Social and Cultural Analysis
Chair of Social and Cultural Analysis
Ph.D. 1982, (English literature), Princeton; A.B. 1978, Bryn Mawr College.
Areas of Research/Interest: Medieval literature and culture; feminist studies; lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender studies; history of sexuality; theories of history and historiography; mysticism; theories and experiences of temporality
Carolyn Dinshaw has been interested in the relationship between past and present ever since she began to study medieval literature. Her 1982 dissertation, subsequently published as Chaucer and the Text in 1988, explored the relevance of new critical modes for older literature, while in her 1989 book, Chaucer's Sexual Poetics, she investigated the connection of past and present via the Western discursive tradition of gender. In Getting Medieval: Sexualities and Communities, Pre- and Postmodern (1999), she traced a queer desire for history. And in her current book in progress, How Soon is Now? Problems of the Present, Medieval and Modern, she looks directly at the experience of time itself, as it is represented in medieval works and as it is experienced in readers of those works. In the classroom, she regularly teaches materials past and present, in courses ranging from Medieval Misogyny to Queer New York City.
In graduate courses such as “Time and Temporality in Medieval Literature,” she has explored expanded notions of history and time—affective history, embodied history, and the feeling of being a body in time—in texts ranging from Boethius’s Consolation of Philosophy to Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde to Washington Irving’s “Rip van Winkle,” Derrida’s Specters of Marx and Henri Bergson’s Matter and Memory. Her work in the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis (where she is jointly appointed with the English Department) has provided a rich context in which to develop these ideas theoretically and cross culturally. She has just published a book based on this research and teaching: How Soon Is Now? Medieval Texts, Amateur Readers, and the Queerness of Time (Duke, 2012).
She has recently taught "Ecological Approaches to Medieval Literature," in which we read medieval texts (especially those featuring a figure of Nature) in relation to theoretical materials by, among many others, Timothy Morton, Martin Heidegger, Bruno Latour, Catriona Sandilands and Bruce Erickson, and Dipesh Chakrabarty. My current research engages ecocritical and environmental social justice materials in a study of the medieval figure of the foliate head -- an eerie mixture of man and vegetable, known since the early twentieth century as the Green Man.
External Affiliations: Editorial Advisory Board, A History of British Women's Writing; Board of Directors, Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies, CUNY (2001-07); Medieval Academy of America; New Chaucer Society (Trustee, 1998 - 2002); Society for Medieval Feminist Scholarship; Society for the Study of Homosexuality in the Middle Ages; Committee for Lesbian and Gay History, AHA; John Gower Society; Lollard Society; Modern Language Association of America (Chaucer Division Executive Committee, 1992-7)
Fellowships/Honors: Distinguished Editor Award, Council of Editors of Learned Journals; MLA Crompton-Noll Award, Special Citation; MLA Crompton-Noll Award for "Getting Medieval: Pulp Fiction, Gawain, Foucault"; Marta Sutton Weeks Fellow, Stanford Humanities Center; President's Fellowship, University of California; Medieval Academy, John Nicholas Brown Prize for Chaucer's Sexual Poetics
"Born Too Soon, Born Too Late: The Female Hunter of Long Eddy, circa 1855." In 21st-Century Gay Culture. Ed. David A. Powell. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2008. Pp. 1-12.
"Are We Having Fun Yet?" New Medieval Literatures 9. Turnhout: Brepols, forthcoming 2008 (for 2007).
"Temporalities." In Twenty-first Century Approaches: Medieval. Ed. Paul Strohm. Oxford: Oxford University Press, forthcoming.
"Medieval Feminist Literary Criticism." Cambridge History of Feminist Literary Criticism. Ed. Susan Sellers and Gill Plain. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007. Pp. 11-26.
"Touching on the Past." In The Boswell Thesis: Essays for the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of John Boswell's Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality. Ed. Matthew Kuefler Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006. Pp. 57-73.
"The History of GLQ, Volume One: LGBT Studies, Censorship, and Other Transnational Problems." GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, 12 (2006): 5-26.
The Cambridge Companion to Medieval Women's Writing. Ed. Carolyn Dinshaw and David Wallace. Cambridge, Eng.: Cambridge University Press, 2003.
"Pale Faces: Race, Religion, and Affect in Chaucer's Texts and Their Readers," Studies in the Age of Chaucer 23 (2001): 19-41.
"Got Medieval?" Response to "History's Queer Touch: A Forum on Carolyn Dinshaw's Getting Medieval: Sexualities and Communities, Pre- and Postmodern." Journal of the History of Sexuality 10 (2001): 202-212.
Getting Medieval: Sexualities and Communities, Pre- and Postmodern. Series Q. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1999.
Chaucer's Sexual Poetics. Madison, WI and London: University of Wisconsin Press, 1989.
Chaucer and the Text: Two Views of the Author. New York and London: Garland Press, 1988.