Associate Professor of Instruction
CONTACT information and cv
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 the courses “Celtic History” and “Viking History” about two difficult-to-define groups of peoples that were tremendously influential 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. My course “Celtic and Viking Mythology” focuses in on the mythological and heroic literature of medieval Ireland, Wales, and Iceland, including their modern receptions.
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.
I also teach two undergraduate capstone seminars that focus on the medieval period. In “Epic History” we pair close readings of medieval literature with critical commentary to examine embedded perspectives on the social context of the works’ compositions. In “Women in the Celtic World” we study what is known about the lives of women considered to fall under the umbrella of ‘Celtic’ in the ancient, medieval, and modern world, and how this concept has been shaped over time to meet various ends.
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, scholarship 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 1970s), 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.
Specifically, I focus on the group of early Irish tales known collectively as the “Ulster Cycle”. My forthcoming publication “’His loss has crushed me’: Collateral Damage and the Emotions of Vengeance in Ulster Cycle Death Tales,” examines how the depiction of emotional states in the death tales of the Ulster heroes passes commentary on the exercise of unrestrained violence in exacting vengeance. In “Gender and Comedy in the Early Irish Tale Fled Bricrenn” I read 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 earlier 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. My current book project, forthcoming from Routledge, is Twenty-Five Women Who Shaped the Celtic World.
Finally, I, together with Matthew Knight, USF Libraries, and Elizabeth Ricketts-Jones, USF English Department, have been awarded the 2023 – 2024 Faculty Fellowship through the USF Humanities Institute to pursue a large-scale interdisciplinary research and programming effort on the theme of “Global Irish Studies at USF”. As a part of this work, we will be co-organizing the upcoming American Conference for Irish Studies Southern Regional Meeting with the theme “Inclusivity in Irish Studies: A Community for All.”