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David Wallace

Judith Rodin Professor of English

Fisher-Bennett Hall 315

David Wallace is Judith Rodin Professor of English, University of Pennsylvania. He was Chair of English 2001-4 and Interim Chair of Romance Languages, 2005-6; he served as President of the New Chaucer Society from 2004-6 and served on the Program Committee for the 2010 (Siena) meeting. In Spring 2007 he was Visiting Professor, University of Melbourne, and in Spring 2008 Bain-Swiggett Professor of Poetry at Princeton. In Fall 2010 he was Roberta and Stanley Bogen Visiting Professor, Hebrew University, Jerusalem.

David is a medievalist who looks forward to the early modern period; he works on English and Italian matters (and is a member of the Center for Italian Studies) with additional interests in French, German, women's writing, romance, "discovery" of the Americas and the history of slavery, and Europe.

David is currently editing a literary history of Europe, 1348-1418, a work of 600,000 words in 82 chapters to be published by Oxford University Press and supported by the Guggenheim Foundation. This is organized not by 'national blocks' (English literature, Spanish literature, etc.) but rather by nine sequences of places, or itineraries. It assumes that the space of 'Europe' becomes intelligible only through dialogue with that which forms its 'outside,' or dialogues with it. There is an interactive website (designed and maintained by DW and Brian Kirk):

David has made a series of radio documentaries for BBC Radio 3 with producer Paul Quinn:

"God's First Englishman" (2003). A program on the local and international cultures of the Venerable Bede. Voice of Bede: Kevin Whately.

"The Miraculous Journey of Margery Kempe" (2005). Retraces the voyage taken by Margery Kempe in 1433 as narrated by Book II of her Book. Voice of Margery Kempe: Prunella Scales.

"Malory's Morte Darthur: A Tale of Two Texts" (2007). Considers the how the discovery of the unique manuscript of the Morte at Winchester in 1934 challenged assumptions founded in Caxton's edition of 1485. Voice of Malory: poet laureate Andrew Motion.

These three documentaries, plus David's readings of Chaucer in Middle English, may be accessed via Pennsound:

David's most recent documentary, on the travels of antiquarian John Leland, was broadcast on Radio 3 in on 26 April 2009 as part of the 500th anniversary/ commiserations on the accession of Henry VIII in 1509. This features site interviews at Glastonbury and Wells, Bury St Edmund's Abbey, Titchfield, York Minster, the BL, St Paul's School and Guy of Warwick's cave with James Carley, James Simpson. Jennifer Summit, Bill Sheils, and Helen Cooper; the part of Leland is played by Jeremy Northam.

In October 2007 David gave the Clarendon Lectures in English at Oxford; these have been developed into book form for OUP as Strong Women: Life, Text, and Territory 1347-1645, published in May 2011:

The four women in question are Dorothea of Montau (1347-1394), Margery Kempe of Lynn (c. 1373-c. 1438), Mary Ward of Yorkshire (1585-1645), and Elizabeth Cary of Drury Lane (c. 1585-1639).

For further information on Mary Ward, and celebrations of the 400th anniversary of her pioneering an apostolate of the streets for women, see

With Jennifer Summit (Stanford) he has co-edited JMEMS 37.3 (Fall 2007), "Medieval/ Renaissance: After Periodization":

David's most recent book is Premodern Places: Calais to Surinam, Chaucer to Aphra Behn:

Recent publications: "Periodizing Women: Mary Ward (1585-1645) and the Premodern Canon," JMEMS 36.2; The Cambridge Companion to Medieval Women's Writing (ed. with Carolyn Dinshaw, 2003), and The Cambridge History of Medieval English Literature (ed. 1999, 2002).

