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 Woodrow Wilson Foundation, and the Institute for Advanced Study.

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 titled Rape Culture and Female Resistance in Late Medieval Literature (forthcoming from Penn State University Press in 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 as well as an editorial board member for Medieval Institute Publications’ Premodern Transgressive Literatures series and the Chaucer Review. She serves on the Executive Committee for the MLA Chaucer Forum and is an advisory board member for the Society for Medieval Feminist Scholarship. 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 StudiesChaucer Review, the Open Access Companion to the Canterbury Tales, and Medieval Feminist 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

  • "Teaching Consent: Medieval Pastourelles in the Undergraduate Classroom.” New Chaucer Studies: Pedagogy and Profession 2.1, special issue titled “#MeToo, Medieval Literature, and Trauma-Informed Pedagogy” (Spring 2021): 9-16.  
  • “Crooked Instruments: Obscene Scribal Creativity in Oxford, Bodleian MS Laud Misc. 416.” Modern Philology 118.4 (May 2021): 447-69. 
  • Obscene Pedagogies: Transgressive Talk and Sexual Education in Late Medieval Britain (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2018),
  • 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,
  • "All the strete my voyce shall heare’: Gender, Voice, and Female Desire in the Lyrics of Bodleian MS Ashmole 176.” Journal of the Early Book Society 20 (2017): 29-58.
  • “Rape Narratives, Courtly Critique, and the Pedagogy of Sexual Negotiation in the Middle English Pastourelle,” Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 46.2 (May 2016): 263-87.
  • “Inserting ‘a grete tente, a thrifty, and a long’: Sexual Obscenity and Scribal Innovation in Fifteenth-Century Manuscripts of the Canterbury Tales.” Essays in Medieval Studies 28 (2012): 1-16.

Courses Taught

  • English 2114: Social Issues in Literature: Rape, Consent, and Desire
  • English 2201: Survey of English Literature, Beginnings to 1660: Writing Perspective
  • English/Women’s Studies 2197: Women in Literature: Bad Girls and Unruly Women: Female Transgression from the Bible to the Bad Girls Club
  • English 3212: Literature of the Medieval Period: Sexual Subjects in Late Medieval England
  • English 3212: Literature of the Medieval Period: The Seven Deadly Sins
  • English 4397: Wine, Women, and Wikked Words: The Literature of the Alehouse in Late Medieval England
  • English 5011: Early British Literature: Sexual Subjects in Late Medieval England
  • English 8101: Medieval Lyric