in Honour of Barbara Newman, ed. Steven Rozenski, Joshua Byron Smith, and Claire M. Waters, MWTC 31 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2023), 317-36.
  • “Wayward Maidens and Cuckold-Makers: Multilingual Female Lyric Voices in BL MS Egerton 3537.” In Poets and Scribes in Late Medieval England: Essays on Manuscripts and Meaning in Honor of Susanna Fein, ed. Kathryn Kerby-Fulton and Michael Johnston (De Gruyter/Medieval Institute Publications, 2023), 65-85. 
  • “Manuscripts and Printed Books: Book History and Race.” In Seeing Race Before Race: Visual Culture and the Racial Matrix in the Premodern World, ed. Noémie Ndiaye and Lia Markey (Tempe: ACMRS Press, 2023), 3-20. Co-written with Brandi K. Adams.
  • “To Protect and to Serve’: Medieval Knights, Sexual Violence, and the Police,” in The Social Protests of 2020: Visceral Responses to Police Brutality, COVID-19, and Circumscribed Sexuality, ed. Joyce A. Joyce (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2023), 139-57.
  • “On Servant Women, Rape Culture, and Endurance.” The Chaucer Review 57.4 (October 2022): 475-83.  
  • “Sexuality, Pedagogy, and Women’s Emotions in Middle English Songs.” In Female-Voice Song and Women’s Musical Agency in the Middle Ages, ed. Lisa Colton and Anna Kathryn Grau (Leiden: Brill, 2022), 297-319.
  • “Cultivating ‘Cummarship’: Female Friendship, Alcohol, and Pedagogical Community in the Alewife Poem.” In Women’s Friendship in Medieval Literature, ed. Karma Lochrie and Usha Vishnuvajjala (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2022), 157-76.
  • “From Tapsters to Beer Wenches: Women, Alcohol, and Misogyny Then and Now.” In Beer and Brewing in Medieval Culture and Contemporary Medievalism, ed. Noëlle Phillips, Rosemary O’Neill, and John A. Geck (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2022), 265-84.
  • “Teaching Consent: Medieval Pastourelles in the Undergraduate Classroom.” New Chaucer Studies: Pedagogy and Profession 2.1 (Spring 2021): 10-17.
  • “Crooked Instruments: Obscene Scribal Creativity in Oxford, Bodleian MS Laud Misc. 416.” Modern Philology 118.4 (May 2021): 447-69.
  •  “Teen Moms: Violence, Consent, and Embodied Subjectivity in Middle English Pregnancy Laments.” Review of English Studies 71 (Feb. 2020): 1-18.
  • “Pastourelle Fictionalities.” New Literary History 50.1 (Winter 2020): 239-42.
  • “Rape and Justice in the Wife of Bath’s Tale.” In The Open Access Companion to the Canterbury Tales. Ed. Candace Barrington, Brantley L. Bryant, Richard H. Godden, Daniel T. Kline, and Myra Seaman. Published online September 2017; revised January 2024.

Courses Taught

  • ENG 2114: Social Justice and Literature: MeToo in Context
  • ENG 2501: Survey of British Literature: Writing Perspective in Medieval Britain
  • ENG 2601: Wenches: Histories of Gender, Sexuality, and Race
  • ENG 3212: Medieval Sexualities
  • ENG 3213: Chaucer: The Canterbury Tales
  • ENG 3097/GSWS 3097: Feminist Theory Now 
  • ENG 4397: Wine, Women, and wicked Words: Medieval Alehouse Literature
  • ENG 8101: Why Medieval Lyric?
  • ENG 5011: Rape and Consent in Late Medieval English Literature