In April 2007 he was awarded the Ira Abrams Award for Distinguished Teaching at Penn:


Doctoral Dissertations Chaired


Alexander Devine "A Portable Feast: The Production and Use of the Thirteenth-Century Portable Bible 1200-1500 "
Lydia Yaitsky Kertz "Luxury, Aesthetics and Politics: The Social Lives of Medieval Romance "


Marie Turner "Beyond Romance: Genre and History in England, 1066-1400"


Tekla Bude "Musica Celestis: Mystical Song in Late Medieval England"
Kara Gaston "Chaucer's Formal Histories: Temporality and Intertextuality from the Italian Trecento to Troilus and Criseyde and The Canterbury Tales"


Jennifer Jahner "Sacra Jura: Literature, Law, and Piety in the Era of Magna Carta"
Courtney Rydel "Legendary Effects: Women Saints of the Legenda Aurea in England, 1260-1532"


Megan Cook "The Poet and the Antiquaries: Renaissance Readers and Chaucerian Scholarship"


Rosemary O’Neill "Accounting for Salvation in Middle English Literature"


Jonathan Hsy "Polygot Poetics: Merchants and Literary Production in London, 1300-1500"


Stella Singer "Places of Pilgrimage in Premodern Texts"


Holly Barbaccia "Kalendes of Chaunge: Thinking Through Change in Middle English Poetry"


Frank Guy Hoffman "The Dream and the Book: Chaucer's Dream Poetry, Faculty Psychology, and the Poetics of Recombination"


N. Elizabeth Broadwell "Women in Exile in Medieval Hagiography and Romance"


James M. Andres "Negational Architectures in Old English Poetry"
Robert Barrett "Writing from the Marches: Cheshire Poetry and Drama, 1195-1645"
Lana Schwebel "Economy, Representation, and the Sale of Indulgences in Late-Medieval England"


Janet Knepper "Misogyny, Subjectivity, and Crisis in English Romance and Allegory, 1350-1600"


Lawrence Warner "Cain, Nimrod, and the Erotics of Wandering in Late-Medieval Narrative"

Courses Taught

fall 2017

ENGL 525.401 Chaucer and Boccaccio  

spring 2017

ENGL 016.302 Travel Writing  

fall 2016

ENGL 553.401 Premodern Women  

spring 2016

ENGL 715.401 Premodern Romance  

fall 2015

fall 2014

spring 2014

ENGL 221.401 Premodern Women and Writing  
ENGL 553.401 Premodern Women and Writing  

fall 2013

ENGL 101.001 Geoffrey Chaucer  

spring 2013

ENGL 795.402 After Dante  

fall 2012

spring 2012

ENGL 025.001 Chaucer  
ENGL 525.301 Chaucer  

spring 2011

ENGL 222.401 Romancing the Middle Ages  
ENGL 715.401 Medieval Romance  

fall 2009

ENGL 020.001 Literature Before 1660  
ENGL 553.401 Premodern Women  

spring 2009

ENGL 225.301 Chaucer Renaissance Man  
ENGL 725.401 Advanced Chaucer Seminar  

fall 2008

spring 2008

ENGL 025.001 Age of Chaucer  
ENGL 225.301 Chaucer Research Seminar  

fall 2007

ENGL 222.401 Chivalry and Romance  
ENGL 715.401 Romance  

fall 2006

spring 2006

fall 2005

ENGL 022.001 Romance  

spring 2004

ENGL 553.401 Premodern Women Writers  

fall 2003

spring 2003

ENGL 725.401 Topics in Chaucer  

fall 2002

ENGL 025.001 Chaucer  

spring 2002

spring 2000

ENGL 715.401 Women, C. 1350-1650  

fall 1999

ENGL 016.302 Topics in Literature  
ENGL 025.001 Chaucer  

spring 1999

fall 1998

ENGL 220.301 Topics in Medieval Lit.  
ENGL 310.301 The Honors Program  

spring 1998

ENGL 325.301 Topics in Chaucer  

fall 1996

ENGL 020.001 Medieval Women and Writing  
ENGL 025.001 Chaucer  
ENGL 225.301 Chaucer, Bruegel, and Bosch