David Wallace has been Judith Rodin Professor of English, University of Pennsylvania, since 1996, with visiting stints at London, Melbourne, Princeton, and Jerusalem (twice). He is a Fellow of the English Association (http://www2.le.ac.uk/offices/english-association), was recently awarded the Sir Israel Gollancz Prize by the British Academy (https://www.thebritishacademy.ac.uk/prizes-medals/sir-israel-gollancz-prize), and served as President, Medieval Academy of America (http://www.medievalacademy.org) from 2018-19. In 2021-2 he is Faculty Fellow at Penn's Wolf Humanities Center, where the topic is "Migration."
David's primary commitments are to Europe and European literatures, to the performance and enjoyment of poetry (especially Chaucer), and to helping secure a viable future for younger scholars. His most recent work expands, collaboratively, from this core Europeanism to work mapping nationalisms on a global scale.
David was Visiting Fellow at the Warburg Institute, London (until August 2020, cut short by COVID), where he worked developing on a new project, "National Epics." This complements and expands earlier work which led to the first full-scale literary history of Europe, and this too will be published by Oxford University Press. This is currently in advanced recruitment phase, and will have an online component, developed in association with Penn's Price Lab for Digital Humanities.
Oxford University Press published Europe: A Literary History 1348-1418, ed. David Wallace, 2 vols, in 2016 (https://global.oup.com/academic/product/europe-9780198735359?cc=us&lang=en&), paperback (with new preface) in 2021. This Europeanist project breaks from traditional, nineteenth-century nation state paradigms (Italian literary history, German literary history, etc.) since "Italy" and "Germany" did not exist as political states earlier on. It therefore unfolds through eighty-two chapters and nine itineraries that follow routes of trade, pilgrimage, military alliance, religious affiliation, and disease. Its expanded geographical vision assumes that Europe, which has no definite geographical limits, can be understood only with reference to regions thought to lie beyond its periphery. It considers intricate literary linkages between northern African shorelines and locales such as al-Andalus and Sicily, with Islam long integral to European space. Rome-centered, Latinate cultures as considered by earlier literary histories are here supplemented by Greek and Byzantine, Armenian and Slavic, Arabic and Hebrew writings across a wide range of locales. Collectively, we hope to build towards understanding of a Global Middle Ages, a project supported at Penn by a wide range of Faculty across many disciplines (https://www.sas.upenn.edu/medieval/).
Geoffrey Chaucer, born just after a planetary plague killed one in three, is today enjoying a global renaissance. Why do poets, translators, and performers from so many cultures, from the mountains of Iran to the islands of Japan, find Chaucer so inspiring? David's new book, designed for a wide audience, aims to find out (https://global.oup.com/academic/product/geoffrey-chaucer-9780198805069?c...)
Only once in the lifetime of a language does a writer have the chance to found a literary tradition. Chaucer takes this chance, but without assuming the official, deadening baggage of a 'founding father': that was loaded upon him much later. Chaucer had his literary heroes, but none of them were English; he thus writes with joyfulness, joiussance, unburdened by the fear of sounding like someone else. From Shakespeare to Sylvia Plath, the most acute dramatists and poets have found Chaucer deeply enabling. And new Chaucerian voices are now mapping polyglot English futures: Jean Binta Breeze and Patience Agbabi, Caroline Bergvall and many others across the world.
David emphasizes that Chaucer can best be understood through oral performing. He has thus provided some selections from Chaucer in Middle English via Pennsound (http://writing.upenn.edu/pennsound/x/Wallace.php). This website also presents performances by three Columbia professors from the 1930s, with some discussion of their period performance styles. He has collaborated in several performance pieces under the direction of Caroline Bergvall (in residence at Penn's Kelly Writers House for part of Spring 2022).
This Pennsound website also features documentaries made for BBC Radio 3 on Bede (with Kevin Whately), Margery Kempe (with Prunella Scales), Malory's Morte Darthur (with Andrew Motion), and John Leland (with Jeremy Northam). There is also podcast discussion of Caroline Bergvall's VIA, her rendition of the opening of Dante's Inferno (http://writing.upenn.edu/pennsound/x/Wallace.php).
David is a core research and teaching member of Penn's Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies Program (https://www.sas.upenn.edu/gsws/) and of its Faculty Environmental Humanities Working Group (http://www.ppehlab.org/workinggroup/). 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: http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/9780199541713.do?keyword=David+Wallace&sortby=bestMatches
The four women considered here 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).
With Carolyn Dinshaw he has edited The Cambridge Companion to Medieval Women's Writing https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/the-cambridge-companion-to-medieval...
A member of the Center for Italian Studies at Penn, David also takes particular interest in French and German, as well as Middle English and is a member of Penn's Program in Comparative Literature and Literary Theory (http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/Complit/). He is Director-in-Chief of the online journal Bibliotheca Dantesca: https://repository.upenn.edu/bibdant/.
David serves on the Advisory Board of the Center for Medieval Literature (Odense/ York), sharing their commitment to Europeanism expressed by its free online journal, Interfaces, which publishes in English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish (http://riviste.unimi.it/index.php/interfaces/index).
Having served as Faculty host and lecturer for Penn Alumni Travel for many years (http://www.alumni.upenn.edu/s/1587/gid2/16/interior.aspx?sid=1587&gid=2&...), David taught contemporary travel writing to Penn undergraduates. Since lockdown has made travel troublesome he now concentrates on teaching National Epics, beginning in European space but then pivoting across Eurasia to reach India, China, Korea, Vietnam, and the Philippines. Each class finds new experts among the student body.
David has taught summer schools in Fribourg, Lausanne, Istanbul, Jerusalem, and Budapest and supports the continuing existence of the Central European University (https://www.ceu.edu/).