Jennifer Knight

Associate Professor of Instruction

CONTACT information and cv

Office: SOC 262
Phone: 813/974-2807
Curriculum Vitae


Ph.D., Harvard University, 2011


I like to teach about hairy barbarians! Of course, I aim to dispel the many popular misconceptions attached to the groups of people that tend to fall into this category. I currently teach courses on Celtic History and Viking History, two groups of peoples that were tremendously influential on history and yet remain largely misunderstood in popular conceptions. My course "Celtic History" covers the development of the disparate peoples that come to fall under the umbrella of 'Celtic' from the Iron Age through the coming of the Normans to the nascent nations of Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. "Viking History" covers the expansive influence of medieval Scandinavian travelers and settlers across the globe.

I also teach the course "The Irish in America", which partners with USF Special Collections to provide a unique, Public History-rooted approach that presents students with the opportunity to interact directly with artifacts and primary sources, as well as contribute to a growing database on Irish Studies and Celtic Heritage Oral Histories that we are developing. The course content traces the experience of Irish immigrants to America: the forces that drove their emigration from Ireland, and the issues they confronted upon arrival in the U.S.

My online course "A History of Ireland" provides a fast-paced tour through the complex, fascinating, and at times emotionally challenging course of Irish History from the time of St. Patrick in the 5th century through the formation of the Irish Free State in 1922.

Finally, I also direct the internship program for the Dept. of History. Students who are interested in completing an internship for credit that will contribute towards the completion of the degree should contact me for further details. Additional information can also be found on the department's website here:


My research focuses on reading the unusually rich corpus of early medieval Irish literature for insights into major social concepts such as gender and identity. Long viewed as 'traditional' in nature and mined for relics of the pre-Christian past, new scholarship (including my own) now regards early Irish literature as the product of a highly educated Christian elite segment of early Irish society. As such, these works are being viewed in new ways. No longer a "window on the Iron Age" (to quote the highly influential Kenneth Jackson article of the 1970's), early Irish literature can be seen to reflect and examine issues pertinent to its medieval authors. Social issues such as violence and the heroic ethic frequently come under critical examination, while gender and relative status commonly serve the plot of the tales.

My recent publication “Gender and Comedy in the Early Irish Tale Fled Bricrenn” reads the tale as an early example of a gender comedy that employs a theme of gender role reversal to satirize the masculine heroic ideal. My previous publication "The Wooden Sword: Age and Masculinity in Táin Bó Cúailnge" examines the comment on weakness and the male life cycle presented in the Táin by the tale's enigmatic boy-hero Cú Chulainn. I am currently pursuing a book-length study on the manipulation of social and gender norms as a literary theme in the group of early Irish tales known collectively as "The Ulster Cycle".

Finally, I, together with Matthew Knight, Director of USF Special Collections, have begun the development of a major oral history project focused on the large Celtic-heritage population of the South-West Florida region. 'The Celtic Heritage Oral History Initiative' aims to collect the stories of our area's unique Celtic-heritage community and create a resource that will be available to researchers world-wide via an online database, currently under development.