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 project is titled The Poetics of Rage: Women’s Anger, Misogyny, and Political Power in Premodern Britain. 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 an editor for the journal Exemplaria: Medieval, Early Modern, Theory and lead medieval editor for The Sundial (a public-facing digital publication by the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies) as well as an editorial board member for Medieval Institute Publications’ Premodern Transgressive Literatures series and The Chaucer Review. She is currently the chair for the MLA Chaucer Forum’s Executive Committee, a trustee of the New Chaucer Society, and a member of the Society for Medieval Feminist Scholarship’s advisory board. Her work has been published in Studies in the Age of ChaucerJournal of the Early Book SocietyNew Literary HistoryJournal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies, Review of English StudiesChaucer Review, the Open Access Companion to the Canterbury Tales, and MedievaFeminist Forum. 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

  • “On Servant Women, Rape Culture, and Endurance.” The Chaucer Review 57.4 (October 2022): 475-83. 
  • "Historicizing Consent: Bodies, Wills, Desires" (co-edited with Fiona Somerset). Colloquium for Studies in the Age of Chaucer 44 (2022): 268-367.  
  • “Sexuality, Pedagogy, and Women’s Emotions in Middle English Songs.” In Female-Voice Song and Women’s Musical Agency in the Middle Ages, ed. Anna Kathryn Grau and Lisa Colton (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.
  • “Voicing Violence: Survival Narratives in English and Scots Rape Songs.” In Rape Culture and Female Resistance in Late Medieval Literature (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2022), 44-58.
  • "The Ethical Challenge of Chaucerian Scholarship in the Twenty-First Century" (co-edited with Sarah Baechle). Special issue of The Chaucer Review 56.4 (October 2021). 

Courses Taught

  • English 2601: Wenches: Gender, Race, and Sexuality from the Middle Ages to Today
  • English/GSWS 3097: Feminist Theory Now